Hit the Cemetrail: 11 Spooky Cemeteries You Can Visit
Visit these historic cemeteries and pay homage to some beautiful final resting places. You may even have a supernatural encounter.
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Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York
Editor's note: Just remember when visiting cemeteries to be respectful of these historic spaces and memorials. Registered on the New York State and the National Register of Historic Places, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a popular tourist destination and is the final resting place for several famous Americans, including industrialist Andrew Carnegie and short story writer Washington Irving. The cemetery holds numerous events for visitors to enjoy, especially during fall. Visitors can participate in An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, who lived the remaining few years of his life in a cottage 20 miles away from the cemetery, and Beyond the Legend, where a local storyteller brings to life some of Washington Irving’s most memorable scary stories, including the "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." They also offer murder mystery events, walking ghost tours and more. Celebrating 167 years of service, Fort Hill Cemetery is rich in history, with American abolitionist and leader of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman and women’s suffragist Eliza Wright Osborne amongst those buried in the cemetery. Once used as a fortress by Native Americans, this notable cemetery is a walk through history with many memorials to American activists, abolitionists and Civil War soldiers.
Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
In 1822, the Recoleta Cemetery was opened, making it the city’s first public cemetery. With more than 6,400 statues and graves, the cemetery is a final resting place for Argentina’s most elite residents, and more than 90 tombs are listed as national historic monuments. Considered one of the world's best cemeteries with its gorgeous, looming marble mausoleums that display a diverse range of architectural designs, Recoleta is also the final resting place of First Lady of Argentina Eva Peron. It’s said that a former grave digger, David Alleno, waited for an architect he hired to build his statue, and once it was completed, Alleno went home and killed himself. Legend says his ghost roams the walkways of the cemetery while his keys create a shuffling sound.
St. Michael's Church Graveyard, Charleston, South Carolina
The graveyard at St. Michael’s Church located in Charleston’s historic district was established in 1761, and is the final resting place of John Rutledge and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, two signers of the American Constitution. The church is the oldest surviving church in Charleston, and the timeworn, aged graves are a distinguishing feature of the cemetery that visitors typically admire as they stroll through the overgrown trails. Also located in Charleston, the Unitarian Church Cemetery is said to be the subject of Edgar Allan Poe's famous "Annabel Lee" poem. People report former Charleston resident Mary Bloomfield's ghost roaming the grounds in search of her husband who left on a business trip and never returned. The church has offered ghost tours of the graveyard since 1996, making it Charleston's oldest ghost tour.
Highgate Cemetery, London, England
First opened in 1839, Highgate Cemetery is the final resting place for philosopher Karl Marx and novelist George Eliot. The cemetery is known for its funerary architecture and its abundant array of plants and trees. The plant life has overgrown parts of the cemetery, creating a wild, natural feel that makes it home to a diverse array of wildlife. With an admission fee, the east side of the cemetery is open to the public to roam the grounds, while the west side is only available to visit through a guided tour. Visitors can walk the trails and admire the awe-inspiring 19th century stone monuments. People have reported experiencing a supernatural presence in the cemetery, including the notorious Highgate Vampire that haunted the grounds in the 1970s.
Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky
In 1846, Edmund Francis Lee convinced the city fathers in Louiseville, Kentucky to utilize the natural beauty and features of Cave Hill Farm to develop the property into a garden-style cemetery. The Cave Hill Cemetery eventually became the desired final resting place for the city's moneyed elite. The landscape gardeners planted exotic trees and shrubs, and sculptors crafted intricate memorials for the families. Among those buried are Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and boxer Muhammad Ali. Visitors are welcome to take a stroll throughout the grounds, though be warned that some have reported unexplained lights and orbs showing up on film, and have reported hearing inexplicable noises for those who enter the grounds at night.
Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia
A cemetery since 1846, the Bonaventure Cemetery is a popular destination for tourists visiting the historic district in Savannah, Georgia. The Bonaventure Historical Society’s guides offer tours of the 100+ acre cemetery on the weekends, giving historical insight and references to its visitors throughout the tour. Visitors to the cemetery are encouraged to stop by Gracie Watson’s gravesite. The 6-year-old daughter of a favored hotel manager who passed away from pneumonia, her death devastated the town. Her parents left Georgia, leaving Gracie's grave site alone. People have reported seeing her ghost playing around town.
Cortland Rural Cemetery, New York
Located in the Finger Lakes region of central New York, two historic cemeteries offer rich historical references and scenic foliage trails for visitors to stroll through. Cortland Rural Cemetery welcomes visitors to wander through its trails and visit the grave sites of notable residents including Dr. Julia Spalding, one of the nation’s earliest female doctors and Nathen Miller, former New York governor. While taking a stroll on the trail, visitors can admire the beautifully designed graves and the diverse lush trees and plants that define the 165-year-old property. One of Rochester’s major landmarks, visitors to Mount Hope Cemetery can take in the marble, bronze and granite monuments of human rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. In 2000, the skull of the Civil War General Elisha Marshall, known as the "Evil Genius," was stolen, and some of his bones were scattered near his gravesite. Passersby have reported witnessing flickering lights and spirits wandering through the grounds.
Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in 1848, the 275-acre Forest Hills Cemetery is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places, and is admired globally for its picturesque architecture, memorials and sculptures. Although it is still an active burial ground, it also acts as an open-air museum and an arboretum. Visitors have the option of partaking in a historical guided tour by one of Forest Hills’ local historians, or they can choose to roam the grounds on their own, observing the memorials of historically acclaimed figures such as suffragette Lucy Stone, who was the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a bachelor’s degree, and clockmaker Simon Willard.
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia
Founded in 1850, Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place for notable former residents of Atlanta, including golfer Bobby Jones, and Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. It also boasts impressive architecture, beautiful sculpture and a botanical preserve. In addition, the cemetery is celebrated as a beloved Atlanta institution, hosting art exhibitions, music events, a Victorian Holiday in December and special Halloween tours offered throughout October.
Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky
Established in 1849, the 170-acre Lexington Cemetery consists of 200 plant varieties, including magnolias, cherry trees and tulips. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes three notable sites within the cemetery, one of them being the graveyard containing American Civil War casualties. Among the notable people buried in the cemetery are suffragist Mary Barr Clay and U.S. presidential candidate Henry Clay. Visitors report hearing strange noises and feeling overwhelmed with anger when a shadowed presence appears throughout the cemetery.
Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon
Lone Fir Cemetery, first opened in 1855, is one of Portland’s oldest continuously used cemeteries, consisting of 67 diverse tree species among its more than 700 trees. Within Lone Fir, are Chestnut Grove Memorial Garden and Heritage Garden and Memorial. Chestnut is a space within the cemetery for people who choose to be cremated, and once opened, Heritage Garden will honor Chinese immigrants and patients from the nearby Oregon State Hospital, a public psychiatric hospital. One of Oregon’s most cherished historic places, visitors can stroll through the cemetery's many trails and during the Halloween season, visitors can partake in a candlelit ghost tour throughout the cemetery, paying visits to the most notorious grave sites on the property.