15 Most Terrifying Places in the U.S.
Stunning landscapes and interesting cities abound in the United States, but so, too, does a dark underbelly shrouded in chilling tales and eerie histories. For brave souls with an insatiable thirst for the macabre, these spine-tingling destinations are the most terrifying in the U.S.
These places aren’t for the average tourist seeking sun-soaked beaches or bustling urban life. Instead, these destinations are for those who dare to confront the unknown and are fascinated with the paranormal. Prepare to explore haunted asylums echoing with long-forgotten cries, abandoned prisons where tormented spirits dwell and desolate stretches of land where legends of the supernatural come alive.
15. Bonaventure Cemetery
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Date founded: 1846
Why Bonaventure Cemetery Is So Terrifying
Nestled beneath the moss-draped oaks of Savannah, Georgia, the Bonaventure Cemetery is a serene yet haunting masterpiece of history and art. With its elegantly weathered tombstones and ornate sculptures, this resting place is more than just a cemetery – it’s a journey through time. As you wander the winding paths, the stories of the departed come alive, from celebrated poets to soldiers of wars long past.
The Southern Gothic beauty of the cemetery’s architecture is heightened by Spanish moss, creating an atmosphere that is both enchanting and chilling. For this reason, the cemetery has been featured in various films and literature, most notably the book and subsequent movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Playing a pivotal role in the story’s backdrop of mystery and intrigue, Bonaventure has quite a reputation as a haunting and enchanting place.
14. House of Seven Gables
Location: Salem, Massachusetts
Date founded: 1668
Why House of Seven Gables Is So Terrifying
Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name, this enchanting mansion weaves a tale of secrets, curses and generations past. Its timeworn architecture and hidden chambers beckon visitors through its doors, where past and present collide, and every creaking floorboard seems to carry the weight of the centuries.
Salem, Massachusetts, is associated with the Salem Witch Trials of the late 17th century and is recognized as a hub of paranormal interest. The city embraces its history and the legacy of the witch trials, which resulted in numerous executions and is one of the darkest chapters in American history. Tourists can partake in various ghost tours and visit attractions and museums that highlight the supernatural aspects of Salem, where reports of ghostly encounters are not uncommon.
13. Lizzie Borden B&B
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts
Date founded: 1892
Why Lizzie Borden B&B Is So Terrifying
Step into a true horror story at the Lizzie Borden House, where the father and stepmother of the woman who lends her name to the house were brutally attacked with a hatchet. Lizzie was the primary suspect in the murders. She was arrested and tried for the crimes that attracted nationwide attention. As the scene of the murders, the home has been transformed into a chilling yet captivating bed and breakfast.
This Victorian-era home continues to have a haunting presence. Guests can stay in the very rooms where the infamous murders occurred. Experience a night in rooms and halls where ghostly encounters and phenomena have reportedly taken place. Guests have shared various experiences, from hearing unexplained footsteps and hushed voices to seeing shadowy figures and feeling sudden temperature drops. Some have even claimed to have had unsettling sensations or encounters with the spirits of Andrew and Abby Borden, making it a spine-tingling destination for those daring enough to stay here.
12. Shanghai Tunnels
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date founded: mid-1800s
Why Shanghai Tunnels Are So Terrifying
Below the bustling city streets of Portland, Oregon, lies a hidden world of shadows and secrets: the infamous Shanghai Tunnels. Once a clandestine network of passages used for nefarious purposes, these dimly lit subterranean corridors reveal tales of a dark past. As you step into the depths of the underground, the air thickens with the resonances of a time when unsuspecting souls were ensnared and sold into maritime servitude.
Other stories claim the tunnels were used to secretly get to the city’s opium dens, brothels and gambling houses. Travelers can trace the footsteps of this terrifying legacy through guided walking tours. Visit the Old Town Pizza & Brewing, housed in what was formerly the Merchant Hotel, and descend into a section of the tunnels. It isn’t more than a cobwebbed basement but still intriguing and spooky enough to give you a glimpse into Portland’s inscrutable underbelly.
11. Winchester House
Location: San Jose, California
Date founded: 1884
Why Winchester House Is So Terrifying
In the heart of San Jose, California, the Winchester House, also known as the Winchester Mystery House, is a bewitching testament to the eccentric and enigmatic. Its labyrinthine corridors, staircases to nowhere and doors that open to blank walls evoke an unsettling ambiance that remains long after you’ve completed the 2.5-hour tour of 110 of its 160 rooms.
The spirits of those affected by the Winchester rifle’s deadly legacy terrorize this sprawling mansion. The maze of rooms and doors is what remains of Sarah Winchester’s attempt to keep these spirits at bay. For 38 years, until the day she died, construction took place around the clock, filling the home with 10,000 doors, 2,000 windows and mythical places like her private séance room, with exits leading to nowhere intended to entrap visiting spirits. As you wander through its chilling halls and witness its unconventional design, the Winchester House is sure to send shivers down your spine.
10. The White House
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date founded: 1792
Why the White House Is So Terrifying
An iconic symbol of American history and power, the White House carries more than just political legacies — it harbors an air of mystery. From Abraham Lincoln’s apparition glimpsed by many to the specters of past presidents and dignitaries said to endure in its halls, the White House is steeped in ghostly lore. Haunting footsteps can be heard in empty rooms, phantom figures are seen in mirrors and the prolonged essence of long-departed inhabitants makes it a place where earthly and otherworldly history seems to intermingle.
To tour the White House, you have to make a request in advance through your Member of Congress. Tours are offered on a limited basis and include the East Wing, the State Dining Room, the China Room and more. Due to the sensitivity of the location, paranormal investigations have not been accessible or documented, despite the numerous books, articles and documentaries that cover the topic of ghostly activity at the White House.
9. Nederlander Theatre
Date founded: 1926
Why Nederlander Theatre Is So Terrifying
Within the vibrant heart of Chicago’s Theater District, the Nederlander Theatre boasts more than just spotlight and applause — it harbors an intriguing and cursed past. With a history dating back to the early 20th century, this iconic theater has been a stage for countless performances and, some claim, otherworldly guests. Frightening footsteps in empty corridors, phantom voices murmured in corners and the persistent energy of past performers create an ambiance that blurs the lines between reality and the supernatural.
Of its spirited sightings, the most well-known ghost is the Woman in White, a spectral figure said to appear in the balcony area, dressed in white attire. She is often spotted watching performances from the back rows before disappearing. Nederlander Theatre’s legacy as a cultural gem is matched only by its mystifying tales, offering theater enthusiasts and those curious about the metaphysical a chance to experience history that extends beyond the footlights.
8. Clinton Road
Location: West Milford, New Jersey
Date founded: 1920s
Why Clinton Road Is So Terrifying
Hidden within the tranquil landscapes of West Milford, New Jersey, Clinton Road unveils a chilling history as one of the country’s most eerie stretches of asphalt. As you wind through its desolate curves, tales of phantom vehicles, ghostly hitchhikers and eerie figures lurking in the woods take on a life of their own.
The road’s past is intertwined with legends of unexplained phenomena and spooky spots, including the ruins of Cross Castle, home to rumored satanic rituals, and Dead Man’s Curve, a treacherous bend said to be the site of multiple fatal accidents.
7. The Stanley Hotel
Location: Estes Park, Colorado
Date founded: 1909
Why the Stanley Hotel Is So Terrifying
Perched amid the breathtaking vistas of Estes Park, Colorado, the Stanley Hotel stands as a timeless icon of elegance and intrigue. However, it’s not just its grandeur that captures the imagination — it’s the whispers of its past that truly stir the soul.
The hotel inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining” after the author had a bone-chilling nightmare while sleeping in guestroom 217. There is an air of mystique that draws visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the otherworldly guests that some claim still roam the hotel's halls. With tales of spectral pianos playing on their own and ethereal laughter resonating through empty corridors, the Stanley Hotel has earned its reputation as one of the most haunted destinations in the U.S.
6. Excelsior Hotel
Location: Jefferson, Texas
Date founded: 1859
Why Exelsior Hotel Is So Terrifying
Beyond the ornate façade of the 19th-century Excelsior Hotel lies a spooky history that casts a spell over guests and visitors. Ghostly apparitions and unexplained phenomena infuse the air, making every flickering light and squeaky floorboard a testament to the past. Many guests have reported seeing shadowy figures, only for them to disappear upon closer inspection. Some visitors claim to hear the faint sound of children laughing or playing in the corridors, with no children present.
The hotel’s old-fashioned elevator is said to operate on its own, while unexplained cold spots have been reported in room 215, rumored to be the scariest room in the hotel. Guests and staff members have also reported seeing the Lady in Blue, a ghostly figure in a blue Victorian-era dress often seen wandering the halls or in mirrors.
5. Eastern State Penitentiary
Date founded: 1829
Why Eastern State Penitentiary Is So Terrifying
Standing as a haunting testament to the evolution of incarceration, Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary was once home to notorious criminals like Al Capone. This Gothic-inspired prison ceased operation in 1971 and is a chilling journey into a bygone era of punishment and solitude. Its crumbling cellblocks, overgrown courtyards and peeling walls bear witness to tales of isolation and despair.
As you step within its somber walls, the gentle voices of past lives seem to survive, breathing stories of inmates who grappled with their demons in the solitude of their cells, especially in the fall when Halloween Nights transforms the former prison into a haunted house. The spooky and immersive attraction features elaborate decorations, theatrical performances, special effects and a variety of scare zones with costumed actors portraying ghosts, ghouls and other terrifying characters as guests explore the dark corridors and cellblocks.
4. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Location: Weston, West Virginia
Date founded: 1858
Why Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Is So Terrifying
Standing as a haunting relic of the past, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum exudes an air of mystery and melancholy. Once a sanctuary for the mentally ill during the 19th century, its corridors reverberate with tales of patients long gone. The asylum’s history is a tapestry of suffering intertwined with reports of alleged mistreatment and unsettling medical practices.
The original institution operated from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. Today, visitors have reported hearing voices, footsteps and unexplained noises, as well as seeing shadowy figures and feeling cold spots or sudden temperature drops. Guided tours and paranormal investigation experiences allow brave souls to explore the asylum’s history and potentially encounter ghostly activity.
3. Myrtles Plantation
Location: St. Francisville, Louisiana
Date founded: 1786
Why Myrtles Plantation Is So Terrifying
Amidst the enchanting landscape of Louisiana and named for the prolific crepe myrtle trees on its grounds, the Myrtles Plantation stands as a timeless testament to Southern charm and chilling mystery. Beyond its majestic columns and gardens lies a history that has made this one of America’s most terrifying houses. Apparitions, tales of tragic love and enduring echoes of a bygone era intertwine within its walls.
One of the most famous happenings is the tale of Chloe, a slave woman who was accused of being involved in the poisoning of her captor’s family. She was punished for her actions and met a horrific fate. Some claim to have since seen her apparition or felt her presence. The Myrtles’ famed haunted mirror, where ghostly handprints are said to appear, adds to the intrigue of the mansion’s past.
2. LaLaurie Mansion
Location: New Orleans
Date founded: 1830s
Why LaLaurie Mansion Is So Terrifying
In the heart of the French Quarter, the LaLaurie Mansion stands as a chilling reminder of a dark and gruesome past. Infamous for its association with Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a 19th-century socialite with a horrifying secret, the mansion quietly hides unspeakable cruelty within its walls.
When a fire broke out in the mansion in 1834, a secret room was discovered where enslaved individuals were found mutilated, tortured and subjected to inhumane conditions. LaLaurie and her husband fled New Orleans and were never apprehended, but their legacy and brutality left an indelible mark on the city. Although the house is privately owned with limited access, special events, tours and private investigations have allowed the public to explore the exterior of the mansion and its dark history.
1. Gettysburg Battlefield
Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Dated founded: 1863
Why Gettysburg Battlefield Is So Terrifying
Gettysburg Battlefield, a hallowed expanse in Eastern Pennsylvania, bears witness to a pivotal chapter in American history. As you step onto this sacred ground, the mumblings of the past become palpable. The rolling fields, now serene, once shook with the thunderous clash of Civil War cannons. Marked by solemn monuments and somber memorials, the battlefield is the site of one of the war's bloodiest battles, with thousands of soldiers losing their lives in the conflict.
Reports of ghostly encounters run rampant here, with historians, tourists and even park rangers claiming to have experienced disturbing phenomena while exploring the site. Stories range from hearing battle-like gunshots and marching footsteps to sightings of apparitions dressed in Civil War-era clothing. Some people have even reported conversations with ghostly figures who suddenly disappear or fade away. Several ghost tours and paranormal investigation groups operate in the area, offering you the opportunity to explore the battlefield at night and uncover the mystique of Gettysburg for yourself.
Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.