Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Photograph: Michael JulianoHollywood Forever Cemetery

The most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S.

The most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S. are filled with gorgeous architecture and reveal beautiful green spaces.

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Some people consider cemeteries eerie places to visit, but in reality, they are often quite the opposite: serene and full of subtle beauty. Taking in a moment of zen on these sacred grounds is a welcome departure from the busyness of everyday life.

Across America, the most beautiful cemeteries are also cultural and historical landmarks, drawing in visitors who come to appreciate the natural surroundings and prominent individuals resting beneath. In the Northeast, you can encounter some of the nation's oldest modern cemeteries that are the final resting places for American historical figures. Down south, take in enchanting moss-covered landscapes, like Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery. And in the Midwest, stroll expansive sites such as Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, an urban forest with over 130 tree species.

Each cemetery on our list has its own unique charm and beauty. Of course, these cemeteries can also be a bit spooky. Looking for more creepy fun? Whether it’s Halloween season or not, we recommend the best haunted Airbnbs and haunted hotels to fuel your nightmares—that is, if you can get to sleep—and for creepy ghost towns filled with the spirits of days gone by. 

Most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S.

1. Bonaventure Cemetery | Savannah, GA

A 160-acre former plantation, Savannah's largest cemetery was made extra famous by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The massive, moss-covered oaks and weathered tombs create an equally chilling and comforting atmosphere. Seek out the final resting place of Gracie Watson, a six-year-old girl whose site is adorned with a realistic (and creepy) sculpture of her. You’ll also find the gravesites of American songwriter Johnny Mercer and poet Conrad Aiken. And although he wasn’t six feet under, John Muir famously spent six nights sleeping among the graves in 1867, calling it “the cheapest accommodation he could find.”

2. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 | New Orleans, LA

New Orleans isn’t lacking in cemeteries—the city that’s known for beignets, amazing jazz, and Mardi Gras has over 40 of them. Yet it’s St. Louis Cemetery No 1., the Big Easy’s oldest continuously operating graveyard, that (literally) captures its storied spirits. They include infamous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (who some say still walks the grounds) and Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in the landmark civil-rights case, Plessy v. Ferguson. Due to vandalism, you must join a guided tour to view the cemetery’s ornate above-ground graves and grand mausoleums. Look out for the nearly unmissable nine-foot pyramid that’s the future resting place of Nicolas Cage (and a real eyesore compared to the other tombs).

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The owners of Hollywood Forever have been criticized for promoting it as a tourist attraction. Still, any cemetery that houses the remains of celluloid luminaries like Cecil B. DeMille and Jayne Mansfield is certainly worth a visit. Look for the headstone of Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny and tons of other Loony Toons characters), which reads: “That's All, Folks! Or seek out the massive mausoleum of William Andrews Clark Jr., the founder of the LA Philharmonic, which sits in the middle of a lake. The cemetery is also the final resting place of Rudolph Valentino, an Italian silent film actor who stole plenty of hearts in his heyday. Legend has it that a mysterious "Woman in Black" still stalks the cemetery, mourning the demise of Hollywood's original loverboy. Aside from popular posthumous celebs, Hollywood Forever is also home to summer outdoor movie screenings and concerts.

4. Granary Burying Ground | Boston, MA

Established in 1660, the Granary Burying Ground is one of the oldest graveyards in the country, and yet it's only the third-oldest cemetery in Boston. Granary serves as the final resting spot for many of the Revolutionary War's most famous characters, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and victims of the Boston Massacre. While there are over 2,300 unique grave markers at Granary, there are estimated to be more than 5,000 interments. Other notable sights include a central obelisk that marks the grave of Benjamin Franklin’s parents and the Infant’s Tomb, the final resting place of hundreds of children.

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5. Neptune Memorial Reef | Key Biscayne, FL

This Florida cemetery gives new meaning to the term “sleep with the fishes” as it’s an underwater columbarium about three miles off the coast of Key Biscayne. It’s also a work in progress: currently, the man-made reef is designed to hold the remains of about 850 people, but it will ultimately accommodate more than 250,000 permanent residents upon completion. It combines cremated remains with cement to form features like tombstones, statues, and even cemetery gates under the Atlantic Ocean. At 16 acres, it is one of the world’s largest man-made reefs and home to numerous species of fish and coral.

6. Mountain View Cemetery | Oakland, CA

Located on 226 scenic acres with views of the entire San Francisco Bay, Mountain View Cemetery was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted—you know, the same guy behind New York’s Central Park. Gold diggers will spot some of California’s wealthiest families in an area known as Millionaire’s Row. Among the ornate crypts and mausoleums, you'll find names like Domingo Ghirardelli (as in Ghirardelli Chocolate), Henry J. Kaiser (father of modern American shipbuilding), architecture icon Julia Morgan, and Glenn Burke, the first openly gay player in Major League Baseball. The cemetery is so beloved among locals that you'll often see families picnicking, jogging, or walking their dogs amongst the graves.

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Trinity Church's cemeteries are actually made up of three separate burial grounds. Here, you'll find some of history's most famous New Yorkers, including Alexander Hamilton and his wife (Elizabeth), son (Philip) and sister-in-law (Angelica). The first site was established in the original churchyard at Wall Street and Broadway in 1698 (where you'll find Hamilton). Roughly 440 yards up Broadway, a second burial place was added in the small churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Church in 1766. Finally, in 1842, Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum in Upper Manhattan was established. The graveyards are also the only remaining active cemeteries in Manhattan.

8. Arlington National Cemetery | Arlington, VA

It’s hard not to be moved by the rows and rows of white headstones set amidst the rolling hills at this national cemetery, the final resting place of 400,000 people who served in the U.S. military. Dating back to the Civil War and spread across 624 acres, it contains several notable sights, including the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy. Don’t miss the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by soldiers from the prestigious 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (also known as the “Old Guard”). The Changing of the Guard ritual, typically held every 30 minutes, is truly a sight to behold.

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9. Green-Wood Cemetery | Brooklyn, NY

The moment you walk beneath its Gothic revival gates and enter this National Historic Landmark, you know you’re visiting someplace special. One of the most endeared places in Brooklyn, Green-Wood was established in 1838 and is a true New York oasis with 478 spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and walking paths, not to mention amazing views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Several famous people are buried here, including artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tony Award-winning composer Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story, On the Town), and Samuel F.B. Morse, who invented the Morse Code. Before becoming a cemetery, part of the Revolutionary War—the Battle of Long Island—was fought here in 1776.

10. Crown Hill Cemetery | Indianapolis, IN

Founded in 1863, Crown Hill is the third-largest privately owned cemetery in the nation. It boasts 555 acres of pristine landscape, which includes 25 miles of roads, over 130 species of trees, and more than 200,000 burials and entombments (with enough space to keep burying people for another 200 years). The imposing gothic chapel and impressive gothic gate are worth a visit, while “The Crown” (Marion County’s highest hill) is 842 feet above sea level and offers sweeping 360-degree views of the Indianapolis skyline. If you're looking for notable tombstones, search for President Benjamin Harrison and infamous bank robber John Dillinger.

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11. Lake View Cemetery | Cleveland, OH

Known locally as Cleveland’s Outdoor Museum, this cemetery is located on the shores of Lake Erie. Established in 1869, it was modeled after the beautiful garden cemeteries that were popular in Western Europe. Lake View is the final resting place for several notable figures like John D. Rockefeller, Salisbury steak inventor James Salisbury, and Prohibition-era detective Eliot Ness. But its most famous feature is the James A. Garfield Memorial, a circular tower that’s 50 feet in diameter and 180 feet high. Outside, bas-relief panels depict the former president’s life and death in life-size figures, while the interior has spectacular stained glass. 

12. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery | Sleepy Hollow, NY

It's no surprise who you'll find among the residents of this New York cemetery: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving, of course. Established in 1849, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery has several other notable interments, including businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (you'll often see coins left on his tombstone), cosmetics queen Elizabeth Arden, The New York Times co-founder George Jones, and hotel billionaire Leona Helmsley, who was infamously called “The Queen of Mean.” Nighttime lantern tours are especially popular.

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13. Mount Auburn Cemetery | Cambridge, MA

You can't appreciate beautiful cemeteries in the U.S. without tipping your hat to Mount Auburn, one of the first cemeteries in America designed with a park-like setting (rather than the Colonial-era tradition of arranging graves in neat rows with uniform tombstones). Spanning 174 acres, Mount Auburn has long been the final resting place for some of the wealthiest New Englanders like writer and publisher John Bartlett, cookbook author Fannie Farmer, and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

14. Laurel Hill Cemetery | Philadelphia, PA

Philly's elaborate cemetery encompasses 74 acres and is dotted with 33,000 large monuments and mausoleums. Many of these sites date back to the 19th and early-20th centuries and have magnificent marble sculptures and grand obelisks that mark the tombs of famous residents. Chief among them are Wharton Business School founder Joseph Wharton and General George Meade, who led the Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg.

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15. Cave Hill Cemetery | Louisville, KY

This Victorian-era cemetery and arboretum is both stunning and star-studded. Established in 1848, Cave Hill's famous residents include boxing legend Muhammed Ali, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders, and Patty and Mildred Hill, the two sisters credited with composing the “Happy Birthday” song (the irony isn’t lost on us). Cave Hill Cemetery also includes a National Cemetery for those who have fought and died in battle, including more than 200 Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War.

Graceland Cemetery is an absolute must-visit for anyone interested in Chicago’s storied past. Established in 1860, it covers 121 acres and is the final resting place for many famous Chicagoans including urban designer Daniel H. Burnham, film critic Roger Ebert, and business magnate Marshall Field. Architecture buffs will love the Louis Sullivan-designed Getty Tomb, the Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum, and The Crusader sculpture, which watches over Victor Lawson’s grave.

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17. Mount Hope Cemetery | Rochester, NY

Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery was the first municipal cemetery in America. More than 350,000 people are buried here, and its notable interments include Susan B. Anthony, one of the most renowned leaders of the women’s suffrage movement; Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved person who became an abolitionist and author; and Nobel Prize-winning physician and researcher George Whipple. Mount Hope Cemetery is also home to Sally James Farnham’s stunning sculpture, Defenders of the Flag, a monument to the Civil War.

18. Oakland Cemetery | Atlanta, GA

Atlanta's oldest public park, the Oakland Cemetery, is one of the few landmarks that predate the fire that burned much of the city in 1864. The graveyard reflects Atlanta's changing social and political fortunes over the last 170 years; there’s a Confederate section with nearly 7,000 soldiers, two Jewish sections and a segregated African-American section. Several luminaries, including 27 former mayors and six former Georgia governors, are buried here, but perhaps its most famous resident is Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell Marsh. You can even get married here, giving new meaning to the phrase “till death do us part.”

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19. Tombstone, AZ | Boothill Graveyard

Boothill Graveyard, also known as Old City Cemetery, was established in 1883 as a place to bury outlaws. However, if you visit the site today, be forewarned that most tombstones are newer and rumored to be fake, a ploy to lure tourists. The cemetery's actual notorious residents include “Three Fingered Jack” Dunlop, the three men killed in the O.K. Corral Shootout, and China Mary, a female general store owner who sold American and Chinese goods.

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