If your idea of a memorable vacation involves bumps in the night, haunted houses, chilling cemeteries, and paranormal investigations, you’ll want to add one of America’s spookiest cities to your next itinerary. Uncover the dark side of these historic destinations on a top-rated ghost tour, but beware—you just might end up sleeping with the lights on.
New Orleans, Louisiana Often considered America’s most haunted city, New Orleans is rich in legends, from the fictional vampires of Anne Rice to the real-life exploits of pirates and voodoo queens. The New Orleans Haunted History Ghost Tour brings these colorful characters to life on a walk through the atmospheric French Quarter with a ghost-hunting guide. Hear about strange and horrific events documented in city records, pass by haunted sites such as LaLaurie Mansion (featured on “American Horror Story”), and stop for a drink at a supposedly haunted bar once frequented by notorious pirate Jean Lafitte.
San Francisco, California Long a haven for hippies, fortune-seekers, and eccentrics of all stripes, San Francisco is an essential stop on any West Coast spirit search. Get to know the city’s raucous history and some of its more sinister personalities on the Haunted SF: Ghosts, Murder and Mystery tour. When the tourists have gone and the shops are shuttered for the night, wander the narrow, dimly lit streets of San Francisco with a historian tour guide taking in the spookiest sights the city has to offer. You’ll stand where the Zodiac Killer met his final victim, learn of paranormal activity following several mysterious deaths, visit the site of Tessie Wall’s brothel, and hear how the Black Plague ravaged the city twice.
Charleston, South Carolina With thick southern breezes blowing in from the harbor and live oak hanging over cobblestone streets, Charleston makes an ideal ghost-story setting. The Ghosts of Charleston Tour has been sharing the city’s scarier side with visitors for more than 20 years and is based on a well-researched book by a local author. Under the cover of darkness, learn about former residents who met tragic and mysterious ends, and wander among 18th-century gravestones with exclusive after-hours access to the allegedly haunted Unitarian Church Graveyard. Traveler Christian K. says, “If you like to hear about history while also being a bit spooked out, this is the one!”
Salem, Massachusetts This sleepy seaside town outside of Boston earned its reputation as New England’s top haunt after the 17th-century Salem witch trials. Learn about the horrific events leading up to the trials and executions on the Salem Voodoo, Vampires, and Ghosts Walking Tour, led by professional paranormal investigators. Visit the original witch dungeon and the tombstone of a trial judge at the Old Burying Point Cemetery, and hear accounts of the vampire panic that later rocked the region. On this haunted tour, guides also help analyze your personal photos for orbs and other evidence of ghosts.
Savannah, Georgia Built atop a Native American burial ground and scarred by war, murder, hurricanes, yellow fever, and other disasters, Savannah is ripe for hauntings. The Creepy Crawl Haunted Pub Tour, rated the top nightlife attraction in the city, is a favorite among travelers in search of spirits—both ghostly and in a glass. Visit a handful of the city’s historic bars, where you can sip cocktails as a guide shares tales of dark deeds and strange happenings. You can even take your drinks to go in a glow-in-the-dark cup for a spine-tingling stop in front of the Colonial Park Cemetery, reportedly the most haunted spot in town.