10 Unexpectedly Haunted Southern Road Trips
Roam the ghostly haunts at these spooky destinations without all the scare-seeking crowds.
Photo By: Vicksburg CVB
Photo By: Arkansas.com
Photo By: Vicksburg CVB
Photo By: Orlando North Seminole County Tourism
Photo By: Andrew Jackson's Hermitage
Photo By: Erin Gifford
Photo By: Visit Baton Rouge
Photo By: Jefferson County CVB
Photo By: Paducah CVB
Photo By: Brett Flashnick
Photo By: Georgia Department of Natural Resources
The South's Ghostly Haunts
There are certain destinations that pop to mind when we think about the most haunted cities in America, like New Orleans and Savannah. These cities are especially well-known among ghost hunters, haunted history seekers and fans of all things paranormal. They can also swell with tourists, particularly in the fall. If you dare, here's where to go in the South for plenty of spine-tingling scares, spooks, spirits and screams, only minus all the crowds (at least not the living kind).
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Home to just 2,000 residents, few know of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Yet, it's home to what's widely considered to be the most haunted hotel in America, Crescent Hotel & Spa. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room, if you dare. Replete with paranormal activity, many guests have reported flickering lights and even ghost sightings. For those less inclined to snooze with spirits, the hotel offers nightly ghost tours year-round, as well as spooky ghost stories told around a fire at their outdoor theatre. In town, guided tours and ghost hunts captivate visitors eager to explore the town's most haunted sites, including underground catacombs.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania has long been considered one of the most haunted destinations in the country. It's where more than 50,000 soldiers lost their lives in the Civil War in July 1863. Few know as much about Vicksburg, Mississippi, home to Vicksburg National Military Park, where 47 days of battle were waged leading up to the surrender of the Confederate Army. Today, visitors have reported hearing cannon fire, the screams of wounded soldiers in empty fields and the smell of gunpowder. Vicksburg is also home to McRaven, a former Confederate campsite and field hospital known today as Mississippi's most haunted house. Apparitions have been reported by numerous visitors. Haunted tours take place weeknights year-round.
You could visit Orlando to see Disney's spooky, yet whimsical Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom. Or, you could explore Orlando North, including the towns of Oviedo, Longwood and Sanford for real-life haunted attractions, like the Inside-Outside House. Once owned by a retired sea captain, it's said that voices and footsteps of the captain and his cat can be heard inside this prefab house. Settle in for a drink at Wop's Hops Brewing Company where mediums have reported the presence of five spirits (four of which have names). At the Oviedo Sports Complex, keep your eyes open for the apparition of a Native American man walking into the woods in the early evening.
For many, a visit to Nashville isn't complete without a stop at Hermitage — the home of former US President Andrew Jackson — whether for a guided tour of the ornate mansion or a stroll across the historic plantation. Some even seek out Hermitage to explore its haunted side. It's said that the spirits of Andrew Jackson and his wife, Rachel, roam the grounds, as do fallen soldiers from the Battle of New Orleans. Meanwhile, Nashville's Tennessee State Prison, which is no longer open for tours, is haunted by prisoners executed in the electric chair. Stay the night at Gaylord Opryland Resort, home to The Black Lady, an apparition dressed in black who has been seen across the hotel, particularly in the dark of night.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
North Carolina's Outer Banks are a popular family beach destination during the summer, but this windswept stretch of barrier islands has a decidedly spooky story to tell, filled with pirates, shipwrecks and even ghost cats. Off the coast of Cape Hatteras, many ships have met their fates thanks to hidden sandbars and strong currents. Home to as many as 5,000 lost ghost ships, this area has earned the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic." Three lighthouses, including Currituck Light Station, Bodie Island Lighthouse and Cape Hatteras Light Station, each have haunted tales of their own. The latter is said to be home to a furry black and white ghost cat, the pet of a former light keeper that is said to keep watch over the grounds.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans has a long-standing reputation as one of the most haunted cities in America, but Baton Rouge has its own spooky stories to share. Visitors have reported paranormal activity ranging from odd noises to unexplained activities and even ghost sightings at the Old State Capitol. At Myrtles Plantation, the ghosts of Native Americans (the plantation was built on a former burial ground) and former slaves seeking chores to complete around the house have been reported from time to time. At the Guarantee Income Life & Broadcasting Building, which was once Baton Rouge General Hospital, security guards refuse to go into the basement cafeteria. Once the morgue, the entire floor drops a few degrees at night, a sure sign of a ghostly presence.
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
A stone's throw from Harpers Ferry, the picturesque town of Shepherdstown may be the most haunted town in America. It's so haunted, in fact, that ghost hunters were asked to investigate after local police officers were called to locations throughout the town one too many times for odd activity, like flickering lights, loud footsteps and crashing dishes. A short distance from the Potomac River, investigators believe the water may be channeling the town's curious spiritual activity. Visitors can join walking tours year-round to attempt to unravel the mysteries of Shepherdstown. In Harpers Ferry, the John Brown Wax Museum is also said to be home to paranormal activity.
Situated at the intersection of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, Paducah, Kentucky has a haunted past that it's eager to share. This small town of less than 25,000 residents has plenty of ghostly Civil War soldiers and historic restaurants frequented by those from beyond the grave. At popular gastropub Shandies, an ethereal young girl is said to hang out for a while, knocking over salt and pepper shakers, even appearing in reflections. Meanwhile, Market House Theatre has its own haunted history, occupied by a ghoulish resident who once lived on the second floor before being burned to death, or so the story goes.
Columbia, South Carolina
Charleston may receive the lion's share of visitors eager to book haunted tours and explore infamously spooky locations, like cemeteries and jail cells, but Columbia has more than a few stories of its own. At the South Caroliniana Library, students have reported sudden cold spots, as well as unexplained opening doors and moving objects, said to be former University of South Carolina President James Rion McKissick, who is buried on the grounds. At historic Gervais Street Bridge, many headlights have shone on what appears to be a young woman hitching a ride. Those who've picked her up have realized a short time later that she's vanished.
In Dahlonega, when things go bump in the night, do they ever. The city's history includes ghost stories aplenty, like sightings of Civil War soldiers playing cards at Mount Hope Cemetery, as well as young girl apparitions in white dresses who play in the town's historic district. According to residents, the stories go on and on. Sign up for a self-guided ghost tour that makes stops at known haunts, like Bourbon Street Grille and Twenty Seven on Park. The Historic Courthouse, now the Dahlonega Gold Museum, is said to be home to a ghost named Tommy who has been seen in a hooded robe in windows and on the balcony.