Summer feels real far away right now, and I know, I know – not everyone is as fascinated by ghosts and haunted houses as I am… but WHY NOT? Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, supposedly haunted places often (almost always) offer amazing peeks into history.
So, even if you’re skeptical (or uninterested) in encountering a spirit this summer, below are some great historical sites worth stopping at (and if you DO happen to see a ghost, please, PLEASE take a picture for me!):
1. Gettysburg (Gettysburg, PA)
Two armies took to the field and an estimated 51,000 men never made it home.
People say that whether or not you believe in ghosts, this is one of the eeriest spots in America.
2. The Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)
Visit the Queen Mary and you’ll definitely get a dose of history.
Some claim that you may also encounter the ghosts of children drowned in the pool, a solider who burned to death in the engine room, or a mysterious lady in white.
3. The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, CO)
You can’t get more classic haunting than the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining.
Some say it’s nothing more than a pretty hotel, but others say things go bump in the night.
Either way, you’re sure to have a gorgeous vacation!
4. The Hotel del Coronado (Coronado Island, CA)
The Hotel Del: home to picturesque views, what seems like a hundred weddings a weekend, high-end shopping… and the ghost of a sad young woman?
In 1892, Kate Morgan supposedly threw herself down the staircase after her lover broke his promise to join her.
5. The Myrtles Plantation (St. Francisville, LA)
Long-touted as one of the most haunted homes in the United States, you wouldn’t be the first to experience something eerie at this bed and breakfast.
The ghosts there are varied and numerous, so your chances are good (as are your chances to enjoy quaint, small town Louisiana).
6. Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)
Built in 1883, this building originally housed 40 tuberculosis patients.
Over time, it grew – and as it did, so did the number of people who lived (and died) inside.
When the sanatorium closed in 1961, it could house up to 400 patients.
7. The Villisca Axe Murder House (Villisca, IA)
Murder by axe was strangely popular in the early 20th century.
In 1912, two adults and six children were killed in just that manner in this house – their murders have never been solved. You can even stay overnight here…
…if you dare.
8. The Bell Witch Cave (Adams, TN)
The Bell Witch is one of the most famous poltergeist stories in the world (and one of the few that has never been disproven). Legend has it that in the early 1800’s, a malicious spirit tormented and terrified John Bell and his family for over a decade before finally killing him. It’s said that the poltergeist still haunts the site of the family’s land – you can visit the house, graveyard, and cave…
…if you think you’re braver than Andrew Jackson, that is. He went to prove that the Bell Witch wasn’t real only to run home with his tail between his legs.
It’s probably the only thing that ever scared him.
Bonus: The LaLaurie Mansion (New Orleans, LA)
Madame LaLaurie was recently made (more) famous by the television show American Horror Story, but by all historical accounts, the woman truly was as mad as a hatter and as evil as Lucifer himself. She and her wannabe doctor of a husband tortured, mutilated, and killed dozens of slaves in their attic (and never stood trial for their horrific crimes).
Even though you can run into a haunted establishment just about everywhere in New Orleans, the horror here is real.
Bonus #2: The Unitarian Church Graveyard (Charleston, SC)
There are a million reasons to visit Charleston (the food… the history… mostly the food), but the ghosts are certainly one of them. At the gates of the Unitarian Church Graveyard, every hair stood up on the back of my neck. Go and see for yourself.
I’ve visited three of the ten places on this list (with solid plans to visit two more next summer) and have to say that despite not having seen a ghost myself, each site has a vibe about it that definitely raises the hairs on your arms.