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Miami Cemetery
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Pessar

The most haunted places in Miami and scary towns nearby

From the creepy to the downright daunting, we found the scariest ghost towns and Miami’s haunted spots

Written by
Alyson Penn
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Palm trees and sunny skies might not conjure up images of traditional ghost stories, but just because we lack haunted colonial taverns and Victorian mansions, does not mean we don’t have historic graveyards, storied villas and deserted ghost towns near Miami. Whether you want to do something during the day before you head out to one of your massive Halloween parties in Miami or you’re just looking for a fun day trip from Miami any time of the year, we have rounded up the spookiest spots in the Magic City.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to Halloween in Miami

Most haunted places in and around Miami

This former Cuban Consulate in Little Haiti not only has a creepy history but an eerie present. The original owner’s wife, Paula Milord, died suddenly after a leg amputation and was buried in the back garden by her husband. Since then, people have heard piano music and smelled coffee (both things Milord allegedly liked to do) and have seen a one-legged lady floating in the hallway. It is currently closed for visitors, but it should reopen by September, and if not, you can always drive by to get a glimpse.

  • Things to do
  • Palmetto Bay

The Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay is a national historical landmark. The Mediterranean stone house was the 1920s Miami estate of Charles Deering, a Chicago industrialist. Initially built on tribal burial grounds, it’s no wonder the estate is known to be haunted. Ghost hunter Colleen Kelley in 2009 said she recorded “60 ghost voices” in the mansion, including the not-creepy-at-all phrase of a woman saying, “I want some of you.” Currently, the estate is a house museum and ecological field station. Historic ghost tours occur in September and October where guests can hear about the paranormal activity experienced by visitors and staff.

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Coral Gables
  • price 4 of 4

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables was built in 1926 by George Merrick, who is known as the founder of Coral Gables. After opening, the hotel quickly became a big deal, hosting fashion shows and galas, along with famous guests such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Al Capone and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ghost stories began when gangster Thomas "Fatty" Walsh was shot and killed at a party there in 1929. During World War II, the Biltmore was turned into a military hospital. Once the war was over, it continued being a hospital for veterans. It was then completely abandoned from 1968 to 1983. Its storied history of murder, hospital occupancy and its abandonment led a resident guest to tell ghost stories to visitors every Thursday night in the Biltmore’s lobby for 10 years.

  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Colony Theater opened as Paramount Pictures’ upscale, Art Deco movie theater in 1934 right on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Throughout the decades, the theater has gone through many iterations, including a live performance venue (which it is today). Its long history has caused ghost stories to crop up, including one story that is particularly cute (and creepy): a toy poodle seen running around the building. Other people have heard footsteps and seen an apparition behind the main stage.

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The Miami City Cemetery has been operating since 1897, making it the oldest graveyard in the city. With almost 9,000 bodies buried there, including some of the most prominent Miamians such as Miami’s first mayor John B. Reilly, the Burdine family from the famed department store and Julia Tuttle, the “Mother of Miami,” there are most definitely plenty of ghosts around. You can take (now, virtual) tours of the cemetery from HistoryMiami to hear about its eerie history and strange occurrences.

Built on the bones of an old hotel from 1937 to 1939, this lavish, Art Deco Downtown skyscraper has seen it all. In 1963, Grant Stockdale, a friend of President John F. Kennedy’s, fell from the 13th floor and died ten days after JFK’s assassination. Visitors also say there have been running faucets in bathrooms that aren’t occupied, and someone once saw a burnt man’s face on the second floor. Today, the Downtown building is used primarily as​​ an event space for weddings, corporate events and parties.

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The pueblo-style Miami Springs mansion built in 1925 once belonged to Glenn Curtiss, the founder of the U.S. Aircraft Industry. Although nothing particularly gory has been officially recorded at the residence, it was abandoned for 30 years, lending itself to plenty of stories. Throughout the years, visitors have heard doors closing in empty rooms and a ghost hunter claimed the space felt “very eerie.” Now, the mansion is a museum and event space and every year around Halloween time, staff dress up the mansion as a haunted house to give guests an extra scare.

An abandoned ghost town on its very own island, Fort Dade was an old military outpost on Egmont Key near St. Petersburg. It was developed during the Spanish American War, and when troops were stationed there, they enjoyed tennis courts, a movie theater and a gymnasium. Today you can see forts, power stations, observation posts, bunkers, and other military relics in various stages of disrepair. You can also see relics of the town that housed 300 people, including houses and a firehouse, complete with old photos posted showing what each of the buildings originally looked like.

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White City is both a ghost and active town. It has structures that were abandoned back in the late 19th century when its original inhabitants left. The town two and a half hours north of Miami was founded in 1893, inspired by the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. In 1894 a man named Colonel Myers showed up promising he had great plans for it. He collected payments for land parcels, as well as money for his “future bank.” Soon after, he disappeared, taking most of the money with him. Today, you can still see some of the original structures like the Jorgensen House, Captain Hammond House and White City Marketplace.

During the 1920s, the Olympia Improvement Corporation wanted to create the East Coast version of Hollywood right in Jupiter Island and Hobe Sound. Their goal was to build a Grecian-style town where movies could be shot and produced in the enclave two hours north of Miami. Like LA, they were hoping it would be a hub for filming and a glamorous spot for movie stars to live, especially on Jupiter Island. Today, you can still see the Grecian-style Olympia Picture City School built in 1924, and street signs based on Greek mythology, like Zeus, Olympus and Athena.

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Ellaville was founded around 1861 thanks to businessman George Drew who named it for Ella, his African-American servant. He built a mansion on the Suwannee River and opened a sawmill that became the largest one in Florida. The town boomed in the 1870s, but less than 20 years later, the mill in Ellaville burned down, and soon after, there was major flooding before it became completely abandoned in 1942. The Drew Mansion burned to the ground in the 1970s, but today you can still see its foundation, an original bridge, an old cemetery and the sign for Ellaville.

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