Most Haunted Places in America

The United States has its fair share of haunting tales as ghost stories have been formed and passed down over the years. These incidents are spread coast to coast, residing in hotels, asylums, malls, and even homes. But where are these most haunted places in America, are the stories real and, if so, what caused them?

For some people, these hauntings are things they can’t believe until they see one. For others, the pictures and stories of these places are enough to cause a sudden bout of the chills.

Paired with beautiful architecture, scenery, and history, ghost stories land these spots on the list of the most haunted places in America. 

The Stanley Hotel: Estes Park, Colorado 

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The famous hotel opened in 1909  by an entrepreneur seeking out a healthier life among the Rocky Mountains. It was the inspiration for Stephen King’s fictional Overlook Hotel from The Shining

King stayed the night in room 217 (room 237 in the film), inspiring King to write his iconic book which led to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining film (not filmed at this location. Many guests claim to have felt the spirits of past guests and hotel employees, including the owners themselves. 

Thrill-seekers can book tours like the “Stanley Night Tour” to learn more about the hotel’s history and paranormal activities. 

Eastern State Penitentiary: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Photo: Wikipedia

The prison looks more like a castle on the outside, but its occupants were never treated like royalty.

According to the Eastern State Penitentiary tourism site, “Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious lawbreakers, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone.”

The building was considered an architectural wonder when it was built, with running water and central heat before the White House.

Eastern State Penitentiary: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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This prison opened in 1829, with the intention to instill strict order and have prisoners be “penitent” for their crimes. Hence, the word “Penitentiary” in the building’s name. It is considered the world’s first true “penitentiary.”

The prison was known for its “separate system” where prisoners were kept in isolation. Prisoners ate, exercised, and read the bible alone. Guards wore hoods and shoe covers to soften the sound of their feet.

Eastern State Penitentiary: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Overcrowding caused the prison to abandon solitary confinement, but the treatment didn’t improve for prisoners. According to CN Traveler, it got as bad as an inmate getting their tongue chained to his wrists. 

The prison remains open for visitors, hosting tours so that travelers can get a glimpse of the hauntings that remain, like the eerily intact prison cell seen above. Visitors claim to have heard and seen signs from prisoners past jarring laughter, shadowy figures, and pacing footsteps. 

Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California

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Don’t let the dreamy dollhouse exterior fool you — this house is an architectural wonder and historic landmark and a hotspot for haunting tales. It was once the residence of widow Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester. 

The original eight-room farmhouse grew into a sprawling mansion: 

  • 24,000 square feet 
  • 10,000 windows
  • 2,000 doors
  • 160 rooms
  • 52 skylights
  • 47 stairways and fireplaces
  • 17 chimneys
  • 13 bathrooms
  • 6 kitchens 

With its massive size, it holds plenty of mystery with its walls, from staircases that lead straight to ceilings, to doors that open onto walls. 

Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California

Photo: HouzzTV, YouTube

Legend has it that Sarah Winchester visited a spiritual medium following the deaths of her husband and infant daughter. The seer told her that the deaths were acts of revenge from angry spirits who had been killed by Winchester rifles, and that she needed to build a dwelling for all of those ghosts. 

Sarah spent the next 38 years building the Winchester Mystery House to what it is today. The bizarre features throughout the house (like the staircase leading nowhere, pictured above) was meant to confuse evil spirits. 

Visitors, who are encouraged to come through tours, have seen doorknobs turn by themselves, hear footsteps, and get sudden chills or temporarily lose their vision. 

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum: Weston, West Virginia

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It is just a drive away from Pittsburgh and holds a dark past. It was originally built as a sanctuary for 250 patients with psychiatric illnesses but soon held 2,600 people at its peak. Patients were left without beds and adequate heating, sleeping on bare floors and in freezing rooms. 

Those who choose to embark on tours experience a variety of haunts: apparitions, unexplained noises, and strange shadows. 

Maple Hill Cemetery: Huntsville, Alabama

Photo: YouTube

Your average cemetery may be enough to give you the heebie-jeebies, but this cemetery has quite the haunting urban legend surrounding it. What’s it all about? Well, it’s a playground. 

In 1985, somebody opened a playground right next to the cemetery grounds. Rather than bringing joy to the space, visitors claim it brings hauntings to the area. People reports orbs of light traveling down the playground slide,  swings swaying without the slightest breeze, and hearing ghostly giggles in the air. 

Metropolitan State Hospital: Belton, Massachusetts

Opened back in 1930, this abandoned mental hospital was often referred to as a prison for its patients. Young patients were strictly disciplined and sedated. For those interested in mental hospital history, its nicknamed “The Hospital of Seven Teeth.” 

One patient named Anna Marie Davee (sometimes named Ann Marie Davee) was murdered by another patient while she went out for a walk on the grounds. Her killer eventually revealed where he had hidden her remains around the grounds, along with seven of her teeth he kept for himself. 

Hotel del Coronado: San Diego, California

Most Haunted Places in America
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You may recognize this beachfront hotel from 1959’s Some Like it Hot and it might have also been the inspiration for the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

But, according to hotel historian Christina Donovan, it is also the place where a young woman by the name of Kate was scorned by her lover. In 1892, Kate arrived at the hotel to meet up with a man, but he was a no-show. The morning after Kate was found at the hotel’s steps with a bullet in her head. Today, guests say her tall, statuesque ghost has a tendency to toss objects towards guests or to peer out to the sea, perhaps still waiting for her lover to finally show up.

Yuma Territorial Prison: Yuma, Arizona

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This prison was constructed in 1876, with prisoners even having to build their own cells (as seen above). Over the course of its 33-year run, it housed 3,068 inmates. Its legacy lives on in the paranormal activity on the property. 

Yuma Territorial Prison: Yuma, Arizona

For one, there’s a legend of a little girl wearing a red dress who drowned in the Colorado River trying to get her doll out of the water. Allegedly, she haunts the abandoned prison and pinches visitors with her icy-cold touch if they’re wearing red, or if she doesn’t like them.

Visitors also claim to see the ghosts of prisoners past, especially of those who died in prison.

The largest number of claims come from the “dark cell” where inmates were sent once they broke the rules. Prisoners would be stripped of their clothes and chained in a completely dark cell. Some guards would throw scorpions in the cell for extra torture. 

Oakland Cemetery: Atlanta, Georgia 

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Another cemetery on the list of haunted places, the Oakland Cemetary in Atlanta is full of history dating back to the Civil War. 

Civil war soldiers, Civil Rights pioneers, and other notable figures are buried on its 48 acres. Rumor has it that the ghosts of Confederate soldiers wander the cemetery grounds and hang from the trees. Visitors claim to hear the Confederate Army roll call as they walk among the gravestones — even hearing their own names make the list. 

Old Idaho State Penitentiary: Boise, Idaho

Photo: idaho.gov

At any given time, this prison held up to 600 prisoners, and they suffered inhumane conditions. Cell walls were formed with sandstone — a plentiful and inexpensive building material — which intensified the temperatures inside the cells. It created either an oven effect in the summer months or a chilling freezer during the winter.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary: Boise, Idaho

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Its most notorious inmate was Raymond Allen Snowden, a man once dubbed “Idaho’s Jack the Ripper.” He was sentenced to death by hanging at the prison. However, during his execution the noose failed to break his neck — Snowden hung for 15 minutes before suffocating. Many visitors claimed that Snowden’s spirit never left because 5 House, the building where Snowden was executed, has the most paranormal activity. 

Danvers State Hospital: Danvers, Massachusetts 

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This psychiatric hospital, now abandoned, was once overcrowded. Originally built to house 500 patients, it quickly filled with more than 2,000 patients. This forced caretakers to place patients to be put in both the basement and attic. 

Danvers State Hospital: Danvers, Massachusetts 

Photo: YouTube

The overcrowding led to countless issues in the hospital: overworked staff, patients left without proper care, and sometimes deaths were not discovered until days later. 

In 2005, a development company bought the property and tore down many of the buildings in order to create apartments. A strange fire stopped construction in 2007, causing many to believe that ghosts of patients have cursed their former site of suffering. 

Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane: Willard, New York

The Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane was opened in 1869. It is located in Willard, New York and less than 20 years after its opening it became the largest asylum in America, housing about 1500 patients.

The Asylum was once home to some of the most insane people ever. Many say that the patients were treated with shock therapy, restraints, and isolation. In 1994 the psychiatric center shut its doors and closed down the center. However, once a year there are tours that allow visitors to get a look inside.

Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane: Willard, New York

After 20 years of operations, it became the largest asylum in America at the time, housing about 1500 patients. Many believe that the grounds are haunted by its past patients. From the morgue to personal rooms, much of the hospital is left intact for visitors to see remnants of the past. 

The Queen Mary: Long Beach, California

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The ship doesn’t look too haunting on the outside, but spend the night in one of its many haunted suites and you’ll most likely be changing your mind. The most popular ghosts on the ship include an engineer who died on board, a “lady in white,” and various children wandering the ship. 

Its most haunted room, Stateroom B340, is often available for booking. Paranormal activity reports date back to the ship’s final voyage in 1967 when guests complained about constant knocking on the room’s doors. Others report their covers being pulled off their bed in the middle of the night. 

Congress Plaza Hotel: Chicago, Illinois 

Photo: YouTube

The Congress Plaza Hotel currently offers 871 guest rooms and suites— however, it also has a few permanent residents. Ghosts thought to reside at the hotel include a murdered hobo, and a disembodied gloved hand that juts out of one of the walls—believed to be that of a construction worker buried behind it. A female apparition makes regular appearances in certain rooms. 

Congress Plaza Hotel: Chicago, Illinois 

Visitors often say that the elevator stops at the eighth floor frequently, despite not pressing the button for it. The alleged reason? People think a lone ghost wanders the halls, waiting for a visitor. Or, on the twelfth floor, people are advised to stay away as one room is so haunted, it had to be fastened shut on the outside. 

Gettysburg Hotel: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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Hotel guests claim to have seen quite a few paranormal guests during their stay at this historical site. The most common ghost? Rachel, who is believed to be a Civil War-era nurse. She is rumored to be looking for soldiers that she can care for, as well as opening drawers and removing the contents.  Guests come back to their rooms to see their belongings rearranged. Guests also claim to have seen a wounded soldier on the grounds, and a lady dancing in the hotel’s ballroom. 

Hotel Monte Vista: Flagstaff, Arizona 

Photo: YouTube

Want to have the ghost of a lady in a rocking chair chat with you in your room? That’s what you might get if you stay in Room 305 of this Arizona hotel. But don’t be scared. Front-desk employee Chelsea Green assures “She’s nice. She’ll just sit there and talk to you.” However, this is what Chelsea told one of the visiting guests – a big burly Los Angeles biker who was so spooked by the incident, he slept on the couch in the lobby of the hotel. Also, guests in another room reported hearing phantom knocks and a voice that calls out “Room service!” with no one at the door.