- America is full of creepy ghost towns, abandoned buildings, and haunted forests.
- Shadowy figures, laughter, and footsteps have all been reported as paranormal activity within Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, a former prison.
- The Winchester Mystery House in California was essentially built to be haunted, and once had 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, and 2,000 trap doors, regular doors, and spy holes.
- You can spend the night at the Lizzie Borden house – the scene of the gruesome murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
There’s a haunted spot to be found in every state.
But which are the most haunted in America? We found 40 places in the US that are known for their paranormal activity. They range from hotels to lighthouses to former prisons.
The stories behind why ghosts lurk in these spots are fascinating and often gruesome tales.
Keep scrolling for some interesting history and a good scare.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
During its heyday, Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the most expensive and well-known prisons in the world. It was built in 1829 and housed big name criminals like Al Capone and bank robber “Slick Willie.”
Up until overcrowding became a problem in 1913, prisoners were kept in complete solitude at all times. Even when prisoners left their cell, a guard would cover their head so they couldn’t see and no one could see them.
Today, the decaying penitentiary offers ghost tours and a museum.Shadowy figures, laughter, and footsteps have all been reported as paranormal activity within the prison walls.
The King’s Tavern, Natchez, Mississippi
Built in the late 1700s, The King’s Tavern is one of the oldest buildings in the state. The restaurant and bar has a rich and somewhat disturbing history. A man named Richard King bought the building years after it was constructed. The story goes that he hired a young girl name Madeline to be a waitress and then had an affair with her. When King’s wife found out, she had the girl killed. It’s said that Madeline’s spirit now haunts the tavern.
Then, in the 1930s, three mummified bodies were found in the tavern’s chimney. Some say that these are the bodies of those murdered by the Harpe brothers, who are often referred to as America’s first serial killers. The Harpe brothers were known customers at the restaurant.
Today, visitors to the restaurant report heat coming from the fireplace even when it’s not lit, shadowy figures, doors shutting inexplicably, and noises that sound like a crying baby.
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
Sarah Winchester commissioned the building of her mystery house in 1886, after her husband, gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, died of tuberculosis and her infant daughter died shortly after. She was told by a medium that she would forever be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles, unless she started building nonstop.
Sarah used the money she inherited from her husband’s death to employ 16 carpenters who worked 24 hours a day until her death in 1922, resulting in a bizarre house, that at its peak had a total of 200 rooms, 10,000 windows and 2,000 trap doors, regular doors, and spy holes.
With staircases leading to ceilings, windows leading to secret passageways, and doors opening into walls, the house was built to be haunted, and Sarah lived in it completely alone.
Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, Fall River, Massachusetts
Now a museum and a bed & breakfast, the Lizzie Borden house was the scene of the gruesome murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, who were found in 1892 covered in blood and beaten to death with an ax. Lizzie, the Borden’s daughter, was the prime suspect in the case.
The charges against Lizzie were later dropped due to lack of physical evidence, and no one else was ever charged with the murders – the case remains unsolved. Today, guests can stay in the room where Abby was killed (pictured above).
According to employees and visitors, the home is full of paranormal activity such as an apparition in Victorian clothing and sounds of weeping, doors opening and closing, footsteps, and conversations in empty rooms.
Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot, Salt Lake City, Utah
Now home to the Utah State Historical Society, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot was built by George Gould for the Rio Grande Western Railroad and was a travel hub in the early 1900s.
A woman in a purple dress haunts the women’s bathroom of the Rio Grande Café. According to Haunted Houses, this woman was hit by a train after her fiancé threw her engagement ring onto the tracks during a fight.
The ghost of George Gould is also said to make the occasional appearance on the balcony and in the lobby.
St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine, Florida
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is Florida’s first lighthouse and the city’s oldest surviving brick structure. The tower’s lens is the original lens that was installed during the 1870s.
Besides being known for its rich history, the lighthouse is also known for the ghosts that haunt it. It’s believed that multiple tragic events that occurred in or near the lighthouse are the cause for the sight’s paranormal activity.
There’s the story of the lighthouse keeper who fell and died while painting the tower, and the story of three children who were playing in a cart near the tower, which broke and fell into the ocean, causing them to drown. Visitors claim they have seen the keeper’s ghost watching the grounds and heard the sounds of children playing nearby.
The Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana
Commonly known as one of America’s most haunted homes, the Myrtles Plantation started off as a working mansion during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It’s an extravagant example of the grandeur that characterised plantations during that time period; the French chandelier in the mansion’s foyer is Baccarat crystal and weighs over 300 pounds. Today, it’s a bed and breakfast.
Rumour has it that the house was built on top of a former burial ground, and throughout the years there have been numerous ghost sightings. The most well-known being Chloe, who was allegedly a former slave at the plantation.
The legends that surround Chloe vary, but most say she poisoned the plantation owner’s two children, and was then hung by her fellow slaves. Chloe is said to have appeared as an apparition in a photograph taken by the plantation’s proprietress in 1992.
Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio
A mix of beautiful architecture and crumbling prison cells, the Ohio State Reformatory saw plenty of violence during the 94 years the prison was in operation. The reformatory opened in 1896, hoping to be a place where juveniles were made into better people. In 1990, the federal order that closed the prison cited “brutalizing and inhumane conditions.”
One of the most violent incidents that occurred at the prison was the kidnapping and killing of an employee’s wife and daughter, which was carried out by two parolees in 1948. Just two years later, the warden’s wife was shot dead by a gun that fell on the floor as she was picking up a jewellery case. Years later, the warden himself died of a heart attack in his office. One inmate reportedly killed his cellmate and then stuffed his body under a bunk.
Tour guides and visitors alike say they can still hear the warden and his wife having conversations.
LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana
The LaLaurie Mansion is named after its owner, Madame Delphine LaLaurie. After LaLaurie’s third husband left her and returned to France, rumours started circulating that she went crazy and started torturing the slaves who lived and worked in her mansion.
The first incident that raised concern occurred in 1833, when a female slave fell from a window and died. A year later, there was a fire at the mansion that caused police to come across the mutilated bodies of multiple slaves in the attic. It was believed that LaLaurie tortured her slaves in grotesque ways, drilling holes into their heads, breaking their bones, or removing their intestines.
The public stormed the mansion after they heard about the story, but LaLaurie was never held responsible. Instead, she escaped to France where she’s thought to have died years later. But the ghosts of her victims are said to have remained in the mansion; visitors claim they can still hear their screams.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia
Originally built as a place of healing, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum welcomed its first patients in 1864. The building, which is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, was built to house 250 people. At its peak in 1950, the asylum was home to 2,400 patients, many of whom endured lobotomies and electroshock therapy.
Mental health reforms and the building’s poor condition caused the asylum to close in 1994. However, many patients died during the facility’s 130 functioning years. Some are believed to haunt the building’s halls, which is why the asylum attracts visitors and ghost hunters.
RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
The RMS Queen Mary has had many lives. The ship made its maiden voyage in 1936 and carried many a Hollywood celebrity, from Clark Gable to Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, in years to come. Those on board got quite the experience: two bars and swimming pools, five dining areas and lounges, a grand ballroom, squash court, and a small hospital.
In 1939 the ocean liner was turned into a troopship for WWII and named “The Grey Ghost.”
In 1947, the ship resumed its original role and hosted passengers for another 20 years, until docking in Long Beach, California, on Halloween in 1967. During its time, the Queen Mary saw numerous deaths. A young sailor was crushed by an engine room door, a crew member was murdered in cabin B340, and several children drowned in the ship’s pools.
The Queen Mary is now a working hotel, one that guests continually say is home to the ghosts of those who died onboard. The engine room is a big tourist attraction, thanks to its designation of “hotbed of paranormal activity.”
Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina
The Dock Street Theatre in downtown Charleston is one of the oldest theatres in America. After a brief stint as the Planters Inn when a fire burned down the original theatre, it was restored to its true purpose in the 1930s.
One of its most famous ghostly inhabitants is Nettie Dickerson, a prostitute who was said to have been struck by lightning while standing on the balcony. Some visitors have reported seeing her running amok on the second floor in a red gown.
Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff’s Hotel Monte Vista, which opened in 1927, has a plethora of hotel guests who just never left.
Monte Vista’s most well-known ghost story is that of room 305. This room is thought to have been occupied by an old woman who was a long-term renter and used to sit in a rocking chair near the window for hours. Today, guests, as well as staff, see the chair rocking on its own. Some have even seen the old lady sitting in it.
Other paranormal activity includes the sound of a screaming infant that comes from the hotel’s basement and sends housekeepers running, a phantom bellboy who knocks on doors and announces “room service,” and the ghosts of two prostitutes who in the early 1940s were killed in room 306 and then thrown from the window. The most bizarre is the meat man, a long-term guest who stayed in room 220 in the 1980s and hung raw meat from the chandelier in his room. His body was discovered in his room three days after he had been killed.
Poinsett Bridge, Greenville, South Carolina
Besides bearing the distinction of South Carolina’s oldest bridge, Poinsett is also believed by many to be a particularly spooky spot. The bridge, which was built completely out of stone in 1820, is rumoured to be home to multiple ghosts.
There’s the story of the mason who died while building the bridge; his body is allegedly entombed inside of it. Then there’s the man who died here in a car accident in the 50s, and a slave who was lynched near the bridge.
Lord Baltimore Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland
The Lord Baltimore Hotel’s long history in the city has earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Designed by William Lee Stoddard, it was the largest hotel in the state of Maryland when it opened its doors in 1928.
Guests have reported feeling invisible hands touch them in the elevators, but the 19th floor is said to be particularly haunted. The elevators go to the 19th floor when no one has pressed a button to send them there, and, according to some, the ghost of a little girl who is said to have committed suicide in the hotel frequents its halls.
Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon
Henry Pittock was the owner and publisher of “The Oregonian” newspaper, while his wife Georgiana was the founder and fundraiser of multiple charities. The couple built their stately mansion in 1914, and moved in that same year with eight other family members.
Henry and Georgiana didn’t live in the house long, though; Georgiana died in 1918 and Henry died a year later. The family stayed in the mansion and continued to own it until 1958. The home is now owned by The City of Portland and is open to visitors.
Those who have stopped by the mansion have reported some puzzling occurrences. Some say they smell flowers – Georgiana was an avid gardener – in rooms that have none, and others say a childhood painting of Henry moves around in the house on its own.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky
Waverly Hills Sanatorium started off as a one-room schoolhouse in the late 1800s. The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital later purchased the land and built the sanatorium, which opened in 1910 as a small quarantine for tuberculosis patients. The large building that now sits abandoned was built in 1926 in response to the need for a larger facility; the sanatorium could house over 400 patients.
Waverly Hills was its own community complete with a zip code, post office, and water treatment facility. Everyone in the sanatorium – patients, nurses, doctors – were cut off from the outside world. It closed in 1961 after an antibiotic that cured tuberculosis was discovered.
However, it’s believed that some patients never left and still haunt the grounds. Visitors can participate in ghost tours and visit haunted houses during the fall season on the hospital grounds.
Ledge Lighthouse, New London, Connecticut
The New London Ledge Lighthouse was built on top of a concrete pier in Connecticut’s New London Harbour in 1909. Until the US Coast Guard took over the lighthouse in 1939, individual keepers kept the light on for passing ships.
The spirit of a former keeper named Ernie is said to haunt the building, with reports of doors opening and closing themselves, televisions and radios turning themselves on and off, and occasional sightings of a ghostly bearded man.
If you dare, tours are offered during the summer.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
The Stanley Hotel served as the inspiration behind Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining,” which was later turned into a cult-favourite horror movie. According to paranormal experts, the Colorado hotel is said to be one of America’s most active ghost sites.
F.O. and Flora Stanley, a couple from Massachusetts, opened the hotel in 1909, and it’s believed that their ghosts still haunt the place. At night, Mrs. Stanley is said to play the piano in the music room. Other reports include lights turning on and off, sounds of laughter, and bags being mysteriously unpacked.
Guests can even book “spirited rooms” in the hotel, where there’s high paranormal activity. Options include the Stephen King Suite or the Ghost Hunter’s Favourite Room.
Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, Alabama
The Sloss Furnaces are now a historic national landmark, but in the late 19th century they produced iron, which was then turned into steel. James “Slag” Wormwood was the boss at the furnaces, and it’s said that he put his employees through some pretty inhumane conditions.
Labour laws didn’t exist at the time, and temperatures in the furnaces often reached above 100 degrees. A total of 47 men died with Wormwood as their boss, and even Wormwood himself lost his life in the furnaces when he slipped and fell into the iron ore, causing his body to melt.
Wormwood and his workers are believed to haunt the furnaces to this day.
Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco, California
Before this historic Victorian home was a hotel, it was a finishing school for girls. A wealthy senator opened the school in 1890 in order for his two teenage daughters to be able to live near him.
A woman named Mary Lake worked at the school and was said to be the senator’s favourite, which is why she eventually became headmistress. The school was short-lived though, and closed only six years after opening. Lake was distraught about the closing and left San Francisco shortly after.
She’s since returned in the form of a ghost who likes to haunt room 410, which is believed to be her former office. Guests staying here will sometimes find their bags mysteriously unpacked.
‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
After Kalākau’s death in 1891, his sister, Queen Lili’uokalani, took over both the palace and the kingdom, until the monarchy was overthrown two years later. The new government seized the palace and held Queen Lili’uokalani as a prisoner in her own former home.
Today, the palace is a museum, but many visitors say the royals never really left. Visitors have reported seeing ghosts and hearing mysterious music and chanting in the room where Queen Lili’uokalani was imprisoned.
Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana
Indiana Medical History Museum sits on the grounds of the Central State Hospital, a hospital that opened in 1848 and treated patients with illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, hysteria, alcoholism, senile dementia, and epilepsy. It was referred to as the “Indiana hospital for the insane,” and was often accused of abusing its patients.
The hospital’s pathological department was opened in 1896, with the goal of researching and educating people about the physical causes of mental diseases. The department was in operation until the 1960s, but now serves as a museum. It’s the oldest pathology facility in the country, and it still houses preserved specimens, like brains.
If that’s not creepy enough, people say the site is allegedly haunted by former patients.
Crescent Hotel & Spa, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Now a historic hotel and spa nestled into the Ozarks, the Crescent Hotel and Spa wasn’t always such a lovely place. A year before the hotel even opened in 1886, someone fell from one of the building’s windows and died.
Then, in the 1930s, Norman G. Baker turned the hotel into an institute for cancer patients. Baker, a millionaire from Iowa who was former magician, radio broadcaster, and inventor, claimed that he could cure cancer and that organised medicine was corrupt. In reality, though, Baker had absolutely no medical background.
One of his most well-known patients was Lula Tunis, whose husband John, was desperate to find someone who could save her. She died only months after being “treated” by Baker. Baker was eventually discovered as a hoax and imprisoned, but many say his spirit, and many others, still haunt the hotel.
Pine Barrens, New Jersey
There’s not one single landmark in Pine Barrens, New Jersey, that hosts spirits and mysterious creatures – the forest spans seven counties and contains ghost towns galore.
During the colonial era, the area was bustling with sawmills, paper mills, and towns to accompany them, but they were all abandoned when coal was discovered in Pennsylvania.
It’s also said to be home to the infamous Jersey Devil, a beast that the Pinelands Preservation Alliance describes as “a kangaroo-like creature with the face of a horse, the head of a dog, bat-like wings, horns and a tail.” According to folklore, it was the 13th child of a woman named Deborah Leeds, who offered it to the devil while pregnant with it in 1735. Upon its birth, the newborn sprouted talons, hooves, and wings, and killed its mother, siblings, and the midwife before disappearing. Sightings persist today, as it continues to terrorize livestock (and humans).
Amityville Horror House, Amityville, New York
What looks like an inviting suburban home was actually the scene of a mass murder. In 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo shot and killed his whole family – his mother, father, and four siblings – while they were asleep in the house.
Just over a year later, the Lutz family moved into the home. The family didn’t even stay a full month before moving, no longer able to take the strange paranormal activity they reported witnessing in the house. Their stories included strange smells, waking up at 3:15 am (which is when the murders were committed), a spirit knocking a knife down in the kitchen, levitating while asleep, and more.
These stories inspired a series of books, movies, and documentaries. Ronald DeFeo is still serving his sentence for the murders.
The Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas
Colonel Jesse Driskill, a cattle baron, opened the Driskill Hotel in 1886. He was a compulsive gambler though, and had to give it up soon after. He died only four years after the hotel opened, and his ghost supposedly wanders the hotel – but as a woman, a disguise that is said to help him look out for other women.
Room 525 is particularly haunted; two women, both on their honeymoons, committed suicide in this same room, 20 years apart. Then there’s the portrait of Samantha Houston, the four-year-old daughter of a US senator who died in the hotel. Visitors who look at her portrait report a strange feeling.
The Shanghai Tunnels, Portland, Oregon
The Shanghai Tunnels in Portland get their name from the practice that became known as “Shanghaiing” – kidnapping and selling men as workers on ships headed to East Asia.
Restless, agitated spirits of men who were drugged and trafficked in the city’s ports during the early 19th century are said to haunt the underground tunnels through which they were reportedly sold. Legend has it that the local saloons contained entrances to the tunnels, enabling swindlers to prey on unsuspecting patrons and bring them directly underground before they even knew what was going on.
Today, visitors can take walking tours to learn more about the dark history of the tunnels.
Stull Cemetery, Stull, Kansas
Considered by many people to be one of the “gateways to Hell,”Stull Cemetery is allegedly a place where Satan himself comes to wreak havoc and where occult ceremonies and meetings take place.
It has inspired many movies and used to draw its fair share of ghost hunters – that is, until the local police put a $US1,000 fine in place for unauthorised visitors, following multiple incidents where headstones were been tipped over.
Detroit Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan
The Masonic Temple in Detroit is filled with winding staircases, hidden compartments, and cavernous arches – perfect for ghostly residents, one of which is reportedly the man responsible for its 1912 construction, George D. Mason himself.
According to Haunted Rooms, the temple features several cold spots interpreted as indicators of paranormal activity, and has roof doors that are known to swing open moments after being locked.
The Temple attracts visitors from around the world hoping to spot a ghost.
Thornewood Castle Inn & Gardens, Tacoma, Washington
Chester Thorne had Thornewood Castle built in 1908 for his bride, Anna. The grand, 54-room estate was made from the bricks of a 400-year-old Elizabethan manor in England that Thorne purchased and dismantled; he had the bricks, oak paneling and stained glass shipped from England for the construction of the castle.
Today, Thornewood is a bed and breakfast, as well as a popular venue for weddings and events. The site is allegedly haunted by several former residents. Some say the lightbulbs in Chester’s former room are commonly found unscrewed. Others say they have seen Anna sitting near the window in her old room, or as a reflection in a mirror that dates back to her time.
Thornewood was also featured in Stephen King’s mini-series, “Rose Red” in 2002 as the “haunted mansion.”
Fort Delaware, Delaware City, Delaware
Fort Delaware was built as a Union Fortress during the Civil War, but was used as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. It is said that conditions were abysmal, and that many prisoners died there due to maltreatment. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise then that their restless spirits are said to haunt the building.
Ghost tours are available on the isolated island, which is only accessible by ferry.
The Luna Mansion, Los Lunas, New Mexico
Josefita Manderfield Otero, nicknamed “Pepe,” was once the mistress of this mansion, personalizing it with murals and a sun room. After her death in 1951, it became a restaurant.
Customers have reported seeing her watching them dine and causing an empty rocking chair to move back and forth on its own. Many of the mansion’s longtime employees claim to have seen Pepe, as well.
“Whatever I saw walking by those two doors was solid. You couldn’t see straight through her, but you could tell she wasn’t flesh,” cook Thomas Shook told News-Bulletin.
Hutchinson Library, Hutchinson, Kansas
Librarian Ida Day Holzapfel started working at the Hutchinson Public Library in Kansas in 1915. She apparently loved the job so much that she wanted to continue working there even after she died.
Holzapfel went to work for a library in California in 1954 and was killed in a car accident on her first day. Soon after, visitors to Hutchinson’s library reported feeling cold spots, hearing footsteps, and even spotting her sorting books in the basement.
She was known for being strict, and old habits die hard. Her ghost has been known to confront newer librarians to put them in their place.
Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
June 9, 1912, was a tragic day for the Moore family. Six of its members plus two houseguests were brutally killed by an ax murderer who was never identified. Their restless spirits are said to still haunt the grounds to this day.
Guests can visit the house during the daytime, but to experience it in its full creepiness, you can make a reservation to spend the night.
The Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, Tennessee
The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis has survived bankruptcies, a fire, and threat of demolition since it opened in 1928. Furnished with 2,000-pound chandeliers and gold leafing, its stunning interior seats 2,000 people, but also leaves plenty of room for spirits.
A little girl named Mary is one of six ghosts that have been spotted in the theatre, according to Haunted Houses. Performers onstage have spotted her in the audience of their shows, and theatergoers have seen her dancing in the lobby.
Brumder Mansion Bed & Breakfast, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
In Wisconsin’s historic Concordia district, Brumder Mansion Bed & Breakfast used to house a speakeasy in the basement. Today, the 8,000 square foot mansion serves as an event and concert space in addition to being a B&B.
It attracts ghost hunters and paranormal investigators with frequent mysterious incidents. Twelve groups and organisations devoted to exploring paranormal activity say they have encountered spirits here.
According to Haunted Houses, its otherworldly occupants include former owners, an Italian gambler, a 14-year-old prostitute, and a doctor.
Rookies Pub, Sitka, Alaska
Don’t let appearances fool you – this seemingly ordinary pub has a haunted past.
Formerly The Kiksaadi Club, the story goes that a woman was fatally struck by a drunk driver outside the establishment, but was so intoxicated herself that she continued stumbling around and screaming until she finally met her unfortunate end.
Those who grab a drink at Rookies Pub today report seeing a ghost on the roads at night.
Franklin Castle (Tiedemann House), Cleveland, Ohio
German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann had this beautiful home built on Franklin Boulevard in Cleveland in the early 1880s. Hannes lived in the home with his wife Louise and two daughters August and Dora, and used the remaining rooms for friends and family visiting from Germany.
Eventually, August and Dora moved out of the house, and Louise died in 1885, prompting Hannes to sell the house and move out in 1896. The home changed hands multiple times after that, once belonging to the German-American League for Culture and then to Judy Garland’s last husband.
Today it stands decrepit and abandoned, save for the ghosts of Louise Tiedemann and her daughter Emma, who never even lived in the house. She died before it was built.
Centennial Hall, Valentine, Nebraska
Centennial Hall in Valentine, Nebraska, is known to be the state’s oldest still standing high school building. The school, now a museum, dates back to 1897, and with that history comes many accounts of paranormal activity.
Visitors report hearing voices, knocking lights, and even music coming from the music room, though it no longer houses any instruments. The main ghost, however, is said to be that of a girl who died on the premises in 1944, allegedly from a poisoned clarinet reed.
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