15 Most Haunted Cities in the U.S.
With the spooky season right around the corner, now is a good time to start getting into the holiday, um, “spirit.” Hunting for paranormal activity is one of the great pastimes when the weather starts to turn chilly. But you don’t have to wait until Halloween for ghosts to make their appearance. Many cities across the U.S. have a reputation for being haunted year-round.
Cities steeped in centuries of history, cities with traumatic pasts and cities with strong magnetic fields (or a combination of all three) are prime real estate for ghostly inhabitants. Many of America’s haunted cities are in the South, but you’ll find haunted destinations all across the continental United States.
If you’re curious about the most haunted cities in the U.S., read on to discover what we’ve uncovered.
15. Portland, Oregon
Year founded: 1851
Why Portland is Considered Haunted
Before Portland was a capital of cool, it had a dark and sordid past. A web of tunnels underneath the city streets, known as the Shanghai Tunnels, are some of the most haunted areas in the city. During the 19th century, the tunnels were used to transport illegal goods throughout the city.
The tunnels were also (allegedly) used to kidnap locals from bars and transport them to ships waiting to sail them off for human trafficking. Many say the souls still haunt the bars that sit above the old tunnels.
14. Pawley’s Island, South Carolina
Year founded: 1711
Why Pawley’s Island is Considered Haunted
South Carolina has its fair share of ghostly haunts but Pawley's Island off the coast of Myrtle Beach may be one of the most haunted of them all. The most famous ghost on the island is that of the Grey Man, who appears to warn people of impending hurricanes. If you spot him walking on the beach, or if a man dressed in grey approaches you, you know it's time to get off the island.
13. San Francisco, California
Year founded: 1776
Why San Francisco is Considered Haunted
San Francisco's mist-covered hills and centuries-old streets tell the stories of a spooky past. But perhaps one of the most famous haunted sites in the city is the former prison grounds of Alcatraz. It is long believed that a few ghosts are still roaming the hallways and abandoned jail cells of the island prison, Al Capone being the most famous.
12. Bodie, California
Year founded: 1859
Population: 0 (Ghost town)
Why Bodie is Considered Haunted
A 'ghost town' refers to a town that has been abandoned and is frozen in time. But for some ghost towns, like Bodie, California, the term "ghost" is much more literal. The former mining town in the Sierra Nevada mountains is one of the most haunted in the country.
The J.S. Cain House is said to be haunted by the ghost of a maid, while the Mendocino House has several resident ghosts. In the cemetery, the ghost of a three-year-old child who met an untimely death is said to come out and play with living children who wander near the grave.
11. Chicago, Illinois
Year founded: 1837
Population: 2.6 million
Why Chicago is Considered Haunted
A city as famous for the grim and ghoulish as it is for art, music and culture, Chicago has quite a ghostly history. Oak Woods Cemetery has the graves of 6,000 Confederate soldiers, some of whom are said to come out and about. Some say they can still hear the screams of victims from Al Capone's Valentine's Day Massacre at the Clark Street Bridge. And if you're driving along Archer Avenue, keep a lookout for the "Vanishing hitchhiker" who has been hitching rides since the 1930s.
10. Cahawba, Alabama
Year founded: 1819
Population: 0 (Ghost town)
Why Cahawba is Considered Haunted
Cahawba was originally founded to be the original capital of Alabama. The town was abandoned after the Civil War, but some residents have remained indefinitely. Colonel C.C. Pegues, a Civil War colonel who was mortally wounded, is said to still occupy the town. He takes the shape of a peculiar ball of white floating light that appears in the woods at his former home.
9. Charleston, South Carolina
Year founded: 1670
Why Charleston is Considered Haunted
With nearly 400 years of history, and much of that history laden with pirate lore, a Civil War and a little bit of voodoo magic, it’s no wonder Charleston is a breeding ground for haunted tales. Charleston's downtown, also known as The Battery, was used for artillery during the Civil War.
Today, the Battery Carriage House Inn is known for some rather long-term guests, like a couple of ghosts who don't like to share the bed. The Dock Street Theatre also has a particularly spooky audience, notably the spirit of John Wilkes Booth, as well as that of a local sex worker named "Nettie."
8. Shoshone Ice Caves, Idaho
Year founded: 1864
Why the Shoshone Ice Caves are Considered Haunted
Shoshone is a small mining town in Idaho, but it's the ice caves of the area that are most known for their haunted happenings. The ice caves were built into the state's longest lava tube and were used as a source of ice for the town of Shoshone in the 19th century.
Paranormal activity has long been reported in these caves, including ghostly footsteps and whispers in the dark.
7. St., Augustine, Florida
Year founded: 1565
Why St. Augustine is Considered Haunted
St. Augustine's claim to fame is that it is the oldest city in the United States. With so much history, you'd imagine a few residents may have stuck around over the centuries. Allegedly, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is one of the most haunted spots in the city, thanks to resident girl ghosts who drowned there in the 19th century.
6. Pine Barrens, New Jersey
Year founded: N/A
Why the Pine Barrens is Considered Haunted
Many mysteries hide between the trees of southern New Jersey's Pine Barrens. This vast swath of deep forest is best known for the legend of the Jersey Devil, a demon said to be born to a local woman in the 18th century.
The hundreds of square miles of forest have many abandoned towns and factories tucked within them, all of which are said to have their own ghostly goings on.
5. San Antonio, Texas
Year founded: 1718
Population: 1.45 million
Why San Antonio is Considered Haunted
It's easy to "remember the Alamo" when many of its victims are still seen and heard patrolling the historic site. A city with a long history, San Antonio is the site of some major hauntings. A stroll along the river walk will reveal many eerie establishments, including the Alamo Street Restaurant and Theater.
4. Savannah, Georgia
Year founded: 1733
Why Savannah is Considered Haunted
Savannah is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and one with a high count of paranormal activity. From the Bonaventure Cemetery to Fort Pulaski, the Pirate's House restaurant and The Mercer House, it has no shortage of addresses known for long-dead guests.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
Year founded: 1718
Why New Orleans is Considered Haunted
A tragic past of slavery, mysterious threads of voodoo and hundreds of years of history have brewed up quite the recipe for hauntings across New Orleans. Many spots across the city have reported spirit activity.
Antoine's Restaurant, for one, is said to still be haunted by its original proprietor, Antoine Alciatore. But the most famous ghost in the Crescent City is Marie Laveau, "The Voodoo Queen." Residents of New Orleans will visit her crypt at the St. Louis Cemetery and leave her offerings, hoping she'll grant them favors.
2. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Year founded: 1806
Why Gettysburg is Considered Haunted
One of the greatest tragedies on American soil happened at Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and, as such, the battle site is considered to be one of the world's most haunted places.
1. Salem, Massachusetts
Year founded: 1626
Why Salem is Considered Haunted
Salem, Massachusetts has one of the most tragic histories in the country. The village is best known for the horrific 17th-century witch trials that resulted in the execution of 19 people. That tarnished past stays with it, as some say the alleged witches still linger in Salem to this day.