If you’re brave enough to make it through haunted houses, why don’t you take it up a notch this Halloween by visiting a haunted city? Take ghost hunting to the next level by planning a trip somewhere known for its eerie legends and sinister backstories. If you’re a spook enthusiast and you haven’t been to one of the most haunted cities in America, can you even call yourself one?
Old towns have much more than just historical significance; they also hold menacing and chilling tales of dark happenings that have haunted these areas for years to come. We decided to not only put together a list of the most haunted cities in America, but also rank them based on how haunted they are. The higher the ranking, the spookier the area- so do you dare visit the city we ranked as number one?
The 10 Most Haunted Cities in America
10. Washington, D.C.
If you haven’t quite made the connection yet, then let us explain how you’ll find more haunted stories near the most historic places. Our nation’s capital is not exempt from that, and is, in fact, home to plenty of ghost stories. The White House, where our nation’s presidents always reside during their terms, is actually considered one of the most haunted houses in the U.S. The ghosts of former residents have reportedly been seen, such as President Lincoln in the Lincoln Bedroom, President William Henry Harrison who died in the White House, and first ladies Dolley Madison and Abigail Adams.
There are also other ghost tours throughout the city that take visitors through other alleged haunted places, including the National Building Museum, the Congressional Cemetery, and other official government buildings.
9. San Antonio, Texas
“Remember the Alamo” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to talking about the most haunted places. The famous historical site held the battle between Mexican and Texan troops, claiming the lives of many iconic American historical figures. While many visit to get a history fix, others have reported seeing apparitions patrolling the roof and hearing prisoners moaning.
But that’s not the only haunted feature in this city. Along the river walk are many other haunted buildings, including the Alamo Street Restaurant and Theater. And a section of railroad tracks just south of the city near the San Juan Mission is said to be haunted by ghosts of children. More than 50 years ago, their bus had stalled on the railroad track, killing everyone inside. The folklore tells that if any car stops on the tracks, unseen hands push it across the tracks to avoid the same fate.
8. St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city, and you can’t be surprised that with that fact comes a long history and reputation of being haunted. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is world famous for its ghost tours, as it’s said to be haunted by a former caretaker who roams its spiraled stairs along with two other children who may have also died there.
One of the most famous haunts in the city is the Castillo de San Marcos. The star-shaped fort holds the story of a love affair between a colonel’s wife and his chief officer. But when the colonel found out, the lovers were never seen again, only for their bones to be found in a dungeon. Visitors say you can smell the rose-scented perfume of the woman, named Delores, and if you put your ear to the one of the walls, you can hear the sounds of battle and blood-curdling screams.
7. San Francisco, California
The Golden City is a known tourist hotspot for its diverse culture and landmark beauty, like the Golden Gate Bridge. But San Francisco has its own haunted mysteries that make it quite the place to check out for all the ghost fanatics out there. The infamous Alcatraz prison was known for holding some of the most notorious and scariest criminals for the remainders of their lives. But visitors have reported hearing voices and the sound of cell doors opening and closing, even though the place is no longer a functioning penitentiary.
And Alcatraz isn’t the only haunting feature within the Bay Area. In Chinatown, the Cameron House was once a hiding place for immigrants to escape police brutality. However, it was burned down while people were still inside, and legend has it that their spirits are still trapped there. The lost spirits also seem to turn up in photographs that are taken at the Cameron House every once in awhile.
6. Salem, Massachusetts
If you couldn’t figure out why we picked Salem as one of our most haunted American cities, then you must not have heard of the Salem witch trials. Back in the 1600s, 19 “witches” were put to death for their alleged crimes in witchcraft. Their spirits are said to haunt the city, lingering at Gallows Hills, where they were executed. Two of them specifically, Bridget Bishop and Giles Corey, are said to haunt the Lyceum Bar and Grill and the Howard Street Cemetery respectively. Visitors have also reported ominous feelings when visiting the city’s historic sites such as the House of Seven Gables, the inspiration behind Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale over the witch trials.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
When people think of haunted American cities, it’s no surprise that New Orleans pops into mind. Historically, the place has been known to hold the secrets of various wars, slavery, torture, and murder, which have attributed to the endless amounts of ghostly legends that surround the area. The city’s most famous famous ghost is considered to be Marie Laveau, the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.” Her grave lies in the St. Louis Cemetery at the edge of the French Quarter. Legend has it that if you knock on her crypt three times, you can ask her for a favor. Do you dare give it a shot?
4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
This haunted location is the site of one of the most massive Civil War battles, the Battle of Gettysburg. It resulted in 51,000 deaths spread all over its 40-mile area, and paranormal activity has popularly been reported from there. Historians have excitedly talked about the famous ghost sightings that have been seen there, along with the sounds of cannon fire and gunshots.
One of the creepiest haunted tales from the city tells of when two school administrators from Gettysburg College were leaving a field hospital site at midnight. They pressed “1” on the elevator, but somehow, it took them to the basement instead. And when the doors opened, they saw the field hospital- but with amputations in progress. They reported making eye contact with one of the workers.
Among the many ghost tours you can take, it’s also recommended that you spend the night at one of few famous haunted hotels in the city. You’ll increase your chances of ghost sightings by hanging out at the Quality Inn at General Lee’s headquarters or the Cashtown Inn & Restaurant.
3. Portland, Oregon
What makes Portland quite the haunted spot is its history of torture and human trafficking. The Shanghai Tunnels were underground tunnels that ran beneath the city’s buildings and streets and were used back in the 1800s to kidnap people and ship them off as slaves and prostitutes to Asia. The tale tells of a saloon owner getting you pretty wasted and sending you down a secret hatch, where you’re never to be seen again. The spirits of the kidnapped are said to roam the tunnels still, and during ghost tours, tourists report hearing whistling, smelling fragrances, or feeling like someone was touching them.
2. Chicago, Illinois
The ghosts that haunt the Windy City have risen from the bodies that gangsters used to dump from the Clark Street Bridge, where they say you can still hear their screams. The Clark Street Bar is said to be haunted, since it’s near the former warehouse where the notorious Al Capone’s Valentine’s Day Massacre took place. Some of the ghost stories in Chicago date back to the Civil War. Oak Woods Cemetery serves as the burial ground for 6,000 Confederate soldiers, and visitors have reported sightings of strange apparitions there.
And if you’re walking along Archer Avenue, beware of the famous “vanishing hitchhiker.” The myth goes that back in the 1930s, men driving towards the northeast reported picking up a female hitchhiker. She was described as a blue-eyed blonde who was wearing a white. The men said that she asked to be dropped off at Resurrection Cemetery, but when she stepped out of the car, she vanished. So maybe avoid picking up any hitchhikers in Chicago.
1. Savannah, Georgia
Interestingly, the city of Savannah is considered probably the most haunted city in America. The town is littered with historic places that are rumored to house spirits of former residents and visitors. Featured on both Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, Moon River Brewing Company is known as the most haunted place in the town. Visitors report seeing a lady in white on the stairs and witnessing spirits mess with the staff. The Pirates’ House is a family-friendly restaurant that once served as a boarding house for sailors. Legend has it that some of them were kidnapped from its basement and forced to sail on ships against their will. It’s also said to be haunted by a specific sailor and pirate known as Captain Flint.
The Mercer House was once the home of Jim Williams, a voodoo-practicing antiques dealer and the main character in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Apparently, it’s haunted by the man Williams allegedly killed in a heated argument, and he was actually acquitted for the murder in three separate trials.
The Marshall House is considered the most haunted hotel in the U.S. During the Civil War and the yellow fever epidemics, it served as a hospital. But now, tourists claim to see ghosts in the hallways and hear children running down the halls at night.
Have you ever been to one of the most haunted cities in America? Share your spooky adventures with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!