The Scariest Places in America
Visit a spooky, frightful destination that will haunt you long after you're home.
Photo By: Jasmine Gordon
Photo By: The Stanley Hotel
Photo By: JacobH
Photo By: South Dakota Dept. of Tourism
Photo By: Kylie Pearse
Photo By: Myrtles Plantation
Salem Burying Ground
For centuries, Americans have believed in the supernatural. In 1692, curses and cries rang through the streets of Salem, Massachusetts when a strange hysteria led to accusations of witchcraft. Twenty men and women were executed, and some say their wronged souls still haunt the community. In Salem's House of Seven Gables, a seaside mansion built in 1668, visitors report eerie occurences, like a rocking chair that rocks by itself. Over 250,000 people arrive each October for the town’s Haunted Happenings, which include costume balls, ghost tours, a live reenactment of a witchcraft trial and more.
The Stanley Hotel
Don’t be fooled by the Stanley Hotel's magnificent setting and beautiful rooms. The property, in Estes Park, Colorado, inspired author Stephen King’s terrifying novel, The Shining, after he and his wife stayed there just before its annual winter closing. King had nightmares about his then three-year-old son, screaming as something chased him through the long, empty halls. Do your own chasing—or escaping—when you take a Night Spirit Tour through the hotel, now more than 100 years old. Other ghosts play piano in the concert hall after dark or hang out in an underground cave system formerly used by construction crews.
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Don't lose your head in Sleepy Hollow, a quaint New York village described in writer Washington Irving's story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In Irving's tale, a Headless Horseman, seeking the head he lost in the Revolutionary War, often rode through the countryside at night, thundering over a bridge and past a little church. Look for the apparition when you tour the town's 18th-century Philipsburg Manor or the local cemetery.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and Museum
No one knows who killed wealthy Andrew Borden and his wife in 1892. An old rhyme pins the axe muders on their daughter Lizzie, but did the unmarried Sunday school teacher really do it? After a jury set her free, Lizzie sold the Victorian home. Today, it's the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and Museum. Guests sometimes flee in the middle of the night after seeing doors open and close without human help, or after spotting shadows climbing the stairs.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
St. Louis Cemetery, established in New Orleans in 1789, is Louisiana's oldest and most haunted. Over 100,000 souls are buried here, some in decaying crypts. Visitors often encounter the ghost of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of the 1800s. Be respectful if you encounter her; she's said to pinch and shove non-believers. Ghosts from yellow fever epidemics and Civil War battles may also stalk the grounds. A licensed guide must accompany you if you visit; going alone probably isn't wise anyway.
Winchester Mystery House
After the 1881 death of William Wirt Winchester, founder of Winchester Firearms, his widow, Sarah, used her huge inheritance to construct a bizarre home. Until she died in 1922, she hired workers to install doors that went nowhere, stairs that led to the ceilng, secret rooms and other oddities. Today, the house is a bewildering maze of 160 rooms. Many think she was trying to escape the angry ghosts of those killed by her husband's guns. Now known as the Winchester Mystery House, as seen on Ghost Adventures, the home is located in San Jose, California.
Historic Bullock Hotel
Where else would you expect to find the haunted Bullock Hotel, other than in Deadwood, South Dakota? It was the town's first hotel, and it's still a favorite haunt of the town's first sheriff, Seth Bullock, who died in 1919. His spirit supposedly flicks lights on and off in the basement and rattles dishes and glasses in the restaurant. He was a law-abiding man, so maybe he's just trying to chase off more malevolent ghosts.
Gettysburg National Military Park
In 1863, Confederate and Union forces fought for three terrible days at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, until some 50,000 lay dead or wounded. Today, Gettysburg National Military Park is said to echo with the cries and whispers of their phantoms. One of the most horrifying stories in the area comes from two Gettysburg College administrators. One night, the men claim, they took an elevator to the first floor of a building called Pennsylvania Hall. Instead of stopping there, the elevator descended to the basement, where the doors opened to reveal a blood-splattered Civil War operating room. If you go, perhaps you should take the steps.
Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, LA
It's hard to believe Louisiana's elegant Myrtles Plantation, built in 1796 and listed on the National Historic Register, harbors ghosts in its spacious rooms. But in 1992, a National Geographic Explorer team allegedly shot a photo of a ghostly slave girl on the grounds; a building behind her was visible through her translucent form. Other legends say 10 or more people were poisoned, hung or otherwise murdered here. Take an evening mystery tour to search for specters, or look into the plantation's haunted mirror, said to hold trapped spirits.