Most Haunted Major Cities in The U.S.

From the Pacific Northwest to the Deep South, the popular destinations on this list are forever frequented for supernatural sightings and their haunting histories.

Every city has its own unique attractions, but a special few are known for being especially strange and unusual.

The ghost hunters’ rule of thumb is this: the older the city, the more ghosts populate it. So perhaps that explains why the locations on this list have more apparition reportings than anywhere else.

From a safe (but still spooky) distance, here are the most haunted major cities in America.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It doesn’t get much more historic than Philly. In turn, it doesn’t get much more haunted.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at dusk

As one of the oldest cities in the country, Philadelphia is famously full of restless spirits. Its founder, William Penn, wanted “the city of brotherly love” to be a place of religious tolerance. And apparently, the spirits got the memo. Locals say that the closer it gets to Halloween, the more local ghosts make their eternal presence known.

Here’s a list of the 21 most haunted attractions in Philly. `

New Orleans, Louisiana

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t claim to have a ghostly encounter in New Orleans. As someone who grew up there, I can vouch for that much.

The Big Easy is by far one of the most haunted places in the country, and perhaps the world. Due to its complex history and mystical allure, you could potentially cross paths with a variety of ghosts here in almost every place you go.

New Orlean's St. Louis Cathedral in fog with empty horse carriages in front of the gates

As local lore goes, those who take up residence in the Big Easy seldom leave. Many of its well-preserved churches are said to be haunted by the spirits of former priests. Abandoned hospitals are believed to be frequented by soldiers unable to pass on. Its oldest homes remain filled with residents no longer in their earthly form. And let’s not forget that the most famous Voodoo practitioner who ever lived, Marie Laveau, set up shop here.

In the afterlife, many say William Faulkner stayed in NOLA. He’s sometimes spotted at his home-turned-bookstore, Faulkner House Books. Also noteworthy, St. Louis Cemetery is considered the most haunted of all final resting places, inhabited by hundreds of ghosts who slink in and out of their above-ground tombs.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is one of the most populated and frequented cities in the U.S., and that includes both transient ghosts and the ones who aren’t allowed to leave.

Many of its most prominent landmarks come with dark histories. China Camp State Park, the USS Hornet, and the Mare Island Naval Shipyard are said to be some of the most haunted, but there’s one that has them all beat.

Famous San Francisco Cable Cars riding on famous California Street in morning light at sunrise

Alcatraz is often deemed the biggest spirit hotspot in all the city. The Travel Channel has claimed there are undoubtedly a few ghosts forever lurking in the infamous prison. Of all the apparitions wandering the site, Al Capone may be the most infamous. If you’re ever wandering Alcatraz and hear someone playing the banjo, legends say that’s the notorious gangster still doing his time.

Chicago, Illinois

Best known for its art and architecture, not everything in the Windy City is as it seems. According to locals and ghosts seekers, it’s one of the most haunted places you’ll ever visit.

In the early 1900s, ghosts took up residence here after a tragic and traumatic series of events. Thanks to a devastating theater fire that killed hundreds, pandemonium caused by a notorious serial killer, and a lengthy mob history, Chicago is steeped in haunted happenings.

Cloud Gate and Chicago skyline with distorted reflection of the cityscape and tourists standing all around

The name H.H. Holmes forever sends a chill up and down the spines of locals. He’s also believed to be the country’s first serial killer. At his “murder castle,” Holmes brutally murdered dozens (and potentially hundreds) of women. While the infamous building no longer stands, those who spend time in its former site often report peculiar and unsettling experiences, especially when they’re in the basement.

On top of all of this, the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is famous and feared for its seemingly paranormal occurrences.

Savannah, Georgia

Endlessly ranked as one of the most haunted cities ever, Savannah has a long legacy surrounding supernatural sightings. This historically preserved city covered in live oaks and Spanish moss is a popular destination for those seeking a lot of southern charm and just as much haunted history.

From its homes and hotels to its restaurants and famed squares, there’s a ghostly story to be told. If you’re really in the mood for something spooky, you can take a Hearse Tour on any given day, where you’ll get a breathtakingly scenic and ghost-centric tour of the city.

Entry gate to the Wormsloe Plantation Historic Site, Savannah, Georgia.

Currently, I live in Savannah (as I can’t seem to escape haunted cities.) While I can’t confirm all the legends, I’ve had some unusual experiences here, especially near the Bonaventure Cemetary. If you’re brave enough, read about the woman in white. Or, learn all about the many cemeteries (and their unshy ghosts) on the Savannah Ghost and Graves Tour. The tours begin at nightfall.

Also, the Marshall House often makes the top ten of most haunted hotels in the U.S. Among the many claims, guests most often report seeing figures in their rooms and hearing children running down the halls after midnight.

Salem, Massachusetts 

You’re probably already familiar with the Salem Witch trials, so I’m sure it’s not exactly a shock to learn this is often considered one of the most haunted places in all of America. But once you visit this picturesque place, just how spooky things can get might still catch you off guard.

view of the water and rocks surrounding Winter Island Lighthouse in Salem, Massachusetts

It is largely believed that the ghosts of those declared witches and executed are still here. Lyceum Hall (now known as Turner’s Seafood) is supposedly haunted by the first victim of the witch trials, Bridget Bishop. Atlas Obscura says the Howard Street Cemetery is home to the ghost of Giles Corey.

 For more on the tortured souls still living in Salem, look into one of the city’s many ghost tours.

San Antonio, Texas

Remember the Alamo? San Antonio is dubbed one of the most haunted places in all of Texas due to San Antonio’s grim history.

front of The Alamo in Texas shortly after sunrise

The Battle of the Alamo resulted in thousands of casualties. Visitors and employees who’ve paid their respects have seen the ghosts of soldiers–and even when they’ve closed their eyes, the haunting events didn’t stop. Many say that if you spend long enough at this historic site, you’ll hear mysterious and echoing rally cries. But the Alamo isn’t the only place ghosts are said to reside.

According to Travel+Leisure, the nearby Emily Morgan Hotel is one of America’s most haunted hotels. Once a hospital, various guests have reported seeing a woman in a patient’s gown wandering the halls.

Portland, Oregon

When you think of Portland, Oregon, paranormal activity is likely not the first thing that springs to mind, but maybe it should be. Like so many international ports, Portland is one of the longest-standing destinations for ghost hunters.

If you’re ready to explore the most haunted of haunted locals in this artsy city, make your way to the Shanghai Tunnels. These underground tunnels remain the most notoriously haunted place since the 1800s. Created for transporting goods (of both illegal and legal varieties) across the city, something very unsettling is believed to have been left behind.

Portland, Oregon at Sunset with light reflections on the Willamette River from a dock

As Portland lore goes, locals hanging out in bars were kidnapped, taken to ships through these tunnels, and never seen again. Many strongly believe their souls stayed in the tunnels. Want to learn more about the many spooky occurrences here? Take a ghost tour the next time you’re in The Rose City.

If you get an eerie feeling along with the way, don’t dismiss it. Ghosts may very well be in your midst.

St. Augustine, Florida

As mentioned, the older the city, the more ghosts are said to live there. St. Augustine, Florida happens to be the oldest of all, so you do the math.

According to those who’ve spent a little time in this historic city, it’s a hotbed of paranormal activity, boasting several famed haunted locations.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida

If you’re in the mood to meet some of its most famous spirits, go to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. Supposedly, it’s haunted by young girls who drowned there during the 1870s. Some visitors also report unusual experiences at Castle Warden.

Built in the 1880s, it later became the first permanent Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, in 1950. So no matter what draws you to Castle Warden, you’re bound to stumble upon something freaky and unexpected on the haunted castle tour.

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