Sometimes you want to live on the edge and walk the line between fun and frightening. In these cities when the temperatures drop and there’s a chill in the air, you won’t know whether its a cool breeze or a spirit passing by.
There’s no better place to start your haunted city search than Salem, MA. You won’t be disappointed looking for all things supernatural and spooky, as the city wholly embraces its dark history. And as a bonus, if you visit during the Halloween season, you get the added benefit of perfectly crisp weather and the charm of New England’s changing leaves.
You can start with Salem’s oldest cemetery, Old Burying Point, conveniently located in the middle of the city. Here you’ll find historic headstones engraved with Old English epitaphs and decorated with Death’s Heads, skulls with wings. If you’re willing to travel a bit, head south and take a 2-hour road trip to visit the oldest cemetery in the United States, the Myles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury, MA. Established in 1638, here lie the bodies of some of the well-known pilgrims from the Mayflower and other early settlers.
The city’s best known for the Salem Witch Trials, the 17th century series of trials of witchcraft accusations with 20 people executed and at least another 5 people who passed away while under investigation. You can learn more by visiting the Salem Witch Museum, showcasing exhibits and documents of the trials, and The Witch House, the house of Judge Jonathan Corwin and the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the trials. After immersing yourself in the history of the trials you can pay your respects to Giles Corey at Howard Street Cemetery. Known for refusing to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty and subsequently suffering the grim punishment of being pressed to death for two days. If you see an apparition, considering leaving town. It’s rumored that Giles Corey walks the graveyard to warn before disaster strikes the city.
New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is the perfect place to embrace the macabre. Not only do you get one-of-a-kind culture, stunning architecture and some of the finest dining in the United States, you’re also surrounded by the burial place of the Queen of Voodoo, hauntingly beautiful above-ground cemeteries and the disturbing home of a socialite serial killer.
Marie Laveau was renowned as the Queen of Voodoo in the 19th century. With rumors still circulating about her like having a snake named Zombi or her world-renowned magical abilities. Even today her grave, which rests in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, draws travelers from around the world. Her tomb is covered in X’s as it was an age-old belief that Marie would grant your wish from the grave if you “Draw the X, place your hand over it, rub your foot three times against the bottom, throw some silver coins into the cup, and make your wish” (Haskins 1990).
Marie is part of one of the many hauntingly regal above-ground cemeteries in New Orleans. Known as cities of the dead, these tombs were originally used as a solution to avoiding airtight coffins and caskets from floating when the water table rises. Now, a distinct part of New Orleans’ culture, you can pay your respects to rows of tombs, vaults, mausoleums and crypts that house the dead and appreciate the art and architecture that preserve their memories.
Known as “The Most Haunted Place in the French Quarter,” the LaLaurie Mansion is known for its gruesome history. Madame Delphine LaLaurie was a socialite, thrice-married and known for throwing extravagant parties. It was only after a kitchen fire was set by an emaciated 70-year old slave chained to the stove, that it was discovered that the attic had become a torture chamber and Madame LaLaurie was a sadistic serial killer. The attic was a nightmare of sight and smell, where she had been torturing slaves with such heinous crimes as gouging their eyes, flaying their skin and conducting medical experiments to break and reset their bones in contorted ways. Before she could be held accountable for her crimes, she escaped and fled to Paris. You can recognize the mansion from the outside by the cemented window on the third story. It’s rumored that a slave threw himself out of the window to avoid punishment and it was sealed shortly after, remaining that way today.
The southern live oaks covered in Spanish moss set the tone for the beautiful and eerie city of Savannah. Known as America’s most haunted city, Savannah has its fair share of specters. With its historical significance in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the spirits of soldiers linger throughout the city. One notable place to visit is The Marshall House. It was commandeered by Union General William T. Sherman in the winter of 1864 during the Civil War. They used part of the hotel as a surgical room. Due to the frozen terrain, they had to bury amputated body parts under the floorboards. There have been ghost sightings of Union soldiers, one said to be in search of a surgeon.
Before haunted hotels were a popular attraction, the 17Hundred90 Inn used to have guests that stayed in Room 204 sign a waiver agreeing to a no refund policy. A young heartbroken Anne Powell took her life from the window of Room 204 and continues to haunt the hotel. There are many accounts of encounters with Anne ranging from mischievous where she messes up sheets on a freshly made bed, to distressing where she has been standing, sobbing over guests while they sleep before jumping out the window again.
Known for its overcast weather, coffee culture and grunge music scene in the 90s, Seattle may not spring to mind as a hotbed for haunted happenings but that’s where you’re wrong. Kells Irish Restaurant sets the perfect scene for a haunted night out. The building was once a mortuary, and the pub is now located where the embalming room once was located. Per the bar’s owners, this building’s grim past guests haven’t departed. Apart from the unsettling, but potentially reasonable explanations of mirrors shattering, plaster falling from the walls and glasses jumping off the shelves, there was an incident that was beyond reason. An apparition appeared, walked to the end of the bar and faded away.
Only open during Halloween season, the Georgetown morgue is more than just a haunted house. Opened as the Kolling Mortuary Services in 1928, the 3-story facility processed thousands of funeral preparations for the city of Seattle. But the building’s mortuary services aren’t what haunt the hallways. The morgue was the location for Seattle’s most horrifying unsolved crime coined as the Seattle Crematorium Massacre in 1969. Nine people were murdered, each bound and forced into the crematorium chamber. There were no surviving witnesses or suspects identified.
And for a silver screen scare, make the 45-minute drive to Snoqualmie, WA. Here you can visit the locations of David Lynch’s cult classic television show, Twin Peaks. Setup with the premise of an FBI agent investigating a young woman’s murder unravels into a mix of supernatural horror. You can visit the Sierra Madre Pioneer Cemetery filmed for Laura Palmer’s grave, grab a slice of pie and a cup of coffee from Twede’s Cafe better known as The Double R Diner, and stay at the Salish Lodge and Spa which was used as the exterior of the Great Northern Hotel.