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Visit These 15 Haunted Cities to Get in the Halloween Spirit

by Eben Diskin Oct 2, 2023

No time of year evokes the five senses quite like the spooky season. The taste of a brown, sugar-rimmed pumpkin beer; the crispness of a brisk fall breeze; colorful foliage; thinning trees; and frequent commercials for Halloween movies are all undisputed signs that it’s that time of year again.

It’s not just a time to go back to school or mentally prepare yourself for fantasy football frustrations – it’s a time to embrace your curiosity and willingness to believe in the spooky and supernatural. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it’s always fun to learn the stories of haunted places, and if you can, visit them yourself.

This year, celebrate the season by visiting one or two of the US’s spookiest, most mysterious, and most haunted cities and towns. From towns with famously gruesome pasts like Salem, Massachusetts to ghostly haunts like New Orleans and Gettysburg – and even a major international airport – chances are you’re within driving distance of some haunted happenings. Whether you’re looking for a fresh way to ring in Halloween or just want a getaway where you can embrace your inner ghost hunter, these are the spookiest places in the US to visit this fall.

We hope you love the spooky cities we recommend! We recommended a few of the most popular ghost tours available in each city below. Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book one of the tours. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

New Orleans, Louisiana

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New Orleans is haunted by more than just boozed up bachelor parties and Mardi Gras revelers. The Big Easy is, historically, one of the most haunted cities in the country, with multiple sites said to be rife with supernatural activity.

Its most distinguished ghost is probably the author William Faulkner, whose spirit roams his former home (and current bookstore) Faulkner House Books. And the nearby Old Absinthe House is also said to be haunted (though it may just be hallucinations produced by its namesake spirit). Dating to the early 19th century, the speakeasy is rumored to be the home of the spirit of Marie Laveau, dubbed the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans,” as well as the ghosts of President Andrew Jackson and pirate Jean Lafitte.

If you’re after some fine dining with some spine-tingling flair, check out Antoine’s Restaurant, a French-Creole establishment opened in 1868; the proprietor is said to roam the dining room in a tuxedo. Or, you could just take a stroll through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 for some good, old-fashioned graveyard paranormal activity. There are lots of ghost tours available in the city, too.

Recommended ghost tours in New Orleans:

Chicago, Illinois

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Believe it or not, deep dish pizza isn’t the only scary thing about Chicago. The city is famous for its Mafia past and a notorious serial killer, so it almost goes without saying that the place is haunted.

Chicago was the home of H.H. Homes, the country’s first serial killer, who murdered dozens of women in the late 19th century. The building where he killed them was known as the “Murder Castle” and was eventually razed and replaced with the Englewood Post Office – but workers often report seeing ghosts in the building’s basement.

The waters underneath the Clark Street Bridge where gangsters used to dump bodies are also said to be crawling with ghosts, and screams are regularly heard from around the bridge itself. And speaking of the city’s mafia past, the Clark Street Ale House, near the former warehouse where Al Capone perpetrated the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, is also purported to be haunted by the souls of those killed that day. Military history buffs shouldn’t miss the Oak Woods Cemetery, where more than 6,000 Confederate soldiers are buried and several paranormal sightings have been reported.

Recommended ghost tours in Chicago:

Savannah, Georgia

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Photo: Doug Ash

Savannah has a spooky vibe, even without knowing about its sketchy history. Something about the hanging Spanish Moss and old cobblestone streets makes you feel like you’re in an episode of “Ghost Hunters.” And fittingly, both “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures” have made trips to Savannah; specifically, to the Moon River Brewing Company, one of the most haunted places in the city. Patrons often report seeing a woman in white on the stairwell, while other ghosts have been known to harass the staff.

The Pirates’ House is another of Savannah’s most haunted venues. This popular, pirate-themed restaurant was once a boarding house for sailors, though some were kidnapped from the basement and forced to sail against their will. The spirits of those sailors allegedly still haunt the restaurant to this day. To fully immerse yourself in ghostly happenings during your visit, stay at the Marshall House, a former Civil War hospital turned hotel, where guests have claimed to see ghostly children and hear spirits in the halls at night.

Recommended ghost tours in Savannah:

Portland, Oregon

The streets of Portland are crawling with more than just hipsters. Perhaps the most haunted city in the Pacific Northwest, Portland largely owes its eerie reputation to the Shanghai Tunnels, used to transport contraband through the city in the 1800s. Legend has it that people were often kidnapped from local bars, trafficked through the tunnels, and shipped off to Asia to become slaves or prostitutes. The spirits of these poor souls are still believed to roam these tunnels, with many visitors hearing whistling or smelling mysterious fragrances. Aboveground, the White Eagle Saloon & Hotel, a former brothel, is known for the scent of cheap perfume, the presence of flying objects, and reports of a smoky smell with no sign of fire.

Recommended ghost tours in Portland, OR:

St. Augustine, Florida

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Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

As one of the oldest cities in the US, it’s no surprise that St. Augustine is no stranger to paranormal activity, and the Castillo de San Marcos is one of its most notorious ghostly haunts. After a colonel discovered his wife was having an affair with his chief officer, the two lovers were never seen again – until bones were found in the fort’s dungeon years later. While it’s unknown who the bones belonged to, some still claim to see the ghost of a woman in the fort, and if you press your ear to one of the walls, many believe you can hear battle cries. The star-shaped fort is supposedly home to the spirits of former soldiers, too.

Ghost tours of the city would also certainly include the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, allegedly haunted by the ghosts of girls who drowned there in the 1870s. St. Augustine is also home to the first permanent Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, established in 1950.

Recommended ghost tours in St. Augustine:

San Antonio, Texas

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The people of Texas aren’t the only ones who remember the Alamo – so do the ghosts of the thousands who died at the famous fort. The battle between Mexican and Texan troops in 1836 claimed the life of folk hero Davy Crockett and has etched its place in US history not only as the site of an important conflict, but as one of the country’s most haunted places. Many claim to have seen ghosts strolling the roof of the Alamo or heard prisoners moaning in the night.

Nearby buildings along the riverwalk are also believed to be haunted. An aspiring actress named Margaret Gething is said to watch performances from the balcony of the Alamo Street Restaurant and theater in a flowing dress, while a boy named Eddie is purported to make noise in the kitchen.

The Emily Morgan Hotel, formerly a hospital, is the ideal place to stay for doing some ghost hunting yourself – you might catch a glimpse of an ethereal woman in white wandering the halls.

Recommended ghost tours in San Antonio:

Charleston, South Carolina

charleston SC haunted

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Nothing seems to attract ghosts quite like Civil War sites, which could be why Charleston is a hotbed of paranormal activity. The downtown area, known as The Battery, used to be an artillery installation during the Civil War, and male guests at the Battery Carriage House Inn have reported seeing a man standing by their beds. Perhaps even more frighteningly, female guests report seeing that brazen male ghost in their beds.

For more living Civil War history, head to Boone Hall Plantation, where the ghost of a former soldier has been spotted, apparently in the act of removing a bullet from the body of another soldier. And if you’re a theater lover (and history buff), the Dock Street Theatre is haunted by the ghost of a local prostitute named Nettie, as well as ghost of actor Junius Brutus Booth, father of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Recommended ghost tours in Charleston, SC:

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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If you want to continue the trend of visiting Civil War-related haunts, there’s perhaps no better location than Gettysburg. As the site of the war’s most famous and pivotal battle, the town’s battlefield is where the tide of the war turned in the Union’s favor, marking the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. It was also the deadliest battle in US history, claiming more than 51,000 lives. Unsurprisingly, the battlefield is thought to be rife with paranormal activity.

Ghost sightings and the phantom sounds of cannon fire have been reported during reenactments, and the ghost of General Robert E. Lee himself has supposedly been spotted (even though Lee didn’t die at Gettysburg). You can take several ghost tours around Gettysburg to learn all about the area’s history and give yourself the best chance of seeing a ghostly soldier.

Recommended ghost tours in Gettysburg:

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Haunted places aren’t just confined to historic cities, battlefields, and repurposed hospitals. As if airports weren’t already scary enough, one major international airport is also home to a ghost. According to legend, the “Lady in Waiting” haunts Honolulu International Airport. She’s supposedly the ghost of a woman left behind when her lover boarded an international flight, breaking his promise to marry her in the process. She took her own life shortly after, and has now been seen all around the airport, strolling from gate to gate waiting for her lover to return. You may not think of Honolulu as one of America’s haunted cities, but you should at least think of it as one of the most haunted airports.

Beyond the “Lady in Waiting,” there have also been reports of toilets flushing on their own, and a spirit called the “choking ghost” who sits on the chests of passengers trying to catch some Z’s.

Recommended ghost tours in Honolulu:

Salem, Massachusetts

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Salem is the town that needs no introduction, with a name synonymous with Halloween. But while we know all about Salem’s infamous witch trials of the 1600s, what about the spirits of those witches that lingered long after their untimely deaths?

Bridget Bishop, for example, was the first victim of the trials, and is said to haunt the Lyceum Bar and Grill where her apple orchard once stood. The spirit of Giles Corey, who was crushed with stones, haunts the Howard Street Cemetery, and seeing him is rumored to be a bad omen. There are also plenty of historic homes and museums, like the House of Seven Gables (that inspired the Hawthorne novel of the same name) and the 17th century Witch House, featured on “Ghost Adventures.”

To fully immerse yourself in Salem’s bewitching spookiness, stay at the Hawthorne Hotel, a stately building from the early 1900s, said to be one of the most haunted sites in Salem. A female apparition is said to pace in front of the door of room 612.

Recommended ghost tours in Salem:

Sleepy Hollow, New York

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Fans of literature won’t be surprised that Sleepy Hollow, New York, is one of the spookiest towns in America – it’s the real-world setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” after all. Fully embracing its literary associations – most notably the Headless Horseman – Sleepy Hollow hosts an annual Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, with 7,000 carved pumpkins illuminated in elaborate displays. Walking through the glowing pumpkin patch is a truly surreal experience.

There’s also the Horseman’s Hollow at historic Philipsburg Manor, where you’ll walk a trail through the haunted woods, believed to be inhabited by the horseman himself (and all manner of ghosts and ghouls).

Recommended ghost tours in Sleepy Hollow:

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Las Vegas might be a nightmare for down-on-their-luck gamblers, but there’s another layer of eeriness to Sin City that extends beyond its debaucherous reputation. The city is home to Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum, one of the most haunted sites in Vegas. With more than 30 rooms of frightening, ghostly artifacts, it’s the perfect place to get closer to the paranormal. And since’s a near-endless amount of hotels and Airbnbs in Las Vegas, it’s one of the best haunted cities to visit on a last-minute whim.

It’s also rumored that the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is haunted by none other than Elvis himself, who performed more than 800 shows there. Guests and staff often report seeing his ghost in the resort’s upper-floor hallways.

And if you really want to celebrate Halloween, Las Vegas-style, check out the annual Sin City Halloween Ball. The elaborate event features costumes, live music, and performers fit for the Vegas stage.

Recommended ghost tours in Las Vegas:

Long Beach, California

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Between the seasickness and prospect of being trapped in a confined space in the middle of the ocean, boarding a ship is frightening enough for most people. Now, make the ship haunted, and you’ve got a seriously scary vacation. The Queen Mary could be why Los Angeles is developing a reputation for being one of the most haunted cities in the US.

The RMS Queen Mary sailed for around 30 years in the early 20th century and is now a hotel docked permanently in Long Beach, California. The ship’s ghost tours illuminate all the haunted happenings aboard the ship, including passengers who passed away for mysterious reasons and continue to haunt the halls, an engineer who died in the engine room, and strange noises heard by guests. Most sightings, however, are reported by the empty first class swimming pool; it’s a hotbed for paranormal activity.

Recommended Queen Mary ghost tours:

Estes Park, Colorado

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Estes Park, Colorado, is known to most people as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. To horror fans, though, the town is known for the Stanley Hotel, which inspired the idea for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Opened in 1909, the hotel is allegedly one of the country’s most haunted. Several ghosts are said to haunt the halls, including Flora Stanley, the deceased wife of the original owner; many have heard her playing the piano late at night. Another spirit, former housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson, calls room 217 home, and has been known to kindly unpack guests’ bags without being asked.

Recommended ghost tours in Estes Park:

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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It’s only logical that a city’s ghostly residents would grow more numerous as that city ages. So it makes sense that Santa Fe, the second-oldest city founded by European colonists in the New World, is also one of the most haunted cities in the US. But since it was built in 1607 over a Tanoan Tribal burial ground, Santa Fe was kinda asking for it.

Wandering Native American spirits are often spotted roaming the streets. On Alto Street, in particular, you might find a headless horseman – who lost his head after quarreling with a local witch – riding along the Santa Fe River.

Recommended ghost tours in Santa Fe:

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