History Meets Mystery: 13 Haunted Places in the United States

The United States, with its vast and varied history, is a tapestry woven with tales of heroism, tragedy, innovation, and, at times, the inexplicable. The country offers an intriguing journey into its shadowy corners, where time seems to blur, and the present intermingles with echoes of the past.

Visiting haunted places is a test of one’s nerves and an exploration into the depths of American folklore and legend. It’s an adventure where history meets mystery, and every creak, whisper, and cold breeze carries a tale waiting to be discovered.

Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, PA)

Eastern State Penitentiary
Photo Credit: [@Albert Vecerka]

Eastern State Penitentiary is an abandoned prison famous for its brutal policies and solitary confinement cells. The penitentiary was known for its harsh conditions and tiny, uncomfortable cells when it was still in use. The prison housed many of the United States’ worst criminals, like the famous gangster Al Capone. Nowadays, this iconic site is a museum showcasing the history of the prison and its former occupants.

Visitors and even museum staff often say they’ve experienced spooky things that can’t be easily explained. For instance, some visitors report hearing eerie whispers in the empty hallways. Others claim to have seen shadowy figures darting around the corners of the prison. 

Every Halloween, Eastern State Penitentiary hosts a haunted attraction called “Terror Behind the Walls.” This spooky experience is a can’t-miss event for ghost enthusiasts and adds to the prison’s reputation as an eerie hotspot.

Eastern State Penitentiary has earned its fame as an iconic haunted place in the US due to the spine-tingling experiences shared by many visitors and staff, along with its complex history and famous inmates.

The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, CO)

The Stanley Hotel
Photo Credit: [@neilld/DepositPhotos]

The Stanley Hotel is known for inspiring Stephen King’s famous novel “The Shining.” People visit this hotel not just for its scenic views but also for its reputation as a haunted site.

Many guests who’ve stayed at the Stanley Hotel have reported ghostly encounters. Some claim to have heard mysterious footsteps in the empty hallways, while others have felt cold chills when no one else is around. There have even been accounts of objects moving on their own.

One of the most famous rooms in the hotel is Room 217, where Stephen King himself stayed. Visitors say they’ve felt a strange presence in the room; some even report unexplained activity like lights flickering. To share more about its most ghostly spots and stories, the hotel even offers ghost tours for those brave enough to explore its haunted history

The Stanley Hotel is a must-visit location for “The Shining” fans or anyone interested in supernatural experiences.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary (San Francisco, CA)

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
Photo Credit: [@wirestock_creators/DepositPhotos]

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is one of the most famous haunted places in the US. This well-known prison is famous for its tough rules and notorious prisoners. When people visit, they often report hearing strange sounds like voices, footsteps and even screams.

Alcatraz has an eerie atmosphere created by its grim history. It has housed some of the most dangerous criminals, including Al Capone and the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” According to many visitors, their presence still seems to linger. Guests talk about hearing whispers in the empty cells, sensing a cold, unearthly breeze, and even witnessing shadowy figures.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary has become an iconic sightseeing destination in the United States due to its sinister history and the spooky encounters reported by many guests. If you’re interested in the paranormal, it’s worth a visit.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Photo Credit: [@wirestock_creators/DepositPhotos]

Initially a hospital for tuberculosis patients, Waverly Hills Sanatorium is now famous for being one of the spookiest places in the United States. People claim to have seen mysterious shadowy shapes and heard voices without bodies.

What makes Waverly Hills an iconic haunted place? Well, for starters, it used to be a place where people suffered from a deadly disease, which creates a sense of unease as soon as one enters the building. Its history and the tragic stories of its patients further contribute to its eerie reputation.

Visitors and paranormal enthusiasts have shared many hair-raising experiences. They describe encountering shadowy figures wandering the dark hallways and hearing voices that seem to come from nowhere. Some even say they’ve felt icy touches when no one else was around.

Due to its notorious history, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has been featured on “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Adventures,” and other popular TV shows and documentaries. With its chilling history and spine-tingling encounters, its reputation as one of the most haunted places in the US is well-earned. 

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Weston, WV)

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Photo Credit: [@karenfoleyphotography/DepositPhotos]

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum used to be a mental hospital and has a grim past. Countless stories of its former patients and their suffering have created a spooky reputation. Today, it’s famous for being one of the scariest places in the country. People visit this site for its history and the chance to experience ghostly encounters.

It’s not at all uncommon for visitors to report hearing strange voices, seeing shadowy figures, and feeling unusual cold spots. Some have even captured ghostly images in their photographs! For the bravest visitors, the asylum even offers occasional overnight stays to allow guests to feel the building’s unearthly atmosphere after the sun sets.

With its dark history and the many reported supernatural experiences, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is sure to be an intriguing place to visit for those curious about the paranormal and the history of mental health in the late 1800s.

The Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)

The Queen Mary
Photo Credit: [@littleny/DepositPhotos]

Once a popular ocean liner, The Queen Mary has since been transformed into a fascinating hotel and museum. It has gained a reputation as one of the most haunted places in the US due to numerous reports of ghostly encounters and strange noises.

What makes the Queen Mary one of the most haunted places in the US? First, it has a rich history, serving as a luxurious ocean liner in the 20th century. During World War II, it was repurposed as a troopship, a bit of history that only adds to its intrigue.

Visitors and staff alike have shared eerie experiences, including sightings of apparitions. The most famous ghost is known as “The Lady in White,” often seen in the first-class swimming pool area. Guests have also reported hearing unexplained footsteps and voices when no one else is around.

The Queen Mary’s history and the numerous reported supernatural encounters cement its status as a can’t-miss destination in the United States.

The Myrtles Plantation (St. Francisville, LA)

The Myrtles Plantation
Photo Credits: [@mfmegevand/DepositPhotos]

The Myrtles Plantation is one of the oldest haunted sites in the US, with a notorious reputation and a dark history.

Built in the 18th century, this memorable spot has been around for hundreds of years and has fascinated occupants and visitors ever since. Despite its stunning architecture and gardens, the plantation is known to be a place of frequent supernatural activity.

Many have reported ghostly encounters there, including hearing mysterious footsteps, objects moving by themselves, and even apparitions. One common encounter is the presence of the famous ghost, Chloe, who was a former slave who was hanged there in the 1700s. 

Louisiana’s Myrtles Plantation is famous for its history, eerie sightings, and gorgeous natural beauty. These features and more make it a uniquely American destination and one that will surely fascinate those interested in Southern culture and the supernatural.

Gettysburg Battlefield (Gettysburg, PA)

Gettysburg Battlefield
Photo Credit: [@NPS Photo]

Gettysburg is famous for being the site of a deadly battle during the Civil War. The numerous reports of ghostly encounters and eerie occurrences that people have experienced here over the years make the battlefield one of the most haunted places in the US.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place in July 1863, thousands of soldiers lost their lives. It’s believed that the tragic energy from this historic event has left a lingering presence on the land.

Visitors of the Gettysburg Battlefield have recounted seeing ghostly soldiers in old-fashioned uniforms, often appearing in the midst of reenactments or standing by cannons. Some have heard phantom gunshots and drum rolls as if the battle is replaying.

One of the chilling tales involves the Devil’s Den area, where ghostly apparitions and mysterious shadows have been reported. It’s said that the fallen soldiers’ spirits still wander the battlefield, perhaps unable to find rest.

With its tragic past and countless supernatural encounters, Gettysburg Battlefield is a remarkable historical and paranormal pitstop drawing Civil War enthusiasts and paranormal investigators alike.

Winchester Mystery House (San Jose, CA)

Winchester Mystery House
Photo Credit: [@Sanseven/DepositPhotos]

The Winchester Mystery House is a truly unique and eerie place. Sarah Winchester constructed this mysterious mansion to make amends for the lives lost due to her family’s rifles. The house is famous for being haunted, with reports of numerous ghostly apparitions.

What makes the Winchester Mystery House an iconic haunted location in the United States? Well, it’s not just a house; it’s a bewildering maze with 160 rooms, secret passages, staircases that lead to nowhere, and doors that open to walls. It’s said that this design was meant to confuse spirits and keep them at bay.

Visitors to the mansion have recounted chilling experiences. They’ve heard strange sounds in empty rooms, like footsteps and whispers. Some have seen apparitions of people, possibly those spirits Sarah Winchester was trying to appease.

The Winchester Mystery House’s enigmatic design is unlike any other, and the numerous reported ghostly encounters make it an iconic United States haunted destination.

The Whaley House (San Diego, CA)

The Whaley House
Photo Credit: [@iriana88w/DepositPhotos]

The Whaley House is a historic place with a spooky reputation. Now a museum, it was once a private home, a granary, and even a courtroom at different times in its history. The Whaley House is one of the oldest houses in San Diego and dates back to the mid-1800s. Its rich history contributes to the eerie atmosphere. Many believe it’s haunted by several ghosts.

Visitors have reported spine-tingling experiences. They’ve heard unexplained footsteps, seen apparitions of the Whaley family, and witnessed strange phenomena like doors opening and closing on their own. Some say they’ve felt a heavy presence or cold spots in certain rooms. Its reputation has drawn paranormal investigators and enthusiasts from all over.

The Whaley House’s historical significance, ghostly encounters, and recognition in many popular books and supernatural shows make it an unforgettable haunted destination in the United States.

Lizzie Borden House (Fall River, MA)

Lizzie Borden House
Photo Credit: [@EQRoy/Shutterstock]

The Lizzie Borden House is a well-known place with a shocking history. It’s infamous for the gruesome Borden axe murders that took place there. Today, it operates as a bed-and-breakfast, and many guests have reported experiencing strange and ghostly events during their stays.

In 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were horrifically murdered. Their daughter, Lizzie Borden, was accused but ultimately acquitted of the crime. It is said that this dark history still lingers in the house and creates an unsettling atmosphere for all who visit.

Guests have shared scary experiences, such as seeing apparitions of the victims and hearing ghostly laughter. Others claim to have felt a mysterious presence or encountered unexplained cold spots in the otherwise beautiful Victorian-era house.

The Lizzie Borden House’s notorious history, reported paranormal incidents and preserved Victorian ambiance make it a popular haunted destination in the United States for those curious about the supernatural.

St. Augustine Lighthouse (St. Augustine, FL)

St. Augustine Lighthouse
Photo Credit: [@Bertl123/DepositPhotos]

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is renowned for its ghostly reputation. Many believe it’s haunted by several spirits, including two young girls who tragically died on the property. This lighthouse has become a hotspot for paranormal activity.


One of the tallest and oldest lighthouses in Florida, this stunning coastal location is beautiful, but it’s also the site of numerous eerie experiences. Visitors and staff have reported seeing shadowy figures, unexplained voices, and sudden temperature drops.

One compelling tale involves two girls, Eliza and Mary, who are said to haunt the lighthouse. People claim to have seen their apparitions and even heard their laughter echoing through the building. Stories like these have even drawn the attention of paranormal TV shows like “Ghost Hunters, ” further popularizing this iconic destination. 

The St. Augustine Lighthouse’s historical significance, breathtakingly unique architecture, and well-documented ghostly encounters have made it a go-to spot for supernatural fans.

The Bell Witch Cave (Adams, TN)

The Bell Witch Cave
Photo Credit: [@Maddi Avery/Shutterstock]

The Bell Witch Cave has a spine-tingling reputation. While many caves might feel dangerous and mysterious, this one has an incredibly dark past.

It’s tied to the eerie legend of the Bell Witch, a vengeful spirit that terrorized a local family in the 1800s. This cave and the surrounding area are believed to be haunted. Visitors have reported hearing strange noises like eerie laughter and whispers and seeing unseen hands touching them.

One unsettling tale involves the Bell family, who claimed to be tormented by the Bell Witch for years. The legend has been passed down through generations and remains a chilling part of American folklore.

The popular Bell Witch Cave is often featured in books, movies, and documentaries about supernatural phenomena, further solidifying its status as a famous haunted place in the US.

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
History Meets Mystery: 13 Haunted Places in the United States
Nic DeAngio

Nic DeAngio is a freelance writer from Richmond, VA. He has traveled throughout the United States and Europe and always has his next trip in mind – and an ever-expanding bucket list of destinations to visit. Nic loves trying local cuisine, photographing exotic locations, and wandering foreign cities to find hole-in-the-wall gems others may overlook.