Twelve Truly Terrifying Places To Visit For Halloween

From haunted hotels to morbid museums and abandoned asylums, the best places to scare yourself silly.

If Halloween parades, theme park mazes, and costume parties are a bit too demure for your tastes, here are some places suitable for getting your fright on.

  1. The Queen Mary, Long Beach California

    Photo courtesy of The Queen Mary

    Although this luxury liner sailed her last voyage in 1967, the Queen Mary has plenty of onboard activities like ship tours, exhibits, and a fine-dining restaurant for guests to enjoy year-round. Visitors can also choose to stay overnight in one of the ship’s staterooms, but be forewarned, the ship is reported to be haunted. Sightings have occurred in the First Class swimming pool area where two women drowned and children have been seen playing in the storage room. As an added bonus, throughout the month of October, the Queen Mary also hosts its annual Dark Harbor Halloween-themed nights.

  2. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia

    Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    This massive gothic asylum, originally designed for 250 mentally ill patients, was, at one time, home to as many as 10 times that number. To say the conditions here were abysmal would be a gross understatement, and many of the mistreated souls who died here are said to still wander the halls. Visitors can get paranormal tours of the main building throughout the day, but if you’re looking for the best bang (moans and screams) for your buck, do an overnight ghost hunt, available October 27, 28, and 31.

  3. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

    Photo by Manny Crisostomo/Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty Images

    Upon her husband’s death in 1881, Sarah Winchester used her sizable inheritance to begin construction on what would eventually become a four-story, 160-room mansion. Believing the house to be haunted by the vengeful spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifles made by her late husband’s family, she reportedly intentionally designed the house haphazardly—with stairs that lead nowhere, doors that open to brick walls, and windows overlooking other rooms—in an attempt to trap and appease the ghosts. Throughout the month of October, visitors can take an hour-long candlelight tour of the property.

  4. The Hollywood Roosevelt, Hollywood, California

    Photo by Barry Winiker/Getty Images

    Built in 1927, this historic hotel is reportedly haunted by numerous ghosts. It’s most famous spirit, Marilyn Monroe, has appeared numerous times in a full-length mirror, originally located in the poolside suite where she often stayed. However, the mirror has since been moved next to the elevator on the lower level. Another famous otherworldly resident, Montgomery Clift, is said to appear in Room 928.

  5. The Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts

    Photo by Donna Hageman/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

    As a child, you probably heard the rhyme, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks….” Well, that rhyme is based on the actual 1892 axe murder of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother. Eventually Lizzie was put on trial and acquitted (leaving the crime, to this day, technically unsolved.) Today, the home is the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum where, for instance, guests can stay in the John V. Morse Room, the very spot where Abby Borden’s body was found. Sleep tight!

  6. City Hall, San Francisco, California

    Photo by Arvind Balaraman/Getty Images

    On November 27, 1978, Dan White, a former elected official on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, climbed through a basement window at City Hall in order to bypass metal detectors. He then proceeded to assassinate both Mayor George Moscone and gay rights activist and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Since then, there have been reports of odd sounds heard around City Hall, especially at night, are often attributed to the ghosts of the three men. Anyone who is curious to find out for himself can join in on a Ghost Walk hosted by San Francisco City Guides on Thursday, October 26, at 6:30 pm.

  7. Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco, Califoria

    After your tour, check in to the Queen Anne Hotel. This 48-room establishment formerly housed an etiquette school for girls. Its headmistress, Miss Mary Lake, has been seen haunting the building, especially room 410, which was her office. Guests in that room have reported finding their clothes being unpacked or the blankets closely tucked around them while they slept.

  8. The Mütter Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Photo by Harry Fisher/Allentown Morning Call/MCT via Getty Images

    Perhaps you would enjoy seeing slices of Albert Einstein’s brain, a collection of 139 human skulls, or the remains of a woman known as “The Soap Lady” (above). Then venture in to the the Mütter Museum, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, where these, plus thousands of other artifacts (medical instruments, preserved body parts, skeletal specimens) reflecting the history of medicine and the study of human anatomy are on view.

  9. The Fort East Martello Museum, Key West, Florida

    Photo courtesy of Key West Art and Historical Society

    This museum is home to Robert the doll, also known as the most haunted doll in the world (although, we wonder how Annabelle feels about that.) He once belonged to a boy named Robert Eugene Otto, who grew up to design the gallery at the museum and is reported to move positions, change expressions, and cause disturbances with electronic equipment and cameras.

  10. Vent Haven Museum, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

    Photo courtesy of the Vent Haven Museum

    Although not intentionally trying to be frightening (and, sadly closed until spring but worthy of inclusion nonetheless), the Vent Haven Museum is home to around 900 ventriloquist dummies.

  11. The Bourbon Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, Lousiana

    Photo by J Stephen Young

    This hotel is rumored to be one of the city’s most haunted buildings. Both staff and guests have reported run-ins with numerous spirits. Among them: the ghost of a man reading a newspaper and smoking a cigar in the lobby, a Confederate soldier who wanders the seventh floor, and another unseen ghost who kisses women he deems beautiful. 

  12. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

    Photo: Getty Images

    Horror novelist Stephen King and his wife were the sole guests staying at the Stanley just before it closed for the season in 1974. Their experience in room 217 became the inspiration for one of his best-known works, The Shining. Hotel staff claim that most of the ghosts are of former employees and guests. Should you wish for a personal introduction to one, the hotel offers daily guided “Ghost Tours.”

Bryan van Gorder usually writes about the places he's been or the famous people forced to talk to him.
@bvangorder