10 of the Most Haunted Places in the US to Celebrate Halloween
There’s a chill in the air, the nights are drawing in—and something spooky this way comes. To make the most of Halloween’s impending arrival, plan a spine-chilling escape to one of these 10 cities, known for being some of the most haunted places in the country. And don’t delay: ghost and vampire tour bookings are up almost 40 percent in the last two years, so you’ll want to make plans in advance. From after-dark walking tours and cemetery visits to voodoo-themed excursions, discover the eerie and uncanny side of these popular destinations—just in time for All Hallows’ Eve.
For many, New Orleans is best known for Mardi Gras revelry and swinging jazz bands—but it isn’t all laissez les bons temps rouler. Often referred to as America’s most haunted city, New Orleans has a long history that comprises many gruesome episodes, and its creaky houses, above-ground cemeteries, and bloody lore have made it our most popular destination in the country for ghost and vampire tours. To experience its frights, tour the French Quarter after dark and visit landmarks like the infamous LaLaurie Mansion, travel by mule-drawn carriage for an old-fashioned feel, or learn about the city’s voodoo traditions while creeping through three different cemeteries.
It’s little wonder that Boston has plenty of ghostly legends: With some 400 years of history, the city has witnessed all kinds of violent altercations and unexplained happenings since its founding long ago. Head out after dark on an intimate walking tour to see landmarks like the Boston Opera House (supposedly the city’s most haunted destination) and the Granary Burying Ground, where the disembodied voices of crying children have been heard. You can also explore by trolley once the sun sets to discover Boston’s historic neighborhoods—and learn about its history of serial killers, grave diggers, and other unsavory characters. Either way, be quick: Boston is our fastest-growing destination for ghost tours, and bookings have risen almost five-fold since 2019.
Pretty as it might be, with its Spanish moss-draped trees and misty mornings, Savannah is also known for its bloody history: from Civil War conflict to its dark historical homes and cemeteries, the city’s tranquil appearance belies its sinister past. Bookings for Savannah ghost tours have more than doubled in the last two years, so plan ahead if you want to explore after dark by luminous trolley; learn about the city’s history of war, executions, murders, and mystery on a candlelit walking tour; or mix your revelry with goosebump-inducing ghost stories on a haunted pub crawl.
Old-timey Charleston offers up picturesque streets, Southern hospitality—and a wealth of ghost stories. It may be known as “the Holy City,” but that hasn’t scared away the spirits said to inhabit the city’s centuries-old cemeteries, or the poltergeists lingering in dark corners of its historical manors. That might be why ghost tour bookings are up 58% this year: to discover Charleston’s uncanny side for yourself, get exclusive after-hours access to the supposedly haunted Unitarian Church graveyard, or head down dark alleys and cobblestone streets on a creepy horse and carriage ride.
Little wonder that spooky Salem, Massachusetts is on this list: since its infamous Witch Trials in 1692 and 1693, the city has become a byword for all things macabre. (Fun fact: Even the 1993 Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus, is set in Salem.) Bookings for ghost tours in the Witch City have jumped 106% in the last two years, but there’s still time to secure a spot on a historical Salem Witch Trials walking tour; an after-dark excursion to Salem’s most haunted addresses; or—for the truly brave—a voodoo, vampire, and ghost-themed tour.
Billed as the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine’s history dates all the way back to 1565—and its grim past events, ranging from colonial conflicts and piracy to Civil War violence, have all left a lasting impression on this seafront city. Delve into its darker corners on a haunted trolley tour, where you can view the eerie Tolomato Cemetery, look out for ghosts of yellow fever victims at the Old City Gate, or discover St. Augustine’s spookiest landmark: the Old Jail. Alternatively, step out on a ghostly walking tour under cover of darkness. Just don’t hesitate: tour bookings are up 115% in 2021.
Think tropical breezes, swaying palm trees, and white-sand beaches are at odds with the Halloween spirit? Think again. Key West, idyllic as it may seem, also promises plenty of frights—some paranormal experts have even described it as one of the most haunted cities in the US. It’s no surprise, then, that bookings for its occult-themed tours have more than tripled since 2019, and options like a ride aboard the “Trolley of the Doomed,” a haunted pub crawl and ghost tour, and an after-dark walking tour provide different ways to rub proverbial shoulders with Key West’s resident specters.
There’s more to do in Denver than ski, hike, or otherwise take in the Rocky Mountain scenery—just ask the visitors who have driven ghost tour bookings in the Mile High City up by more than 250% this year. If you’re in search of paranormal encounters, head to Capitol Hill: one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods is also home to many of the city’s most haunted buildings. Set off on a twilight walking tour to see local landmarks like the Molly Brown House (where a now-deceased survivor of the Titanic disaster still supposedly wanders the halls today), and discover the other spooky mansions and historical hotels that the city’s restless spirits are said to inhabit.
Along the narrow, red-brick streets of Old City—so named because it’s Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhood—you won’t just be walking in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. As local legend holds, wayward spirits have frequented the area for centuries. See if you encounter any ghosts yourself on a walking tour of Philadelphia’s most haunted locations. Alternatively, amp up the hair-raising ambiance on a nighttime ghost tour by candlelight, or a rated-R tour that covers everything from vampires and pirate ghost ships to torture, executions, and the red light district. Whichever you choose, know that ghost tour bookings are up 25% this year in the City of Brotherly Love (or is it Hate?).
Ghost tour bookings in sunny San Diego have risen an incredible 447% since 2019, which goes to show that there’s more to this SoCal city than laid-back beach days. Indeed, the Gaslamp Quarter is reputed for its haunted saloons, hotels, and other historical landmarks—and you can embark on a walking tour through the neighborhood to discover the places where visitors have experienced paranormal encounters, including the Balboa Theatre, the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House Museum, and the El Campo Santo Cemetery. (Keep an eye out as you wander between tombstones: strange, glowing figures are said to float up out of the mist.)