While haunted house attractions are all the rage among those looking to get spooked, it takes a person with some serious guts to take on a place with a reputation for actually having real ghosts haunt the halls. What’s even scarier than a haunted restaurant or spooky hiking trail, however, is an actual home where spirits reside. Current or former homes with a ghostly presence take on an especially eerie vibe, given they often come with tragic and personal tales of suicide, murder, or heartbreak.
In order to determine just which haunted houses in each state were the most worth visiting, we consulted our previous coverage of haunted places around the country as well as that of other publications. Using Yelp and TripAdvisor, we checked out what visitors thought of the most popular haunted houses we could find and made a determination from there of just which ones were the top “legitimately” haunted attractions that really made guests’ skin crawl.
While there are some fantastic make-believe haunted houses throughout the country, we believe that a real haunting is an even better way to get your hair to stand on end. These real haunted houses are the best to visit in every state, if you dare.
Carol M. Highsmith/Wikimedia Commons
Built by Dr. John R. Drish in 1837 on a 450-acre plantation, the Drish House is an Alabama landmark with a tragic story. In 1867, Drish took a fall down the stairs after drinking too much. His grieving widow planned an elaborate funeral and then saved the funeral candles to be used for her own. When she passed away 17 years later, however, her family failed to find the candles, which is said to have led to Sarah’s angered spirit coming back to haunt the house with spooky occurrences including people seeing the third-story tower on fire yet finding no fire present.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons
A home for displaced children from 1926 until 1964 when it was hit by an earthquake in which several children were killed, the Jesse Lee Home for Children is located in the ski town of Seward. Those who visit the home today say that they feel immediate dread and hopelessness upon entering the Jesse Lee Home, and there have been many reports of people hearing the sound of giggling children, jump ropes, and bouncing balls, all said to be a result of the dead orphans haunting their former home.
Greg O’Beirne/Wikimedia Commons
The beautiful Rosson House was built in the late 19th century for a physician-turned-politician and his family in Phoenix. Today, it operates as a historic museum, and many museums and visitors have reported hearing the footsteps on the stairs, said to belong to a former caretaker who was shot down outside the house in the 1980s.
JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD/Wikimedia Commons
Located in the same Bentonville of Walmart fame, Peel Mansion was built in 1875 by Colonel Samuel W. Peel, a Civil War veteran and congressman. Today, the house is said to be haunted by Peel and his daughter Minnie Belle. Peel is said to have been seen throughout the house, and Minnie Belle has been reportedly seen wandering the mansion and heard playing the piano. Now a historic museum, the mansion thrives on its haunted reputation and hosts “ghost walks” twice a week.
A nationally registered historic place and California landmark, the Winchester Mystery House is a beautiful Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion that was once the home of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Wirt Winchester, owner of the arms company famed for the Winchester rifle. Reports of paranormal activity date back to the construction of the home, which began in 1884. Sarah Winchester herself was among the many who claimed that the grounds were haunted by multiple spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. Those curious to learn more of the fascinating tale can take day tours of the property, which continues to be one of the most popular Halloween attractions in the state.
Once the home of American socialite and philanthropist Molly Brown, famed for surviving the sinking of the Titanic, the Molly Brown House is now a museum showcasing her life as well as some of the finest architecture of Colorado’s biggest city. Several spirits are claimed to haunt the house, including that of Molly and her husband James Joseph Brown, as well as their daughter Catherine Ellen.
W.S. Stewart/Wikimedia Commons
Known as the Huguenot House, the Makens Bemont House in Connecticut is a historic home built in 1761 and is said to be haunted by a friendly duo known as Benny and the Blue Lady. Benny, so named by workers restoring the building, has been claimed to be the source of mysterious bangs, scratching, and crashes around the house, whereas the Blue Lady — so named due to her blue dress — has been seen on multiple occasions through the windows.
Jack Boucher/Wikimedia Commons
Located on the John Dickinson Plantation in Delaware, the John Dickinson House — also known as Poplar Hall — is a public museum that was the childhood home and later part-time residence of American Founding Father John Dickinson. It is said that the revolutionary himself haunts the house, with visitors claiming they’ve heard the sound of writing coming from his study or seen him on the grounds, and there are also claims of his voice being recorded.
In the land of sunshine and near one of Florida’s best beaches, Stranahan House offers a historic yet spooky experience. A nationally registered historic place, the historic house museum was once the home of Frank and Ivy Stranahan, local philanthropists and pioneers. There are said to be six spirits haunting the house, including that of Frank Stranahan after he drowned himself in the river by the home during the Great Depression. Tours of the home are open to the public, meant to teach guests about the culture and history of the area in the early 1900s, and there have been reports of rooms changing temperature randomly as well as furniture and other objects moving of their own accord.
One of the most haunted cities in America, Savannah has no shortage of spooky spots. Foley House, the first bed & breakfast in Savannah, was built in 1896 by Honoria Foley, the widow of a wealthy Irish immigrant. The story goes that Ms. Foley was attacked one night by a guest who attempted to strangle her. Foley ended up hitting the man over the head with a candlestick, killing him, and offered another guest free rent to dispose of the body. She confessed years later on her deathbed without telling anyone where the body was, a confession that was subsequently dismissed until the inn was renovated in 1989. Skeletal remains were discovered in the walls of the building during the renovation, and since then, there have been many reports of guest encounters with a top hat-donning man in the inn’s garden at night, as well as strange noises and gusts of air.
Kailua-Kona is one of those destinations where the weather is always just right, and if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill while visiting, you should make sure to check out Hulihe’e Palace. More of a mansion, Hulihe’e Palace serves as a museum today but was once a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty. It is said that Hawaiian monarchs haunt the place now, as does the ghost of a young Hawaiian boy.
The name of this spooky spot in hipster-friendly Boise is pretty self-explanatory. In 1987, the home — then owned by a man named Daniel Rogers — was the site of a brutal murder that happened as the result of a fight between Rogers and two other men, Daron Cox and Preston Murr. Murr was shot in the shoulder and fled attempting to seek help from neighbors. Rogers and Cox came after Murr and dragged him back to Rogers’s house where they shot him to death and then dismembered his body before disposing of it in a reservoir. After the body was found a week later, the men were eventually caught; Cox served six years after getting a lighter sentence for complying with law enforcement, and Rogers is currently serving out his life sentence.
Hull House is the most haunted spot in the state, not just Chicago, founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr as a settlement house for newly arrived European immigrants. Claims of paranormal activity go back to its very early days, with many ghost sightings having been reported, including that of the wife of its original owner. Addams claimed one of the front bedrooms was haunted, stating that she and a friend once encountered a “woman in white” there who was also later seen by others. The scariest story, however, tells of a man who said that he would rather have Satan in his home than a picture of the Virgin Mary. He subsequently had a child who was born with scaly skin, horns, pointed ears, and a tail; the child’s mother left him at Hull House, and it is said that Addams tried to have the child baptized before locking him up in the attic. (Nobel Prize winner Addams herself steadfastly denied that the story had any basis in reality.)
Legend (and the guest book itself) states that the Blue Lady Room, formerly known as the Garden Room, of the Story Inn is haunted by a woman known as the “Blue Lady,” whose eyes are a “hypnotic” blue and who smells of cherry tobacco. Said to often leave behind blue items, she can be summoned by turning on the room’s blue light — if you have the guts to stay in Indiana’s most haunted place.
One of the most terrifying places on the planet, the Villisca Axe Murder House was the site of a brutal massacre on June 9, 1912 when the Moore family, consisting of Josiah and Sarah Moore and their four young children, were axed to death alongside two of their houseguests. Despite an exhaustive investigation and two trials — one that ended in a hung jury and another in an acquittal — justice was never served, and it is said that the ghosts of the victims haunt the home to this day. Day tours are available, and so is the chance to stay overnight.
Once the home of a doctor, the Sallie House in Kansas is so named because it is haunted by the ghost of a 6-year-old girl named Sallie. The story goes that her mother brought the girl to the home, where she was diagnosed with appendicitis in need of urgent operation. The doctor, feeling that her appendix would burst any minute, began cutting into her before he anesthesia had taken effect. Sallie died right away, in pain and believing she was being hurt. To this day, visitors say they have seen objects move of their own accord and heard the screams of a little girl from within the house.
Jack Boucher/Wikimedia Commons
If you’re ever taking a weekend trip to Louisville, the Ronald-Brennan House — also known simply as the Brennan House — is a local favorite. The historic three-story townhouse was built in 1868 for tobacco merchant Francis Ronald, who sold the house in 1884 to Thomas Brennan, an Irish immigrant and equipment manufacturer who lived in the home with his wife and eight children. The house stayed in the Brennan family until 1963, and today it serves as the home of a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Louisville culture and heritage. It also allegedly still serves as the home of many Brennans, who have been reportedly spotted by visitors on the grounds or in photographs taken there. Two Brennan daughters, known to have been musicians, are said to be responsible for the sound of a piano and violin playing, and Dr. John Brennan, one of Thomas’ sons, is said to be the reason for the smell of cigar smoke from time to time.
Bogdan Oporowski/Wikimedia Commons
Considered one of the most haunted homes in the entire country, the Myrtles Plantation is a former antebellum plantation that serves as a spooky bed-and-breakfast today. Said to be built on top of an ancient burial ground of the Tunica tribe, the home has seen many misfortunates. Legend has it that 10 people have been killed in the house, although the only one recorded is that of William Winter, an attorney who lived on the plantation from 1865 to 1871 and was shot by a stranger, dying while trying to climb the stairs after arriving home. Twelve ghosts make their home here today, allegedly, but the most haunting experience is of those who claim to still hear Winter’s dying steps.
Located in budget-friendly Portland, Maine, the Charles Q. Clapp House is a historic home built in 1832 for Charles Q. Clapp, son of one of the city’s richest businessmen and a real estate developer. While it has since then been owned by various art schools and museums, Clapp’s presence is still said to be apparent in the form of his own ghostly apparition. People have also reported feeling cold spots and hearing footsteps when there’s no one else around. There have also been reports of another female entity wearing a long dress and crying out of what seems to be grief, although there is no certainty as to who she could be.
Hager House was built around 1740 by Jonathan Hager, the founder of Hagerstown, who later sold it, with the house being owned by the Rohrer and Hammond families in the subsequent years. The house, which today serves as a historic site and museum, is said to be haunted by many visitors and staff, and its haunting is often attributed to many family members dying in the 1840s. Screams have been heard from the basement, and most commonly spotted is a young woman wandering around. Sightings have become so prevalent that the house even holds tours around Halloween that center on these ghost stories and allow visitors to decide for themselves whether the place is truly haunted.
Although she was acquitted, Lizzie Borden is widely believed to have been responsible for the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in their home. In 1996, that home was turned into a bed-and-breakfast where you can actually spend the night. Stay only if you dare, however; there have been many reports of ghost sightings, cold spots, and the sounds of screaming, crying, and even Lizzie’s laughter.
Built in 1895, Henderson Castle was once the lavish home of Frank Henderson, a wealthy Kalamazoo businessman, and his wife Mary. Today, it serves as a luxury bed and breakfast, but the ghosts of its past are said to still haunt its halls. In addition to the Hendersons, visitors claim to have spotted a Spanish-American War veteran, a little girl, and even a ghostly dog, as well as hearing strange sounds.
The Palmer House is one of many haunted spots in St. Paul. Technically a hotel, it was built in 1901 by Ralph and Christena Palmer, who resided here and ran a hotel for traveling salesmen. It continues to operate as a hotel, and is also a popular spot for those interested in the paranormal. Many ghost sightings have been reported here, with the most common reports being of odd temperature drops, the sounds of children playing when there are none, and the sight of a woman in a red turban and flowing scarf. It is said that Room 11 in particular is the most haunted of the bunch.
Not only is McRaven House considered by many to be the most haunted house in Mississippi, it’s considered one of the most haunted in the country. At least five people have died inside the home, and one of its former owners was murdered outside it. The house also once served as a field hospital during the Civil War, and it is likely that some Confederate soldiers died here as well. As a result, so the legend goes, many ghosts haunt the house, particularly the middle upstairs bedroom, which has a bedside lamp that seems to turn on and off on its own — attributed to a 15-year-old who died there during childbirth.
Paul Sableman/Wikimedia Commons
There are many reasons to love St. Louis, and if you love a good spook, you’ll definitely enjoy a stay at the Lemp Mansion, home of the Lemp family, owners and operators of the Lemp Brewing Company. The many tragedies of this house began in 1901 when Frederick Lemp, the son of William J. Lemp, died of heart failure in 1901. After William’s best friend Frederick Pabst (of Pabst Brewing Company fame) also passed away in 1904, he shot himself that same year. More tragedies occurred in the house, with three other Lemp children killing themselves in the home over the next 45 years. Today owned by another family, the mansion is now an inn and restaurant with historic and haunted tours, as well as Halloween parties and murder mystery dinners.
Loren T. Vine/Wikimedia Commons
Also known as the W.A. Clark Mansion, the Copper King Mansion is a beautiful 34-room home built in 1884 to serve as the home of mining magnate William Andrews Clark, one of the three famous “Copper Kings of Montana.” The historic site is now a bed-and-breakfast, with guided tours available in the summer, and many guests have claimed to feel the presence of a ghost. It is said that Clark himself haunts the place and is the reason for mysterious shadows, cold spots, and that presence — said to be friendly rather than hostile.
Bailey House is the former home of Captain Benson M. Bailey, a Civil War veteran; today it serves as a museum. Bailey had the house moved from its original spot to its current location in 1877; a few years later, first his wife and then the captain himself died in the house. According to legend, both were poisoned by a local widow who had taken a liking to Bailey, and their ghosts supposedly haunt the building to this day. Both staff and visitors of the Bailey House Museum have claimed that doors throughout the house will at times refuse to stay closed and that piano music can be heard throughout the house when there’s no piano being played.
Built for John William MacKay, an Irish-American industrialist, in 1860, the MacKay Mansion is now a museum, and many of those who have visited it have claimed to see a little girl in a white dress in many of the rooms or a ghostly colonel in the kitchen. Actor Johnny Depp also allegedly met the little girl while staying at the mansion during the filming of “Dead Man.”
A historic house museum located in photogenic Portsmouth, the John Paul Jones House was built in 1758 for Captain Gregory Purcell and his wife Sarah as a boarding house where American Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones stayed from 1781 to 1782. Today, there are many ghostly entities said to haunt the house, including Sarah herself, who has been spotted in the windows of the home. Paranormal investigators have also claimed running into John Paul Jones in his old room, and other ghostly apparitions have been encountered throughout the house as well.
Cape May is New Jersey’s best kept secret, a beautiful and peaceful spot where industrialist George Allen made his summer country estate, known as Southern Mansion. The 19th-century structure is beautiful, yet said to be haunted by several entities, including one said to be Ester, Allen’s niece); all of the spirits are quite benign and only result in cold spots, whispers, and sometimes feelings of unexplained dread.
Bottger Mansion of Old Town/Yelp
Many famous people have stayed at Bottger Mansion, including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and the beautiful bed-and-breakfast holds a lot of history, having been the first Albuquerque home to get gas lighting. With that history comes ghosts, and the original owner Charles Bottger is said to haunt the halls. Other ghostly entities include a sighing lady and “The Lover,” known to get into the beds of sleeping women.
Arguably the most famous of America’s most haunted places, the Amityville Horror House is known for starring in ”The Amityville Horror,” a 1977 novel that was subsequently turned into a series of horror films. Located at 112 Ocean Avenue (today 108 Ocean Avenue) in the Long Island Village of Amityville, the house was the site where Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot his parents and four siblings to death in 1974. The next year, the Lutz family moved into the large Dutch Colonial but left after 28 days, claiming to have dealt with all sorts of horrifying paranormal activity.
America’s biggest house is a bucket list destination that’s both beautiful as well as quite a bit haunted. George Washington Vanderbilt II, the original owner of the estate, is said to still haunt his old home, and many say they can hear his wife’s voice speaking to him in the library, as she often did after his death. Also allegedly heard are mysterious voices, splashes, and laughter, at the swimming pool when there’s no one there, and a ghostly, headless cat has been seen roaming around at night as well.
Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, of the American Civil War and American Indian Wars fame, built a home at Fort Abraham Lincoln which he and his wife Libbie lived in from 1873 until his death in 1876. Many claim to have encountered cold spots, strange voices, and doors opening and closing of their own accord, as well as lights turning on and off. Libbie is believed to still reside here, looking for her husband who was killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn, and some claim to have seen her wearing a black mourning dress.
Cleveland is an underrated destination with much to do, including visiting Franklin Castle, a gorgeous home with four stories, over 20 rooms, and 80 windows. Also known as Tiedemann House, it was originally owned by Hannes Tiedemann, a wealthy German immigrant. After they moved in, multiple members of the Tiedemann family died in the home due to various causes, starting with his 15-year-old daughter in 1891. Hannes eventually sold the house to another family, and by 1908, all members of the Tiedemann clan were dead. The following years led to many claims of ghostly encounters, including mysterious organ music, cold spots, ghost children, and the inability of any owner to keep the house for very long.
The Belvidere Mansion was constructed in the early 1900s by John M. Bayless who, tragically, passed away six months before the home was completed, after which his wife and children lived in the house until 1919. A venue and event space today, many claim that the ghosts of the Bayless family remain here, as people allege that they have encountered odd sounds, cold and hot spots, being touched by invisible entities, and even the toilets flushing themselves.
Located in Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon Caves Chateau is one of the most incredible national park lodges in North America. Built on a steep ravine, it’s a beautifully rustic getaway, although you may not be alone. Legend states that a woman named Elizabeth died by suicide here in 1937, and her spirit is still there, hanging out in the sixth-floor hallway during the day before taking to the rest of the lodge during the night.
A makeshift hospital and resting place for the Confederate army during the Battle of Gettysburg as well as a stop on the Gettysburg Address campaign, the Farnsworth House Inn is as historic as it is haunted. The Shulz family, which has owned the inn since 1972, claims that at least 16 spirits have haunted the inn at some point or another, each having a distinct identity, from an 8-year-old boy called Jeremy to soldiers to a former midwife. Ghost encounters tell tales of hearing heavy breathing, the smell of cheroot (a type of cigar), and a feeling like one is being tucked into bed.
Newport is famous for its dramatic shorelines and the gorgeous mansions overlooking them. One of those mansions is Belcourt Castle, which has changed ownership many times since it was built in the late 19th century. As beautiful as it is, Belcourt is still quite haunted. It is said that the ghost of a monk haunts the place, and among the many strange things there are a haunted suit of armor and two chairs that will eject anyone who attempts to sit in them.
Built in the early 19th century, the Rose Hill Plantation belonged to William H. Gist, 68th governor of South Carolina and a leader of the secessionist movement that led to the American Civil War. The Gist family lived and died here, and many of them are said to be buried on the property. It is said that ghosts of the family still reside here, haunting both the house and plantation’s on-site cemetery.
Historic Adams House/Yelp
Deadwood is the one must-see small town in the state of South Dakota, and if you ever make it out to Deadwood, you’ll enjoy a visit to the historic Adams House, especially if you’re interested in the paranormal. Built in the late 19th century, it is now a museum — the oldest in the Black Hills — and also home to the spirit of former owner W.E. Adams. According to legend, Adams passed away in the house, and when his wife came across his ghost, she decided to move out, leaving everything in the house behind. People have said they can smell Mr. Adams’ cigar smoke in the house or have seen its rocking chairs move of their own accord.
A red brick 11-room plantation, Carnton is located less than a mile from where the Battle of Franklin — one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War — took place, and as such, it was used as a makeshift hospital during that time, with many men being treated and dying here. Four Confederate generals had their bodies laid in state on its back porch, and it is said the ghost of General Patrick Cleburne still walks up and down the porch and around the mansion, still worried about his men for the upcoming battle. Other ghosts include those of the plantation owner’s children who died, as well as a young servant girl who was allegedly killed in the kitchen by another whom she had rejected romantically.
Known as The Grove, the Stilley-Young House is yet another historic house built in 1861 by businessman W. Frank Stilley and his wife Minerva Fox. The property has changed hands in the many decades since, but many claim that Minerva is still there, often seen walking outside the house or going through its walls. The Grove is considered one of the most haunted spots in Texas, with a lot of other paranormal activity going on, such as disembodied voices, moving objects, loud screams, mirrors falling off of walls, and guests feeling as though they’re being watched.
Also called the Staines-Jennings Mansion, the Devereaux House in Utah was built in 1857 for William Staines and then expanded by Salt Lake City mayor William Jennings in the late 19th century. It is currently haunted by two different entities. The first, a young girl, is simply mischievious, playing pranks on staff and waving at people. She’s been heard talking and singing to herself as well. The other spirit is an older woman who’s a bit more hostile, feeling the need to protect the house and often getting violent, throwing objects on the ground.
Tyler Goodrich/Wikimedia Commons
Hartness House was built in 1904 for James Hartness, an interesting man who owned a machine factory, became Governor of Vermont, and was also one of America’s first licensed airplane pilots, having even hosted Charles Lindbergh at the house. An inventor, Hartness built underground tunnels under the house so that he could work down there. It’s said he’s still there, working on his inventions, and that may be the reason for odd occurrences such as the lights turning on and off and objects disappearing and then reappearing elsewhere.
Major Graham Mansion is so popularly known as a haunted house that it’s a popular Halloween attraction in the fall season. Located at the end of a spooky drive, the oldest parts of the mansion itself were built in the 1830s, but legend dictates that the spirits who haunt the property date back to 1786. The story goes that two slaves killed their masters and, as a result, were hung from a tree on the grounds. Much of the paranormal activity is attributed to them, but other ghosts are also those of occupants who lived in the actual mansion itself. Ghostly entities have been spotted, as well as disembodied voices, and lights and faces in the windows.
The town of Port Gamble is pretty haunted itself, so when locals and ghost hunters claim that the Walker-Ames House is the most haunted in the state let alone the town, they mean it’s pretty haunted. Haunted tours of the house are offered, led by a paranormal investigator, and people have allegedly heard voices, seen ghostly apparitions, and even felt someone grabbing at them.
The White House is one of many famous places that most people don’t realize are haunted, and its paranormal guests are as famous as the living. Presidential ghosts walking the halls are reported to include Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Jackson, among others. First Ladies such as Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison have also been reported to make an appearance, according to staff members, guests, and even the residing first families themselves over the years.
Built in the early 19th century, the Glen Ferris Inn is a historic hotel in West Virginia that served as a field hospital during the Civil War, and as a result, many of the apparitions here seem to be tied to that time period. In addition to Confederate soldiers and a woman in white, one ghost in particular that people have come across has been dubbed “The Colonel.” This friendly ghost is usually heard walking around, playing with the birdbath, and closing doors.
Captain Frederick Pabst — whose death contributed to the demise of best friend William J. Lemp, mentioned above as the former owner of the most haunted house in Missouri — also seems to haunt his own former abode. The Pabst Brewing Company founder has allegedly been seen by many visitors over the years, and people have reported a bell ringing when no one has even come near it, as well as the chandelier swinging on its own.
Built in the early 20th century for George and Julia Ferris, the Ferris Mansion is a historic site that looks like a castle. Serving as a bed-and-breakfast in more recent years, its guests have heard footsteps where there is no one and experienced many electrical disturbances. Often spotted are three ghostly figures: two boys — one of whom is said to be the Ferris’s son Cecil, who was accidentally shot — and a woman said to be Julia herself. You may not be able to visit this house at the moment, as the Ferris Mansion is currently up for sale, but soon enough, another owner will take it over and hopefully keep it running as a fantastic bed and breakfast.