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Colonial Williamsburg
Photograph: Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg

The 15 best ghost tours in the U.S. for a good scare

Feel chills from head to toe on these terrifyingly fun ghost tours in the U.S.—book if you dare!

Written by
Mark Williams
Tolly Wright
Shoshi Parks
Clara Hogan

Every town has a past worth exploring—both pleasant and sinister. If you want to learn about a city’s dark side, consider signing up for a ghost tour. These tours mesh history, mystery, and entertainment all in one evening as guides tell tales of the supernatural, take you by haunted sites and often show you mysterious local cemeteries.

In New Orleans, stroll the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter while learning about the world of voodoo, haunted mansions, and even pirate legends. In San Francisco, board a ferry to Alcatraz for a gripping night tour of the former prison to hear tales of daring escapes and those who disappeared without a trace. Other choices include the eerie "Trolley of the Doomed" in Key West, a chilling Chicago bus tour, or a family-friendly tour to hear about the ghosts of Colonial Williamsburg.

No matter which ghost tour experience you choose, be prepared to learn something new, visit sites that will make you shiver—and maybe even encounter a ghost or two.

Best ghost tours in the U.S.

With its colorful history and historic buildings, it’s no surprise that the French Quarter (the oldest and most famous neighborhood in New Orleans) is filled with ghosts, ghouls, and other lingering spirits. There are few better ways to get the inside scoop than with 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, and the other-worldly spirits said to haunt the city’s streets. During the one-mile tour, you’ll also stop at the infamous LaLaurie Mansion, where tales of New Orleans’ most savage murderer, Madame LaLaurie, will leave you scared stiff.

By day, the shops and houses lining the streets of this quaint Colonial living-history museum are filled with performers reenacting daily life in the 18th century. At night, however, the 300-year-old buildings tell a spookier tale, which you can hear all about on The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg tour. On the second-oldest ghost tour in the United States, a guide armed with a candle-lit lantern takes you on a one-mile walk through the campus of The College of William & Mary and around Colonial Williamsburg, describing otherworldly experiences in a family-friendly way. Those seeking a scarier adventure should opt for the “extreme” tour, where tour guides use various ghost detectors to find paranormal activity—watch your back, folks.


Though there are dozens of walking tours winding their way through the labyrinth of this storied 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 also learn how Greenwich Village influenced authors such as Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to write their famous horror stories.

While most people travel to Las Vegas for some razzle-dazzle, a short 35-minute trip outside the city to Goodsprings provides plenty of thrills. Mostly abandoned, this early 20th-century mining town, nestled in the foothills of the Spring Mountains, is chock-full of paranormal activity. Vegas Specialty Tours provides round-trip transportation from Sin City, ghost hunting equipment such as EMF meters and temperature guns, and a guide who knows where to find the best signs of the supernatural. This unique experience starts with a meal (included in the price) at the Pioneer Saloon (famous for its Ghost burger). It features stories of truly tragic events, murders, and strange occurrences in the area.


As the site of the infamous witch trials in 1692-1693, Salem will forever be linked with a sordid history and several restless spirits. Black Cat’s Nighty Ghost Tour takes you to some of the country’s most haunted sites and uncovers Salem’s spookiest stories, including witchery and maritime misadventures. Those seeking even more terrifying tales can opt for the late-night tour, where you’ll hear anecdotes involving torture, murder, and the unearthing of graves. Due to its graphic nature, this tour is recommended for ages 16 and over.

Stories of glamour, greed, and the shady side of Tinseltown’s past are the stars of L.A. Ghosts, the top-rated ghost tour in Los Angeles. Visit 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, where numerous patrons have reported paranormal activity. Tours depart from El Capitan Theatre, and you can choose from a standard one-hour experience that visits eight sites or an extended cut that lasts an hour and forty minutes and includes 12 locations.


Underneath Savannah’s Spanish Moss and Southern charm lurk dozens of spirits who aren’t exactly keen on hospitality. On the incredibly popular Blue Orb Savannah Ghost Tour, you’ll hear about ghost sightings and eerie happenings at places such as Wright Square (also known as the “Hanging Square.” Adults in a witchy mood should check out the Zombie tour, an excursion that taps into the city’s voodoo connections and the conjurers rumored to bring back the dearly departed.

You’ll have no trouble remembering the Alamo or its many storied characters (like Davy Crockett) thanks to this 90-minute tour of downtown San Antonio. After seeing the historic battle site lit 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 urban legends as you pass haunted hotels, theaters, and mansions. You can also enjoy a “haunted dinner” experience or try the company’s spirited haunted pub crawl—cheers!


Alcatraz, a small island in the middle of the bay outside of San Francisco, is one of the most famous prisons in the world. From 1934-1963, it served as a maximum security federal penitentiary that housed some of the most dangerous and notorious criminals at the time. Touring Alcatraz is a popular attraction in San Francisco, but most people experience the landmark during the day. The nighttime tour, however, is the way to go—not only are there fewer crowds and stunning sunset views of the bay, but park rangers offer special programming after dark, such as talks on former inmates like Al Capone, and open up limited access rooms. Trust us, there’s something particularly eerie about experiencing this former jail at night and hearing stories of the prisoner’s past, including escape attempts.

Hop aboard the Trolley of the Doomed—if you dare. At night, Key West’s charming eccentricities seem 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 ghosts. 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 meet Robert the Doll, the “most haunted plaything” in the world? Consider yourself warned.


If you prefer to pair paranormal spirits with liquid spirits, this two-and-a-half-hour White House Ghost Tour Pub Crawl in America's capital should keep you terrified and tipsy. 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 make new friends. Be sure to bring your camera—the White House and the monuments under the moonlight are spectacular.

Since 2004, Spooked in Seattle’s paranormal experts have led locals and visitors on ghost tours and paranormal hunts through the city’s historic neighborhoods. You’ll learn about spirits that haunt Pioneer Square and stop at Smith Tower, a skyscraper from 1914, and the Merchant’s Cafe and Saloon, the city’s oldest restaurant. The grand finale includes a flashlight-powered visit to Seattle’s “underground,” the century-old shops, bars, and hotels abandoned after the city’s 1889 fire and still stand several feet below the city’s modern streets. Wearing comfortable shoes is strongly encouraged!


San Diego’s famed Gaslamp Quarter is known for its pretty lanterns and buzzing bars, but plenty of spirits are lurking in the shadows. This fast-paced tour mixes stories of the supernatural with bizarre true-crime events and includes stops at the Balboa Theater and the Horton Grand Hotel. In this lavish Victorian building, guests in room 309 have reported rattling beds, flickering lights, and other creepy occurrences. You’ll also have a chance to go inside the Davis-Horton House, which dates back to 1850 and is believed to be one of the most haunted spots in the city.

Hop aboard for a three-hour bus ride on Chicago’s oldest and most acclaimed ghost tour. Paranormal researcher and Chicago Hauntings founder Ursula Bielski and her expert guides uncover the Windy City’s dark and bloody past while whisking you around town on a luxury coach. You’ll visit the tragic sites of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, the original City Cemetery, and the infamous Hull House, which is said to have inspired Rosemary’s Baby. Along the way, you may even encounter Chicago’s most famous ghost, “Resurrection Mary.” When it’s time to stretch your legs, you can opt for a stroll in “Death Alley”—though we won’t judge you for staying on the bus.


“Some stories were never supposed to be told,” says Mike Brown, creator of this acclaimed ghost tour and the Pleasing Terrors podcast host. On this 90-minute walk, Brown tells the stories of the Holy City’s greatest hauntings at sites such as the Charleston Library Society (known for its “blood book'') and Poogan’s Porch, a restaurant where ghost sightings are often on the menu. You’ll also hear the tale of Lavinia Fisher, the country’s first alleged female serial killer, who was executed in 1820 (in her wedding dress, ouch) and continues to haunt the residents of Charleston.


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