It’s time to get spooky! With Halloween just around the corner, put yourself in the mood by going on your own ghost hunt. For a frightfully good time this month, consider one of these haunted places to visit:
Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, CA
Arguably one of the most famous houses in America, the Winchester Mystery House makes for one spooky trip. From 1886 to 1922, Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, the heiress to the Winchester fortune, constantly renovated and added to the house she purchased in San Jose. Construction only ceased on the home when Sarah passed away.
No one knows for certain why Sarah turned the six-bedroom farmhouse into the most unique, sprawling mansion in the country. Staircases leading to nowhere. Doors opening onto walls. Hallways that deadend. Perhaps Sarah built the mansion to confuse and trap the spirits haunting her (which many believe) in the bizarre home. No matter Sarah Winchester’s intentions, one thing is certain: the curious architecture draws as much attention as the paranormal activity experienced in the house. You have to see this house to believe it!
LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans, LA
Madame LaLaurie’s tale is familiar to American Horror Story fans. Delphine LaLaurie was a famous serial killer, who bound and tortured slaves in her home for enjoyment. It wasn’t until a fire broke out in 1834 in her Royal Street mansion when authorities discovered LaLaurie’s gruesome appetite. Police found male slaves bound in the attic with signs of prolonged torture and torment evident. Neighbors reported watching a 12-year-old slave named Lia fall to her death from the roof of the home while evading a brutal beating from Madame LaLaurie.
Madame LaLaurie escaped authorities and fled to Paris, where she reportedly died in 1849. Of course, there is no shortage of lore surrounding the mansion. Former slaves haunting the grounds with eyes gouged out, fingernails pulled off and their organs inside out. This isn’t a destination for the faint of heart, making it one of the most haunted places to visit on this list.
While you’re in the area, visit the Buckner Mansion, also featured in American Horror Story as Mrs. Robicheaux’s Academy!
Hotel Chelsea – New York City, NY
Another one American Horror Story fans will enjoy, it’s rumored the Hotel Cortez was modeled after the Hotel Chelsea. After construction finished in 1885, the 12-story Hotel Chelsea was the tallest building in NYC, putting it on the map. Though the hotel no longer accepts long-term residents, the Chelsea hosted an all-star resident list of writers, musicians, artists and actors over the years. There’s no shortage of tales about hauntings in the Hotel Chelsea, given the deaths of notable past residents, including writer Dylan Thomas and Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols. Given its unique resident list and funky atmosphere, there’s plenty of tales of haunts still walking the halls. If you’re in NYC, go for a stroll by the Chelsea and take a look for yourself.
The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO
Stephen King fans instantly recognized the name of this next hotel on our list of haunted places to visit. Built by Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife, The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909. The purpose of this hotel was to serve as an East Coast Society oasis in the wilderness of the west. In its day, the Stanley dazzled guests upon arrival; it offered everything a socialite could want and more.
However, by the 1970s, the Stanley was in poor shape and on its way to meet the wrecking ball. But one night, a famous author named Stephen King stayed at the Stanley and became inspired by the old hotel to write his third bestseller, The Shining. The hotel still stands to this day, fully restored to its former beauty. Over 100 years later, the Stanley Hotel hosts its share of spirit folklore and paranormal phenomena, which you can learn about during your stay at the Stanley (you don’t have to stay at the Stanley to take a ghost tour, FYI!).
The Orphanage & Jennie Wade House – Gettysburg, PA
Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania is the place to be this month. Overall one of the most haunted places to visit in America, Gettysburg was home to the bloodiest 3-day battle of the Civil War. After the battle, you could smell the decaying bodies in Gettysburg hours away. The carnage that descended upon this tiny town all those years ago left a lasting impression, so to speak.
However, the most disturbing stories and haunted buildings in the town are ones that have little to do with the actual battle. If you’re in the area, be sure to take a nightly ghost tour of the Jennie Wade House and/or the Orphanage. Of course, Jennie Wade was the only civilian to die during the battle of Gettysburg. While Jennie baked bread in her sister’s home, she was pierced in the heart by a stray sharpshooter bullet. Jennie Wade’s story is heartbreaking, and perhaps the reason her ghost might still linger in the house.
But even more heartbreaking and much more twisted is the story of the National Soldiers Orphanage Homestead. The tales of abuse that happened in this orphanage after Rosa J. Carmichael took over as teacher and disciplinarian are enough to scare you – let alone the spirits of children still lingering there, eager to play games with the ghost tour visitors. Rosa would chain up children in the basement, starve and torture them without mercy. Once her abuse was revealed, Rosa was chased out of town and vanished without a trace. In fact, no one can find any records of Rosa’s existence or whereabouts before her time in Gettysburg and none of her after leaving town…
Kreischer Mansion – Staten Island, NY
Arguably the most haunted building in the entire state of New York, the Kreischer Mansion that still stands today has an extremely creepy history. It deserves its place as one of the most haunted places to visit in the country. Balthasar Kriescher emigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s, starting up an extremely successful bricklaying business on Staten Island. In fact, it became one of the most successful companies in NYC. The company was so large that Balthasar turned the area into its own town of workers called Kreischerville. Balthasar built twin mansions for his two sons atop the Kreischerville hill.
However, only a year after the mansions’ completions, Balthasar passed away and his sons inherited the family business. Shortly after, the brick business burned to the ground. Although the family tried to recover their losses and rebuild the business, the damage was done. They lost their fortune. With this news, in 1894, one of Balthasar’s sons committed suicide in his mansion.
The second mansion to the south survived until the 1930s, when the building caught fire and was never rebuilt. However, Edward Kreischer’s mansion still stands to this day, with rumors of Edward still roaming his property. Businesses and residents have bought and moved into the mansion over the years, but never manage to stay long. It’s on the market currently, and you can buy it for only $2 million. But buyers beware: in 2005, the caretaker of the empty mansion carried out a hit for the mafia in the mansion, dismembering the dead man’s body and burning it in the basement furnace. Am I the only one getting chills right now?
Eastern State Penitentiary – Philadelphia, PA
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and most expensive prison in the world. It’s now a hub of otherworldly activity, attracting thousands of paranormal investigators every year. From 1829 until 1971, the prison was meant to inspire true pentientance from its inmates, making them regret the crimes they committed. It held many high-profile criminals while open, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and the infamous Al Capone.
The tales of prisoner mistreatment, abuse and torture are chilling – much scarier than the various tales of sightings and hauntings in the now-crumbling prison. There’s the water baths, when guards would dip prisoners in water and hang them on the walls until their skin froze in the cold winter air. And “The Hole,” a dark underground cell with no light, human contact, no exercise, toilet and limited food and fresh air for those who found themselves down there.
You can schedule a daytime tour of the prison to learn about its history and the popular haunts that still populate the prison. If you’re looking for a spookier adventure, visit at night for a haunted house walkthrough – it will not disappoint those looking for a scream at one of the most haunted places in America.
The Cassadaga Hotel – Cassadaga, FL
If you’re looking for a town full of mediums and psychics, Cassadaga is one of the best haunted places to visit. Known as the “Psychic Center of the South,” you will find no shortage of paranormal activity and spirits in the Cassadaga Hotel. The staff is eager to share experiences with visitors and encourages them to bring cameras in order to capture energy they might not witness with the naked eye. You can book a stay at the hotel and enjoy the many spiritual wonders of the building and surrounding area.
Erected in 1926, The Cassadaga Hotel was built to attract visitors from around the world to this unique town. It’s said that a spirit by the name of Arthur roams the second floor hallways, where you might catch a whiff of cigar smoke or a taste of gin. If you stand by the window at the end of the hallway, where Arthur used to pull up a chair and gaze outside, you might get a chill or feel a tap on your shoulder. Many guests have captured mysterious orbs in photos around Arthur’s favorite spots. Keep your mind open in Cassadaga and you might just have a ghostly encounter of your own in this haunted town.
Joshua Ward House – Salem, MA
Another popular place to visit, Salem is infamous for its Witch Trials in the 1690s. While visiting this historical town, walk past the Joshua Ward House. Joshua Ward was a retired sea captain turned merchant. He built his Massachusetts home in the mid-1780s. George Washington stayed at the home in 1789, the home’s other claim to fame.
However, it’s not Joshua Ward or his home that attract the famous ghostly lore that makes it one of the most haunted places to visit in the country. The land Ward built his home makes the residence unique. He built his mansion on top of the property’s original building, where the famous Sheriff George Corwin lived and jailed his prisoners during the Salem Witch Trials. Nicknamed “The Strangler,” Corwin interrogated and investigated alleged witches and warlocks, carrying out extremely painful death sentences in his home. Corwin turned out to be a sadist, torturing people in unimaginable and gruesome ways. He was directly responsible for the death of 19 men and women. He either“accidentally” murdered them in the interrogation process or executed them by hanging, a slow strangulation process.
Not only do those tortured souls haunt the property, but George Corwin himself might still linger. After Corwin’s sudden death in 1697, his family didn’t move his body for fear the grave would be vandalized. Instead, the family created a grave in the basement of his home. The family eventually moved his body to the Broad Street Cemetery after many years. If you’re feeling brave, take a walk by the Joshua Ward house – you might just catch a slight chill.
Myrtles Plantation – St. Francisville, LA
Taking a trip down South? Don’t forget to stop by the Myrtles Plantation, now serving as a hotel and restaurant. In 1976, General David Bradford (“Whiskey Dave” of the Whiskey Rebellion) fled the United States to avoid prison. He made his way down south to Bayou Sara, a Spanish colony at the time. Here, the Colonel awarded Corwin a 650 acre land grant to begin his new life. He built the Myrtles Plantation on this land. In 1820, Bradford’s son-in-law,Judge Clarke Woodruff bought and remodeled the building. Ruffin Stirling purchased the property 14 years later, completing the mansion’s famous grandeur.
The ghost stories surrounding the mansion start in 1992. The proprietress took a photo of two buildings on the property for reasons related to fire insurance. However, the resulting photo was a complete shock. It marked the beginning of the Myrtles Plantation’s reputation as one of the most haunted places to visit in America. Standing between the two buildings, an apparition, presumably a slave girl, was visible. Many experts analyzed the photo over the years, deeming it to be authentic. It’s now known as the Chloe Postcard. If that gave you a chill, the tales and photographic evidence don’t stop there. Give the plantation a visit and take a tour to learn about all the spooky encounters on this historic property.
With so many haunted places to visit in America, your options for a spooky October adventure are limitless.
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