An unexplained chill in the air, a whisper in an empty room, a flicker of movement in the corner of your eye: ghost-hunters and paranormal experts have dedicated their lives to tracking down evidence that there is a life beyond the one we live now, and, sometimes, spirits from another dimension infiltrate our world.
Even if you don’t really, truly believe ghosts exist, it’s easy to be spooked by creaky floorboards and flickering lamps when you’re all alone in the dead of night.
Eerie old buildings with chilling back stories are scattered across the country, just begging thrill-seekers to come explore. Travelers with an appetite for the spooky can go on a cross-country “ghost hunt,” or even just investigate the spirits nearby. After all, haunted hotels, mansions, prisons, and bone-chilling cemeteries can be found in every single state.
Read on for some of the spookiest lore from all over the country.
1. Alabama: Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville
Cemeteries may be unsettling all on their own, but the creepiest part of Maple Hill has nothing to do with the tombstones. Within the graveyard is a playground, colloquially known as The Dead Children’s Playground, which is thought to be haunted by the spirits of murdered kids. Locals have reported swings moving on their own, children’s laughter, and the sound of little feet scampering after dark.
2. Alaska: Historic Anchorage Hotel
There have been so many ghost sightings here, that the hotel keeps a “guest ghost log.” Two of the most loyal patrons include the spirit of a jilted bride who took her own life in the ‘20s and an Anchorage sheriff who was shot in the alleyway in 1921.
3. Arizona: Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff
Decades ago at this hotel just off Route 66, an elderly woman stayed in Room 305 long-term, and would sit by the window in a rocking chair. Now, the chair allegedly moves by itself, and housekeeping has reported seeing the woman’s apparition in the chair.
4. Arkansas: The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs
The Crescent has embraced its spooky reputation wholeheartedly by celebrating the “many guests who checked out but have never left.” Ghost tours are available for those who want a glimpse of the most famous spirits, including a stonemason who took a fatal fall while building the hotel in 1885, and a woman in a white nightgown who may mysteriously appear at the foot of your bed.
5. California: Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco
Ghost hunters and adventurers love this 1890 Victorian mansion. While the third floor is considered a paranormal hotspot, the fourth floor has the most haunted room of all. It was once inhabited by Miss Mary Lake, who was the headmaster of a school in the building about a century ago. Miss Lake’s spirit continues to take care of guests, even tucking them in with a blanket after they fall asleep.
6. Colorado: Stanley Hotel in Estes Park
Few haunted hotels could claim to be as famous as the Stanley, which inspired Stephen Kings’s horror novel, The Shining. Unlike its fictional counterpart, the Overlook Hotel, the spirits here are supposedly quite amiable.
7. Connecticut: Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford
This historic medical facility was originally built to treat children with tuberculosis in the 1930s, but it also served as a home for the elderly, a medical hospital, and ultimately a psychiatric facility. The story goes that reports of patient abuse began to surface in the ’70s, and patients began passing away at a high rate. In 1996, the sanatorium was closed, though the the spirits of the patients who lost their lives—and the staff members—supposedly continue to haunt the site.
8. Delaware: The Governor’s Mansion in Dover
This building, also called Woodburn, was constructed in the 1790s and is currently the residence of the Governor of Delaware. Government officials, doctors, and other well-to-do folk have called the state mansion home, and reports of ghost sightings have circulated since the early 19th century. Look out for the spirits of a young girl in a bonnet and the elderly man who enjoys drinking leftover wine.
9. Florida: The Cuban Club in Ybor City
The lore behind Florida’s circa-1917 Cuban Club is particularly grim. Stories tell of an actor who committed suicide on stage, a boy who drowned in the pool, and a board member who was murdered by another board member during an argument. Dozens of spirits now supposedly haunt the property.
10. Georgia: Kehoe House in Savannah
Despite its adults-only policy, guests at this Queen Anne-style inn have reported hearing children’s laughter and footfalls up and down the halls. Many suspect they’re the spirits of the Kehoe family’s twin girls, who died while playing in the chimney.
11. Hawaii: ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu
Monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii, beginning with Kamehameha III and ending with Queen Lili’uokalani, called this regal residence home. Visitors to the palace, which has since been restored and opened to the public as a museum, have reported seeing the Queen’s spirit animating the piano, and a light in her tower, where no lights are installed.
12. Idaho: Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise
Some of the West’s most dangerous criminals—including “Idaho’s Jack the Ripper,” Raymond Snowden—were sent to this massive prison complex. Today, the building is open to the public for tours. Throughout the cell blocks, in the solitary confinement cell,and at the gallows (especially 5 House, where Snowden was executed) people have reported hearing sinister voices and noises.
13. Illinois: Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago
Prohibition gangster Al Capone headquartered his operations at the Congress Plaza Hotel. His ghost is reportedly spotted at the property, especially near his 8th-floor suite. The victims of America’s first serial killer, Dr. H. H. Holmes, are also regulars. To celebrate its haunted history, the Congress Plaza Hotel hosts a 3,000-person Halloween Ball every year.
14. Indiana: French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick
This historic hotel was formerly owned by Thomas Taggart, who was so devoted to the place that, the story goes, even death couldn’t stop him from watching over its operations. His spirit is thought to be roaming around the service elevator—even running the lift when it’s getting too busy. Staff members have also heard the voices of ghostly guests at parties Taggart used to throw through the ballroom’s closed doors.
15. Iowa: Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca
Any place with “murder house” in the name is a solid bet for horror fans, and the Villisca Axe Murder House lives up to its name. Eight people were found here, bludgeoned with an axe, in the early morning of June 10, 1912. More than a century later, the crime remains unsolved. Perhaps this is why paranormal experts and witnesses have seen and heard the victims’ ghosts hanging around the house.
16. Kansas: The Sallie House in Atchison
The alleged haunting of the Sallie House was so blood-curdling that Tony and Debra Pickman, who lived in the house with their newborn son Taylor, actually wrote a book about their experiences. Visitors supposedly have been scratched and bitten by the “menacing entities” within, and many unexplained voices have been recorded by paranormal investigators.
17. Kentucky: Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville
In 1926, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was built to combat the outbreak of tuberculosis in the United States, though hundreds of patients died of consumption. Treatments included forcing patients outside for “fresh air,” even in the middle of winter, and surgically implanting balloons in the lungs and filling them with air. Ghost researchers now report particularly strong activity on the fifth floor, where they’ve seen shapes in the windows and heard voices telling them to leave.
18. Louisiana: Calcasieu Courthouse in Lake Charles
The only woman to have died in Louisana’s electric chair was Toni Jo McQuiston, who was sentenced to death for stealing a car and murdering the owner to break her lover out of jail. Locals say they can still hear her ghost whispering, walking around, and occasionally screaming. Some even detect the aroma of her perfume.
19. Maine: City Theater in Biddeford
In this Victorian opera house, it’s not uncommon to see an eye peering down at you from the ceiling, hear disembodied voices, or see lights flashing. Rumor has it that the phantom of this opera is Eva Gray, a singer who collapsed during her third encore of the song “Goodbye, Little Girl, Goodbye” and never had the heart to leave the building even after her death.
20. Maryland: Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House in Waldorf
After assassin John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in the Ford Theater, he jumped off the balcony and broke his leg. He fled to Dr. Samuel A. Mudd’s house for three days. Many visitors to the house-turned-museum have reported feeling chills and tugs on their clothing and seeing shadow profiles and deep impressions in Booth’s bed.
21. Massachusetts: Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River
In the 19th century Lizzie Borden reportedly murdered her father and stepmother with a hatchet. Though the crime is still officially unsolved—and a century has passed—the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast is still a popular (morbid) attraction. The proprietors of the B&B say it’s relatively common for guests to run screaming out of the inn.
22. Michigan: Masonic Temple in Detroit
Detroit’s neo-gothic Masonic Temple was built by architect George D. Mason. The world’s largest Masonic Temple boasts more than 1,000 rooms, two ballrooms, and an unfinished theater—as well as supposed secret rooms and passageways. It’s reported that the despaired architect jumped off the roof to his death. He didn’t (he died in bed at age 92), but, still, security guards claim to see his despondent spirit going up the steps to the roof.
23. Minnesota: James Gamble House in St. Paul
As many as 20 ghosts may reside in the James Gamble House, which is said to have once housed a prohibition-era speakeasy in the basement.
24. Mississippi: Longfellow House in Pascagoula
Also known as Bellevue, the Longfellow House has led many lives: as a girl’s school, resort, and private residence. It was also rumored to be once owned by a slave trader and his wife. The story goes that slaves were beaten to death here, and their spirits linger for revenge. Visitors claim they’ve heard doors slam, seen glass smashed, and heard babies crying in empty rooms.
25. Missouri: Lemp Mansion in St. Louis
This house was the site of a staggering four suicides committed by members of the Lemp family in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though the mansion is currently a restaurant, it’s also known for regular hauntings by the Lemp ghosts. The owners host ghost tours, murder mystery parties, and Halloween events.
26. Montana: Daly Mansion in Hamilton
Marcus and Margaret Daly’s mansion is now a museum, and staff members have reported a number of strange occurrences, like cigar smoke coming from Marcus’ office despite strict no-smoking regulations. There’s also a painting that is found on the ground (and hung back up) every morning.
27. Nebraska: Bailey House Museum in Brownville
The legend goes that a Civil War captain was poisoned by a neighbor in this seven-gabled house. Now a museum on the National Register of Historic Places, museum staff and locals suspect Captain Bailey may be haunting his former residence. They’ve reported piano music playing at night, and doors refusing to stay shut.
28. Nevada: Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah
Legend has it that the Lady in Red haunts this saloon-turned-hotel, though few agree who this spirit is. Some suggest she was a prostitute who was murdered on the fifth floor, while others believe she was a woman whose husband killed her for cheating.
29. New Hampshire: The Chase House in Portsmouth
In 1877, the chase House was founded as an orphanage. In recent decades, staff have reported lights and ceiling fans turning on and off, while others have heard disembodied screaming and footsteps. The spirit of a small girl has been seen in the hallways; when she’s approached, she runs away and disappears.
30. New Jersey: Seabrook-Wilson House in Port Monmouth
Known informally as the Spy House, this Sandy Hook Bay building is one of the oldest buildings on this list, dating back to 1663. It was originally used as a tavern during the Revolutionary War, when innkeepers would listen to conversations between British soldiers and relay the information to the patriots. Specters seem to be drawn to this building, and have been spotted throughout the property.
31. New Mexico: Luna-Otero Mansion in Los Lunas
This mansion was built for the powerful Luna and Otero families in the 1800s, though Josefita Otero is said to have been particularly attached the property. She made massive improvements to the home, cared for the gardens, and produced many of the artworks still on display. Otero’s ghost began appearing in the 1970s in bedrooms, the attic, and in her rocking chair. For a chance to see Otero, simply make a reservation at Luna Mansion, which is now a steakhouse.
32. New York: The Amityville House in Long Island
In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot six of his family members dead in this house. One year later, George and Kathy Lutz and their three kids bought the house for a bargain, and were reportedly tormented by the same ghosts that convinced DeFeo Jr. to murder his family. The nightmarish events have inspired the book series and films known as The Amityville Horror
33. North Carolina: The Biltmore Estate in Asheville
This 178,926-square-foot estate was built at the height of the Gilded Age by George Vanderbilt. After George passed away in 1914, his daughter Cornelia and her husband John Cecil opened the estate to the public, making it one of the South’s most visited attractions. Some tourists have reported seeing George Vanderbilt’s shadowy figure in the library, or hearing the whispers of Edith Vanderbilt beckoning her husband.
34. North Dakota: The Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm in Fargo
Inside this 1876 brick farmhouse-turned-children’s museum is an elevator rumored to work on its own, and the friendly ghost of the building’s former owner, Elizabeth Yunker. She has been spotted upstairs, guarding the children in the second-story exhibits.
35. Athens, Ohio – Athens Lunatic Asylum
The Ridges, formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was a mental hospital for over 100 years until its closing in 1993. Patients included violent criminals, Civil War veterans, and children, and it’s notorious for its use of lobotomy procedures, hydrotherapy, and electroshock. The asylum also has a cemetery where the deceased patients were buried; rumors indicate it’s now a hotbed for paranormal activity.
36. Oklahoma: St. Vincent’s Home in Oklahoma City
From 1945 until the 1980s, the Brothers of Mercy operated St. Vincent’s as a mental hospital. Stories of staff members killing patients (and patients killing staff members) have led people to believe the abandoned property is haunted by tortured ghosts.
37. Oregon: Pittock Mansion in Portland
Sweeping views of Portland may make the 46-room estate even more enchanting, but visitors to the house-museum should also look out for ghostly apparitions. Georgiana and Henry Pittock passed away within a year of one another, but rumor has it they still call the mansion home.
38. Pennsylvania: The Logan Inn in New Hope
Check into Room 6 for the best chances of a ghostly encounter. The legend is that more than eight spirits—including children—haunt this Revolutionary-era inn, and guests have felt pressure on their chests and seen misty shapes moving around the room.
39. Rhode Island: The Breakers Mansion in Newport
Cornelius Vanderbilt II passed away just four years after this estate was completed, but his wife, Alice Gwynee Vanderbilt, enjoyed the property for many decades. The Breakers is a now museum, and staff members claim to have seen Alice’s ghost throughout the house.
40. South Carolina: Dock Street Theatre in Charleston
When props disappear or the lighting behaves peculiarly at the 18th-century Dock Street Theater, some reportedly shrug it off as the work of resident ghosts. One of them is thought to be Nettie Dickerson, who, legend says, was struck by lightning on one of the building’s balconies at the age of 25.
41. South Dakota: Bullock Hotel in Deadwood
Deadwood’s town sheriff, Seth Bullock, doubled as a businessman, and he opened the town’s first hotel in 1895. It’s said that Bullock died in Room 211 of colon cancer, and that his ghost remained. Bullock, the story goes, can be heard calling out to guests and staff and whistling. Alarm clocks supposedly go off even when unplugged.
42. Tennessee: Loretta Lynn Plantation House in Hurricane Mills
Visit the Loretta Lynn Plantation House and adjacent cemetery for a chance to see the spirits of Confederate soldiers buried on-site, among other supposed apparitions. Tours of the haunted ranch are available daily, and often come with ghost stories.
43. Texas: Granbury Opera House in Granbury
This opera house’s haunted reputation draws its own audience. Many believe it’s the spirit of John Wilkes Booth, who apparently splits his eternity between the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House (in Maryland) and the Granbury. Be on the lookout for cold spots, flickering lights, and the sound of heavy footfalls running through the theater.
44. Utah: Westminster College in Salt Lake City
As many as seven ghosts are said to be permanently studying at Westminster College, including, as the story goes, a bride and her groom who were leaving for their honeymoon when a drunk driver hit their car near the college grounds. The so-called Lady in White is most often spotted at Converse Hall.
45. Vermont: Eddy House in Chittendon
Zephaniah Eddy’s two sons, William and Horatio, were reportedly mediums. The lore is that, as children, they occasionally disappeared from their cribs and were caught playing with the spirits of children. Zephaniah sent them to work in a traveling circus, but upon his death, the boys returned to The Eddy House. They transformed the small farm into an inn and held regular séances for their guests. Today, the homestead serves as the High Life Ski Club Lounge, rather than a portal to the Other Side.
46. Virginia: Ferry Plantation House in Virginia Beach
Eleven spirits, including the victims of a shipwreck on Virginia Beach in 1810, supposedly haunt this house museum. Today, almost four centuries after the home was built, visitors can partake in regular ghost tours. Very brave children can even stay for history camp in the summer.
47. Washington: Thornewood Castle Inn in Lakewood
Legend has it that carpets move inside this 500-year-old, Tudor-style castle, and vortexes have opened up in front of the grand staircase. Ghosts from throughout the decades can be seen inside the rooms. Book Anna’s Suite for a chance to see Mrs. Thorne gazing out the second-story window, or admiring her reflection in the original wall mirror.
48. West Virginia: Moundsville Penitentiary in Moundsville
For more than a 100 years, this gothic-style prison was home to violent inmates—some of which were executed by hanging or in the electric chair. Ghosthunters often seek the Shadow Man, a menacing figure who supposedly appears to guard the cells. Join in on an especially terrifying overnight ghost hunt, or stick to a three-hour twilight tour.
49. Wisconsin: Brumder Mansion in Milwaukee
Guests have reported extremely vivid dreams, the presence of spirits, and fresh drops of blood in a bathtub that no one had used. Nevertheless, the bed and breakfast owners insist the ghosts all mean well, and have a friendly, Midwestern disposition.
50. Wyoming: Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell
Unsettling vestiges of this imprisonment camp, now a museum, linger, including hospital buildings and a concrete vault from a school. Japanese Americans were kept captive at ten camps across the country during World War II, including this one. Lore says that “Shadow People” come out at night to observe visitors.