While many celebrate Halloween with quirky-kitschy revelry at pumpkin festivals and costume parties, others take the season to the next level, connecting with the spirits at the heart of what the holiday is about.
Ghostly encounters have been reported in many locations across the US, and here are eight places around the country that are claimed to be haunted.
Marshall House is one of the six Historic Inns of Savannah which were built in the mid-1800s © Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock
Marshall House, Savannah, Georgia
If you’re on the hunt for a hotel with amenities that tap into another dimension, Marshall House in Savannah should be at the top of your list. One of the country’s most haunted places to stay overnight, the hotel is in a building with a history that dates back to 1851. With a previous history as a hospital for Union soldiers and then yellow fever patients, the haunted rooms and hallways are known for many paranormal occurrences. Guests often report ghost encounters throughout the building, hearing ghost children running through hallways and sink faucets that mysteriously turn on.
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St. Augustine’s first official burial ground: The Huguenot Cemetery © Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock
Huguenot Cemetery, St Augustine, Florida
St Augustine is the oldest city in the US, and with a history that dates back to 1585, you better believe there are spirits that linger throughout the area. Start with a tour of Huguenot Cemetery, a hallowed ground since 1821 where many victims of yellow fever were laid to rest. The cemetery is estimated to hold 436 bodies, capped in 1884 when it reached capacity. Ghost sightings are reported at all times of the day and night. Be on the lookout for the most famous ghost that presides over the cemetery, the spirit of Judge John B. Stickney, a beloved St. Augustine denizen who died from yellow fever in 1882.
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Scout new ways to explore the planet’s wildest places with our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox. The famed facade of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park © gregobagel / Getty Images
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
The inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, The Stanley Hotel’s haunted lore lures guests to spend the night among the spirits that roam its halls. Haunted rooms, ghosts of service workers of the past that are spotted frequently throughout the premises and plenty of creeky wood give a thrill to those in search of hair-raising encounters. Screams are a bit more of a challenge here as the hotel’s high elevation (7522 feet) finds you in dizzying thin air.
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The David Whitney House in Midtown Detroit, Michigan © Jon Bilous / Shutterstock
The Whitney House restaurant in Detroit, Michigan
Spirits are included with your meal at The Whitney restaurant, both liquid and ethereal. One of Detroit’s most upscale restaurants is also one of its most haunted spots, known for many strange encounters throughout its famed dinner service. If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation at The Whitney look out for tableware that has been known to move, eerie footsteps heard in the restaurant’s grand staircase and a few shadows of David and Flora, the ornate mansion’s original owners.
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Barber chair in a decaying and empty prison cell in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia © catnap72 / Getty Images
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
In operation as a jail from 1829 through 1971, the Eastern State Penitentiary now operates as one of the region’s most renowned haunted house experiences. Tours of the building highlight the many famed criminals that once were confined within the isolating walls, including Al Capone and Willie Sutton (who almost escaped via a tunnel). Halloween Nights are among the most popular time of year to visit but haunts of prisoners past are reported year-round.
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The Winchester Mystery Mansion is an architectural conundrum © SanSeven / Shutterstock
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA
In 1881, Sarah Winchester found herself a widow of the heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune after her husband, William Wirt Winchester, died of tuberculosis. Sarah had lost her young daughter a few years earlier. Accounts say Sarah, grief-stricken, consulted a medium who instructed her to move out west and create a home for herself and the souls of those killed by Winchester rifles, or else they would haunt her forever.
Construction on the now-famous mansion in San Jose began in 1884 and continued over the course of 38 years, resulting in a sprawling 24,000-sq-ft Queen Anne-style house that today remains at once an architectural marvel and conundrum. The house features 160 rooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces, six kitchens and 13 bathrooms (though only one was functional, supposedly to confuse the spirits).
The structure was not built according to a plan, and the resulting house features a number of strange features including stairs to nowhere, interior windows and more. In today’s currency, the house is estimated to have been built to the tune of $71 million. Upon her death, the house continued to confuse outsiders – it was omitted from her will and eventually was sold for a mere $135,000. Today, only the grounds are open for tours – join the Walk with Spirits around the estate to hear more on the supernatural connections of this vast property.
The country’s oldest active cemetery, New Orleans © John Wang / Getty Images
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans
Dubbed the City of the Dead, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest active cemetery in New Orleans, originally built in 1789. In its 200-year-plus history, the cemetery is supposedly home to 100,000 “residents” housed in more than 700 tombs. Those laid to rest there include the famous voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, along with several other notable figures from Crescent City’s history.
Wander the maze-like pathways of this above-ground cemetery, taking in the elaborate mausoleums, the worn lists of names and, of course, the site’s extensive history. You might get to meet one of St. Louis’ residents.
Note that unaccompanied visits to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 are not permitted. You must visit with a licensed tour guide approved by the New Orleans Archdiocese.
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Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, KY
Opened in 1910, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a state-of-the-art tuberculosis hospital designed to keep patients in isolation from the rest of the general population; the building was originally designed to hold 50–60 patients, but soon it became clear the need was much greater, and the building was expanded to hold more than 400 patients.
The sanatorium was so insular it had its own zip code and post office, and it grew its own food and raised its own livestock. As its website puts it, once doctors and patients alike went to Waverly, they became “permanent residents”. Once the cure for tuberculosis was found in 1961, the hospital was decontaminated and converted into a geriatric care facility until its closure in 1981.
Today the sanatorium is regarded as a highly haunted location, with spirits of patients wandering the halls and occasionally making themselves known.
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