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Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah
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The most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S.

You’ll spot plenty of famous names among the tombstones of the most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S.

Written by
Shoshi Parks
Contributor
Sarah Medina
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Cemeteries are spooky, there’s no denying it. But if stop and look around, the scenery might surprise you. The most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S. are often lined with trees and ornate monuments, mausoleums, and memorials — it’s no wonder that these places were popular in the Victorian era when picnicking or strolling through the graveyard was peak leisure. And these gorgeous graveyards are worth checking out even today.

No, you don’t need a spooky season (we see you, October) to wander through these hauntingly beautiful cemeteries, though it does make the trip even more atmospheric. These eerie and stunning gravesites across the U.S. are remarkable both for their landscapes and their permanent residents — famous figures like Alexander Hamilton, Paul Revere, and even the Colonel Sanders all rest in the cemeteries on our list.

Whether you’re watching a movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, snorkeling among the underwater Neptune Memorial Reef in Florida’s Key Biscayne, or paying your respects to the artists and writers buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood, these beautiful cemeteries are some of our favorite spots in the country.

Looking for more haunted getaways? Whether it’s Halloween season or not, we have recommendations for the best haunted Airbnbs and haunted hotels to fuel your nightmares — that is, if you can get to sleep at all — and for creepy ghost towns filled with the spirits of days gone by. If bone-chilling adventures aren’t your thing, there’s still plenty of fall fun to be had: check out our lists of the best corn mazes and the best places to see dramatic fall foliage.

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Most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S.

Savannah's largest cemetery is also the city’s most fascinating. The 160-acre former plantation includes a number of notable Georgians (like former governor Josiah Tattnall) but it's the less-famous gravesites that draw the most attention here. Seek out the final resting place of Gracie Watson, a six-year-old girl whose site is adorned with a realistic (and really creepy) sculpture of her. And although he wasn’t six feet under, in 1867 the cemetery famously hosted John Muir, who spent six nights sleeping among the graves in what he called the cheapest accommodation he could find.

There's no shortage of cool cemeteries in New Orleans, but the tiny Lafayette Cemetery, which spans just one city block, is jam-packed with beautiful sights and characters. Lafayette holds 7,000 people in 1,100 ornate family tombs including famous residents like John Howard Ferguson, the defendant in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson court case. If the site looks familiar, you may recognize it from movies like Interview with the Vampire, Double Jeopardy, and Jonah Hex.

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The owners of Hollywood Forever have been criticized for promoting the place as a tourist attraction, but any cemetery that houses the remains of celluloid luminaries like Cecil B. DeMille and Jayne Mansfield would probably become one all on its own. Look for Mel Blanc's headstone (which reads: That's All, Folks!) and William Andrews Clark Jr.’s massive mausoleum (the founder of the LA Philharmonic’s resting place sits in the middle of a lake). It's also the 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.

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 the five victims of the Boston Massacre. While there are 2,345 unique grave markers at Granary, it is estimated that there are actually more than 5,000 interments.

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This Florida cemetery is actually an underwater columbarium located 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 125,000 permanent residents upon completion. The reef combines cremated remains with cement to form features like tombstones, statues, and even cemetery gates under the Atlantic Ocean.

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 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 you'll often find families picnicking, jogging, or walking their dogs among the graves.

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Trinity Church's cemetery is actually made up of three separate burial grounds. Here, you'll find some of history's most famous New Yorkers including Alexander Hamilton along with his wife, son, and sister-in-law Angelica. The first site was established in the original churchyard located at Wall Street and Broadway in 1698 (this is 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 1872 Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum in Upper Manhattan was established. The graveyards are also the only remaining active cemeteries in Manhattan.

Boothill Graveyard, which also goes by the name Old City Cemetery, was established in 1883 as a place to bury outlaws. Though, if you visit the site today, be forewarned that most of the 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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Walk beneath the Gothic-revival gates that tower over 25th Street to see one of the most famous sites in Brooklyn. Green-Wood is more than just a cemetery — it’s a National Historic Landmark that stretches over 478 spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and paths. So it makes sense that tons of famous people are buried here, from artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to Wizard of Oz actor Frank Morgan and Samuel F.B. Morse, who invented the Morse Code.

Located on the summit of Strawberry Hill (known as the crown among locals), Crown Hill Cemetery marks the highest point in Louisville. The privately-owned site offers 555 acres of pristine landscape (it's the third biggest private cemetery in the country) including 25 miles of paved road and more than 150 different species of trees and plants. If you're looking for notable tombstones, search for president Benjamin Harrison and the infamous bank robber John Dillinger.

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Known locally as Cleveland’s Outdoor Museum, this cemetery, located on the shores of Lake Erie, was established in 1869 and modeled after the beautiful garden cemeteries that were popular in Western Europe at the time. Lake View is the final resting place for a number of notable figures like John D. Rockefeller, Salisbury steak inventor James Salisbury, and famous Prohibition-era detective Eliot Ness. But Lake View Cemetery’s most famous feature is the James A. Garfield Memorial, a massive burial site that features an ornate interior of stained glass, marble statues, and bas-relief as well as the coffins of the former president and his wife.

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 a number of other notable interments, including businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (you'll often find coins left on his tombstone), cosmetics queen Elizabeth Arden, The New York Times co-founder George Jones, and a number of Alexander Hamilton’s children (though Hamilton himself is buried in Trinity Church Cemeteries, another cemetery on this list).

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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 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.

Philly's ornate cemetery encompasses 74 acres and is covered in 33,000 large monuments and mausoleums. Many of these sites date back to the 19th and 20th centuries with grandiose 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, the man who led the Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg.

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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.

For anyone interested in Chicago’s storied past, Graceland Cemetery is an absolute must-visit. Established in 1960, Graceland covers 121 acres and is the final resting place for a number of famous Chicagoans including urban designer Daniel H. Burnham, film critic Roger Ebert, and business magnate Marshall Field. Architecture buffs will love the grandiose monuments here like the Louis Sullivan-designed Getty Tomb, the Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum, and the sculpture entitled The Crusader, which watches over Victor Lawson’s grave.

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Rochester, NY: Mount Hope Cemetery
Photograph: DanielPenfield/CC

17. Rochester, NY: Mount Hope Cemetery

New York’s Mount Hope Cemetery, located in Rochester, was the first municipal cemetery in America. More than 350,000 people are buried here, and its notable interments are legion: American social reformer Susan B. Anthony, former slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass, 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.

Atlanta, GA: Oakland Cemetery
Photograph: Chrismenard7/CC

18. Atlanta, GA: Oakland Cemetery

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 is a reflection of 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. As the final resting place of a number of luminaries (including 27 former mayors and six former Georgia governors), one burial site stands out: you’ll find the gravesite of Margaret Mitchell Marsh, author of Gone With The Wind, who mentioned the cemetery in her magnum opus.

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