The 10 Most Haunted Cities in The United States, Ranked

Written by Sofia Fantauzzo
Updated: October 30, 2023
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The United States is a young country, but it certainly has a dark past. Many places in the U.S. have a rich history worthy of revisiting for reasons other than colonial nostalgia. Haunted cities in the United States are plentiful, but which cities are the most haunted? Continue reading to find the most haunted places and learn why they’re ripe with paranormal activity.

10. San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Bridge after raining

Many bridges have similar stories of forlorn mothers searching for their drowned children.

©Pung/Shutterstock.com

San Francisco boasts many things: the architectural wonder of the Golden Gate Bridge, cultural diversity in abundance, and plenty of haunts, of course. One of the more haunted places you can visit in San Francisco is just over a one-mile boat ride to Alcatraz Island. On this restricted island, many dangerous criminals too risky for regular prisons spent the rest of their days.

Al Capone is probably the most famous inmate of Alcatraz. Some tourists of the prison report hearing and seeing ghosts of the previous inmates, including Capone himself. Faint screams, metallic clanks, and even phantom scents are all par for the course for visitors of Alcatraz Island.

Interestingly, this island had a history of evil spirit inhabitants long before gangsters and murderers enumerated the island’s prison. Native Americans would also banish criminals to the island to live eternally with the negative spirits.

Another hotspot in San Francisco is Golden Gate Park. Here, the story of a woman who lost her baby in the lake persists, and she haunts the area for eternity. This ghost is known as “The White Lady” and appears in soaked clothes asking if anyone has seen her baby. Evidently, dark, foggy nights are prime sight-seeing times to experience this otherworldly curiosity.

9. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, USA Skyline

A beautiful landscape can conceal many secrets of a city.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

When you think of catacombs your mind might wander immediately to France. But that’s not the only country with sinister history beneath its streets.

Portland, Oregon is home to catacombs, which lie under the bustling streets. These “Shanghai Tunnels” were made with the intent of transporting goods from the city’s port to downtown areas. Unfortunately, more ominous dealings occurred.

Many say that the tunnels were home to temporary prisons, drug deals, kidnapping, and of course, murder. Tours in the tunnels can give a more in-depth explanation of their history, and if you’re lucky (or unlucky), you might encounter a ghostly phenomenon. People report feeling the sensation of eyes on them, an eerie tension in the air, and sometimes the physical sensation of someone touching them.

8. Charleston, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation is a famous haunted attraction in South Carolina that is right outside of Charleston.

©David Byron Keener/Shutterstock.com

Many haunted locations in America have a correlation to war. The Revolutionary War and Civil War were integral events that helped create this haunted city.

The area with the most supernatural activity in Charleston is likely the Old City Jail. Over 13,000 people were executed there, which gives the area a very spirit-dense feeling. Tours of this site allow visitors the heavy experience of walking the area where thousands of people lived before their execution. And sadly, not all prisoners in the Old City Jail were guilty. In fact, it’s proposed many people sentenced to death were innocent. The anguish of these souls manifests in voices, footprints, and physical sensations of touch to those who choose to visit.

Another site of mass suffering and death is the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. As you can imagine, the dungeon holds many memories of suffering, torture, and death. The people who haunt this area were pirates, war criminals, or other unsavory characters of the time in the late 1700s. Unfortunately for these spirits, they appear to be bound to this location in death, just as they were in life.

7. Salem, Massachusetts

The Salem Witch House in Salem Massachusetts. It is the only house directly connected to the Salem Witch Trial.

The Witch House is the only house that directly connects to the massacre of innocent Salem citizens.

©SalemPuritan / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

In Salem, the infamous home of the “Salem Witch Trials”, 25 women and children were tortured and executed after being accused of witchcraft. A few men were also executed, though this was a rarer occurrence. Salem, Massachusetts will forever carry the dark cloud of accusation and murder over their heads, and the supposed spirits of the slain “witches” won’t let anyone forget, either.

There are multiple locations throughout the city, such as the cemetery, that are popular areas for these spirits to appear to the living. Ghost tours are commonplace in Salem. Despite the great tragedy that is pointless murder and intolerance, the inhabitants of “Witch City” celebrate Halloween to the fullest and embrace a chance to impart wisdom from the lessons of the Salem witch trials.

6. St. Augustine, Florida

Flagler College Ponce de Leon Hall is the main building of Flagler College in historic St. Augustine, Florida FL, USA. This building was Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1885 with Spanish Renaissance style.

Flagler College is one of the most haunted sites of the city.

©Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.com

This old seaport is the oldest city in the United States. Therefore, it’s safe to assume some mayhem and haunting go down here. There are a few famous haunted sites, such as the lighthouse where many girls were reported to have drowned, the fort “Castillo De San Marcos”, and even the university are sites of some serious ghost activity.

Many of these sites have tours available to the public. The two famous cemeteries, Tolomato Cemetary and Huguenot Cemetery are only open to the public once per month to visit. Both of these cemeteries allegedly have ghosts that prowl their grounds, bound to this site for the rest of eternity.

Another massively haunted location in St. Augustine is Flagler College. Henry Flagler was the founder of the college and owner of many properties in the area. Upon his death, his final request was for all doors and windows to be opened on all of his properties. His thinking is that with all the openings, his spirit can be free. However, the Flagler College overlord did not abide by this final wish. Due to this, it’s said Flagler’s spirit roams still roams the campus.

5. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago skyline panorama aerial view with skyscrapers over Lake Michigan with cloudy sky at dusk.

The lively city Chicago is today came with many tragedies beforehand.

©Songquan Deng/Shutterstock.com

The history of Chicago is not a squeaky clean one. From the Chicago fire, gangsters, murderous groups and individuals, it would be more of a shock to learn there wasn’t anything a bit paranormal happening in the Windy City.

One of the country’s first attributed serial killers, H. H. Holmes, gave his deadly performance in a house in Chicago. This site is where many women, at least a dozen but potentially multiple dozens, met their untimely deaths. Along with the site of the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, where seven people also met their demise, the “murder house” of H.H. Holmes and the building of the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre no longer exist. Despite this, the sites are still toured by many, and the heavy energy is palpable by those who visit.

Al Capone, later a resident of Alcatraz Island, took about 200 lives in Chicago before he was sent to the West Coast. Capone took part in the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, adding more bodies to the extensive list.

Lastly, the fire that burned for over 24 hours was the Chicago Fire. This massive blaze left over a third of the city’s population without homes. More than 300 people died from the seemingly endless flames. Unlike many instances of mass casualties, this fire gave way to safer building codes and fire-resistant building materials. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the population and institutions along the area of despair built back into a lively metropolis.

4. San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

The Alamo serves as a landmark area in gaining independence in Texas.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

This Texas City is full of urban legends and scary stories galore. But some of them have roots in reality.

The Battle of the Alamo is one of the most haunted areas in San Antonio, and with good reason. Most of the Texans involved died fighting in this battle for independence. There are many reports of different spirits that hang around the Alamo. One is a little boy who was evacuated before the battle. He longs for his parents whom he last saw at the bloody site. Other common spirits include guards and soldiers of the area. Whispers, footsteps, and whole-body apparitions are common reports in this area.

Another haunt of San Antonio is the Majestic Theater. A troupe of dancers killed by falling stage lights has not left the site since. Some theater-goers report seeing a ghostly woman in the second-floor box seat, perhaps ruminating on her past as an entertainer in the theater.

San Antonio has plenty of haunts in and near the city. Fans of cryptids, legends, and true instances of horror should undoubtedly check out the many areas to explore these areas of terror that San Antonio has to offer.

3. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

View of civil war military battleground at Devil's Den in Gettysburg Pennsylvania

The Union lost over 23,000 men at Devil’s Den due to the hard bedrock so near to the surface.

©littlenySTOCK/Shutterstock.com

This is one of the areas that saw some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Gettysburg is famous for ghostly Civil War soldiers appearing to walk the premises of the town. People walking the historic battlegrounds report hearing crying or getting wafts of tobacco smoke, from which the source seems untraceable. War sites are not the only places with an excess of supernatural occurrences.

The Gettysburg orphanage is a hotbed for creepy situations to arise. First, the hospital was used to tend to the wounded and dying soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war, its conversion to an orphanage for kids whose parents died during the war went forward. The unfortunate children were subject to torture by the headmistress, Rosa J. Carmichael. The sinister spirit of the head of the orphanage still haunts this location. Her foul soul gives a tangible sense of dread to visitors of the site.

The Dobbin House Inn is another place with a bloody history in Gettysburg. During the Civil War, this house was a stopping point for those escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad. People might find mysterious bloodstains on the floorboards at night or see ghosts of slaves and soldiers.

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Louis Cemetery No 1 New Orleans, 27 August 2022

The St. Louis Cemetary No. 1 is home to the grave of New Orleans’s “Queen of Voodoo” Marie Laveau.

©Tom Hilton CC BY 2.0 – License

Haunted hospitals, churches, cemeteries, and homes; New Orleans has it all. The city’s rich history of Voodoo practice gives it an even creepier, more spiritual vibe. You can find many haunted attractions and ghost tours in this city. However, you might not need a tour guide to experience some of the haunting tension that vibrates throughout New Orleans.

The LaLaurie Mansion is a haunted house that was home to a rich socialite’s torture chamber. Screams whistle through the night’s air, while some claim to see apparitions of Madame LaLaurie’s slaves. Though the house has changed ownership and businesses many times, a sense of anguish always permeates the building.

Another famous woman who contributes to New Orleans’ spooky culture is Marie Laveau. People visit her tomb and leave offerings in hopes she will help them from the afterlife. However, she’s not cordial to all visitors. Some people claim to have felt the wrath of Laveau through a slap while passing her grave. Others say her ghost is unmistakable and omnipresent. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the city’s oldest cemetery. Thanks to the swamp-like conditions of New Orleans, bodies had to be buried above ground to stop the dead from washing into the streets during heavy rains.

1. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia, USA bars and restaurants on River Street.

Plenty of social hubs like bars and restaurants have haunting histories in Savannah.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

The most haunted city on our list is Savannah, Georgia. It’s a beautiful place with a dark past of slavery, plagues, and Civil War deaths. From haunted restaurants to breweries and hotels, there is a spooky sensation almost everywhere you turn in Savannah.

One of the more notable haunted sites of the city is the Marshall House. It used to be a hospital. This building, established in 1851, saw many deaths from yellow fever and Civil War injuries. Now, people who stay there have a high expectation to see apparitions walking through the hallway. Not only are people expecting sounds, but there might even be faint scents of the building’s hospital era that linger in the halls of the recently renovated hotel.

Despite the new appearance from renovations in the late 90’s, old keepsakes of the building’s past are focal points of the hotel’s upper level. These physical memories of the Marshall House’s past give a creepy charm to the hotel and further solidify its status as a haunted attraction.

Summary of the 10 Most Haunted Cities in the United States

City
1. Savannah, Georgia
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
3. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
4. San Antonio, Texas
5. Chicago, Illinois
6. St. Augustine, Florida
7. Salem, Massachusetts
8. Charleston, South Carolina
9. Portland, Oregon
10. San Francisco, California

The photo featured at the top of this post is © zef art/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sofia is a lover of all things nature, and has completed a B.S. in Botany at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). Professionally, interests include everything plant and animal related, with a penchant for writing and bringing science topics to a wider audience. On the off-occasion she is not writing or playing with her cats or crested gecko, she can be found outside pointing out native and invasive plants while playing Pokemon Go.

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