With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time for far more than carving pumpkins and dressing up in your favorite fictional characters. Now is the time to plan your upcoming trips around which places are the spookiest! The United States is filled with abandoned, haunted, spooky, and even creepy places. Some of the spookiest places are hotels, lighthouses, bridges, campground, asylums and—unsurprisingly—cemeteries. Both locals and travelers have reported strange stories in all of these places stretching from paranormal sightings to sudden feelings of coldness.
Investigating reported ghost stories has become an exceptional form of entertainment from Buzzfeed’s Unsolved to SYFY’s Ghost Hunters. Ultimately, it is up for the viewers and visitors to decide what they believe—whether the rumors are fictional or based on truth—when visiting a spooky area. Half the fun of visiting these places for yourself is getting to uncover the truth entirely for yourself. Whether or not you believe in the supernatural, the places on this list are undeniably creepy. It is highly advisable that if you visit these places, you do not do so in the middle of the night when you’re alone and have no cell service unless you want to find yourself at the opening credits of a horror film.
20 North: Seaview Terrace in Newport, Rhode Island
Far up north is a spooky mansion made even spookier when dusted with snow. Edson Bradley built the mansion in 1907 and is a whopping 40,000 square foot building also known as the Carey Mansion. It was originally erected in Washington, D.C. and was deconstructed and rebuilt in Rhode Island when the family relocated. Paranormal activity is abundant in the vast mansion including random noises such as banging, voices, and footsteps that belong to no one in particular, and apparitions and dark shadows that are often visible after the sun sets. Rumor has it that Mrs. Bradley haunts the halls and can be heard playing her organ into the night.
19 North: Forest Park Cemetery in Brunswick, New York
There’s definitely nothing spooky about an overgrown cemetery that can send chills up your spine and give you goosebumps on a hot day. Adorned with an entrance gate, the cemetery was bought in 1897 and intended to be a beautiful, calming atmosphere. Abandoned between 1975 and 1990, it is no longer open to the public. Rumor has it that the angel statues, some of which are headless, have been seen bleeding. If that’s not enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, there’s a vanishing girl, dying flashlights, entities that chase visitors, and the surprisingly empty mausoleum. Reportedly, one person saw a green light glowing where a coffin should have been. Another rumor stated that a group of people felt as if an invisible force was pulling them back.
18 North: Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast in Big Bay, Michigan
Built in 1896, Big Bay Point is nestled in Lake Superior north of Big Bay. Those who stay at the now bed and breakfast have reportedly seen the ghost of Mr. Prior, the original lighthouse keeper. He often appears in the middle of the night, stirring the soundly sleeping guests. Mr. Prior’s ghost is rumored to be in Coast Guard attire, adorning a bushy red mustache, and has been known to vanish after waking guests. Mr. Prior’s story is a tragic one involving an accident that lead to his son’s death, which then made Mr. Prior suicidal. He was found having hung himself in a maple tree that sat miles from the lighthouse.
17 North: Cemetery in Stull, Kansas
What would be an otherwise sleepy town in rural Kansas has become a hotspot for paranormal activity thanks to the graveyard. According to CBS News, there is a hidden stairway that leads to hell, and locals have supposedly found and murdered witches in that location. It is said that the devil himself haunts the Stull graveyard and has easy access to the cemetery thanks to the gateway to hell that resides there. Locals love the rumor that a Time magazine article supposedly reported that Pope John Paul II asked for his plane to circumnavigate Stull by a wide birth. Whether or not this is strictly true, the cemetery itself is innately a creepy place.
16 North: Centralia, Pennsylvania
Once, Centralia was a mining town with a thriving population of more than 2,000. Now, hardly anyone dares to live in the ghost town since a fire that started back in 1962 is still burning deep underground in an abandoned strip mine. The fire managed to set the rest of the coalmines ablaze and the flames were too powerful to be extinguished by firefighters. The fire has caused steam to spew from the ground—especially from the broken sections of asphalt along Route 61—and the groundwater to be heated to boiling point. Centralia’s abandoned ruins, the scorched vegetation, and the rising steam made it a perfect muse for the horror film Silent Hill.
15 Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, Washington
The 700-acre property was established in 1909 and closed down nearly 70 years later. Back when insane asylums covered a wide variety of illnesses, nearly 2,000 people resided at the Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. While some of them perished from natural causes, many of those residents died from the treatment they were subjected to such as electroshock therapy, lobotomies, and complications stemming from forced sterilization. Reportedly, many ghosts have been seen on the hospital grounds including a nurse pushing a male patient in a wheelchair and a little girl with a red ball.
14 North: The Devil’s Tree in Bernards Township, New Jersey
The tree itself is an unnerving sight. It’s the only landmark in a giant field. Attempts at cutting the tree down have left it scared with ax markings, but clearly, no one has been successful. The KKK used to hold demonstrations and often even hung their victims from the tree. Moreover, the tree reportedly emits a strange heat, and it is rumored that when it snows, none of the snow will settle on or near the tree itself. Suspicious activity has scared off locals and peaked the curiosity of brave young kids. Some locals have heard screaming and demon-like noises coming from the tree. Whether or not you believe the locals that this is one of the gateways to hell, the tree’s history alone is enough to strike fear in the hearts of people.
13 North: Montana’s Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana
The prison opened in 1871 and was active for over 100 years. The facility was overcrowded by about twice the population that normal circumstances would dictate. Thanks to a tight budget, things like heated living quarters in the cold Montana winter and heated water were obsolete. Riots and attempted escapes were not uncommon. The most famous of which happened in 1959 and ended with 26 employees and inmates taken a hostage and a murdered deputy. While the prison is now a museum, it didn’t take long for people to figure out that there was some spooky stuff going on in the old prison. People often spot figures and shadows that shouldn’t be there. What’s worse, is there the solitary confinement area is known as “the hole” is haunted by a sinister ghost that shoves and attacks visitors.
12 North: Bloody Bride Bridge in Stevens Point, Wisconsin
According to local legend, a bridge over Plover River on County Highway 66 is the spot where newlyweds were involved in a car accident that ended fatally. Their car supposedly spun out of control, though there is no specific known cause for this. Several years after the accident took place, a police officer was driving across the bridge and thought he hit a young woman wearing a wedding gown with his car. When he got out to investigate, there was no one to be found—until he was back in his car and the blood bride appeared in his back seat. Legend has it that if you stop on their bridge at midnight, both the bride and groom will haunt your backseat.
11 North: Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If the image of the prison itself with it’s towering walls and disintegrating hallways isn’t enough to place itself gives you the chills, then knowing about what took place inside those walls certainly will. Prisoners faced brutal punishment such as a water bath, the mad chair, the iron gag, and the hole. Each of these resulted in horrific consequences like ice crystals forming on skin, loss of circulation in limbs that resulted in amputations, an iron collar that could easily tear the tongue, and no contact with humans, light, or a restroom. Rumor has it that the prison is also haunted, and different cells are known for different types of paranormal activity including ghostly shadows and figures, disembodied voices, laughter, wailing, and whispers.
10 South: Chapel Hill, Tennessee
The story of the headless brakeman might seem like a children’s campfire story, but regardless of the truth behind it, the origin story is rather spooky. According to locals, during a train’s journey to Chapel Hill, a train brakeman was working the night shift. His job was high-risk and dangerous, to begin with, so it comes as no surprise to anyone that one night, the brakeman was flung off the train. During the accident, he somehow lost his head and his life. Since the incident, locals have reported sightings of a headless man and a peculiar light traveling along the train tracks. Perhaps the ghost is determined to find his head.
9 South: Tans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia
Built-in 1858 on 300 acres, the asylum was the third of its kind in West Virginia at that time. As one would expect, the place is filled with horrible acts towards those who resided there until 1994. At one point in time, there were close to 2,500 people crammed within its walls. Those who were deemed too dangerous to handle were locked away in cages like animals. Medical experiments meant to help the patients, but were more horrific than anything else, were abundantly practiced. Then, it was boarded up and neglected until 2007. Under new management, it is now open to the public for guided tours. Those who visit often report creepy, paranormal activity.
8 South: St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico
This hotel used to be a salon that resided along the Santa Fe Trail during America’s cowboy and Wild West days. In other words, standoffs and shootouts were a frequent occurrence. Reportedly, 26 men have met their end inside the building. Room 18, in particular, is barred from the public because of how haunted it is. According to rumor, one man jumped out the window because he feared for his life. The spirit of Thomas James Wright, who was murdered in the room after winning a poker game that gave him rights to the hotel, is an irritable resident of Room 18. Hotel workers have said that most of the entities that haunt the hotel are felt and heard rather than seen. If you have the courage to stay here, do so with a brave friend and avoid the second floor.
7 South: The Historic Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia
The Inn had been run down nearly 40 years ago but was refurbished in its entirety in 1987. Now, the hotel is a beautiful monument to Southern history, but with one twist—a spirit named Emily haunts the Inn. Legend has it that she was engaged to be married and was waiting at the Inn at her wedding ensemble for her fiancé. The news of his untimely death was broken by her in the Inn, and she died alone and heartbroken many years later. Even now, guests have reported catching glimpses of a woman drifting through the hallways in her wedding dress. Words etched in the fog of windows, slamming doors, and sudden drops in temperature are the only additional testament to her existence.
6 South: Sensabaugh Tunnel in Knoxville, Tennessee
As far as tunnels go, this is by far one of the creepiest in the United States. Not only is the mere sight of it chilling, but the legends surrounding the tunnel are also scary. From its origins back in 1920, suspicious activity has centered around the tunnel. According to locals, it’s not uncommon to hear a baby crying or hear footsteps of someone who isn’t really there. One story tells the tale of a man named Ed, who chased a thief down into the tunnel. The thief, who had taken Ed’s youngest son, tossed the boy into the adjacent river to distract Ed. Another version of the story says that Ed himself haunts the tunnel. In this version, he murdered his entire family and then went to the tunnel to end his own life. Another legend tells of a woman who gave birth in the tunnel, but neither of them made it out alive.
5 South: Dejarnette Children’s Asylum in Staunton, VA
The only thing worse than an asylum is one that also housed children. This particular asylum opened in 1932 and was home to some horrific scientific experiments including eugenics on the minority population—women, African Americans, and the mentally ill. Nearly 40 years after opening, the focus shifted to a psychiatric facility for children and young adults. Those who visit the asylum even today report feeling chills and bad energy emanating from the entire facility. Reports of banging, crashing, voices, and chills are abundant from visitors. Regardless of whether or not this building is actually haunted by spirits of those who lived there, the history of it is enough to send the faint of heart running.
4 South: The Devil’s Tramping Ground in Chatham County, North Carolina
Perhaps the most haunted place in North Carolina is the Devil’s Tramping Ground. Located within a campground, there is a perfect circle of barren, charred ground. According to legend, any object that is left within the circle before nightfall will be thrust from the circle by the time the sun rises the next day. Animals cower near the circle, and some brave people have even tried to spend the night within the circle. No one has succeeded with his or her sanity intact. Supposedly, the devil himself paces the circle every night. Many have spotted and fled from a shadow-figure darting behind the trees along State Road 1100 that leads to this campground.
3 South: Gardette-LaPrete Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana
Despite the beautiful exterior of the mansion, the history is unimaginably horrific. In 1836, a man—who was simply passing by the mansion—stumbled upon a bloodbath. No one seemed to be spared in this mess. Not women, not children, and definitely not men. Most of the victims were so badly maimed that it wasn’t clear which detached limbs belonged to which body. Worst of all, a hand stuck up out of the ground within the courtyard. He had been buried alive and had attempted to claw his way free. While there was never any definitive conclusion to the mass murder, it is still a very strange history that has rendered the mansion inevitably haunted.
2 South: Winchester House in San Jose, Cali
The Winchester House was made famous by the 2018-film Winchester. The house is a 160-room mansion, but it didn’t start out that way. After the deaths of several Winchester family members, the owner of the house, Sarah Winchester—wife of the man who founded the Winchester rifles—spoke with a medium, who informed her that she was cursed by spirits. As legend has it, as long as she continued construction on the house, the tormented entities haunting the house would stay away from Mrs. Winchester. This resulted in the house being an odd array of mismatching rooms, staircases that lead nowhere, and a 15-foot drop from one room into the garden below.
1 South: Goatman’s Bridge in Denton, TX
This particular bridge is shrouded in mystery and legend. As early as 1938, an African American man named Oscar Washburn was known as “the goat-man” because he raised goats. Because of his coveted success, locals hung him on the bridge, spawning the stories of the haunted bridge. Several young men visited the young bridge and reported hearing a deep voice growl at him to step off the bridge. While one young man did retreat from the bridge, his friend was thrown, flying through the air and landing on his back. Then, as if phantom hands had grasped the boy, he was pulled through the railings of the bridge and into the rushing water below.
References: michigan.org, hometowntales.blogspot.com, cbsnews.com, roadtrippers.com, npr.org