There’s never a bad time to take a ghost tour, but now is the perfect time to get into the spirit — or spirits. After combing through a multitude of options, we’ve narrowed the field to 10 that are certain to be indelible experiences.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL
St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in the continental United States. Spain claimed Florida in 1513, but because of its strategic location, the French and the British also contended for the area. In fact, the English explorer Sir Francis Drake attacked and burned St. Augustine in 1586. With all this conflict in the nation’s oldest city, you can bet there are tales to tell.
Check out the St. Augustine Lighthouse’s Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour to hear stories of the haunted history of the lighthouse. In the very place where the television series, “Ghost Hunters,” filmed an actual apparition for one of its most popular episodes, a guide leads participants through the historic landmark — allegedly haunted by two girls who drowned there in the 1870s. Participants also will learn the true story behind the 1880 Keeper’s House, including the paranormal experiences of previous staff and guests. For more information, visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org/visit/expand-your-visit/.
Known for its hospitality and charm, Savannah, Georgia, is the quintessential southern city. Known as “The Hostess City,” visitors might encounter some non-traditional hosts. The Bonaventure Cemetery, made famous in the film “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” covers more than 100 acres, and has a charming, haunted atmosphere. Among the Antebellum mansions and Spanish moss-covered trees, Old Savannah Tours reveals the darker side of the city’s history by escorting guests via trolley through the eerie cobblestone streets. Learn more at oldsavannahtours.com.
With more than three centuries’ worth of history and millions of residents, leaders and travelers entering and leaving its port gate through the years, Charleston has accumulated its fair share of stories, And many of them are spooky! Bulldog Tours offers nine different ghost tours that range from graveyard visits to haunted pub crawls.
You can’t go wrong with the USS Yorktown Ghost Tour. Commissioned in 1943, this Navy ship once housed more than 3,000 people, and saw countless acts of heroism in during World War II. Today, the ship is docked across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and overlooks downtown Charleston. With exclusive nighttime access to the ship and areas closed to the public, the guides of Bulldog Tours share the eerie tales of the ship’s resident ghosts with those who dare to listen. Visit bulldogtours.com.
Travel the same streets as the pirate Blackbeard did 300 years ago on The Beaufort Ghost Walk, a guided walking tour through the Historic District of Beaufort, North Carolina. Founded in 1709, Beaufort is the state’s third oldest town and North America’s twelfth oldest town. On the Ghost Walk, Pirate Guides will bring history to life as they tell an assortment of chilling stories about ghost ships, haunted houses, and interesting historical tales of the area. In addition, the guides will share some of the amazing and unexplainable encounters experienced by both guests and guides during past Ghost Walks. Visit https://pctourco.com/beaufort-ghost-walk/.
As you walk the streets of Colonial Williamsburg just as George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and other American patriots once did, visitors get a sense of the history that once took place there. But walk them at night, and you may pick up on a sixth sense. The Colonial Ghost Tour guides will share stories about some of the nearly 3,000 ghosts thought to roam the city. With Native American history, colonial, revolutionary, and Civil War conflicts all transpiring in this place, it isn’t hard to understand why. Bruton Parish is one of the country’s oldest continuously operating churches, and the Peyton Randolph home is among the most haunted, as noted by the Marquis de Lafayette when he stayed there in 1824. About 30 noteworthy deaths have taken place on the property. But there is much more, so visit colonialghosts.com.
One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was the three-day Battle of Gettysburg. There were more than 50,000 casualties. On Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Gettysburg candlelight walking tour, guests walk the historic downtown streets that were once part of the battlefield, and their guides will tell stories from the tragic battle, as well as more modern-day spooky tales relating to students from nearby Gettysburg College. Visit Ghostsofgettysburg.com.
“Terror Behind The Walls” is a seasonal Halloween tour of Eastern State Penitentiary, which used to be one of the country’s most notorious prisons. It once housed crime boss Al Capone! The museum and the tour of the prison’s ruins and five different haunted areas are both likely to offer spooky sightings. If you are on the East Coast, this one is a must. Check out easternstate.org to learn more.
NEW YORK, NY
Explore one of the Big Apple’s spookiest neighborhoods on a guided Ghosts of Greenwich Village Tour. At one of the Village’s most haunted spots, guests will hear tales of lost children, celebrity ghosts, and park-dwelling phantoms. See the ultra-creepy Hanging Tree, stroll around supernatural Washington Square Park, and get close to the city’s most haunted house. Keep your eyes peeled and your cameras at the ready; you might just catch an apparition or two. Visit www.topdogtours.com/tours/new-york-city/ghosts-of-greenwich-village/.
SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY
The historic Village of Sleepy Hollow, located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River 25 miles north of Manhattan, is immortalized in Washington Irving’s famous tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” While about 9,000 live individuals inhabit the area, quite a few spirits are said to reside in the town as well! One favorite haunt is the Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted House in Ulster Park. Here, the mile-long evening hayride through the woods, haunted houses, and corn maze is so scary that children, 5 and younger, cannot take part. Visit headlesshorseman.com.
Most noted for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, Salem has been described as the nation’s Halloween capital. Among the witchy places to visit are The Witch House (the only remaining building in Salem with direct ties to the Witch Trials), the Salem Witch Museum, and the Witch Dungeon Museum. Be sure to take the Spellbound Tour, where a professional paranormal investigator will lead you through the streets at night to hear supernatural tales, folklore, and voodoo. One tour stop is outside the Old Burying Point Cemetery, the first place set aside for the burial of the dead in 1637. Visit Spellboundtours.com.
By Shuan Butcher