If I won the lottery and had no responsibilities, I’d travel the world exploring haunted locations. Unfortunately, I can’t trek the globe just yet, but I can plan ahead. Here are 11 haunted places on my travel wish list (America edition). How many have you visited?
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, KY
A favorite destination for both amateur and professional ghost hunters, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium once housed patients struck by TB. Thousands of people died at the 87-year-old facility, and legend has it a “death chute” once funneled bodies from one floor to another. According to another popular legend, a nurse committed suicide in Room 502 and haunts the hospital to this day. Update: The owners of the sanatorium are reportedly planning to turn it into a haunted hotel.
This photo of Waverly Hills Sanatorium is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, LA
I’ve long had my eye on the haunted Myrtles Plantation. Billed as one of the most haunted homes in the nation, the 217-year-old plantation is famous for a ghostly mirror and a murderous slave named Chloe. Other legends involve an Indian burial ground, voodoo practitioners, and a large blood stain that never fades. The ghost of William Drew Winter, an attorney shot and killed on the property, is also said to stagger up the stairs, reliving his last minutes over and over.
This photo of Myrtles Plantation is courtesy of TripAdvisor
The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, MO
The Lemps made their fortune in beer, dominating the St. Louis beer market with the Lemp Brewery and Falstaff brand beer. However, depression plagued the prominent family, and three Lemps committed suicide in the family home between 1904 and 1949. A fourth Lemp shot herself in a separate residence. Today, the Lemp Mansion is a restaurant and inn, not to mention one of America’s most haunted homes. Tales of ghostly knocks, phantom footsteps, disembodied voices, and sightings of a deformed spirit in the attic are just a few of the strange events said to occur at the historic property.
This photo of Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, MA
In 1892, someone took an axe to Andrew and Abby Borden inside their Massachusetts home. Evidence pointed to Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, but a jury acquitted Borden of the crime, and she remained in Fall River until her death in 1927. The site of the infamous murders is now a bed and breakfast, and guests can sleep in the same room where Abby died. Strange events at the home include the sound of a woman weeping, muffled conversations in empty rooms, and an apparition in Victorian-era clothing. The Lizzie Borden House is rather tasteless with models of the victims crushed skulls, photos of the murder scene hanging on walls, and a Lizzie Borden movie playing in the parlor. But who am I kidding? I’d totally go there if given the chance.
This photo of Lizzie Borden House is courtesy of TripAdvisor
West Virginia Penitentiary, Moundsville, WV
The West Virginia Penitentiary is one America’s most haunted prisons. The 137-year-old jail once housed 2,400 violent criminals, 2,000 more than builders intended, and 85 executions took place on the property. Suicides, murder, and torture were also common. According to visitors, the prison’s paranormal hot spots include the chapel, the shower cages, death row, a recreational area known as the Sugar Shack, and the site of former hangings. Ghost hunters have also spotted faces in long-abandoned cells and shadowy figures in hallways, among other things.
This photo of West Virginia Penitentiary is courtesy of TripAdvisor
The LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, LA
Madame Delphine LaLaurie was a New Orleans socialite who had a nasty habit of torturing and murdering black slaves. However, no one knew what Delphine was up to until a fire broke out in her Royal Street mansion. When bystanders entered the home, they found mutilated slaves chained to the walls of the slave quarters. A mob stormed the house, destroying almost everything in sight, and the LaLauries fled the city, never to be seen again. Authorities later found bodies buried in the yard, including one belonging to a small child.
Today, the mansion is off limits to the public, but many insist the building is haunted. Tales of agonized screams and moans surround the old property. Some people claim to have seen slaves staggering around the upper balcony. Though I’ve been to New Orleans twice, I was more interested in parades and cocktails than ghostly legends (what a shame). If I ever go again, I’ll be sure to stop by the LaLaurie Mansion.
This photo of Lalaurie Mansion is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone, AZ
Though I’m not usually into Old West stuff, I’d like to visit the Bird Cage Theatre. Opened in 1881, the Bird Cage was everything you could want in a den of sin: theater, brothel, saloon, and gambling parlor. It wasn’t long before the theater established a reputation as one of the wildest places in the West, and the building’s 120 bullet holes verify the rumors. The Bird Cage closed in the late 1880s, and the building was sealed up for 45 years before becoming a tourist attraction. Now, guests report hearing shouts and laughter from the stage, apparitions in Western clothing, and a ghostly man wearing a visor. Are the theater’s former patrons behind the strange events?
This photo of Birdcage Theater is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Sorrel-Weed House, Savannah, GA
Completed in 1840 for wealthy shipping merchant Francis Sorrel, the Sorrel-Weed House has a long and tragic history. In 1861, Mrs. Sorrel reportedly jumped to her death from the upstairs balcony. There are also rumors of a slave who died in the estate’s carriage house, though no one is sure if the death was a suicide or murder. Whatever the story, the Sorrel-Weed House has a reputation for being one of Savannah’s most haunted buildings.
Visitors and passerby report seeing figures in the windows and disembodied voices inside the old home. TAPS investigated the house for their 2005 Halloween episode and recorded an EVP of a woman screaming for help. Other creepy events include shadows that look as if someone is being beaten and dramatic changes in temperatures. Photo anomalies are also common. I somehow missed the house when I was in Savannah last September. Next time!
The Grand Canyon Caverns Underground Suite, Peach Springs, AZ
Part of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Caverns Underground Suite is a series of caves with a reputation for paranormal activity. Visitors report mysterious shadows and the feeling of being watched. Some say the shadows belong to Indians buried in the cave, while others think they belong to the souls of lost explorers. However, I’m interested in spending the night in the Underground Suite, a makeshift room 22 stories underground. Wouldn’t it be something to see a ghost so far beneath the earth’s surface and have nowhere to run? Alas, the rate of $700 a night is a bit out of my budget.
Monmouth Plantation, Natchez, MS
Ever since living in Charleston, I’ve had an interest in Southern history which is why I’d like to visit the Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, MS. Legend has it the plantation’s former owner, General John Quitman, appears in his military uniform from time to time, ensuring the property is to his liking.
This photo of Monmouth Plantation Natchez is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Know of a haunted place I should visit? Share your recommendations in the comments below!