These extra “spirited” and spooky spots are the true definitions of “hauntingly beautiful.”
Perhaps it’s flattering that even those who leave the living world don’t seem to want to leave these 12 towns behind. From iconic bewitched bearings such as Salem, Massachusetts, to the creepy encounters felt by locals and visitors in Randolph County, North Carolina, these vacation destinations can be described as “otherworldly” for more reasons than just the traditional adventures they offer their visitors.
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Williamsburg offers the quintessential beauty of a classic Northeast fall getaway, from trees changing color and warm cider to thrilling candlelit ghost stories. Visitors can enjoy the mild, crisp temperatures and fiery fall foliage lighting up the blue sky backed against quaint cobblestone streets and impressive historically preserved homes. And what would a destination steeped in history be without some spirits still stuck from the past?
Embark on the Haunted Williamsburg tour in Colonial Williamsburg, which features everything from authentic 18th-century colonial ghost stories to creepy modern-day encounters. Complete with costumed storytellers, candlelit walking ghost tours, and explorations of haunted sites, there’s something spooky for everyone. For those seeking less fright and more fun, the “Ghost Walk Jr.” experience is also an exciting interactive storytelling encounter. Spend the night at Kingsmill Resort which is built partially over a 17th-century cemetery and said to host some “extra” (albeit uninvited) guests each evening.
Old Louisville is home to the largest collection of Victorian-era mansions in America and the ghosts who still inhabit them. Embark on the Ghost City Louisville Ghost Walk Tour, a 90-minute walking tour of downtown Louisville’s most famous addresses. Tour the most haunted locations in the historic District, from wailing widows to witches’ trees—it’s all of the most bone-chilling spooky stories of Old Louisville. There’s also the Waverly Hills Sanatorium just outside downtown, which originally opened more than a century ago as a tuberculosis hospital to isolate the sick—but is now a tour-able horror destination (including the morgue and body chute!). Stay at The Seelbach Hilton Hotel, Louisville’s oldest operating hotel, which dates back to 1905 and where the “Lady in Blue”—a woman rumored to have plunged to her death in an elevator shaft back in the late 1930s—is said to still roam the halls.
Randolph County, North Carolina
Randolph County might be best known for its famed autumn attraction, the Kersey Valley Spookywoods in Archdale, where design teams work year-round to create costumes, themes, and scary experiences. In fact, there are a whole host of haunted spots sprinkled throughout the area. The North Carolina Zoo is built on Purgatory Mountain, where there are stories of an awful manhunter turned angry ghost called “The Hunter,” who still haunts this hill with his massive hulking form appearing in the woods only lit by the phantom fire burning in his lifeless eyes. Those who seek an extra thrill can stay nearby at the Getaway Asheboro cabins and fare the evening outdoors at this luxury glampsite amongst the changing leaves.
INSIDER TIPKersey Valley Spookywoods also offers a seasonal corn maze.
In Memphis, visitors can enjoy a range of spooky spots like Earnestine and Hazel’s, which is now known as a classic dive bar downtown and is still known for some haunted horrors. It used to be a working brothel, and, supposedly, a couple of ghosts are haunting the various rooms. Next, walk among the spirits at the Elmwood Cemetery, which serves as the final resting place for more than 100 years’ worth and 75,000 of Memphis’ deceased historical inhabitants. Find infamous army generals, senators, governors, mayors, madams, and more in this expansive 80-acre space. Finally, the historic Orpheum Theatre is said to be home to attention-seeking spirits, including the ghost of a 12-year-old girl named Mary, who regularly attends the show’s performances and has been seen by many cast, crew, and even theatre guests.
St. Augustine, Florida
Interactions with another dimension are not uncommon in St. Augustine. Visit the super haunted and markedly historic Huguenot Cemetery, built in 1821 to serve as a resting place for those who succumbed to yellow fever. Next, stop by the St. Augustine Lighthouse, where a 12-year-old girl who drowned near the building can still be heard (and sometimes seen) on the second floor. And don’t miss The Old Jail, built by the same company that would later build Alcatraz. It’s earned a super spooky reputation due to the inhumane conditions endured by the inmates (who may or may not have been fully “released” from this prison during their life). Stay at the St. Francis Inn, commonly known as the most haunted place in St. Augustine, with its numerous reported sightings of a servant girl (turned prankster spirit) named Lilly who enjoys spooking guests by slamming doors and flickering lights.
Key West, Florida
On an island once a paradise for plundering pirates, there’s bound to be a whole host of haunted history. Embark on the nationally recognized Ghosts & Gravestones haunted tour through local cemeteries while learning about the famous Captain Tony’s Saloon (which was once an icehouse that doubled as a morgue). While here, meet the mischievous doll named Robert, who’s still haunting the island today, and hear about the infamous Lady in Blue, among other terrifying tales. Next, check out Papa’s Pilar Distillery, located in a historic building just yards from where Hemingway used to dock his beloved boat. Embark on their Rum and Spirits tour, which combines two of Key West’s favorite pastimes: rum drinking and ghosts encounters. Stay at Ocean Key Resort & Spa, which isn’t just a luxury resort in a great location. Guests swear that objects have moved upon returning to the room, and spine-chilling cold spots are felt during the daytime.
Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado has stood the test of time as a century-old small mountain village, with several local original buildings still in operation. Therefore, it’s no surprise this city is considered one of the most haunted towns in the nation. Plus, parts of Estes Park sit on a quartz and limestone mineral belt, which according to paranormal investigators, is known for retaining residual energy making the area saturated in stories of paranormal activity. Estes Park is even home to the historic Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s horror novel, The Shining, during his spooky stay right in room 217. Visitors can take the hotel’s 60-minute Spirited Night Tour, a journey through storytelling weaving together tales of the hotel’s history and the local folklore surrounding this old haunt, in a chilling yet peaceful setting underneath the exceptionally dark nighttime sky of the Rocky Mountains.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs embraces spooky season, with walking ghost tours of the historic downtown and a popular theater that performs shows featuring an illusionist and a medium. On Halloween weekend, everyone flocks to the city to participle in a massive “Zombie Crawl,” where horror-struck hoards of people stumble through the streets dressed as (cocktail) thirsty zombies. Visitors can also tour the haunted 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, which dates back to 1886, having served as a resort, then a girls’ college, and a (fake!) cancer treatment hospital, before becoming a resort once again. Guests will learn about the hotel’s history and potentially encounter firsthand some guests who never left. There are also nightly tours of the 1905 Basin Park Hotel, built in 1905 on the site of a boarding house that burned down before becoming a popular spot during prohibition for its lawless gambling and alcohol offerings.
It’s no secret that Salem has been famous for being exceptionally supernatural for centuries. In fact, 2022 will stand as the 40th Anniversary of Salem Haunted Happenings, the largest celebration of Halloween in the world! Autumn is the perfect time to experience the darker past of Salem combined with plenty of present-day fun as the quaint coastal town becomes a hub of attractions, including parades, vendor fairs, walking tours, and spooky special events. Dive into a tour like Tinggly’s bucket list Salem Haunted History Tour—a family-friendly walking tour featuring a fantastic combination of history, storytelling, and ghost stories. Spend the night at the Hawthorne Hotel, a historic Salem inn where the cast of Bewitched once even stayed during filming. It has a classic tavern on-site that is known for serving burgers so tasty that it might feel as if you’re being cast under a sort of spell.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The 300-year-old Cresent City is crawling with spooky stories. Most people associate New Orleans with Mardi Gras, but it’s also known as one of the world’s greatest Halloween destinations. From haunted tours through the French Quarter and numerous other spooky parts of the city, travelers can enjoy experiences like exploring several Voodoo shops to become educated on the history and culture behind these centuries-old spiritual practices. Attend events like Krewe of BOO! Parade, or the Endless Night Vampire Ball and the Zombie Run. And there are also a dozen haunted hotels to plan an unearthly night in. The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is just three blocks from the grave of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. According to tour guides such as the Tauk Directors who frequent these properties, numerous strange occurrences exist, including ghosts and objects that move on their own.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., meaning there are no doubt more than a few spirits constantly roaming the streets. Explore the Old City Jail with Bulldog Tours, which once housed some of Charleston’s most infamous criminals, including real 19th-century pirates. Dine at Poogan’s Porch and enjoy a taste of Southern comfort food while also sharing a space once occupied by two devoted sisters named Zoe and Elizabeth, who used to live at this spot that’s since turned into the restaurant, but these women may have never left home. There’s been more than one bizarre encounter with these sister spirits, including water faucets and lights turning on randomly and even a coffee mug theft. For a particularly spooky evening, stay at South Battery Carriage House and ask for room 8 or 10 to cozy up alongside ghosts with nicknames like the “Headless Torso.”
Carson City, Nevada
Carson City’s eastern Sierra Nevada fall color combined with attractions like the Carson City Ghost Walk makes for a delightfully spooktacular destination and can’t miss spot for the spooky season. This capital city of Nevada offers travelers seeking to combine beautiful scenery with fall foliage and extra “spirits” with an abundance of outdoor activities. Hike the trails nestled into the foot of Nevada’s Eastern Sierra mountain range, or bike through the Sierra Nevada mountains, pedaling on popular routes like the Ash to Kings Trail. Embark on a ride on the Harvest Train from October 15-16, or ride the regularly running V&T Railway to experience a historic journey back in time. Spend the night at the landmark St. Charles Hotel, located in downtown Carson City across from State Capitol, which is most definitely haunted.