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Bodie, California
Photograph: Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation

The most haunted places in America for a creepy ghost hunt

Creepy, spooky and downright hair-raising—the most haunted places in America are not for the faint of heart

Written by
Emilee Lindner
Scott Snowden
Clara Hogan

From Halloween enthusiasts to thrill-seekers to history buffs, people of all kinds love visiting haunted places. For some, it's the draw of the adrenaline rush—that heart-pounding, hair-raising feeling when something spooky lay around the corner. For others, it’s the gripping backstory or the social aspect of braving a visit (after all, nothing bonds a group together quite like intrigue—or terror). 

Lucky for adrenaline junkies and ghostbusters alike, America has no shortage of haunted places, from centuries-old cemeteries to abandoned Gold Rush towns to spooky, ghost-filled houses. While some let you wander through on your own, it’s often a good idea to book a ghost tour to get the full story—and an extra set of eyes (just in case). 

So grab your EMF meter, a sack of salt and your crew—things are about to get ghastly at the most haunted places in America.

Most haunted places in the U.S.

Salem, MA
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Salem, MA

Home of the Salem Witch Trials, this storied town in Massachusetts draws ghost hunters from all over the globe. Those looking to gather goosebumps can explore The Witch House (home to Judge Corwin, an investigator from the infamous trials), Gallows Hill (where the wrongfully accused were executed) and Old Burying Point (where the accusers are buried). Perhaps the scariest place of them all? The House of the Seven Gables, the same house that inspired the novel by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Visitors of the old Salem mansion, which is currently a museum, have reported voices right in their ears despite no one being around—you might want to close your ears for this one.

Bonaventure Cemetery | Savannah, GA
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Bonaventure Cemetery | Savannah, GA

Don’t journey to Bonaventure Cemetery if you’re not ready to see statues in a stone-cold state of bliss—visitors have reported grinning granite, not to mention spooky sounds of crying children and barking dogs. If you do go, stop by the grave of young Gracie Watson and leave a toy at her marker (it might just lure out her oft-seen ghost, as a gift is known to do the trick). If Gracie doesn’t fill your ghost quota, head to Kehoe House, an inn that’s choked with them; if you believe their stories, guests claim they’ve awoken to gentle caresses in the middle of the night, and they’ve also witnessed ghostly mourners (likely from the house’s time as a funeral parlor) standing above them as if they were in a coffin. The Kehoe twins, who died playing in the house’s chimney, also make appearances—try not to stoke these ghosts if you want a peaceful night’s sleep.

The Jersey Devil | Pine Barrens, NJ
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. The Jersey Devil | Pine Barrens, NJ

In between New York and Philadelphia lay 1.1 million acres of uninhabited woodland and its most famous resident: the Jersey Devil. Depending on who you ask, the Jersey Devil is either a livestock-killing animal with red eyes, a Bigfoot-type phenomenon, or the actual spawn of Satan (a.k.a. the thirteenth child of a New Jersey woman named Jane Leeds, born in 1735). The elusive Jersey Devil is nearly impossible to track down. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to catch other New Jersey legends like The Golden-Haired Girl, a demonic black dog, and the headless ghost of Captain Kidd. Explore the area's abandoned mining and mill towns and look for spirits on a haunted hike through the woods—but only if you dare

Mackinac Island, MI
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Mackinac Island, MI

Usually known as a summer vacation destination, Mackinac Island, Michigan, isn't lacking in the spook department. A curly-haired girl in a sundress, Lucy, infiltrated local lore with sightings all over the island, while a teenage boy, Harvey, is also said to haunt the area. While Harvey’s death was declared a suicide, locals say his spirit remains on the island to tell the truth: he was murdered. Thankfully, all ghosts on the island are said to be harmless—even the spirits of seven women killed at the Drowning Pool after being tried for witchcraft aren’t known to cause much of a stir.

Gettysburg National Military Park | Gettysburg, PA
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Gettysburg National Military Park | Gettysburg, PA

Thousands of soldiers died at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, but some of their spirits remain. The ghosts of soldiers are often seen in multiple hotels and restaurants in town, and they’re even known to run across the battlefield at night—people also claim to hear cannons and smell gunpowder during their visits. The Gettysburg National Military Park has many infamous sites that have seen paranormal activity, like strange floating orbs spotted around the Gettysburg National Cemetery. There’s also Sachs Covered Bridge, where people previously claimed to see three disembodied heads floating, rumored to be the ghosts of three Confederate soldiers hanged there.

St. Augustine, FL
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. St. Augustine, FL

The oldest city in America is sure to host some ghosts, right? You bet. In St. Augustine, one of the spookiest places in Florida, a range of ghosts count among the city’s local characters. Chief among them is a Spanish soldier spotted sitting atop an old fort, watching for ships along the shore. Nearby, former patients of the Spanish Military Hospital (who passed away long ago) still linger within the historic building, moaning and crying. Over in Huguenot Cemetery, the ghost of Judge John B. Stickney roams, visibly unhappy after thieves snatched his gold teeth while his coffin was being relocated closer to his family. And, of course, St. Augustine’s iconic lighthouse is home to lighthouse keeper Mr. Andreu, who fell to his death while painting the tower—so yeah, you could say this town is cursed.

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery | Chicago, IL
Photograph: Bachelors Grove Cemetery & Settlement Research Center

7. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery | Chicago, IL

This small abandoned cemetery in the Chicago suburbs wasn't just an alleged dumping ground for bodies—it was supposedly used by none other than Chicago’s organized crime gangs of the 1920s and 1930s. Not surprisingly, it’s home to some seriously creepy stuff, from near collisions with vehicles that aren’t there to a spirit who walks the grounds holding her baby during the full moon. There have even been reports of a phantom farmhouse that shrinks as you get close and then disappears entirely—real estate is hard to get your hands on, eh?

The Ohio State Reformatory | Mansfield, OH
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. The Ohio State Reformatory | Mansfield, OH

The Ohio State Reformatory closed in 1990, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely empty. The prison, the exact location where The Shawshank Redemption was filmed, now holds regular ghost hunts where visitors report hearing shrieks and the sound of doors slamming. However, the most terrifying part of this prison is the solitary confinement wing; here, people have seen shadowy figures and felt the club of a murdered guard still on patrol. Other haunted sites in the city include the Bissman Building (home of a specter with a top hat and a little girl ghost) and the Renaissance Theatre (where you might hear disembodied laughter and creepy music).

Crescent Hotel | Eureka Springs, AR
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Crescent Hotel | Eureka Springs, AR

From the outside, this place looks like a luxury spa steeped in 140 years of history. But inside, there’s a portal to another realm. During nightly ghost tours, guests often pass out or feel faint at the same exact spot in the house; it turns out, that spot is right above 'the morgue.' Yes, the inn was once owned by a fake doctor who attempted—and failed—to cure cancer patients. Spa goers are accustomed to unexplainable paranormal events and visits from the inn’s former personnel, so prepare for a ghostly check-up.

McInteer Villa | Atchison, KS
Photograph: Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce

10. McInteer Villa | Atchison, KS

The spirits of McInteer Villa in Atchison, Kansas, bring all the chills. Drastic temperature changes, the whiff of a powdery women’s perfume, voices of past inhabitants, lights flickering on and off, and shadowy figures seen from windows... these are just a few of the reported supernatural experiences visitors report after walking through the old boarding house. Five minutes away, near Amelia Earhart’s childhood home, even creepier hauntings happen at Sallie House, an old physician’s office haunted by the supposed ghost of a 6-year-old girl who died on the operating table.

Hotel Monte Vista | Flagstaff, AZ
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Hotel Monte Vista | Flagstaff, AZ

The Hotel Monte Vista hosted living celebrities all the time in Arizona (Bing Crosby, Jane Russell, Spencer Tracy and more were just a few of their starred guests). And if you’re interested, you can relive John Wayne’s stay in room 210—but beware, because he supposedly had a run-in with the bellboy, one of the hotel’s many ghosts. The young man in a red coat and brass buttons is known to tap on the door, yelping 'Room service!' before disappearing without a trace. But you should be warier of room 220, where the ghost of a former renter (who absurdly hung meat from his chandelier), still turns on the TV and scatters the bedding—no one wants to deal with that mess! 

Bodie, CA
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Bodie, CA

Bodie, once a booming mining town, rose to 10,000 in population when gold was found in its hills. Visit today and everything seems suspiciously normal: items still line shop shelves, place settings await guests at a table and homes are furnished with gorgeous antique furniture. What’s abnormal, however, is that Bodie is a ghost town. Like many towns during the Gold Rush, it was abandoned in a rush, and its last residents fled after a 1932 fire destroyed all but five percent of its buildings. Apparently, ghosts are the only souls who roam the streets. Those structures and their contents still stand in what is now a State Historic Park. But don’t take anything! Thieves have suffered terrible misfortunes after leaving Bodie with stolen goods.

Glenwood Cemetery | Yazoo City, MS

13. Glenwood Cemetery | Yazoo City, MS

Don’t let the colorful buildings in Yazoo City fool you. Beyond the iron arch of Glenwood Cemetery lies the town’s greatest mystery: a gravestone broken in two with chains left in pieces. Legend recalls the story of ‘The Witch’ who was supposedly buried in the plot in this historic cemetery—the witch allegedly tortured local fishermen, and as the sheriff chased after her, she sank in quicksand, promising to burn the town down in 20 years. Sure enough, 20 years passed, and Yazoo City lost 200 buildings after a fire. What else? The chains around her grave were broken, too. The groundskeeper repairs the chains to this day, but they often break shortly after.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium | Louisville, KY
Photograph: Waverly Hills Sanatorium

14. Waverly Hills Sanatorium | Louisville, KY

This gothic-looking building is one of the best examples of life imitating art; it looks exactly what you'd imagine a haunted hospital or insane asylum should look like! It's on a windswept hill on the edge of Louisville, Kentucky. It was built in 1910 to treat those suffering from the 'white plague' of tuberculosis ravaging the country. Back then, there was no cure and contracting the disease often proved fatal. While the number of people who actually died here has been exaggerated over the years, historians say the real number was likely closer to 8,000, with a total of 152 deaths in 1945, the worst year of the epidemic. In the past, visitors have reported hearing slamming doors, footsteps and the screams of patients from empty rooms...

Stowe, VT
Photograph: Shutterstock

15. Stowe, VT

A small town known as the 'Ski Capital of the East' has plenty of powder, but also has its own share of haunted history. The best-known spooky site in Stowe is Emily’s Bridge, a covered bridge that, according to legend, was the site of a suicide spurred by unrequited love—people have reported claw-like marks on their cars and audible screams when driving over the bridge. There’s also Green Mountain Inn, where some say the ghost of Boots Berry can be heard tap dancing on the roof during snowstorms, and the Brass Lantern Inn, an 1810 farmhouse turned B&B where guests have heard loud voices from vacant rooms.

16. Burkittsville, MD

This small town in Maryland (specifically, the woods nearby) was the setting for perhaps the '90s' freakiest movie: The Blair Witch Project. If flashbacks of the film aren’t enough to keep you from camping overnight, there are also creepy real-life stories about the area. In 1886, a search party went missing on the hunt for an eight-year-old boy who eventually returned to town—but the searchers vanished. A second search party found disemboweled bodies with bound hands and feet on Coffin Rock, which were nowhere to be found when they returned.


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