Ghost stories are great and all, but what you’re really jonesin’ for is a real-life run-in with the undead. Bucket list one (or all) of these seven famously haunted locales where paranormal activity is, well, the norm.
Related: The Spookiest Ghost Towns in America
1. The Stanley Hotel
Tucked into the remote Colorado wilderness, this notorious spot was scary enough to inspire Stephen King to pen The Shining after a just single night’s stay. Among the countless reports of paranormal activity here, phantom piano playing, children’s laughter in the halls, lights turning on and off and, creepiest of all, suitcases unpacking themselves are some of the more frequent. Just what you wanted in a vacation, yes?
333 E. Wonderview Ave., Estes Park, CO; 970-577-4000 or stanleyhotel.com
2. Myrtles Plantation
This antebellum slave plantation was built atop Native American burial ground in the late 1700s (solid start) and has since become home to not one but 12 suspected ghosts. The most famous ghost is Chloe, a slave who, as legend has it, was engaged in an affair with her master, poisoned his daughters and was then murdered by her fellow slaves for fear of association. Among the chilling activities reported on site are broken clocks that tick, beds that tremble and shake and, most notably, an apparition appearing in a photograph that no experts can seem to explain.
3. St. Augustine Lighthouse
This iconic Florida lighthouse has a tragic history concealed behind its cheerful, striped exterior. First, the lightkeeper fell to his death while painting on unwieldy scaffolding, and 20 years later, a forewoman’s two daughters drowned when the cart they were playing in barreled into the bay below. Today, the lighthouse attracts frequent paranormal experts (as well as regular tourists) looking to witness the reported apparitions of a man stalking the property, ghostly figures in the stairwell and sounds of children’s cries at night.
81 Lighthouse Ave., St. Augustine, FL; staugustinelighthouse.com
4. Eastern State Penitentiary
With its imposing gothic architecture, from the outside this venue looks a bit like a haunted castle. But it’s actually a now-defunct prison, the first in the U.S. to implement solitary confinement (eek). After the prison closed in 1971, many believe the anguished inmates’ ghosts took over. Today, reports of ghostly figures, pacing feet and whispers in cells still run rampant.
2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA; eaternstate.org
5. Pittock Mansion
The Pittocks, Pacific Northwest pioneers and married couple, erected this gothic mansion to ride out their golden years in style. Sadly, both passed away, one after the next, within a few years of construction. Now designated a historic landmark, rumor has it that rooms will suddenly fill with the scent of roses (Mrs. Pittock’s favorite flower), and paintings will change location all on their own. Ghost hunters believe this activity is a sign that the two high-society spirits have never actually left their dream home.
3229 NW Pittock Dr., Portland, OR; 503-823-3623 or pittockmansion.org
6. Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
The gruesome murders (like hatchet-ed gruesome) of Andrew and Abby Borden captured the national spotlight in 1892. The main suspect in the case? Lizzie, their youngest daughter (who was eventually acquitted due to lack of evidence). Today, the home of the famous murders is a bed-and-breakfast and museum, whose premier attraction is the paranormal reportings of phantom weeping and doors with minds of their own. Quintessential New England charm, amiright?
230 Second St., Fall River, MA; 508-675-7333 or lizzieborden.com
7. Hotel Monte Vista
This drama-riddled hotel has an especially illustrious history. Among the many terrifying complaints lodged are male guests often waking from their sleep with the faint feeling they are being suffocated (the rumored work of two prostitutes who were flung to their deaths from room 306 in the ’40s), and the sounds of a crying baby in the basement, which have disturbed maintenance and laundry crews for years. Maybe leave the kids at home...
100 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff, AZ; 928-779-6971 or hotelmontevista.com