While many celebrate Halloween with seasonal (and very fun!) kitsch at pumpkin festivals and costume parties, others take the season to the next level, connecting with the spirits at the heart of what this otherworldly holiday is about. 

If you are one of those people who seek out the eeriest, most unsettling places (and we’re here for it), we bet you’ll love this roundup of places all over the USA that claim to be haunted.

The Whitney House restaurant in Detroit, Michigan

Spirits both liquid and ethereal are included with your meal at The Whitney restaurant. One of Detroit’s most upscale dining destinations is also one of its most haunted spots, known for many strange encounters throughout its famed dinner service. If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation, look out for tableware that has been known to move, eerie footsteps heard on the restaurant’s grand staircase, and a few shadows of David and Flora, the ornate mansion’s original owners.

Marshall House is one of the six Historic Inns of Savannah which were built in the mid-1800s
The Marshall House is a historic Savannah inn dating to the mid-1800s © Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

The Marshall House, Savannah, Georgia

If you’re on the hunt for a hotel with amenities that tap into another dimension, the Marshall House in Savannah should be at the top of your list. The inn occupies a building dating back to 1851 – and is notorious for being haunted. With a previous history as a hospital for Union soldiers and then yellow-fever patients, the Marshall’s rooms and hallways are known for many paranormal occurrences. Guests often report strange encounters throughout the building, the sound of ghostly children running through hallways and sink faucets that mysteriously turn on. 

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

The inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, The Stanley Hotel’s haunted lore is alluring indeed, with guests checking in to spend the night among the spirits that roam its halls. Visitors often report the presence of ghosts of service workers past, while plenty of creaky wood gives a thrill to those in search of hair-raising encounters. A warning: screams are a bit of a challenge here, as the hotel’s high elevation (7522ft) puts you in dizzyingly thin air.

Huguenot Cemetery, a Protestant Cemetery in St Augustine, Florida, USA
The Huguenot Cemetery in St Augustine was were victims of yellow fever were laid to rest © melissamn / Shutterstock

Huguenot Cemetery, St Augustine, Florida

The oldest city settled by Europeans in the USA, St Augustine dates back to 1585 – so you better believe there are spirits that linger throughout the area. Start with a tour of the Huguenot Cemetery, a hallowed ground since 1821, where many victims of yellow fever were laid to rest. The cemetery is estimated to hold 436 bodies, a number capped in 1884 when it reached capacity – and ghost sightings are reported at all times of the day and night. Be on the lookout for the cemetery’s most famous ghost: the spirit of Judge John B Stickney, a beloved St Augustine denizen who died of yellow fever in 1882. 

Barber chair in a decaying and empty prison cell in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
A barber chair in a decaying and empty prison cell in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia © catnap72 / Getty Images

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

In operation as a jail from 1829 through 1971, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia now operates as one of the region’s most renowned haunted-house experiences. Tours of the building highlight the many famed criminals who once were confined within its thick walls, including Al Capone and Willie Sutton (who almost escaped via a tunnel). Halloween Nights are among the most popular times of year to visit – though the presence of prisoners past is reported year-round. 

Statue in front of the Winchester House, San Jose, California, USA
The intriguing Winchester Mystery House is a web of architectural conundrums © TinyBree / Shutterstock

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

In 1881, a widowed Sarah Winchester became heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune after her husband, William Wirt Winchester, died of tuberculosis. Sarah had lost her young daughter a few years earlier; reportedly, the grief-stricken Sarah then consulted a medium, who instructed her to move out west and create a home for herself and the souls of those killed by Winchester rifles – lest they haunt her forever. 

Construction on the now-famous mansion in San Jose, California began in 1884 and continued over the course of 38 years, resulting in a 24,000-sq-ft Queen Anne–style house that today remains at once an architectural marvel and conundrum, with 160 rooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces, six kitchens and 13 bathrooms (though only one was functional, supposedly to confuse the spirits).

The structure was not built according to a plan, and the resulting house has a number of strange features, including stairs to nowhere, interior windows and more. Upon Sarah’s death, the house continued to confuse outsiders – and today, only the grounds are open for tours. Join the Walk with Spirits tour around the estate to hear more on the supernatural aspects of this sprawling property.

People take a guided tour of the above-ground graves in the St Louis Cemetery No 1, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Wandering the maze-like grounds of the above-ground St Louis Cemetery No 1, you may meet a few of New Orleans’ past residents © Page Light Studios / Shutterstock

St Louis Cemetery No 1, New Orleans 

Dubbed the City of the Dead, St Louis Cemetery No 1 is the oldest active cemetery in New Orleans. Opened in 1789, the cemetery is supposedly home to 100,000 “residents,” housed in more than 700 above-ground tombs. Those laid to rest there include the famous voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, along with several other notable figures from Crescent City’s history. 

Wander the maze-like pathways of the burial ground, taking in the elaborate mausoleums, the worn lists of names and, of course, the site’s extensive history. You might even get to meet one of St Louis’ residents.

Note that unaccompanied visits to St Louis Cemetery No 1 are not permitted. You must visit with a licensed tour guide approved by the New Orleans Archdiocese.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, KY

When it opened in 1910, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a state-of-the-art tuberculosis hospital designed to keep patients in isolation from the rest of the general population. The building was originally designed to hold 50 to 60 patients, but when the need became greater, its capacity expanded to more than 400.

The sanatorium was so insular it had its own zip code and post office, even growing its own food and raising its own livestock – for once doctors and patients alike arrived to Waverly, they became “permanent residents” there. Once the cure for tuberculosis was found in 1961, the hospital was decontaminated and converted into a geriatric-care facility until its closure in 1981. Today, the sanatorium is regarded as a highly haunted location, with spirits of patients wandering the halls and occasionally making themselves known.

This article was first published September 2019 and updated October 2022

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