Looking for a good scare? We picked 13 of the creepiest places we can think of.
St. Louis Cemetery. From ghost tours to vampire balls, New Orleans goes all-out in October. However, if you’re into designing your own scarefest, visit the grave of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Legend has it that if you knock three times and write three Xs with chalk on her burial stone, she’ll grant you a wish. But be warned, you’ll also need to book a tour to get up close and personal with this grave.
Area 51. Cue your favorite Sci-Fi show’s theme music. Area 51 is notorious for its high frequency of UFO sightings. While hotel options in the area are paltry (we found a grand total of 6 hotels in Alamo), there’s always the option to camp under the stars. Be sure to bring your best tinfoil hat and watch out for those men in black vans.
A vacation rental… with no wifi. It’s a classic horror story. Boy meets girl. They book a vacation rental in the woods for a week so they can forest bathe, fall in love and work remotely. Everything seems perfect until… they log onto the wifi and can hardly buffer one 30-second video. The horror, the horror. Don’t let this be you. Search for the phrase “wifi” when scanning reviews of hotels and rentals on KAYAK, and see how many couples a shaky connection has destroyed before you book.
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Wahiawa Botanical Garden. Even paradise has its haunts. The Wahiawa Botanical Garden on O’ahu is said to be haunted by the “Green Lady.” Those who’ve spotted her say she has jagged teeth and is covered in green mold and seaweed. Legend has it that if you cross one of the bridges within the garden… you’ll never return. Take a day trip up from Honolulu to see if you can spot her, then tell tales of your spooky close encounter over a Wholly Spirit cocktail at Downtown’s The Pig & The Lady. Be sure to check Hawaii’s quarantine policy before you go. The only thing scarier than the supernatural is being turned away at the airport because you didn’t do your paperwork.
The Stanley Hotel. Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining after spending just one night here in the early seventies. Although it was the eerie solitude that unsettled him, the hotel is infamous for its many ghosts, including past owners and staff who have been known to help guests unpack their bags from beyond the grave. The hotel even offers nightly ghost tours detailing the history of some of their most famed spirits.
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Arizona desert without sunscreen. Just… ouch. Regrets, we’ve had a few.
Hotel Monte Vista. We’re happy to find a hotel that embraces its spookiness. The Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff doesn’t shy away from the ghostly occurrences that roam its halls. Over the years, many ghoulish stories (and sightings) have emerged. There’s the Meat Man’s television in Room 220, the dancing couple in the Cocktail Lounge and the woman in the rocking chair in Room 305. But, some of these ghosts are willing to lend a helping hand — like the Phantom Bellboy. Guests report hearing a knock on their door with a muffled “room service,” only to open their door to an empty hall.
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Sleepy Hollow. We would be remiss not to include this famed town of spooky lore. Home of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, Sleepy Hollow likes to go full-creep in October. You can take a cemetery tour at night, attend storytelling events at the Old Dutch Church and so much more. Walk across the bridge that Washington Irving made famous on your way to the haunted house at Philipsburg Manor. Best of all, Sleepy Hollow is only a 40-minute train ride to NYC.
A time machine set to March 2020. Literally the one place we would refuse to travel.
Mutter Museum. There are two types of people: those who get creeped out by tumors in jars and those that don’t. If you fall into the latter category, then a visit to the Mutter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia should be on your October travel list. The museum showcases a collection of medical oddities and boasts exhibitions like the tallest skeleton in North America, castings of siamese twins and the jaw tumor of President Grover Cleveland.
A local brewery that runs out of beer. Sober up, you really came for the pretzels anyway.
Edgar Allan Poe House. The writer’s last days in Baltimore were nearly as dark as his tales. Nearly 170 years later, the cause of Poe’s death remains undetermined. Literary lovers and ghost chasers alike can visit his final resting place — and home — in Charm City. Some report seeing Poe’s ghost wandering the Westminster Hall Burying Ground. Either way, we say it’s worth breaking out your copy of “The Telltale Heart” and attending the annual Halloween tour of Poe’s grave.
Bell Witch Cave. Not far over the Kentucky/Tennessee border is the Bell Witch Cave. Once just the stuff of local legend, this spot was made famous by the indie horror film The Blair Witch Project. It’s said that the cave and cabin on the Bell property are haunted by a witch who murdered the property’s owner, John Bell. Think you can’t be spooked? Take a haunted candlelight tour, if you dare.
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*This post was originally published in October 2019, updated October 2021.