Travel may look a little different this year because of the coronavirus, but if you’re able to get out and about safely, these ghoulish sites will give you a fright. From cemeteries and prisons to restaurants and houses, you can actually visit these haunted places this Halloween.
The Eastern State Penitentiary’s Halloween haunted house, Terror Behind the Walls, is canceled this year, but the prison is still open for small-scale day and night tours of the spooky abandoned cells. This new way to see this notorious spot will run through Nov. 15. The decrepit Philadelphia prison once held notorious lawbreakers including bank robber “Slick Willie” and gangster Al “Scarface” Capone. Today, it’s one of the most chilling abandoned places in America.
Just off the shore of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island is open to the public for an outdoor experience only. The property, which was once a fort, military prison and a maximum-security federal penitentiary, housed infamous criminals Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.”
The Old City Jail in Charleston, South Carolina, was built in 1802, and thousands of criminals, 19th-century pirates and Civil War prisoners died here before its closure in 1939. Modern-day visitors have reported unexplainable moving objects, voices and slamming of doors.
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Cemeteries rarely fail to cause a fright, and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans is one of the oldest and most haunted. On one square block, there are more than 100,000 dead and 700 tombs, including that of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and the future resting place of actor Nicolas Cage. You have to schedule a tour to come here though. It is not open to the public.
The Green Mill is a Chicago jazz club and cocktail lounge that has attracted numerous celebrities over the years, such as Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and Bill Gates. A psychic has supposedly identified three ghosts in the building, including a woman who likes to sit on the piano, a former employee and a flirtatious former regular.
In 1873, kid sisters Mary, Eliza and Carrie Pittee and an unidentified fourth girl were playing on a railway cart while the St. Augustine Lighthouse was under construction. A wooden board that stopped the cart from going into the water was not in place, and the girls flipped into the ocean. Three of the four drowned. Their ghosts — and a few others — are said to actively haunt this tourable Florida landmark.
Several locations of the Omni Hotel chain are famously haunted, and the Parker House location in Boston is particularly eerie. The resident ghost is hotelier Harvey Parker, who has been spotted as a misty apparition with a mustache on numerous occasions — once appearing at the foot of a child’s bed as she awoke to ask, “Are you enjoying your stay?” Elevators are often called to the third floor, which Charles Dickens occupied, without a button pushed, a rocking chair keeps guests up at night (although there are no rocking chairs in the hotel) and bright orbs float the hallways.
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The bloodiest Civil War battle happened on the Gettysburg Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. Due to the surplus of fatalities, it’s not hard to believe there may be ghostly activity here. In addition to it being a great place for history buffs, ghost hunters will love this spot. Rumor has it, the soldiers still roam about.
Most people probably don’t know that Washington Square Park has a morbid past. This New York City landmark was once a burial ground, and 20,000 dead bodies are estimated to be beneath it today.
The Hollywood Sign is iconic to Los Angeles, but did you know that it might be haunted? In 1932, 24-year-old actress Peg Entwistle jumped from the “H.” Legend has it, her spirit lingers. Some can even smell her gardenia perfume at this popular hiking spot.
Not only is Grand Central Terminal one of the most popular tourist destinations in America, but it’s a little paranormal too. This ghost story is much cuter than the rest, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier Fala is the specter spotted here.
The Lizzie Borden House is a haunted house you can actually spend the night in. The Fall River, Massachusetts, property came to fame after its inhabitants, Andrew and Abby, were killed with a hatchet on Aug. 4, 1892. Lizzie, Andrew’s daughter and Abby’s stepdaughter, was charged with murder, and then acquitted.
In 1901, Frederick Lemp unexpectedly died of a heart ailment. Three years later, his father and local beer tycoon William Lemp fatally shot himself in the family mansion. His remaining children Elsa, William Jr. and Charles would also take their lives in the years to follow. Their home is now a St. Louis attraction that offers ghost tours and overnight accommodations.
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Fort Warren is a historic Civil War-era structure on Georges Island in Massachusetts. Construction on the fort, which was built to protect Boston, began in 1833. The resident ghost is Mrs. Andrew Lanier, also known as the “Lady in Black,” the wife of a Confederate soldier who was imprisoned there in 1861. As the story goes, she tried to break him out, but her pistol misfired and fatally struck her husband. She was allegedly condemned to death by hanging. The island is currently accessible by recreational vessel only.
Fort East Martello is a Civil War fort in Key West, Florida, with many ghost stories, though that of Robert the Doll is most famous. The stuffed toy was 40 inches tall and belonged to a boy named Robert Eugene Otto, who simply went by “Gene” and gave his toy the name Robert. Those who came into contact with the doll after its owner’s death reported strange happenings including giggling, changing facial expressions and moving across the room all on its own. In 1994, it was donated to the Fort East Martello Museum, where it remains on display today.
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is certainly one of the most unusual hotels in the world. It features many spirited rooms, including the legendary Stephen King Suite 217, which inspired King’s best-selling horror novel “The Shining.” Although hotel tours do not enter guest rooms, you will learn all about them during a 60-minute walk-through of the property.
The Winchester Mystery House is open for self-guided tours. Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester’s infant daughter died of childhood illness and, months later, her husband was taken by tuberculosis, so she moved to San Jose, California, to renovate an eight-room farmhouse. The renovations almost never ended, and the result is now an allegedly haunted and peculiar sprawling mansion worth $71 million today.
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The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is one of America’s most haunted hotels that may even have a portal to “the other side.” The site was once a hospital, and you can book a room or take a walking tour around the premises. You may run into the ghost in the morgue, the nurse, the girl in the mist or the lady in Victorian lingerie in room 3500.
It’s unclear right now whether in-person tours will be available during the week of Halloween, but you can tune in for a virtual and interactive walk-through of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s cemetery roots and haunted history led by Adam Selzer, author, podcaster and host of Mysterious Chicago Tours.
West Virginia’s Moundsville Penitentiary was built in 1866 and closed in 1995. In those years, the gothic structure saw riots, fires and the execution of approximately 100 prisoners. During the Halloween season, visit the Dungeons of Horror haunted house or take an actor- and decoration-free guided tour of the North Walk to learn about its paranormal history.
The Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, where the author lived with his family from 1874 to 1891, offers Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours boasting haunted history, dark tales and Victorian traditions surrounding seances and spiritualism. The billiard room, where Twain smoked cigars, is considered most haunted. Sometimes people can smell smoke, and from time to time, the fire alarm goes off for no reason.
As seen in “The Shawshank Redemption,” the Ohio State Reformatory is beloved by movie buffs and thrill-seekers alike. The Mansfield prison has a long, documented history of supernatural activity and offers an array of tours including private paranormal investigations — pizza included.
Poinsett Bridge is the centerpiece of a 120-acre preserve in Greenville, South Carolina. It was built in 1820, is believed to be the oldest surviving bridge in the state and was likely built by the same architect responsible for the Washington Monument. According to local lore, visitors have reported unexplained screams and moans, malfunctioning equipment, apparition sightings and cars that won’t start when they try to leave.
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Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama — famous for its steel used in New York City skyscrapers and automobiles in Detroit — offers intimate tours of the facilities, where you’ll learn all about the furnaces and the tragic deaths that occurred there, like James “Slag” Wormwood, a foreman of the graveyard shift who plummeted into a pool of iron ore, melting instantly, in 1906.
Thornewood Castle in Tacoma, Washington, is a movie location you can actually visit. You may recognize it from Daniel Day-Lewis’ “There Will Be Blood” or Stephen King’s mini-series “Rose Red.” People have reported sightings of Charles Thorne, the original owner, and his wife Anna, flickering light bulbs and a drowned child standing by the lake. The business does not appear to offer tours, but you book an overnight stay in rooms of grandeur.
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On June 10, 1912, in Villisca, Iowa, Josiah Moore’s entire family and two guests were bludgeoned to death. The identity of the killer (or killers) is unknown. Paranormal investigators have visual and auditory proof of otherworldly activity, and tourists have reported children’s voices, falling lamps, moving ladders and flying objects. If that’s your thing, take a daytime tour or opt to spend the night.
In the early 1900s, Thomas Rowe fell in love with a lady named Lucinda, who called him Don Cesar. Lucinda’s parents forbade their relationship and made her move home to Spain, where she died. As a token of his lost love, Thomas built the beautiful, bright pink Don CeSar in St. Petersburg, Florida, featuring a replica of a fountain where they used to meet. Sometimes, his apparition appears on the property, greeting guests and graciously opening doors for staffers who have their hands full. He’s even been spotted hand-in-hand with her.
If you’re looking for an ice-cold beer with a side of paranormal activity, Moon River Brewing Company is the spot. Widely considered the most haunted place in Savannah, Georgia, many guests have reported a lady wearing a white dress at the top of the staircase. Spirits have been known to throw bottles, breeze by customers and play tricks on employees.
All aboard the USS Salem, a haunted warship in Quincy, Massachusetts. An intimate five-hour paranormal investigation gets up close and personal with the poor souls who perished on this United States Navy vessel. In August 1953, the crew sprung into action to help Greek civilians injured by a devastating earthquake. Of approximately 1,000 treated, many sadly did not make it and remain on the boat, in spirit, to this day. For more bone-chilling boat stories, here are the most haunting shipwrecks around the world.
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