Haunted Maps and More
Several nation-shaping events have played out on Baltimore's historic streets: the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Hundreds of years of lost lives and the spirits that remain make the Fells Point area popular among ghost trackers. Guided tours through the maritime neighborhood take you to taverns, shops, and restaurants where things go bump in the night.
Haunted Experiences: Tour the Westminster Hall Catacombs, the final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, who is said to haunt various locations in town. At the 18th-century Fort McHenry, apparitions of a uniformed soldier with a rifle have been reported. Walk beneath the rigging of the 1854 USS Constellation warship and feel the presence of those who have met death on her deck.
Where to Stay: The haunted Admiral Fell Inn. Guests can join a free historical ghost tour through the hotel's seven buildings every Friday and Saturday night.
Not much, it seems, separates the living from the dead in New Orleans. Because the town is below sea level, tombs sit above ground in the 42 cemeteries within city limits. Ghosts from the War of 1812 still hang around the French Quarter. And visitors to the grave of a prominent 1800s voodoo queen continue to leave offerings and ask for help.
Haunted Experiences: Take a nighttime tour of a haunted mansion. Wander through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and see the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau. The ghost of pirate Jean Lafitte is said to frequent Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar in the French Quarter. Muriel's Jackson Square restaurant leaves a glass of wine and bread at the resident ghost's table to keep him happy.
Where to Stay: The French Quarter's historical Hotel Monteleone. The haunted hotel has an elevator that stops on the wrong floor and houses spirits of playing children.
When the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 struck, some 8,000 lives were lost—about 6,200 more fatalities than in New Orleans' devastating Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. Galveston's was the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, and ghost hunters say most of the town's spirits linger in its storied harbor and Victorian mansions.
Haunted Experiences: Through October the Galveston Historical Foundation runs haunted harbor and haunted cemetery tours. You can also tour the city's oldest home, the Menard House, where seances were regularly held during the 1800s. The year-round Ghosts of Galveston Tour makes its last stop at the Tremont House Hotel to share details about a fourth-floor Victorian-era murder and haunting.
Where to Stay: Hotel Galvez, built in 1911. Odd occurrences witnessed by hotel staff include dishes breaking with no one around, children's laughter in the salon bathroom, and an apparition of the legendary Ghost Bride in Room 501.
During the most tragic battle of the Civil War, about 51,000 soldiers were killed or injured in and around Gettysburg. There was so much spilled blood on the floors of churches and schools (used as makeshift hospitals) that drainage holes had to be drilled in the floors. Baltimore Street downtown and Hospital Road in the countryside are purported hotspots for spirits with unfinished business.
Haunted Experiences: On the historic Farnsworth House's candlelit ghost walks you can descend into a 19th-century Victorian viewing parlor and hear about its spirits. After Dark Investigations lets you use EMF detectors, EVP voice recorders, and temperature gauges during their tours. At The International Museum of Spiritual Investigations, see a video of paranormal activity on the Gettysburg battlefield.
Where to Stay: The haunted Lightner Farmhouse bed and breakfast. Three miles south of Cemetery Hill, this historical Federal-style home once served as a hospital for wounded Civil War soldiers.
Savannah may look like a sweet Southern belle, but she keeps a dark secret. The city was built, literally, on its dead. Homes and buildings sit atop Native American burial grounds; roads cover forgotten cemeteries of slaves and colonialists. Over the years, bloody battles, massive fires, yellow-fever epidemics, and hurricanes have taken hundreds of lives, leaving behind unsettled spirits.
Haunted Experiences: Ghost tours take you around the historic district and to the Colonial Park Cemetery, where the gates aren't the actual cemetery borders. Walk through Mercer House, where the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil's alleged murder took place. At Moon River Brewing Company, ask about the ghosts that have approached the bar, flung silverware, or walked up the stairs.
Where to Stay: The haunted Marshall House. It was Savannah's first hotel and was used as a hospital during yellow-fever outbreaks and the Civil War.
Beneath the cobblestoned streets of Portland's Old Town lies the legend of the Shanghai Tunnels, passageways that swirl with dark tales and hauntings. As the story goes, men who came to Portland to work—sailors, loggers, cowboys, and others—were "shanghaied," or kidnapped through trapdoors in saloons, smuggled through the tunnels to the waterfront, and sold to sea captains. A recent episode of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel explored this mysterious Portland underground.
Haunted Experiences: Go below Old Town Pizza on a Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour and use ghost-hunter equipment to locate Nina, a tunnel spirit. The Cascade Geographic Society leads Shanghai Tunnels tours that start at the haunted Hobo's Restaurant in Old Town.
Where to Stay: The McMenamins' White Eagle Saloon & Rock 'n' Roll Hotel above one of Portland's oldest bars. Locals say the basement tunnels were used for shanghaiing drunken patrons.
This Ohio University town is home to the Athens Lunatic Asylum, a mental institution open from 1874 until 1993 and known for its lobotomy practices. Now a university-owned property called The Ridges, the building has its share of haunted stories, say many amateur researchers: disembodied screams, apparitions that walk the halls, and a ghostly bloodstain on the floor. Throughout campus there are several haunted dorms, sororities, and fraternities.
Haunted Experiences: Hike The Ridges' nature trails and explore its three cemeteries where headstones eerily bear patient numbers, not names. On the OU campus, officials have reportedly sealed off Room 428 in the Wilson Hall dormitory due to hauntings by a female student who was killed there, according to local legend. The West State Street Cemetery's Angel of the Unknown Soldiers has been known to shed a tear or flutter her wings when people pass by.
Where to Stay: The Ohio University Inn. It's on campus and within walking distance of The Ridges.
It's an election year, and some in D.C. will be watching for the demon black cat that is rumored to show up in the U.S. Capitol Building as an omen of national tragedy or change of office. Ghost trackers say it appeared just before President Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre (which has its own haunting stories). Abraham Lincoln, John and Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and Andrew Jackson are among the spirits that have been sighted in the White House.
Haunted Experiences: Take a behind-the-scenes National Building Museum Ghost Tour to hear about after-hours apparitions and shape-shifting figures in the building that was originally the restitution office for Civil War widows and children. Washington DC Ghost Tours' guides tell some disturbing stories about Lafayette Square, the White House, The Hay-Adams hotel, and St. John's Church.
Where to Stay: The Omni Shoreham Hotel. In 1930, the executive housekeeper and her daughter died in Room 864, now named the Ghost Suite.
It was here, on Valentine's Day, 1929, that seven men were lined up against the wall of a garage at 2122 North Clark Street and gunned down by Al Capone and his Prohibition-era gangsters. Strange mists, screams, and machine gun sounds have all been experienced at the site; other local gangster hideaways and crime scenes are also said to be haunted.
Haunted Experiences: In a forest preserve in south Chicago's Midlothian suburb is the neglected Bachelor's Grove Cemetery and pond, the legendary dumping ground for bodies of gangsters. Chicago Ghost Investigations helps you connect with spirits in a warehouse once used by Capone. On an after-dark Wateriders Shady Chicago kayak tour, you can hear stories as you paddle over haunted spots on the Chicago River.
Where to Stay: The Congress Plaza Hotel, a hangout of Capone's where apparitions, whispers, and moved objects have been reported.
In the 1850s, Chinese immigrants came in droves to San Francisco, seeking their fortunes in gold. But when there was no gold to be found, they couldn't afford to return to their families in China. Most took on menial jobs and died alone with unfulfilled dreams. These souls, the wandering ghosts of America's oldest Chinatown, are said to inhabit its alleyways today.
Haunted Experiences: Take a Chinatown Ghost Tour to roam the gambling houses, narrow streets, and dark alleys at night. Paranormal activity has also been reported in two other popular areas. The Presidio, a retired military base with a hospital and cemetery, was featured on an episode of the Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters. At Alcatraz, some say they've heard voices from within cell walls and seen figures walking through cellblocks.
STORY: Alcatraz night tours make former prison even spookier
PHOTOS: Behind the scenes on a nighttime tour
Where to Stay: The Queen Anne Hotel, a Victorian bed and breakfast. It was once called Miss Mary Lake's School for Girls, and Miss Mary appears regularly in her old office, Room 410