Visiting haunted destinations and hearing chilling stories about supernatural beings is an exciting tourist activity. Paranormal tourism explores the cultural and historical significance of eerie destinations and is perfect for thrill seekers who are up to the challenge of withstanding spooky environments. The rising popularity of supernatural tourism can be credited to how the most haunted places in the world fulfill an innate human desire to explore the unknown and rise above the thrill of horror and mystery.
If stirring up spirits or witnessing paranormal activity sounds like a ghoulish good time, visit these destinations in Europe and the United States that offer unique haunted experiences.
Spooky Places To Visit in the United States
The United States’ haunted tourism industry was sparked by particularly dark eras that were marked by high death rates, high paranormal curiosity and mysterious disappearances (think the American Civil War, the Transatlantic slave trade and other large scale tragedies). For history buffs, there is always plenty more to learn about the complex lives that have become legend.
6. New York
There is plenty to see in New York, but these haunted sites can add a sense of adventure to a trip upstate. Add the White Horse Tavern and The Dakota to the trip itinerary and discover their reputations for ghosts.
The White Horse Tavern is a bar in Greenwich Village that was commonly frequented by literary stars, which made the spot quite popular. The bar opened in 1880 and has since gained a regular visitor that never leaves. In 1953, Dylan Thomas (a famous poet) consumed 18 straight whiskeys at the White Horse Tavern. Just a few days later, after feeling ill, he died. After his passing, many people claimed to see Thomas’ ghost and mysterious unclaimed drinks poured and waiting at the bar. Visitors can observe a plaque in Thomas’ honor and may even be lucky enough to make his acquaintance.
The Dakota luxury apartment building was the home of Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The late Beatles’ band mate and his wife moved into the lavish apartments in 1973, where their son was born in 1975. In 1980, the English musician was murdered under the apartment archway while returning from the recording studio with his family. Yoko has since confirmed that she continues to feel and encounter his spirit at the apartments.
While Lennon may be the most well-known spirit to occupy the property, there have always been other deceased tenants that roam its halls. Horror fans will recognize the French influence of The Dakota’s design and note that the movie Rosemary’s Baby (1968) was filmed there.
Georgia is home to some of the spookiest locations since it harbors some of the dark secrets of the south. Moon River Brewery and Bonaventure Cemetery are great stops for visitors who want to discover the rich and eerie history of Georgia.
Moon River Brewery is located in Savannah, Georgia. It is one of the oldest buildings in Savannah, since it was built in 1821 as the first hotel of the area. The building was used as a hotel, branch of the Bank of the United States, post office, lumber and coal warehouse, office supply store and finally, (its current configuration) a brew pub between 1821 and 1995. Since the space was utilized for many purposes throughout the years, it is no surprise that it has an extensive history and many guests that call it home even after their lives have ended.
The Bonaventure Cemetery is a scenic graveyard and famous tourist destination known as one of the most beautiful places to be put to rest. Putting the peaceful atmosphere aside, it also harbors tragic stories like that of Corinne Elliot Lawton. Lawton was 19 years old and fell in love with a man her family did not approve of. According to legend, as opposed to being forced to marry a rich man she did not love, she flung herself in the nearby river and drowned in 1877. There are many versions of this story and it changes as time goes on, but the tragic loss remains. Visitors of the cemetery can view the life-size statue that depicts Lawton gazing longingly across the river.
It is no surprise that Louisiana is the home of many hauntings since it has been unofficially titled the most haunted state in America. Louisiana is no stranger to ghost stories, so it is the best place for fearless travelers and history buffs to visit.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and LaLaurie Mansion are popular haunted spots that will spook even the most thrill seeking tourist. The cemetery was established in 1789 and is the oldest one throughout Louisiana (and considered one of the most haunted cemeteries in all of the United States). Since the cemetery holds over 100,000 of the deceased and has been in existence for so long, there have been many reports of ghosts. Marie Laveau is one the most famous ghosts to be sighted. In the 19th century, Marie was the number one practitioner of voodoo in New Orleans and was even called the Voodoo Queen. Reports of visitors being touched, becoming ill, hearing voices and even scratched or shoved (if disrespecting her tomb) are common.
The LaLaurie Mansion is legendary in New Orleans but has a dark past. Madame Delphine MacCarthy LaLaurie was a wealthy socialite and the host of many lavish gatherings. In 1828, Madame LaLaurie was investigated for cruelty towards enslaved people, but there are no court records of it. The only proof of this investigation is the records of LaLaurie’s legal services being paid, which historians have varying theories about. In 1834, the LaLaurie mansion broke out into flame which led to the discovery of seven mutilated enslaved persons locked inside. Neighbors expressed outrage and soon the LaLauries relocated to Paris, only to return upon their burial. The mansion is supposedly haunted by the spirits of enslaved people who were mistreated on the property.
Have a Haunted Holiday in Europe
Europe has a long history of supernatural legends that derive from the brutal history of the medieval and other premodern ages. Lingering Victorian ghosts and historic cultural feuds are common among the haunted places in Europe. Some of Europe’s most popular haunted sites have inconspicuous beginnings.
There are so many places in Italy that are rumored to be haunted that it is hard to keep up. The country is known for its breathtaking views and the mysterious histories that are attached to them.
Poveglia Island and Martiri di Otranto are places in Italy that have gained attention for their twisted origins. Poveglia is a small island that has long been a place of exile for diseased and rejected people. In 1348 and 1630 (respectively) the Bubonic plague and Black Death reached Poveglia and people showing symptoms were sent there to quarantine. The unnumbered deaths that occurred on the island fuel the legends that still exist there.
Martiri di Otranto is a church that honors the dead of a tragic slaughter in a strange way. In the church, visitors will find the bones and skulls of 800 Otranto martyrs that were massacred. After a Turkish invasion, the 800 survivors took refuge in the cathedral, but refused to be overtaken and were soon killed. Known as the skull cathedral, this church has certainly made a statement with the human skull altar that many find disturbing.
England is the source of many spooky stories and is known for its dreary weather, which sets the perfect scene. There are plenty of famous phantoms in England that may pique the interests of travelers.
The Tower of London and Blickling Hall in Norwich are notorious for their creepy connections. The Tower of London is a historic castle near the River Thames and city center that was founded in 1066. There are many people that met untimely deaths at the tower, but the most famous ghost is that of Anne Boleyn. Anne was the second wife of Henry VIII and was found guilty for treason. She was executed on the Tower Green and is commonly seen wandering around.
Blickling Hall is an estate that was built in the 11th century and has connections to Anne Boleyn before and after her death. Blickling Hall was the family home of Anne Boleyn and where she was born. When Anne met King Henry VIII he was still married to Catherine of Aragon, but he desired Anne so much that he founded the Church Of England so he could be allowed to divorce and remarry. Once he grew tired of Anne, three years later, he accused Anne of many crimes (among those, treason and adultery) and had her imprisoned in the Tower of London before her execution. Ten days after her execution, the king remarried. It is said that Anne’s spirit visits her family house on the anniversary of her execution.
France is an old destination with plenty of history. This, paired with the bone-chilling stories of its landmarks is the perfect storm for France to be considered a very haunted destination.
The Château de Brissac and the famous Paris Catacombs are ghostly sites to see at least once in life. The family owned château has its own historical significance, without the ghost stories, since it is the tallest castle in all of France. The legend of the renaissance-styled castle’s green lady only makes visitors more curious about the estate. La Dame Verte (or the green lady) was murdered in the tower room and roams around moaning wearily in a green dress. Her face is supposedly frightening due to the sunken holes where her eyes and nose should be.
The Parisian Catacombs are miles of underground tunnels that are filled with the remains of six million people. The extensive tunnels are accessible for ghost tours, which are among the most popular attractions in Paris. The history of the catacombs is complex and surprisingly, non-violent. In the 1700’s, the graveyards in Paris were full and demand for space kept increasing. Mass graves were sources of disease and pollution, so buried remains were moved to former quarries. This move began in 1786 and it took a full 12 years to complete the ossuaries (which were opened to the public in 1809) that are now the famed catacombs.
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