BLOG: 10 Haunted Places in the U.S. Where Ghost Hunters Can Spend the Night

Dust off your EMF meters and break out your EVP recorders - September 28, 2019 is National Ghost Hunting Day! Established in 2016, National Ghost Hunting Day recognizes the growing popularity of paranormal investigating and exploring the mysteries of the supernatural. Whether you are a seasoned paranormal investigator who has faced down many spirits or an amateur ghost hunter gearing up for your first encounter, there is no shortage of haunted locations where you might catch yourself a ghost!

Since ghost hunting is best done after dark, we’ve put together a quick list of some haunted places in America where investigators can search for spirits all night long. These locations are by no means an exhaustive compilation, but the legends of their famous hauntings and their accessibility makes them some scary good places to get your overnight investigations started!

If you ain’t afraid of no ghost, test your paranormal investigator mettle at these 10 haunted places in the U.S. where ghost hunters can spend the night:

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1) Waverly Hills Sanatorium - Louisville, Kentucky

Beginning in 1910 as a hospital for tuberculosis patients, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has a grim history that has led to it becoming one of the most haunted places in North America. During its operation, the Sanatorium was home to many patients suffering from “the white death,” and the treatments they received for the disease were often bloody and ineffective. When the tuberculosis hospital closed in 1961, it was estimated that up to 6,000 people may have died there. Many bodies were removed via “the Body Chute,” an enclosed tunnel that hid the corpses from the view of the living patients as they were transported to a nearby railroad for disposal. From 1962 to 1982, Waverly Hills became a geriatric facility noted for patient mistreatment and horrible living conditions. Since then, the defunct hospital has become a popular ghost investigation spot, with plenty of sightings of shadow figures and apparitions. If you’d like to try seeing one for yourself, there are private eight-hour-long tours of the facility available (from 12:00am to 8:00am) and overnight guests are given sleeping accommodations in the Waverly Hills’ Bunk House, a building in the woods situated right next to the end of the Body Chute!

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2) The Lizzie Borden House - Fall River, Massachusetts

The murders that took place in the Lizzie Borden house may be two of the most notorious unsolved deaths in American history. In 1892, Abby Borden, the step-mother of Lizzie Borden, was found hatcheted to death in an upstairs bedroom of the now infamous Borden home, and Lizzie’s father was found murdered by the same means on a downstairs couch. Their heads and faces were so hacked apart they were difficult to recognize. Lizzie was put on trial for the killings and later acquitted, but that has not stopped many people from continuing to believe she was the true murderess. No one else was ever convicted of the crimes. The bloody deaths have since been attributed to the paranormal activity that has been reported ever afterward in the Borden home, but what is less known about the property are several other Borden deaths that took place nearby, 44 years earlier. In 1848, the second wife of Lizzie’s great-uncle, Eliza Darling Borden, lived in the home next door to the famous Lizzie Borden house. Perhaps suffering from what would now be considered postpartum depression, Eliza killed two of her three children by dropping them into the cellar cistern, and then committed suicide by slitting her own throat. These dark deaths, in such close proximity to the Borden house, may also be contributing to the hauntings that take place in Lizzie’s old home. Now operating as a bed and breakfast, guests and ghost investigators who have stayed in the Borden house have witnessed full-bodied apparitions, heard children laughing, experienced extreme and unaccounted-for changes in emotion, captured EVPs, and have had the covers ripped off their beds, just to name a few of the kinds of paranormal activity that have occurred inside. If you are not faint of heart, you can spend the night at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, and can even choose to sleep in Lizzie’s old room or in the bedroom where her step-mother was so viciously murdered.

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3) The Pine Barrens - Covering Seven Counties in New Jersey

The Pine Barrens of New Jersey are a large, heavily forested area rife with haunted activity and eerie encounters. Covering 1.1 million acres, the woods are said to be the home of the Jersey Devil himself. Plenty of ghosts are have been seen haunting the Pine Barrens, including that of a small boy, a blonde woman, and the victim of a hit-and-run accident. The area is also scattered with the ruins of former mining and mill settlements - authentic ghost towns hidden deep in the forest! If you are so inclined to scout out the spooky Pine Barrens, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance has many campsites available to reserve all year round for nature lovers and ghost hunters alike; after all, ghost stories around the campfire are made all the more scary when your camp is surrounded by actual ghosts! To hear some creepy accounts from these New Jersey woods, check out The Confessionals Episode 65: The Mysterious Pine Barrens.

4) The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, Colorado

Of course the inspiration for The Shining would be the perfect location for an overnight ghost investigation! Opened in 1909, the Stanley Hotel is where novelist Stephen King first came up with the idea for his bestselling horror novel and subsequent film, The Shining, after spending a scary night in Room 217.  Other guests have reported paranormal activity throughout the building, including lights flickering, objects moving, children laughing, and sightings of apparitions. Although the hauntings seem to happen everywhere in the Stanley Hotel, TripSavvy has named the seven most haunted spots where you’re likely to experience a paranormal encounter. Among them are Stephen King’s Room 217, the Grand Staircase, and the hotel’s creepy underground cave system!  The Stanley Hotel offers nighttime paranormal tours, or you could book a haunted room and explore its paranormal hotspots for yourself.

5) Pennhurst Asylum - Spring City, Pennsylvania

Notoriously considered to be “The Shame of Pennsylvania”, Pennhurst Asylum was a state-funded school and hospital that, after decades of operation, was exposed for its overcrowded living conditions and mistreatment of patients. Opening in 1908, it wasn’t until the 1960s when Pennhurst Asylum became the subject of a television expose’ that revealed how the patients suffered daily abuse, neglect, and brutality. Following the documentary, it still took another 20 years before the facility was finally shut down. Pennhurst then lay abandoned in secluded woodlands for over another two decades, although ghost hunters and thrill seekers frequently trespassed on the property. They came away with tales of seeing apparitions, hearing voices and laughter, capturing eerie EVPs, and feeling touched by unseen presences - just to name some of Pennhurst’s many haunted encounters. Although Pennhurst Asylum is still shut down, it recently began reopening every October as a haunted attraction, and can also be booked for private overnight paranormal investigations. From 7:00 pm to 3:00 am, investigators can have free reign to explore the four floors of the Mayflower building - Pennhurst’s most haunted structure - and go on a tour of the underground tunnels. Take a sneak peek at the Pennhurst property (in the daylight) in our blog, Pennhurst Asylum ParaCon 2019 Photo Album!

6) The Villisca Ax Murder House - Villisca, Iowa

The quiet midwestern state of Iowa doesn’t seem like a location for scary ghost stories, but you’ll find them at the Villisca Ax Murder House in the small town of Villisca. Sometime in the early morning hours of June 10, 1912, six members of the J.B. Moore family (two adults and four children) and two houseguests (also both children) were savagely murdered while they slept. All eight victims were found axed to death in their beds, along with the murder weapon left at the crime scene, and all doors and windows locked from the inside. Although a list of potential suspects was compiled, neither the killer nor the motive behind the murders was ever discovered. In the 100-plus years since the gruesome deaths, the Villisca Ax Murder House has become a paranormal hotspot for investigators. Ghost hunters have allegedly captured audio, video, and photographic evidence of a ghostly presence in the house, and psychics who have visited the property claim that spirits still dwell there. There have also been reports of flying objects, moving ladders, falling lamps, and the sound of children’s voices, so creepy that they have sometimes cut short the guided tours of the Murder House. According to one guest, "This house is a paranormal investigator’s dream." Overnight stays for groups of 10 people or less can be booked for those who want to experience the Villisca Ax Murder House for themselves!

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7) The Queen Mary - Long Beach, California

The Queen Mary is another one of those famous locations known as one of the “most haunted in the world”! What makes her unique is that the Queen Mary is actually a docked ocean liner floating off Long Beach, California. At over 80 years old, the literal ghost ship has a long history of hauntings. RMS Queen Mary made 1,001 trans-Atlantic crossings before being permanently docked, which were reportedly accompanied by 49 onboard deaths and a collision with another vessel that resulted in 239 deaths. Other creepy ship lore claims that a murder took place in one of the cabins; that a crew member was crushed to death by a watertight door; that a woman in white dances alone in one of the luxury suites; and that apparitions of people in old fashioned garb sometimes wander the decks. Now functioning as a hotel, ghost hunters can come aboard and search for ghosts on the high seas by booking an stay in one of Queen Mary’s haunted rooms. You can also check out The Confessionals Episode 105: Walking with the Dead to hear one of the Queen Mary’s overnight guests recount her physical encounter with a spirit onboard. 

8) The Myrtles Plantation - St. Francisville, Louisiana

Dating back to 1796, the Myrtles Plantation is one of the most haunted historic homes in America. In addition to reputedly being built atop an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground, legends of Myrtles Plantation claim that up to ten murders took place on the property. One of the alleged killings was that of a slave girl named Chloe at the hands of other slaves who discovered she had tried to poison their owners. This story cannot be corroborated however, as historical records only support one murder in the home - that of a former homeowner who was shot by a stranger and died trying to climb the stairs. Other deaths due to illness also occurred in the house, including several of another previous owner’s young children, who succumbed to yellow fever. With such a number of both factual and fabled deaths, it is rumored that at least 12 ghosts haunt the plantation! Since surviving the Civil War and changing ownership numerous times, currently Myrtles Plantation operates as a bed and breakfast, allowing guests and ghost seekers the opportunity to spend the night among its dozen haunts.

9) Battery Carriage House - Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a historically haunted city, and its most haunted place to spend the night is arguably the Battery Carriage House Inn. The Inn’s existence began in the 1840s in the form of the carriage house located behind an adjacent family mansion. Today the mansion remains a private residence, but its carriage house has become one of Charleston’s most famous hotels. Having survived the Civil War, the debauchery of the roaring ‘20s, and the personal and financial tragedies of its various owners, the Battery Carriage House Inn seems to have absorbed a supernatural energy that continues to manifest itself through paranormal activity and disturbing apparitions. Some of its ghosts even have their own room preferences! Room 3, for instance, has been noted for its strange activity and floating orbs. Room 10 is where the “Gentleman Ghost” has been witnessed many times, appearing before guests as a grayish shadow man who often lays in bed with them! Room 8 houses the Inn’s most frightening specter - a headless, legless floating torso believed to be the spirit of a Civil War soldier blown apart by cannon fire. Despite having no head, the torso manages to emit an animalistic growl, and has reportedly scared some guests so much that they went running for their cars in the middle of the night. If you’d like to try braving the night in Rooms 3, 8, or 10, you can reserve one of them at the Battery Carriage House Inn, and also take a full haunted ghost tour around the city of Charleston!

10) Moana Surfrider - Honolulu, Hawaii

It’s hard to imagine a place as beautiful as Hawaii having a ghost problem, but there are actually a lot of haunted hotels and paranormal locations across the Hawaiian islands! Hawaii’s oldest hotel, the historic Moana Surfrider, is one such place. Built in 1901 and known as “The First Lady of Waikiki,” the Moana Surfrider has a haunted history that dates back to just a few years after its construction. On February 28, 1905, Jane Stanford, the co-founder of Stanford University, was taking a much-needed vacation in Hawaii only a few weeks after someone attempted to poison her with a lethal dose of strychnine! While in her room at the Moana Surfrider, Stanford requested bicarbonate of soda to settle her stomach. Not long afterward, Stanford lost control of her body and cried out for help, but was unable to be saved. She died at the Moana Surfrider of - you guessed it - strychnine poisoning. An inquest could not identify the murderer who planted the poison, and the circumstances surrounding Stanford’s death remain a mystery to this day. Since then, Stanford’s ghost has been sighted inside the hotel by guests and staff alike, who often claim to see her wandering the hallways at night in search of her room. Although Stanford does not appear to be a malicious entity, her haunting of the Moana Surfrider has become conspicuous enough that the hotel was named on Forbes’ list of “America's 25 Most Haunted Hotels - Where It's Always Halloween.” Ghost investigators can book a room at the First Lady of Waikiki in hopes of running into Stanford in the halls, and also enjoy the earthly paradise that is Hawaii at the same time!

Have you ever visited any of these haunted locations? Or will you be visiting a different haunted place on National Ghost Hunting Day? Tell us all about your experience in the comments!