The Spookiest Tourist Attraction in Every State
If you're looking for a creepy travel destination you're in luck—there's at least one in every state to scare the pants off of you.
Haunted and creepy
Between abandoned forts and prisons and sites of century-old murders, there are a lot of places in the United States to get your thrills and chills. Want to take it a step beyond spooky? Find out where to spot a ghost in every state.
Known as the most haunted town in Alaska, Whittier is not for the faint of heart. The Buckner Building, originally built to shelter soldiers during a nuclear attack, is long-abandoned and incredibly creepy looking, even from the outside. Completed at the height of the Cold War in 1953, the building was not only able to house 1,000 soldiers, but it also contained a bowling alley, movie theater, and jail.
Goldfield, Arizona isn't just another abandoned gold-rush town: it's also reportedly haunted. Today, Goldfield is open to visitors, though some of its original inhabitants may have never left. Visitors have said that they have heard "mournful voices" in the saloon, and have even seen apparitions floating behind the bar. Those brave enough to visit can tour an old brothel and mine, among other buildings on the site.
Arkansas: Crescent Hotel
The Crescent Hotel, built in 1886 in Eureka Springs, has had several different lives. It originally served as a luxury hotel for health-seekers who flocked to the town for its natural springs, before being turned into a girls' school. It sat empty for years until it reopened as a cancer hospital by a quack doctor with no medical training. As it turns out, the hotel is reportedly haunted by people from each stage of the hotel's history: an Irish stonemason and student at the school who both fell to their deaths (on separate occasions), and former patients of the hospital. Not only can you stay at the Crescent Hotel, but you can also take a tour of its spookiest parts.
If you've always wanted to visit an authentic ghost town, Bodie, California is your best bet. Unlike others in the west that are full of gift shops and reenactors, Bodie is part of a state park and exists in a state of preserved decay. You can visit the former village, or take one of their popular ghost walks.
Colorado: The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is so creepy that horror author Stephen King only had to stay one night to get the inspiration for his novel The Shining. Visitors and hotel guests can take historical tours of the property by day or, for the more adventurous, by night, where they may run into the ghosts of the original owners Freelan and Flora Stanley. The Stanley Hotel is one of the 15 spookiest places where you can spend the night.
Connecticut: The Mark Twain House
Not only is this tourist attraction the former home of the famous writer, but it's also said to be haunted by the "lady in white." Visitors can learn more about her and the other spooky aspects of the house—like dark tales of haunted history and Victorian traditions surrounding seances and spiritualism—on the Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours. These tours are held year-round but are especially popular around Halloween. If you're interested in other haunted houses, here are 13 with mysteries no one can explain.
Delaware: Fort Delaware
Located in a Delaware State Park, historic Fort Delaware was completed around 1859 and served as a Union prison camp during the Civil War, housing up to nearly 13,000 Confederate prisoners of war at one time. Each weekend leading up to Halloween, visitors to the fort can join the Diamond State Ghost Investigators for a paranormal hunt through the grounds. Ghostly encounters on this tour have included sightings of a woman in the officer's kitchen, as well as a Confederate soldier.
Florida: The Old St. John County Jail
Located in St. Augustine, Florida—the oldest city in America—the Old St. John County Jail may look like a historic hotel, but in reality, it was known for the inhumane conditions in which prisoners were kept. Given how much suffering took place within the jail's walls, it's not surprising that there have been reports of paranormal activities like cold spots, strange odors, and unexplained noises. Whether you visit for the history or the hauntings, the Old St. John County Jail won't disappoint.
No, we're not talking about the one in New Mexico: there's another creepy Roswell and this one is located in Georgia. A once-flourishing mill put the town on the map, and now you can visit the historic downtown area and gorgeous restored mansions. But the old cotton mill has a dark history: During the Civil War, the Union Army captured and deported approximately 400 mill workers, mostly women and children, for treason for manufacturing Confederate uniforms and tent fabric. Now there is a commemorative park next to the site of the old mill, where locals have reported hearing children laughing and playing. Roswell Ghost Tours are offered year-round and include stops at the childhood home of Theodore Roosevelt Jr.'s mother, a cemetery, and, of course, the mill.
Hawaii: Fort Street Mall
Located in Honolulu, Fort Street Mall is home to more than one spooky location. This Russian-built fort was once home to a large site for human sacrifices, Pākākā Heiau. There have been reports of a headless ghost wandering around late at night. You can see for yourself, and take a guided haunted walking tour of the area to learn more about its residents, both past and present.
Idaho: Old Idaho State Penitentiary
This former Idaho prison is thought to be the most haunted place in the state, thanks to the many deaths that occurred within its walls. Not only that, but the Old Idaho State Penitentiary housed some of the most dangerous criminals in the West from 1872 to 1973. In its 101 years in operation, the Old Pen held more than 13,000 prisoners. Of those, 500 prisoners tried to escape and 90 were successful. Today, visitors can take a guided walking tour through the grounds, solitary confinement, the five cell blocks, and the gallows.
Illinois: Hull House
Social reformer and activist Jane Addams founded Hull House in 1889 as a settlement house to assist newly arrived immigrants in Chicago. But one of the children that supposedly arrived at the doorstep wasn't your average kid. According to legend (which Addams later dispelled in the October 1916 issue of the Atlantic) a severely deformed orphan turned up at the house in need of care. But despite the fact that she said no such child ever existed, it didn't stop people from being frightened by the tale of the infant. Likewise, these urban legends continue to persist to this day.
Indiana: Indiana Medical History Museum
A medical history museum on its own is pretty creepy, between all the medical specimens and tales of unethical research of the past. But the Indiana Medical History Museum in Indianapolis has the added bonus of being housed on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, which serves as the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. Visitors to the museum can explore the laboratories, autopsy room, and the anatomical museum, which houses preserved brain specimens.
Iowa: Villisca Ax Murder House
This unassuming home in Iowa was home to some of the most gruesome crimes in American history. In 1912, eight people, including six children, were murdered in their sleep in this house in Villisca, Iowa by an unknown killer using an ax. Today you can tour the house or even stay overnight, but don't expect a peaceful sleep: visitors have reported everything from a door opening and closing on its own, to hearing children laughing and playing with toys in empty rooms.
Kansas: The Sallie House
This house was once the home and office of a doctor at the turn-of-the-century. When a woman brought her six-year-old daughter Sallie in because of severe abdominal pain, the doctor gave the child anesthesia, then began performing the operation. Unfortunately, the anesthesia hadn't kicked in yet, and Sallie died on the operating table in excruciating pain. There have been many reports of her haunting the house. Today you can take a guided tour or stay in the house overnight.
Kentucky: Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The Waverly Hill Sanatorium outside Louisville once housed thousands of patients during a severe tuberculosis outbreak. The hospital operated from 1910 to 1961, then closed and fell into disrepair. It is estimated that approximately 64,000 people died of TB in the hospital, making it a hotbed for paranormal activity. You can visit the sanatorium on guided historical tours as well as overnight stays. If you're looking for other spooky locations, here are some of the most haunted places in America, according to paranormal experts.
Louisiana: LaLaurie Mansion
This beautiful New Orleans mansion may look stately from the outside, but the polished exterior hides a dark past. The home was built in 1832 by socialite Marie Delphine MacCarthy Blanque LaLaurie, who reportedly tortured the slaves she owned. One young female slave supposedly fell to her death from the roof while trying to escape LaLaurie's whip. Though actor Nicholas Cage briefly owned LaLourie Mansion about ten years ago, it has remained empty since. Though you can't visit the inside of the mansion, it is a frequent stop on New Orleans ghost tours.
Maine: Fort William Henry
Located in Pemaquid Beach, Fort William Henry is reportedly haunted by the ghost of Native American Chief Taukolexis, who was hanged and killed at the site in 1696. Locals claim that they've seen the chief's presence near the tree where his life ended.
Maryland: Westminster Hall Burial Grounds
In October 1849, horror writer Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious on the Baltimore streets, wearing someone else's clothing. He died a few days later and is buried in the Westminster Hall Burial Grounds. You can tour the burial grounds year-round and each year for Halloween there is a reading of Poe's short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," and rare opportunities to visit the catacombs.
Massachusetts: Lizzie Borden House
On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered by someone using a hatchet. Many suspect Andrew's daughter Lizzie Borden, but she was ultimately acquitted of the crimes. Regardless of who did it, the house where these murders took place is undeniably creepy. You can tour the house, or even stay overnight.
Michigan: MacArthur Bridge
Previously known as the Belle Isle Bridge, the MacArthur Bridge in Detroit does more than connect two pieces of land: it also scares a lot of people. According to local legend, if you park your car or bicycle near the bridge and stay silent for a few minutes, the apparition of an old woman draped in white will appear.
Minnesota: Landmark Center
The Landmark Center in St. Paul, Minnesota was opened in 1902 and originally served as the Federal Court House and Post Office for the Upper Midwest. Today is it a major cultural hub for the area and is said to be haunted. Each October, visitors can take the Gangster Ghost Tour, where they'll explore the lesser-visited hallways of the building and potentially cross paths with ghosts of gangsters, G-men, and judges.
The city of Corinth, Mississippi is home to the Civil War Interpretive Center, where you can learn all about the nearby battle of Shiloh. Because of the massive loss of life and bloodshed during this battle, some believe that untouched mass graves are located on or near the Crossroads Museum property. Each year, visitors can take a tour through the city's oldest cemetery. Find out the oldest cemetery in your state.
Missouri: Missouri State Penitentiary
Opened in 1836 in Jefferson City, the Missouri State Penitentiary was the oldest continually operating prison west of the Mississippi until it shut its doors in 2004. If walking around an old prison isn't creepy enough for you, you can also take dedicated ghost and paranormal tours.
Montana: Virginia City
Virginia City, Montana has a spooky history full of gold-seekers involved in murders, lynchings, and hangings. One of the spookiest spots is Boot Hill Cemetery, where five men were buried after being hanged by vigilantes. The Bonanza Inn in Virginia City is also thought to be haunted: visitors have reported witnessing both friendly and menacing spirits.
Nebraska: Joslyn Castle
A gorgeous four-story, 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion just outside Omaha isn't just an amazing architectural specimen, it's also rumored to be haunted. Built in 1903, Joslyn Castle is open for public tours. In 2014, a paranormal investigator visited the property and said that he found enough activity to classify the house as being haunted—so you may want to visit during daylight hours.
Nevada: Crystal Bay
In the 1950s, the North Lake Tahoe town of Crystal Bay was the playground of the rich and famous, including members of the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, and the Kennedy family. In fact, Frank Sinatra once owned the former CalNeva Lodge, which has resulted in a variety of conspiracy theories involving secret underground tunnels, presidential affairs, and Marilyn Monroe's death. In addition, the Tahoe Biltmore in Crystal Bay is thought to be haunted by Mary, a former performer in the Aspen Cabaret Showroom.
New Hampshire: Star Island
Part of the Isles of Shoals that straddles Maine and New Hampshire, Star Island has been attracting visitors of different varieties for centuries. Spooky local tales include a young boy who died falling on rocks during the Revolutionary War and an elderly couple involved in a suicide pact. Today, Star Island is a popular destination for day-trippers and overnight visitors.
New Jersey: Seabrook-Wilson House
Also known as the Spy House, the Seabrook-Wilson House was built in 1663 and it is reportedly haunted by a number of different presences. These spirits include those of a woman walking from room to room looking for her crying baby, a young boy staring out of the house's windows, and an elderly sea captain roaming the grounds and halls.
New Mexico: KiMo Theater
Albuquerque's KiMo Theater isn't only a beautiful historic theater—it has its own tale as creepy as something out of a movie: In 1951, a water heater exploded in the theater, killing several people, including a six-year-old boy named Bobby. Legend has it that Bobby still haunts the theater causing mischief, like opening and closing doors or messing with the electricity. Here are 7 signs a building could be haunted, according to paranormal experts.
New York: Statler City Hotel
Located in Buffalo, the former Statler City Hotel was built in 1923 and was once home to several grand ballrooms and 1,100 guestrooms. Though no longer operating as a hotel, it is possible to tour Statler City and explore the rooms and hallways that may be home to numerous guests who never checked out, as well as staff members and reportedly even Ellsworth Statler himself.
North Carolina: Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina is one of the most impressive structures in the state, as well as one of those most haunted. Former owner George Vanderbilt died suddenly in 1914 from complications following an appendectomy, but some think he never left the property. Some visitors report seeing Vanderbilt wandering the halls, and hearing his wife Edith calling his name. The Biltmore is the most famous home in North Carolina—find out the most famous home in your state.
North Dakota: Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Established in 1907, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is the oldest state park in North Dakota and has some incredible historical features, like a reconstruction of General George Custer's last home and five reconstructed Native American earthlodges. Each year, the park sets up a haunted fort attraction, based on real-life hauntings on the property.
Ohio: Ohio State Reformatory
If you're a fan of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, you've already seen the Ohio State Reformatory. But you can also visit this creepy prison in real life, during one of their historical tours of ghost hunts. Over the years, visitors and tour guides have reported hearing and seeing all sorts of paranormal activities in the reformatory's halls.
Oklahoma: Fort Reno
Historic Fort Reno in Oklahoma has seen a lot in the past century, from Native American history through World War II. And according to some visitors and paranormal investigators, many of its previous inhabitants never left. From unsolved murders to long-term mistreatment of Native Americans, Fort Reno has been the site of plenty of pain and suffering. Today you can take a historical spirit tour through the property to learn more about its past.
Oregon: Lithia Park
Located in Ashland, Lithia Park isn't the serene nature-filled sanctuary that it appears. Over the years, visitors to the park have reported seeing apparitions of a young girl who was killed in the area a century ago, as well as a mysterious logger, and what has been described as a "dog-faced boy" who vanished in the 1920s.
Pennsylvania: Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia has been consistently ranked among the most haunted attractions in the world, and for good reason: many people met their end within its walls. This massive, castle-like building comes with tons of frightening history, including being the first prison in the United States to implement solitary confinement. This Halloween, a new interactive experience called Terror Behind the Walls brings visitors up-close and personal to some of the prison's scariest parts.
Rhode Island: Providence Biltmore
The Providence Biltmore Hotel is not only a historical landmark, but it may also be haunted. Part of that may stem from the fact that one of the original backers of the hotel was a Satanist who performed many rituals on-site. It was also the location of several murders during Prohibition. Visitors have reported seeing disappearing people in the hallways—perhaps other guests who never checked out.
South Carolina: Aiken
Aiken, South Carolina may look like a quaint southern town with picturesque oak tree canopies, but it has a dark past. The Old Post Office, for example, has secret passages as well as bones in the basement. Guests at the former Aiken Hotel, dating back to 1878, have reported seeing shadowy movements, toilets flushing on their own, and doors opening and closing. They've also heard whispers, crying and screaming from empty rooms. You can take a guided tour of the haunted parts of Aiken—if you dare.
South Dakota: Hotel Alex Johnson
If you're looking for a quiet night at a historic inn, Rapid City's Hotel Alex Johnson, may not be a good choice, as it is considered one of the most haunted hotels in the country. There have been numerous reports of ghost sightings, including a "lady in white," as well as Mr. Alex Johnson himself. Brave guests can book a special package at the hotel, where you're placed in one of the reportedly haunted rooms and given a K2 meter ghost detector to see if you can see any paranormal activity of your own.
Tennessee: Bell Witch Cave
According to Southern folklore, in the summer of 1817, a local witch began terrorizing the Bell Family on their farm in Tennessee. She supposedly did all manner of bad things to them, including beating family members and killing the father of the family. But according to one story, she was feeling generous one day and ended up saving one of the family's children who was stuck in a nearby cave, thought to be her home. Regardless of what actually happened, there, the Bell Witch Cave is definitely spooky.
Texas: The Alamo
Of course, we all "remember the Alamo," but did you know it's also said to be haunted? Ghosts were first spotted soon after the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 and never really left. Sightings increase in the months of February and March, around when the most bloodshed took place.
Utah: Mountain Meadows Massacre Site
On September 11, 1857, almost 120 settlers were murdered by members of the Mormon Utah Territorial Militia during the Utah War. The event was initially covered up and all records were destroyed, but the massacre lived on in the collective memory of those in the area. Today, a monument stands to honor the victims.
Vermont: Huntington Gorge
Huntington Gorge in Vermont is a spectacular natural wonder. In fact, it's so beautiful that many people could not stay away, despite its reputation for being dangerous. Nicknamed the "Swimming Hole of Death," it is estimated that more than 40 people have drowned in Huntington Gorge. A large plaque alerts visitors to the body of water's past fatalities. Here are 14 of the world's other most haunted bodies of water.
Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg
Sure, Colonial Williamsburg is a place you may have gone on a wholesome family vacation, but it's more than fife and drum parades and candle-making. The former historic "Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds" dates back to 1773 and was the first building in North America devoted solely to the treatment of the mentally ill. Today, visitors can tour the hospital with two exhibition cells reflecting the conditions in the 18th and 19th centuries, and view exhibits on how mental illness was treated during colonial times.
Washington: Underground Seattle
Below the bustling streets of Seattle exists a whole other underground city. After a devastating fire in 1889, the city decided to raise the whole street level up, above the swampy ground. However, some shop owners had already started to rebuild before the street was raised, leaving a long-forgotten network of underground tunnels and buildings under the city, frequented by gangsters and used as opium dens and brothels. Today you can tour this mysterious subterranean city.
West Virginia: Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
When the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was completed in 1881, it was the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America and was designed to hold 250 patients. Unfortunately, the hospital became overcrowded, housing 2,400 patients in the 1950s. Though it was initially opened with the best intentions—helping those with mental illness — the overcrowding resulted in poor living conditions, and many of the patients suffered and eventually died there. It closed in 1994 and today it is known as being exceptionally haunted, and visitors can take ghost tours of the property. For more chills and thrills check out the spookiest abandoned building in your state.
Wisconsin: The Pfister Hotel
Not only is the Pfister Hotel the oldest hotel in Milwaukee, but it's also the most haunted. Specifically, the ghost of Charles Pfister, the hotel's founder, has reportedly been seen wandering the halls. Oddly enough, many of the sightings have come from major league baseball players staying at the hotel.
Cheyenne, Wyoming sprung up during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, and soon gained a reputation as a lawless city, complete with gambling, brothels and many saloons. One city landmark, the Plains Hotel, was the site of a double murder-suicide and is thought to be haunted. Today, visitors to the area can take Ghost Fright-Seeing Tours to learn more about the city's spooky past. These 25 photos of abandoned places around the world will give you the chills.