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Photograph: Provided by FloridasHistoricCoast.com St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

The 10 most haunted places in Florida

Scare yourself silly with ghost stories and urban legends at the most haunted places in Florida

Megan duBois
Written by
Megan duBois
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Although it’s known for bright and sandy beaches, the Sunshine State has a sinister side: from Clearwater to Tampa and Miami, some of the most haunted places in Florida are hiding in plain sight.

For years, Florida has been a gold mine for ghost hunters and paranormal experts hoping to spot spirits and experience paranormal activity. Throughout the state, you’ll find lighthouses, historic homes, restaurants and hotels where ghosts allegedly make appearances from time to time, often spotted in anything from military uniforms to 1800s swag.

Don’t believe us? Just take a look at these haunted places in Florida. And if you dare to mingle with the paranormal, you might just get a few ghost stories of your own to share.

RECOMMENDED: the best things to do in Florida

Most haunted places in Florida

Although there are plenty of places in St. Augustine rumored to be haunted, no spot is more iconic than the city’s namesake lighthouse. St. Augustine Lighthouse was built in 1874, and it had its fair share of tragedy. One story that’s often told is that of a lighthouse worker’s daughters who drowned and the bodies were never recovered. Visitors today recount hearing laughter when no one else is around, and hearing footsteps in the lighthouse when everyone is standing still.

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, which originally opened in 1926, hosted guests like notorious gangster Al Capone and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in its heydey. During World War II, the hotel became a military hospital (and remained a VA hospital for years), and later became the University of Miami’s medical school before turning back into a luxury hotel in 1987. One ghost of many that are rumored to haunt the hotel is Thomas Walsh, a gangster who was murdered on the 13th floor. Guests staying at the hotel have reported lights switching on and off without anyone present, elevators taking them to the wrong floors, and messages written on mirrors.

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The Bilheimher Capitol Theater opened in 1921 and is one of the oldest operating theaters in Florida. Apparently, the theater is haunted by three different ghosts: an old sea captain, a former theatre manager named Bill (who was murdered on the balcony), and a young girl. All are known to play tricks on unsuspecting guests as they walk through the halls of the theater toward their seats. To us, these ghosts actually seem pretty friendly — but we’ll let you test that theory out for us!

The Cuban Club is considered one of the most haunted places in the country. Located in historic Ybor City, a neighborhood just outside of downtown Tampa, the club was once a lively spot for Cuban immigrants, and it’s still used today for special events. The space is said to be haunted by several ghosts including an actor who committed suicide on stage and a board member who was murdered during an argument. A little less gruesome, guests also claim to spot a lady in a misty dress and a young boy playing with a ball on the steps of the theater (if they were alive, it would almost seem sweet).

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The Tampa Theatre, which opened in 1926, is considered a must-visit for its live performance — then again, you also might visit to see the living dead. The theater is supposedly haunted by a man who worked the projector during the Golden Age of film; rumor has it he died of a heart attack in the booth while screening a movie, and he still shows up every now and then to cause a little trouble for theater goers (apparently all in good taste, luckily). Catch a show at the theater, and you might catch sight of his ghost — a spooky double feature, no doubt.

Fernandina Beach is home to a few haunted spots, but you’ll find a rather classic ghost story at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. As the story goes, a church employee placed the ashes of Amelia Duryee (the wife of a deceased military officer) in front of a mirror, and the following day a large crack was found across the mirror. No one knows what actually caused the crack, but locals believe it was the ghost of Amelia.

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The Palace Saloon, the oldest bar in Florida, dates back to 1878. Here, guests and tourists can allegedly encounter Charlie, a longtime employee who worked and lived at the bar — patrons have reported the back room’s door opening and closing without anyone around, and when a fire broke out at the saloon every room but Charlie’s was burned. You’ll find a picture of Charlie at the entrance, but if you see a man who looks like him walking around the bar, well, you might have just seen a ghost.

Although the Pensacola Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful structures on the city’s shore, it also has a spooky past. The lighthouse, according to local lore, is apparently haunted by the original innkeeper and his wife — not to bury the lede, but the wife murdered her husband (a.k.a. the innkeeper). Visitors to the lighthouse occasionally report hearing children’s voices, whispers, footsteps, and having small objects thrown at them when no one else is in sight. Take a chance and climb the tower of the lighthouse to see if you encounter any of these paranormal activities (at the very least, you’ll get a sweet view of the shore).

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In the coastal city of Rockledge, a cafe called Ashley’s is home to one of the more tragic ghost stories. As the story goes, a young woman who was last seen at the restaurant was later found with a fractured skill and slit throat. Now, diners have reported seeing a woman in 1930s garb at a table, or at the end of the bar — many believe that’s the woman who disappeared, coming back to get justice for her murder. Then again, maybe she just really likes the ambiance? We’ll never know!

Villa Paula once served as the Cuban Consulate, where Domingo Milord lived with his wife Paula. The haunted home, now an art gallery, is haunted by Paula, who died at the house after a leg amputation went wrong. Guests have heard footsteps and have seen the spirit of a woman who looks to have one leg, while some visitors have also described smelling Cuban coffee throughout the halls. Take a tour of the museum and see for yourself if the rumors are true.

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