As the sun’s rays of summer light slowly turn into a brisk Autumn chill, Americans nationwide are gearing up for weekends of apple picking, pumpkin carving, and long drives through scenic fall foliage.
While fall is arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year, it’s also one of the spookiest, as thousands visit the country’s most notorious, and scariest, haunted attractions. Take a look at our favorite ghostly destinations…if you dare.
North of Boston, Massachusetts lies a quaint, beautiful city with a tragic past. Salem, Massachusetts is home to the famous 1692 witch trials, resulting in the deaths of 24 civilians, as 19 were hanged and five others died in custody.
What began as unexplained bouts of hysteria from some of the local children, turned into a quintessential witch hunt, with accusations of dark magic and devil-worshipping. No one in the town was safe.
Today, Salem is an abundant tourist attraction with incredible bars and restaurants, historical walking tours, and a plethora of museums, occult shops, and charming walking trails overlooking the Salem harbor.
Stop by Jaho Coffee Roaster and Wine Bar for a latte (or a glass of wine), and watch outside as horror enthusiasts, actors, and aficionados dress up as their favorite movie villains, taking photos with passerby’s and scaring those who dare cross their paths.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennsylvania
Cited as one of the fanciest and most expensive prisons in the world, Eastern State Penitentiary held some of the country’s most dangerous and prolific killers. Most notably, it was briefly home to Al Capone, Chicago’s infamous crime boss, responsible for somewhere between 300 to 700 deaths.
The prison was luxuriously fitted with high ceilings, vast corridors, and large single cells boasting running water and central heat, an amenity even the White House did not have at the time.
Although the penitentiary closed in 1970, rumor has it that a few of its inmates never left. Tours of the legendary prison are available today, with Halloween attractions slated for the month of October.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, Massachusetts
“Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one”.
One of the creepiest rhymes ever written was based on the real-life story of Lizzie Borden, a woman tried and acquitted for the gruesome ax murders of her father and stepmother in 1892.
Lizzie Borden’s ax-wielding tale is still an American staple today. Those brave enough to do so can spend the night at the scandalous home, sleeping in the very same room Mrs. Borden was murdered in. If spending the night with the ghosts of Lizzie’s family is too intense, the bed and breakfast also offers house tours and ghost hunting activities, available now.
Winchester Mystery House, California
Sarah Winchester was the widow of William Wirt Winchester, the treasurer of Winchester Repeating Arms Company, a prominent American-based firearms facility. When Sarah lost both her husband and her only child to illness, she visited a medium in her hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, desperate to connect with her lost loves.
Instead, the medium informed Sarah that she must travel west and continuously build a new home for herself, one that will hide her from the many restless spirits, murdered at the hands of her husband’s firearm company.
Until Sarah’s death, she followed the orders of the medium, turning her new home in San Jose, California, into an ever-expanding maze of staircases that lead to nowhere, rooms without entrances, and doors that don’t open.
Plan a trip and visit the architectural anomaly for yourself. Perhaps you’ll discover one of the restless souls Sarah worked so tirelessly to keep out.
LaLaurie Mansion, Louisiana
Fans of American Horror Story will surely remember Kathy Bates’ portrayal of Delphine LaLaurie, a New Orleans serial killer who tortured and murdered slaves in her very own home. LaLaurie was very much real, as was her gruesome killing spell of twelve slaves between 1830-1834.
The LaLaurie Mansion still stands today in New Orleans, known as “The Haunted House,” and can be visited through a few of the city’s official ghost tours.
Villisca Axe Murder House, Iowa
On June 9, 1912, six members of the Moore family and two guests were brutally murdered in the Moore residence, presumably with an axe. The killer waited in the family’s attic and struck the seemingly unaware Moore family sometime between the hours of midnight and 5:00 A.M.
The deaths included Josiah and Sarah, the only two adults and parents to four of the children killed that night, as well as two visiting friends of their children. Despite a lengthy investigation, the killer was never caught and to this day, the Villisca murders remain unsolved.
Today, the home remains an Iowa tourist attraction, with opportunities to tour the residence, and for the courageous, to stay overnight.
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Sleepy Hollow, New York is famous for its gorgeous aesthetic and for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a gothic short story written by Sleepy Hollow’s own Washington Irving. The story details the adventures of Ichabod Crane (famously portrayed by Johnny Depp in the Tim Burton film adaptation) and his obsession with supernatural phenomena, including the legend of the headless horseman.
Sleepy Hollow is much more than a fable, though. It holds everything from farmers’ markets to cemetery tours, to cocktails with the dead. Hang on to your head this October and check out their list of spooky activities here.
The Stanley Hotel, Colorado
It isn’t a true haunted attraction rundown without a mention of a hotel so eerie, even Stephen King got the creeps. The Stanley Hotel is an exquisite landmark with breathtaking mountain views and historical charm.
However, visitors and workers of the hotel offer a different perspective of the stunning hotel, with mentions of flickering lights, shadow figures, and sinister laughter. In addition to staying at the hotel, notably in one of their “spirited rooms,” visitors can opt for a nightly guided tour, walking amongst the very spirits responsible for inspiring one of Stephen King’s most successful novels, The Shining. After all, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.