Top 20 Most Haunted Places in America and Their Dark Pasts

Last Updated on January 13, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Who doesn't love a creepy ghost story? Horror is up there with one of the most popular genres. People love to get scared, and whether you believe in them or not, many of us can't help but get wrapped up in a good, creepy ghost story.

Stories about scorned brides that have come back to haunt their partners, bloody murder victims, and the insane that died while being tortured come back to wail in haunted insane asylums until the end of days.

When is it better? When these stories can be tied to real places. These are some of the spookiest places in the US. On this page, we will look at the most haunted places in America. We are not going to say that ghosts exist or don't exist. It's not for us to say.

All we can tell you is that some of the spookiest, true ghost stories have come from these mysterious locations, and they're all open for you to visit. How about planning a Halloween trip to one or two of them? Unfortunately, we won't be able to give you the complete stories of these places but check them out. You'll be spooked!

Most Haunted Locations in America

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1: Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia

Ah, the classic insane asylum, a place that is frightening regardless of age or structure.

Until 1994, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asytum was the mental hospital for this part of West Virginia.

Opening in 1864, scores and scores of people passed through these walls. Many have lived and died here.

As anybody who knows their ghosts will know, a location with a lot of fear, sadness, and pain in the walls is more likely to be haunted. So, it comes as no surprise that this is one of the most haunted places in America.

If you know your ghosts, then the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum may be familiar to you. It has been featured on almost every US ghost TV show and will probably constantly be talked about for decades.

Throughout the year, you can go on several ghost tours of the asylum, some in the dead of night. Who knows, you may hear the wails of the long-forgotten inmates of this asylum or the cries of injured civil war soldiers.

Address: 71 Asylum Dr, Weston, WV 26452

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2: Villisca Axe Murder House, Villisca, Iowa

Villisca Axe Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
Villisca Axe Murder House is one of the most haunted houses in America | Flickr/jingerelle

In 1912, an unspeakable horror happened at the Villisca Axe Murder House (it wasn't called that then, don't worry!).

Over a period of time, 8 people were bludgeoned to death with an axe. Six of them were children. To this day, the murder is unsolved, and the ghosts are eager for a resolution.

This place will often feature in lists of the top haunted places in America.

Perhaps one of the scariest things is that this is such a normal house. It is on a quiet residential street, and unless you knew what happened there, you could never imagine that 8 people would have lost their lives in a bloody murder scene.

The house is said to have bumps in the night, unexplained crying sounds, and spooky EVPs.

It is rarely open to the public, but those eager to visit the scene of an unspeakable tragedy can book overnight tours (or daytime tours if you're feeling a little creeped out).

Address: 508 E 2nd St, Villisca, IA 50864

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3: Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

The Ohio State Reformatory may be one of the most haunted places in America, but a lot of people don't know it for that. Instead, they know it as the setting of the movie 'The Shawshank Redemption'.

But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about the horrors of this place.

In 1862, this place was founded as a training camp for soldiers in the Civil War. Over time, it was converted into a reformatory (a prison) and remained that way until 1990.

In 1990, it was in full use, but the Federal Government shut it down due to the inhumane conditions in which the residents were kept.

In its history, the Ohio State Reformatory has played host to some of the foulest criminals in history, and their stories still echo through the walls. Pure evil, and you can feel that force as you wander through the halls.

There are a variety of tours that will take you through one of the creepiest places in the US, but we reckon you go for the nighttime ghost tour if you want the pants scared off of you.

Address: 100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905

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Also Read: Top 10 Haunted Houses in the USA

4: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Eastern State Penitentiary is the most haunted prison in the USA | Flickr/Sakeeb Sabakka

From 1829 to 1971, Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the most expensive and largest prisons in the world.

Now, the fortress-like exterior plays host to nothing but ruins. Darkened corridors home to savage humans were not fit for release in society.

So, if you love a good ghost story, you'll find them here at one of the most haunted places in the United States.

Unlike other prisons on this list, the Eastern State Penitentiary hasn't been restored. A minor restoration has occurred, but the corridors are still dark and drab, with peeling paint and pure creepiness. It would have been hell for any prisoner within the walls.

As you wander through the Eastern State Penitentiary, you'll see the old chapel, death row, old cell blocks, the warden's office, and more.

Some are still blocked off because much of the building is still in ruins. You may want to wrap up warm, though. Lots of this place will be very cold…and we don't think that's the draft.

Address: 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130

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Also Read: Top 25 Attractions & Things To Do in Philadelphia

5: Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Flickr/sean hobson

The Stanley Hotel is a place that may not need any introduction. Stephen King claims it is one of the most terrifying places in America.

Hotels have always been a hotbed for paranormal activity. Their walls have a lot of history, and people come to live and die here. There is barely a hotel out there that hasn't dealt with a suicide or two.

As you may know, The Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in the book 'The Shining'. You may remember the movie. The place is evil. The purest of evil.

Blood gushing through the hallways, naked women in the bath, and insanely creepy twins. Now, of course. That's all fiction. None of that is ever going to happen to you in this hotel.

However, no matter what room you stay in, you can't help but get the feeling that you're being watched.

Many ghosts have been snapped on camera here too, and you may stumble across a few ghost pics of your own when you snap the beautiful decor.

Address: 333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517

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Also Read: Best Things To Do in Estes Park

6: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

The Winchester Mystery House was built by Sarah Winchester, the widower of the founder of Winchester, the rifle couple.

Legend has it that she built this house as a way to escape the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles. She was tormented throughout her entire life.

This is easily one of the top haunted houses in America, perhaps because it is so creepy. It was explicitly designed to keep ghosts at bay (apparently), and the building is unique.

You see, in order to trick all those ghosts, Sarah Winchester would create a house that was nigh on impossible to navigate.

This house has doors and stairs leading to nowhere. Architectural designs that make no sense. Oh, and there are no plans for the house either. It was built for decades, with the builders never pausing.

Even if you are not into your ghosts, it is still one of the best places to visit in the US simply because the whole place is so unique. You'll never find another building designed with so little rhyme or reason.

Address: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

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Also Read: Top San Jose Attractions & Things To Do

7: West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

Built in the 1800s, the West Virginia State Penitentiary looks very similar to Tudor-period castles in England. It dominates the landscape.

Since closing its doors as a prison in 1995, it has played host to tours, film crews, and the odd ghost or two.

Like many prisons in West Virginia, this place was shut down in the 1990s when it was ruled that the small prison cells were a cruel and unusual punishment. It is just as well, really.

The awful conditions seemed to drive riot after riot in the West Virginia State Penitentiary and numerous prison escapes. People wanted out.

In its years, countless people died within the walls, including almost 100 executed prisoners. You can still feel their energy resonate through the walls.

Every part of this building has a history; you can hear more on one of the many paranormal tours. This is absolutely one of the scariest places in the United States.

Address: 818 Jefferson Ave, Moundsville, WV 26041

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8: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky

Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky

In the 1900s, tuberculosis was causing major issues in Kentucky (and most of the US, for that matter), and there was a pressing need to build places to house all the sufferers, either for their survival or, more often than not, their death.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium was one of these buildings. Since then, it has played host to a hospital, a prison, and even a mental hospital.

The survival rate for tuberculosis was low. Many people who entered this building during the early days were not expected to survive.

Each day, countless corpses were ferried out of the building. Although, the Sanatorium wanted to keep this under wraps, so they built an underground tunnel. It is said to be the most haunted part of the building here.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium hasn't gone through much in the way of renovation, so it is still incredibly creepy inside. If you listen closely at night, you may hear the wails of dying patients. Only, they're long dead.

Address: 4400 Paralee Ln, Louisville, KY 40272

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Also Read: Top Louisville Attractions & Things To Do

9: Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tennessee

Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tennessee

This may be one of the most famous witch cases in the US. In the 1900s, the Bell family owned Bell Farm (long since demolished), and on that farm stood the Bell Witch Cave.

There is some debate about the role that the Bell Witch Cave had in the story (some believe the cave was added to the lore decades after the events).

Many think that it was this cave where the Bell girls first encountered the witch that would torment them for years. Others believe it is this cave where the witch escaped when she had finally tormented them enough.

All we can say is that something happened on the Bell Farm. Something that would become legendary, and whether the cave played a role in the whole story or not, we can say that it sits on the land where a supposed witch ghost tormented people.

You can feel that historical energy coursing through your veins while you're here.

Address: 430 Keysburg Rd, Adams, TN 37010

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10: The Marshall House, Savannah, Georgia

The Marshall House, Savannah, Georgia
The Marshall House Hotel is one of the spookiest places in America

The Marshall House is a historic hotel in the heart of Savannah, and it is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the city, if not the state.

No surprise, really. You already know by now that some of the most haunted places in the US are hotels.

Nearly every room in this hotel has stories about it. It is not uncommon for guests to report the noises of children running down the halls, their faucets turning on randomly, or the appearance of people that disappear as soon as they spot them.

Any room here will give you an experience like no other. Although, if you want the real creepy happenings, we suggest you stay on the 4th floor. You may want to sleep with the light on that night!

Address: 123 E Broughton St, Savannah, GA 31401

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Also Read: Top Savannah Attractions & Things To Do

11: Bodie, California

Bodie, California
Dreamstime/Stephen Smith

We’ve told you about some of the haunted houses in USA, so let’s spice things up a little bit. Let’s tell you about one of the most haunted towns in America.

Back in the 1800s, Bodie in California was a booming mining town. The mining life was in full swing here, and the town rapidly expanded.

By 1915, the town was deserted. It was never demolished, though. The buildings remain standing, many with the original fixtures and fittings.

Bodie is now a ghost town that you can tour. Head through here, and you can visit the old chapels and the old saloon and peek into some uninhabited houses.

Because Bodie is essentially ‘frozen in time’, many believe this has allowed the ghosts to stick around and enjoy the town.

So, who knows, if you spot a worker kitted out in the old 1800s garb, that may not be a worker. It may be one of the old residents still hanging around one of the most haunted places in America.

Address: Bodie, CA

12: Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Dreamstime/Khairil Junos

The Crescent Hotel is a stunning luxury hotel that looms over the beautiful, Victorian village of Eureka Springs.

It has played host to celebrities, the rich, those treating their spouse to a romantic getaway, and yes, the dead.

The current owners purchased the hotel in 1997 and didn't realize they were buying a building with over 100 years of haunted history. Some have even argued that this is one of the most haunted hotels in America.

It is said that the Crescent Hotel is home to a portal to the 'other side', which is why it is so haunted.

Guests reportedly always feel faint at the exact location. It is here that the portal is said to be. If you're ever in the Crescent Hotel, try to guess where it is.

Address: 75 Prospect Ave, Eureka Springs, AR 72632

13: Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina
Dreamstime/Kaye Oberstar

Since originally being built in the 1700s, the Dock Street Theatre has undergone countless renovations, rebuilds, and more.

However, one thing has never changed in this history; it remains one of America’s most haunted places.

The Dock Street Theatre is said to be home to multiple ghosts, but the two most popular are Junius Booth, the father of the man that assassinated Lincoln, and Nettie. Nettie was a prostitute that always dreamed of acting in the theatre.

If you’re lucky (or unlucky, if you get creeped out easily), you may spot one of these ghosts drifting through the halls.

Address: 135 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Charleston, SC

14: Emily's Bridge, Stowe, Vermont

Emily's Bridge, Stowe, Vermont
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

Vermont has many creepy-covered bridges, but Emily's Bridge may be the creepiest of them all.

It is said that a jilted lover, dubbed Emily, decided to take her own life here. It is said that she still sticks around and is unhappy about being dead.

Cars that have passed through the bridge have been known to develop scratches, said to be from Emily. Others have heard disembodied voices or caught the odd apparition at night.

Trust us, this is the last place you want to drive in the dead of night, especially if that Vermont fog is looming.

Address: Covered Bridge Rd, Stowe, VT 05672

15: House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts

House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts
Dreamstime/Martial Genest

Owing to the history of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is already dubbed one of the most haunted cities in America, but it is not just ‘totally innocent’ witches you need to keep an eye out for.

This old place has a history, and the House of the Seven Gables, a Colonial Mansion, has some.

It is said that the old owners of this building (the Hawthornes) had a curse placed on them by witches.

This curse triggered the witch panic around Salem (ultimately leading to the Salem Witch Trials). Could this curse have been real? The Hawthornes lost all their money, as the curse predicted.

Many ghosts have been said to wander the halls of the House of the Seven Gables, with one of the most frequent being a man that climbs the central staircase. Who is he?

Address: 115 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Salem

16: The Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut

The Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

The Mark Twain House is a gothic mansion once inhabited by Mark Twain. Many visitors to this museum are here to learn more about Mark Twain. Others? Well, they want to see if the ghost stories of one of the most haunted places in America are true.

Mark Twain was in the Victorian era at the height of his fame. Ghost stories by the fireplace, seances, and ghost sightings were the norm.

If you head on one of the ghost tours, you'll hear stories of the ghosts discussed in this home and the stories of the seances that took place.

There are multiple stories from the staff of the ghosts too and around Halloween, there'll be plenty of ghost stories that will be regaled to you. Are they true? Well, are you brave enough to find out?

Address: 351 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Hartford

17: Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan

Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan
Dreamstime/Oksana Byelikova

This is the largest Masonic Temple in the world. It was designed to accommodate over 2,000 people at once, spread across 40 different lodges. Many claim this to be one of the scariest places in America.

Perhaps the mystery of the Freemasons has made this building even creepier. Oh, and they won't talk about the ghosts. They're very secretive.

They won't discuss the suicides that have occurred here or the countless deaths. But that certainly won't stop the citizens of Detroit from speculating about what happens in the walls here.

Address: 500 Temple St, Detroit, MI 48201

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Detroit

18: Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah, Nevada

Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah, Nevada
Dreamstime/Tomasz Wozniak

The Mizpah Hotel was built in 1907 in an old Wild West town. It was a glitzy hotel, far glitzier than the town really deserved, but it managed to attract a lot of people to the town, and everybody loved it.

On the 5th Floor, there was a permanent resident. Nobody knew her name. She was a prostitute, and she would entertain clients from around the world every day.

However, she was stabbed to death. Much of the information about this has been lost to time. However, we know that she still lingers around. She is dubbed 'The Lady in Red', and is said to be the most famous ghost in Nevada.

You'll find tributes to the Lady in Red throughout the building. Paintings, stories, and you may even catch a glimpse of her wandering through the halls. Haunting the place that gave her livelihood for years until somebody cut it cruelly short.

Oh, and you can stay in the rooms where she was murdered (the murder room was split into 3 rooms). It is said that room 502 is the creepiest.

Address: 100 N Main St, Tonopah, NV 89049

19: Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana

Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana
Flickr/Michael McCarthy

Stories about the Myrtles Plantation are murky. It is said that almost 10 murders happened in this building, but history only ever records one. The place is certainly haunted by more than one ghost.

As all good ghost stories go, the Myrtles Plantation was built over a Native American burial ground.

This cursed the building and has caused the souls of those that died here to stick around.

The building is said to be haunted by murder victims, old slaves, and practitioners of Voodoo.

It is said to be the most haunted place in Louisiana, which is really saying something since Louisiana is said to be the most haunted state.

Address: 7747 US-61, St Francisville, LA 70775

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20: Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Arizona

Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Arizona
Dreamstime/Christian Offenberg

The Hotel Monte Vista is a beautiful hotel in Flagstaff and one that is steeped in history. It is a glitzy hotel that hosted secret bars during Prohibition, oh, and some grisly murders.

The most famous ghost here is The Meat Man. When he was a resident at the hotel, he would hang raw meat from the room’s chandelier, although nobody quite knows why.

Room 220, where he died, is said to be the most haunted room in the hotel. Sheets are ripped from beds, TVs turn on without anybody touching them, and you’ll often feel the cold, dead hands of a person touching you.

Other rooms get activity, too, including rocking chairs, ghostly cries, and apparitions.

Address: 100 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most haunted place in America?

Myrtles Plantation is said to be one of the most haunted places in America. There are a lot of legends that surround this place.

Are hospitals the most haunted places?

Yes. Since hospitals deal with a lot of death, it is said that they are often the places that have the most souls wandering around.

What is the most haunted place in the World?

The Tower of London, with an incredibly bloody history, is said to be the most haunted place in the world.

Rounding Up

As you can see, there is no shortage of haunted locations in the USA. We could have included 100s more on this list and still wouldn't be done with the most haunted places in America. These places are steeped with history, meaning a history of tormented souls. If you're after a good scare or want to be in a proper historical building, then any of the places we mentioned will be a great place to start.

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