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Alamo in San Antonio
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The 14 best ghost tours in America

Boo! You’ll be shivering in your boots on the best ghost tours in America

Written by
Shoshi Parks
Contributor
Tolly Wright
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Sure, you can tour a city in the daylight and learn volumes about its history and modern charm. But a darker side of the city comes out to play when the sun goes down, and the best ghost tours in America help put it in the spotlight.

Just about every major hub across the United States has its share of grisly murders, ghostly hauntings, and paranormal activity. But to find them, you'll need a good guide who can lead you straight to the spirits. From New Orleans’ storied French Quarter to Los Angeles' star-studded Hollywood, ghosts are said to be lurking amongst the living, and their tales and tribulations are as fascinating as they are terrifying.

These haunted gatherings aren't for the faint of heart—grab a friend (trust us: you don’t want to go solo) and get ready to shiver in your boots like never before on the best ghost tours in America.

If you prefer your city tours filled with spirits of a different kind, the best boozy tours in America may be more your style. But if you're a true aficionado of spooky and strange happenings, pair your ghost tour with a visit to a super scary haunted house for a frightful getaway that's as fun around Halloween as it is mid-summer. Better yet, put the terror on full throttle with an overnight stay at a haunted hotel or haunted Airbnb. We can't guarantee you'll make it through the night unscathed, but the chances are pretty good.

RECOMMENDED: the best things to do in the USA

Best ghost tours in America, ranked

French Quarter Phantoms in New Orleans
Photograph: French Quarter Phantoms

1. French Quarter Phantoms in New Orleans

The oldest, most famous neighborhood in New Orleans is also its scariest. Though dozens of competing tour companies lead visitors past grand 18th- and 19th-century homes, few can boast the story-telling skills of French Quarter Phantoms. On the Ghost and Vampire tour, which aptly departs from the Voodoo Lounge, you’ll hear about real serial killers, plagues, and fires that left death and destruction in their wake — including other-worldly spirits said to haunt the city’s streets. One stop on the 115-minute walk, the mansion of New Orleans’ most savage murderer, Marie Delphine Macarty, is sure to leave you scared stiff — luckily, you’ll regain your liquid courage by turning in your ticket for a two-for-one Hurricane Drink special.

The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg in Williamsburg, VA
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2. The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg in Williamsburg, VA

By day, the shops and houses lining the streets of this quaint Colonial living-history museum are full of reenactors with a deep knowledge of 18th-century life. At night, however, those 300-year-old buildings tell a spookier tale. Armed with a candle-lit lantern, The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg's guide leads visitors on a one-mile nighttime walk through the campus of The College of William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg, stopping to tell family-friendly stories along the way. Tourists hoping for a slightly scarier experience should opt for the “Extreme” tour, when tour guides use a “K2 reader” to detect paranormal activity — watch your back, folks.

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Boroughs of the Dead Tour: Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour in New York City
Photograph: Courtesy Steven Acres

3. Boroughs of the Dead Tour: Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour in New York City

Though there are dozens of walking tours winding their way through the labyrinth of this storied, one-of-a-kind Manhattan neighborhood, the tour led by Boroughs of the Dead is simply to die for — pun intended. As you wander past buildings New Yorkers have called home for centuries, guides call out murder scenes, secret burial grounds, and spots where modern-day ghost hunters discovered paranormal activity. You’ll even learn how the neighborhood influenced writers like Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to write spooky horror stories.

Goodsprings Ghost Hunt in Goodsprings, NV
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Goodsprings Ghost Hunt in Goodsprings, NV

While most people travel to Las Vegas looking for some razzle-dazzle, a short 35-minute trip outside the city to Goodsprings provides chills and thrills. Mostly abandoned, this early 20th-century mining town, nestled in the foothills of the Spring Mountains, is chock-full of paranormal activity. If you’re serious about ghost hunting, Vegas Specialty Tours provides transportation to and from Sin City in addition to necessary equipment: EMF meters, temperature guns, dowsing rods, and a guide who knows where to look. The experience starts with a meal (included in the price) at Nevada’s oldest saloon, the 90-year-old-plus Pioneer Saloon, and features stories of truly tragic events, murders, and strange occurrences that took place in the area.

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Haunted Boston Ghost Tour in Boston
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5. Haunted Boston Ghost Tour in Boston

While other tourists “ooh” and “ahh” over the beauty of B-Town's early 19th-century sites, visitors on this evening Haunted Boston tour will learn about the legends haunting iconic destinations like the Boston Athenaeum, the country’s oldest independent library, and Boston Common. During the 90-minute lantern-lit experience, expect to hear the tragic and extraordinary ghost stories, legends, and folktales that have been scaring Boston residents since Colonial days.
 

Stories of glamour, greed, and grim misfortune are all on the itinerary for LA Ghost Tour, a tour that digs deep into Tinsel Town's dark past. Take a walk down Hollywood Boulevard stopping at the famed locations of grisly murders and decades-old hauntings like the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Roosevelt (one of the most famously haunted hotels in America), and The Magic Castle. Apparently, guests have experienced paranormal activity more than once, so keep your eyes peeled. Tours depart from El Capitan Theatre, and you can choose from a standard one hour experience or an extended 1 hour and 40 minute version.

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Blue Orb Savannah Ghost Tour in Savannah
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7. Blue Orb Savannah Ghost Tour in Savannah

Underneath the Spanish Moss and Southern charm lurk dozens of Savannah residents who aren’t exactly keen on hospitality. During the incredibly popular Blue Orb tour, you’ll hear about ghost sightings and eerie happenings that real residents endured while visiting the tour’s various stops. Adults in a witchy mood should check out the Zombie tour, an excursion that taps into the city’s voodoo connections as well as the conjurers who are rumored to bring back the dearly departed. Visitors who hold their story-tellers to high standards should splurge on a tour with Blue Orb founder Tobias McGriff, an excellent yarn spinner and true expert on Savannah’s undead population.

For those interested in all the gory details, look no further than The Haunt's macabre tour of downtown San Francisco and the Tenderloin. During this walk, you’ll visit the sites of highly chronicled murders—including those at the St. Francis Hotel, the Pinecrest Diner, and the “suicide alley” of 1911. Tour guide Wild Wes, a third-generation San Franciscan, shares real stories about brutal cult leaders, assassins, and serial killers that are sure to terrify even the bravest of visitors, so better leave the kids (and scaredy cats!) at home for this adventure.

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9. Ghosts & Gravestones Key West Frightseeing Tour in Key West

Hop aboard the Trolley of the Doomed—if you dare. At night, Key West’s charming eccentricities seem a whole lot stranger while on this Ghosts & Gravestones tour along Old Town’s narrow streets. Many of the wooden houses within the island’s historic district date back to the 19th century—and so do its ghost stories. Your costumed guide will tell tragic tales of murder, yellow fever, and freakish accidents in chilling detail (oh, and maybe a few punch lines along the way). Did we mention attendees also get to meet Robert the Doll, the “most haunted plaything” in the world? Consider yourself warned.

Nightly Spirits: White House Pub Tour in Washington, D.C.
Photograph: Unsplash / Joshua Earle

10. Nightly Spirits: White House Pub Tour in Washington, D.C.

If you prefer to pair paranormal spirits with liquid spirits, this two-and-a-half hour pub tour in America's capital should keep you tipsy and intrigued. With a costumed guide leading the way, beer guzzling ghost hunters can expect to see many of the city’s most iconic buildings lit up at night while stopping in a few old taverns and pubs that come with plenty of local flavor. Though the stories are filled with more trivia-tidbits than real scares, they’ll make for excellent conversation as you meet new friends. Make sure to bring your camera—the White House under the moonlight is spectacular.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/L1mey

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Spooked in Seattle in Seattle, WA
Photograph: Spooked in Seattle

11. Spooked in Seattle in Seattle, WA

For 17 years, Spooked in Seattle’s paranormal experts have led locals and visitors alike on ghost tours and hunts through the city’s historic neighborhoods. Learn about the spirits that haunt Pioneer Square, with stops at Smith Tower, a skyscraper that dates back to 1914, and the city’s oldest restaurant (the Merchant’s Cafe and Saloon). Be sure to bring comfortable shoes — the tour ends with a flashlight-lit visit to Seattle’s “underground,” the century-old shops, bars, and hotels that were abandoned after the city’s 1889 fire and still stand several feet below the metropolis’s modern streets.

Candlelit Ghost Tour of Philadelphia Walking Tour in Philadelphia
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Candlelit Ghost Tour of Philadelphia Walking Tour in Philadelphia

Follow your costumed guide through the historic streets of Philadelphia to uncover secrets hiding in the shadows. As you stroll through the winding back streets, past secret gardens and eerie graveyards in Society Hill and Old Town, you’ll hear tales about ghosts who haunt Independence Hall, the Powel House and a hidden strangers’ burial ground. Keep your eyes peeled for the ghoulish visage of Benjamin Franklin’s spirit and the mythical Hag of Pine Street—both are said to roam the streets in this area.

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Chicago Hauntings in Chicago
Photograph: American Ghost Walks/Chicago Hauntings

13. Chicago Hauntings in Chicago

Paranormal researcher Ursula Bielski and her highly qualified staff uncover the Windy City’s dark and bloody past with walking and bus tours. From the “ghost ships” that sail Lake Michigan to the tragic site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Chicago is full of spooky haunts. During the walking tour, learn about the ghosts that still frequent the old courthouse where the bloody gallows once stood, then hear all about the Water Tower’s “hanging man.” Rather take the bus trip? Expect stops at the Hull House, which inspired Rosemary’s Baby, and the original City Cemetery Grounds.

Bad Wolf San Antonio Ghost Walk in San Antonio
Photograph: Shutterstock

14. Bad Wolf San Antonio Ghost Walk in San Antonio

You’ll have no trouble remembering the Alamo or its many — like Davy Crockett — thanks to this 90-minute tour of downtown San Antonio. After seeing the historic battle site light up at night, walkers will hear devilishly good tales about the city’s tragic past. Get the skinny on true crime stories, spooky rituals, and a few urban legends as you pass haunted hotels, theaters, and mansions. Adult ghost hunters can also opt for the company’s spirited haunted pub crawl—why not!

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