October is here and Halloween is just around the corner, meaning it’s time to indulge in the paranormal. Whether you love the thrill of horror films or are fascinated with the ghosts of America’s past, this list of some of the most haunted cities in America has something for you. So, leave the costumes at home because you won’t need them where you’re going. Real ghosts, witches and goblins only on this haunted ride.
What makes Boston freakishly haunted? Perhaps its unmarked graves, public executions and infamous Boston Strangler feed the reputation. Find out more when you take a tour of the Ghost and Gravestones of Boston, led by an untraditional cast of characters. Walk amongst the dead during an on-foot adventure or ride along on the trolley. The tour features exclusive access to the Granary Burying Ground, where the remains of John Hancock, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams are buried. When you visit The Ghost Ship Harbor at the USS Salem, you’ll find deranged sailors, smoke-filled rooms and a whole lot of grim. Not for the faint of heart, there’s an accompanying ghost tour. Just outside Boston is the notorious town of Salem, well worth a day trip. Here you’ll find Howard Street Cemetery, the resting place of Giles Corey. Accused of witchcraft during the infamous Salem Witch Trials, Giles was killed after refusing to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against him. He is rumored to haunt the cemetery to this day. Visit the 1692 Salem Witch Museum to learn more about the town’s gruesome past. While in Salem, check out The House of the Seven Gables. The house inspired notable horror-fiction stories, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book by the same name.
The city of Baltimore boasts a gorgeous harbor and colorful scenery, but it also has a storied past. Since America first fought for independence over 200 years ago, people have surrendered their lives on Baltimore battlefields. From the American Revolution and the Civil War to the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, many souls gave their lives to shape our nation forever—and their spirits still remain. If you want to meet them, visit the cobbled streets of Fell’s Point. Every bar, shop and home in this waterfront neighborhood has a ghostly story that is sure to send shivers down your spine. You can even take a guided tour if you want to do some ghost tracking. See taverns, shops and restaurants where things go boo in the night. For the poet in you, tour Westminster Burying Ground & Catacombs, the resting place of famed American writer Edgar Allen Poe. It’s even whispered that he haunts various parts of the town. During a visit to Fort McHenry, catch a glimpse of a uniformed soldier with a rifle, a common apparition at this 18th century national monument. Lastly, walk beneath the rigging of the 1854 U.S.S Constellation warship at Inner Harbor, and come in contact with the spirits that once set sail—only to never return home again.
Charleston, South Carolina
This Southern city is charming no doubt, but there’s something dark about it, too. Charleston was named after King Charles II in 1670, and since then has evolved into a place that hosts a ghostly population. While it’s been nicknamed the Holy City thanks to its several churches and synagogues, there are also stories of pirates and ghosts that haunt its hallowed streets. To learn more about the city’s chilling past, join a supernatural Walks in History tour. If murder stories entice you, visit The Old Charleston Jail to see where the town once held infamous criminals, including Lavinia Fisher, reportedly the first female serial killer in the country. If you’re lucky, she might even make her famous ghostly appearance. To ensure you’re covering enough haunted ground, take a chance on Ghost City Tours. Learn about the tales of tragedy that struck the Dock Street Theatre or see firsthand where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter. Careful with your cameras (orbs much?), it’s been said that soldiers still roam these Civil War grounds. If history intrigues you, mosey on over to The Admiral’s House in North Charleston. This house, formerly known as Quarter’s A, was built for the Commandant of the Charleston Navy Yard, which closed in 1996. Sitting vacant, the home has become a dilapidated, eerie presence that haunts the city even on a sunny day. And as if it couldn’t get any eerier, check out the property’s “Dead House,” where the ghost of a small girl is known to stroll.
New Orleans, Louisiana
One minute you’re dancing down Bourbon Street, and the next minute you find yourself being called into a back room to get a reading from a local psychic. Welcome to New Orleans, where it feels like a full moon casts a permanent glow. Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau worked her magic in this haunted town, and to this day, visitors leave offerings at her grave. Interested in something more chilling? Check out the haunting tale of Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, nicknamed the Savage Mistress of New Orleans. This society woman secretly tortured victims in her French Quarter mansion before fleeing to Paris—and never being heard from again. It’s been said you can still hear her victims screaming in the dead of night. While the home is now privately owned, many NOLA tour companies still take brave souls to Royal Street to see the mansion. Ghost City Tours and Free Tours by Foot will guide you every step of the way. If you haven’t had your fill of haunted sites, visit any one of the 42 cemeteries throughout the city. Because New Orleans is below sea level, tombs here sit above the ground, giving them an even eerier feel. It’s a sight to see, but it’s surely not for the faint of heart. For the ghost hunters, you can’t miss a walk through the French Quarter, where you might bump into a ghost or two from the War of 1812. Take a nighttime tour of a haunted mansion, explore St. Louis Cemetery No.1 and head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar to greet the ghost of pirate Jean Lafitte. Are you ready to come in contact with what lurks in the shadows of America’s most haunted city?
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio has many qualities that make it a favorite Texas city. At the River Walk, you can take in the delicious smells from the taco stands and hear mariachis while you float down the river on a gondola. But there’s a ghostly element to San Antonio that earns it a spot on our list. San Antonio’s rich history and tradition also make it a hub for the spirits of the dead. During the annual Día de los Muertos festival, witness the people of the city honor their late loved ones’ spirits at this cultural celebration. Be sure to visit The Alamo, where over 200 Texans died in a battle against General Santa Anna and his troops in 1836. The fort is now considered a supernatural haven and one of the most haunted places in San Antonio. It’s even a stop on several nighttime ghost tours. While you’re in San Antonio, stop by the haunted Menger Hotel as well. Checking in are ghostly guests, including Sallie White, a chambermaid who died in the hotel. There are several tours that stop by the infamous hotel, including Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours. If you haven’t gotten your fill of ghost stories, visit the Spanish Governor’s Palace. Hear the tale of the Tree of Sorrows and beware of the ghosts of children that roam the halls. When it comes to San Antonio, come for the tacos, but stay for the mystery.
San Francisco, California
Tech companies are thriving in the Bay Area, but apparently, so are the dead—especially at Alcatraz Island. This former penitentiary will give you goosebumps. Visitors have said they can hear voices, see shadows and even feel the touch of former prisoners. Some of the worst felons in history were imprisoned here, the site of deadly riots, tragic murders and much more. If you wander to cell 14D, nicknamed “The Hole” and where prisoners faced their worst punishments, you will likely find (and feel) the cold ghosts of the prison’s past. In the city itself, Chinatown has a frightful reputation. As America’s oldest Chinatown, wandering ghosts are said to lurk in the alleyways. Chinese immigrants came looking for good fortune but some met death before ever being able to return to their families. SF Chinatown Ghost Tours allow you the opportunity to roam the gambling houses, narrow streets and dark alleys. The Presidio—a retired military base with a hospital and cemetery—is said to be another morbid destination for those interested in the paranormal. Do you love coffee, perhaps Folgers in particular? The San Francisco Columbarium stores the ashes of more than 8,000 San Franciscans, including the Folgers family. Here you can see quirky urns, memorabilia and possibly a ghostly little girl. You’ll never drink your Folgers the same way ever again.
While Portland is known for its food and music scene, once upon a time people lived and died in the city’s infamous Underground Tunnels. Also known as the Shanghai Tunnels, these underground passages connected the city’s downtown area to Old Town and Chinatown. According to legend, men would go through the tunnels for a drink (especially during Prohibition), only to be kidnapped and sent aboard a ship to work without pay, some spending the rest of their days at sea. Those who never made it out alive still haunt the city they never truly got to know. To see the tunnels for yourself, take part in the Portland Walking Tours and the Cascade Geographic Society guided tours. Tour the tunnels with flashlights while you listen to the shocking stories that keep the residents of Portland up at night. After your underground journey, head to Old Town Pizza & Brewing. Nina, a famed tunnel spirit, calls it home. If you want to get up close and personal with the spirits, gear up with folks at Beyond Bizarre Walking Tour. Use ghost-hunter equipment to track down departed souls. (Move over Bill Murray, there’s a new ghostbuster in town.) When it’s time to join the living, be sure to visit some Portland gems such as Blue Star Donuts, Powell’s Books or the Portland Art Museum.
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