If you want to have a truly haunted Halloween, the nine creepiest places in America to visit for Halloween 2017 will deliver a truly spook-tacular experience. As a kid, you likely took a few trips to haunted houses where you paid an entrance fee to have people dressed up like Jason Voorhees from Friday The 13th or Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare On Elm Street chase you around and scare the pants off of you. Obviously, this kind of haunted house isn't real, but there are plenty of locations that are indeed.
If you're looking for a true paranormal experience that will make the make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, the United States has a bevy of places that are reported to be haunted. And there's likely one near you. A few years ago on Halloween, one of my friends rented a party bus and a ghost guide and took us on a haunted tour of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. We stopped at placed like Doors frontman Jim Morrison's old apartment, which has had multiple reports of strange activity, and one house that makes American Horror Story: Murder House seem fairly tame.
While you might not believe in ghosts, spirits, or the paranormal, it's hard to dismiss accounts of ghostly sightings and unexplained activity at some of the most haunted places in America.
1. Clinton Road, Milford, New Jersey
While you usually hear about haunted houses, churches, asylums, and hotels, one road in New Jersey is so creepy that it's earned the designation as one of the most haunted highways in America. Clinton Road, located in Milford, New Jersey, is shrouded in folklore. "Probably the most common ghost story that we hear about Clinton Road is that of a dead young boy who hangs out under a bridge and returns coins to you after you throw them in the water," Weird New Jersey reported. People have reported creepy things like coins being thrown back at them, hearing a child's laughter, seeing strange lights (and even UFOs), floating animals, and feeling physically ill while driving along the road.
While not specific to Clinton Road, language experts at the learning app Babbel tell Bustle in an email that New Jersey is also haunted by a dragon-like creature known as the New Jersey Devil. "A strange amalgam of animal parts, according to legend, it was the 13th child of the terribly unlucky 'MotherLeeds' in 1735. Ever since, it has been terrorizing those foolhardy enough to venture into the pine barrens at night." Apparently those who encounter the New Jersey Devil hear terrifying blood-curling screams coming from the creature. If you're not scared, you can take a drive down Clinton Road any time you want, but doing it on Halloween definitely raises the creepy factor.
2. LaLaurie House, New Orleans, Louisiana
Each season of American Horror Story is based in fact, and Coven is no exception. One New Orleans mansion, the LaLaurie House, which was owned by actor Nicolas Cage at one point before he lost it to foreclosure in 2009, has been designated as one of the most haunted places in America. It was the setting for American Horror Story: Coven, and this place has a super creepy past. According to Forbes, "Owned by socialite Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie, the house has long been known as the obscenely cruel setting for the torture of slaves by the infamous Madame."
Additionally, Ghost City Tours said of the mansion, "There have been stories of suicides, influenced by the mansion’s dark entities, and of people being struck by unseen phantom forces. Past owners have claimed to hear the sounds moaning and crying, and, if you believe the hearsay, corpses were discovered during a renovation period under the floors some 20 years after the LaLauries left." While you can't go inside the LaLaurie mansion, you can take a ghost tour where you'll stop outside of the house and learn all about its ghastly history.
3. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
The story behind this creepy house is so bizarre that it was made into the movie Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built. According to folklore, when Sarah Winchester tragically lost both her husband and daughter she consulted a medium who directed her to move west to California and build a house. Winchester came to San Jose, Calif. and began building the strangest house in America, and she didn't stop building it until she died.
"Constructed in an incessant 24 hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms," the house's website explained. "To the outsider, it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness."
The house has more than 40 staircases, many that go nowhere, 160 rooms, a window built into the floor, doors that open onto solid walls, and many references to the number 13. The house is open for tours, and visitors have reported myriad unexplained noises, sights, and more. Some think the ghosts who haunt the Winchester Mystery House are the spirits of those who died during its construction. Sarah herself is also said to haunt the house.
4. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky
The story of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium is so notorious that there are literally hundreds of videos and documentaries dedicated to it on You Tube. The facility was originally opened as a tuberculosis hospital in the early 1900s, and reports detail horrifying medical experiments that killed so many people that the hospital had a body chute to dispose of the dead, according to the website Prairie Ghosts. The hospital was converted to an asylum after it was no longer needed for tuberculosis. Patient care did not improve in the new hospital, and visitors of the now closed facility have detailed truly creepy experiences, like this one from Reddit user sunshinedaisies_who described an experience she had with her brother and a paranormal group who visited the sanatorium in college.
"We started investigating and trying to communicate with the dead. [Thirty] minutes into it I see my brother walking around on the other side of the Sanatorium so I yell at him. 'You're not supposed to be up here,' I said. But he ignored me. He started to walk closer with a smile on his face. I asked him what he was doing but he ignored me. I was getting really upset," sunshinedaisies_wrote.
"My friend yelled at him to stop being an ass but he still wouldn't listen. He got closer and I shined the light at him. NO JOKE HIS EYES WERE PITCH BLACK. I felt my skin crawl. We all stared at him as he entered one of the rooms. My friend and I followed after him but when we got in there, he wasn't there, and there was only one way out. We were spooked. About 20 minutes later my teacher comes up with my brother and the other student. I'm pissed, yelling at him. My teacher asks what the problem was so I said my brother came up to our floor and ignored us. The look on his face... apparently he was with my teacher on the bottom floor the entire time." If that story didn't scare the crap out of you, you can take a haunted tour of Waverly Hill.
5. Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Forth Mifflin along the Delaware river has the honor of being both a historic landmark, and one of the most haunted places in the United States. This fort was used during the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and the prevalence of paranormal activity has some people believing the dead never left the fort. According to Weird US, visitors have reported seeing various spirits, including a man who lights a lamp each night, a faceless man, and hearing a screaming lady known as Elizabeth.
"She is supposedly the soul of Elizabeth Pratt, an 18th century neighbor of the fort whose daughter took up with an officer," Weird US reported. "Elizabeth renounced and threw out her daughter, who died shortly after from dysentery. Consumed with guilt at consigning her daughter to this fate, the story goes that she took her own life."
You can take a haunted tour of Fort Mifflin, a candlelight ghost tour, and if you're really brave you can even spend the night sleeping with the ghosts.
6. Roosevelt Hotel: Los Angeles, California
The oldest continually operating hotel in Los Angeles has a reputation for more than just being a hotspot for young Hollywood stars who frequent its nightclub Teddy's. The Roosevelt Hotel is also rumored to be one of the most haunted hotels in America, and you can get a room and check it out for yourself. Two of the most famous celebrity ghosts that allegedly haunt the Roosevelt are Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Cliff.
"Most complaints are about [Cliff] moving around the room and shifting occupants' luggage," Maggie Rosenblatt reported for Odyssey. "Other hotel guests have seen him in the hallway rehearsing his lines for a movie or playing the trumpet" Monroe is said to haunt the full-length mirror that was once in her suite. While Cliff and Monroe are likely friendly ghosts, guests who stay in room 213 have reported a sinister presence.
"Many of the room's occupants check out in the middle of the night because of the obvious ghost activities in the room," Rosenblatt noted. "A handful of people have reported seeing a headless apparition coming towards them, while others complained of the television and sink getting turned on and off on their own."
7. Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
If you really want to creep it real for Halloween 2017, you can not only stay at the haunted Crescent Hotel, you can also take a nightly ghost tour. The hotel was originally built to take advantage of the nearby healing waters of the Ozarks, however once guests realized that the waters weren't actually healing after all, business declined.
The property later served as a girls school and a cancer hospital, and ghosts from every era are said to still reside at the Crescent. Reported ghosts include an Irish stonemason who helped build the hotel, a nurse from the hospital, a young girl who fell to her death, a doctor, a waitress, and more, according to Legends of America.
8. Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
This super creepy house in Iowa is the site of a grizzly unsolved murder. A family of four and their two guests were murdered with an ax while asleep in their beds in the small town of Villisca, Iowa, on June 10, 1912. The crime was never solved, according to the Villisca Ax Murder House website. In 1994 the house was purchased, restored, and opened to the public.
"Some have stayed here alone, like the Des Moines disk jockey who awoke in the night to the sounds of children’s voices when no children were present," Prairie Ghosts reported. "Others have come in groups and have gone away with mysterious audio, video and photographic evidence that suggests something supernatural lurks within these walls. Tours have been cut short by falling lamps, moving objects, banging sounds and a child’s laughter, while psychics who have come here have claimed to communicate with the spirits of the dead."
And, yes, you can even spend the night at the Villisca Ax Murder House — if you dare. If you want to find some haunted places to visit in your own backyard, this list of the most haunted places in every state can get you started.
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