Here we highlight some of the creepiest and most haunted places here in the U.S. From ghost towns with a deadly past to buildings that are paranormal hotspots, we guarantee these destinations aren’t for the faint of heart. They’re definitely worth visiting for a spooky photo shoot though.
Willard Asylum, New York, USA
What Is It? This former asylum “for the chronic insane” began as a promising institution to provide a better quality of care to psychiatric patients, many of whom were currently held in overcrowded shelters. Willard Asylum opened in 1869 and boasted large grounds, group activities, and amenities like a beauty salon, movie theater, and bowling alley. But soon, things took a turn for the worse. Budget cuts led to more overcrowding and worse treatment for patients. By the official abandonment of the asylum in 1995, thousands of bodies were buried in unmarked graves on the grounds. Today, the Willard Asylum is under the control of the Five Points Correctional Facility, and many of its buildings have been left to decay.
The Island of Dolls (Isla de las Munecas), Mexico
We know this isn’t in the U.S. but it was too good to pass up.
What Is It? This small island was looked after by a caretaker named Julian. As the tragic legend goes, one day, he saw a drowned girl mysteriously wash up onto the shore. Days later, a doll washed up on the same shore, which Julian hung up in a tree to honor the young girl’s memory. The caretaker soon became haunted by this little girl and hung up more and more dolls to please her spirit. In 2001, Julian was said to have been found dead, drowned on the same shore as the little girl. It’s up to speculation whether the girl existed or the lonely caretaker had simply gone insane. Either way, this eerie, abandoned island is still covered with these dolls. To make matters even more creepy, many visitors have reported stories of the dolls turning their heads or even whispering to each other.
Danvers State Hospital
What is it? Danvers State Hospital opened in 1878 to serve some 600 mental patients. While it was built with a surprisingly caring and modern attitude toward the mentally ill, by the 1930s the site was crowded, falling into disrepair, and was using shock therapies and lobotomies on a regular basis. The hospital was shut down in 1992. It’s spooky, and there’s a cemetery, tunnels, and abandoned rooms with plenty of opportunities to set a sinister scene.
Alfred Rosenheim Mansion, Los Angeles, California
What is it? This you will instantly recognize as the outside of Murder House, the basis of season one of AHS. Surprisingly, this house’s past is a lot less sinister. It was built in 1902 by a German-American architect and has been used as a filming location for many productions such as Spiderman, Seabiscuit, The Twilight Zone, and Six Feet Under. You used to be able to stay here for a night with 16 friends for the hefty price of $1,450 a night, but unfortunately, now you’ll have to settle for taking a picture out front. I would try to hang around after dark and see if you can get some cool strobe light photos around the yard.
LaLaurie Haunted Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana
What is it? Featured in AHS season three, “Coven,” this mansion is already a popular tourist destination in New Orleans. Kathy Bates played the sinister character of Delphine LaLaurie, a woman who looms large in local folklore. Her house of horrors was discovered during an 1834 fire at her mansion. She disappeared after that incident and was not held accountable for her crimes. Snag a photo of this spooky building while you walk downtown.
Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles, California
What is it? Located in Los Angeles, this hotel has an extremely disturbing past. The notorious serial killer The Night Stalker (Richard Ramirez) stayed at the Cecil while he was killing innocent women. The most recent death was in 2013, a Canadian tourist Elisa Lam. She was on vacation in L.A. when she went missing while staying in the hotel. While investigating her disappearance, elevator footage surfaced that was deemed disturbing, and her body was then found later in the hotel’s water tank. No one knows how she got up there or why. It is now a city landmark, and you can stay here, but it is not advised. The TripAdvisor reviews are (understandably) terrible.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
What is it? This is where the Lost Colony of Roanoke was originally established. It was the first English colony in America. In 1587, John White left to gather food and supplies from England. When he returned four years later, he found that everyone was gone. They had completely disappeared. The only clue was carved into a tree: the word “CROATOAN.” The mystery of what happened to the colonists of Roanoke remains unsolved.
1530 N. Orange Grove Ave. Los Angeles, CA
What is it? Ally and Ivy’s house in AHS season seven. You can visit the neighborhood in Los Angeles. That’s not the best part, though. If you decide to visit this set location, you will also be visiting the “Haddonfield, Illinois” neighborhood used in John Carpenter’s classic film Halloween. Both Ivy and Ally’s house and the one across the street were seen in the Halloween movies.
The Failed Town of California City, California
What is it? From the air, this collection of streets resembles a printed circuit board. Its carefully planned cul-de-sacs and concentrically curved roads are neat and densely packed. The layout of streets and services is logical, aesthetically pleasing, and well-suited to a major city. There’s just one thing missing: people. Located in the Mojave Desert, this failed Utopian experiment has left a completely abandoned town. Should be a great place to explore.
St. Roch chapel, yellow fever shrine, New Orleans, Louisiana
What is it? There’s a cemetery in the neighborhood of St. Roch. At the center of that cemetery is a chapel. Inside that chapel, in a small room behind an iron gate, rows of prosthetic legs hang from the peeling walls. On shelves beneath sit plaster feet and false teeth, and a few pairs of artificial eyeballs. I’m not sure I’d be able to handle the eyeballs staring at me in this place.
Villisca Axe Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
What is it? In 1912, this house was the scene of a grisly murder. Josiah and Sarah Moore, their four children, and the young Stillinger sisters, who were visiting, were all viciously murdered with an ax. Creepier still, the murderer left uneaten food out, covered each victim’s face with a cloth, and draped linens over all of the mirrors and windowpanes. The case remains unsolved, but you can visit this house and stay overnight. I would keep your cameras recording all night if I were you.
UFO Watch Tower, Colorado
What is it? Filled with trinkets that celebrate extraterrestrial life this is more of an interesting place to visit than a haunted. However, it gets spooky as the sun goes down and you see everything around you moving in the wind.
13.Cahawba in Cahawba, Alabama
What is it? Cahawba was Alabama’s first state capital, but by the early 20th century, most of the residents had moved, and many buildings fell into disrepair. Nowadays it stands as a ghost town. You won’t catch me here after dark.
Vulture Mine in Vulture City, Arizona
What is it? People began mining here in 1863, and by 1866, the Vulture City settlement had been created. A 200-year-old tree was used to hang 18 men before the town was abandoned. Could be an interesting place for photos.
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
What is it? The Stanely Hotel was haunted long before it was used as inspiration for Stephen King’s well-known tale The Shining. Open since 1909 it’s only natural that the hotel would possess a dark past. With beautiful aesthetics, this is a wonderful place to stay and do a creepy shoot. Get your work done then experience actual ghosts after dark.
Holy Land USA in Waterbury, Connecticut
What is it? Holy Land was a religious theme park that once attracted many devoted visitors. However, it closed in 1984, and since then, it’s lain abandoned and forgotten, though attempts have been made to revive it. But a sinister air overcame Holy Land in 2010 when 16-year-old Chloe Ottman was murdered here. Visit if you dare.
LeHunt in Sycamore, Kansas
What is it? There’s little information out there about LeHunt, except that it now stands as a ghost town. The Kansas Portland Cement Company once supported the town, and the eerie feeling remains of the plant can be reached by hiking. Bring some colored smoke bombs and do work!
McRaven House in Vicksburg, Mississippi
What is it? This is known as Mississippi’s most haunted house and for a good reason. Former owner John H. Bobb was shot and killed by Union soldiers near the home, and there are 11 unknown bodies buried around the property. The grounds of this house are beautiful. Just what you’ll need for a Victorian Halloween shoot.
Hummel Park in Omaha, Nebraska
What is it? Over the last several years, unsettling incidents, like the discovery of a body, have taken place at Hummel Park — and with tragic death comes reports of bizarre and unsettling hauntings. The creepiest part of this entire park is at the bottom of the stairs. I’m thinking a zombie-like photoshoot with fog…lots of fog.
Hoosac Tunnel, North Adams, Massachusetts
What is it? An old train tunnel through the mountains of Western Massachusetts. Great for some shadowy photos. We recommend visiting during the day because it’s pretty dark in the tunnel anyway and you certainly will feel strange as you walk through.
San Haven Sanatorium in San Haven, North Dakota
What is it? What used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium, built in 1909, is now an eerily abandoned building that has been compared to the sanitarium on American Horror Story. The facility looks extremely unsettling — even in broad daylight — and is said to be haunted by those who died there.
Shanghai Tunnels in Portland, Oregon
What is it? The Shanghai Tunnels run under the city of Portland and are said to be haunted. However, these tunnels may have had a tragic history. It’s said that people were drugged and forced through these tunnels to be sold into labor off the harbor. Sign up for a tour, or head down there in costume ready to work it.
Centralia in Centralia, Pennsylvania
What is it? An old mining town of 2,000 people that was abandoned after a mine fire in 1962. Steam rises through cracks in the cement due to boiling groundwater, making the creepy atmosphere even more unsettling. Great for those moody shots. Warning signs to stay away, litter the area, but people still travel to visit since the movie Silent Hill is said to be based on its location.
The Historic Bullock Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota
What is it? One of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. Trying staying there to find out if it’s true.
Area 51, Nevada
What is it? Area 51 is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas. It the spot of strange extraterrestrial activity in a wide open area that could make for a great post-apocalyptic photoshoot if you can go here without getting detained by the government.
Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans, Lousiana
What is it? Home of the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau (c. 1794-1881), a free woman of color who became the most famous and influential Queen of Voodoo in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the resting place of Laveau. It’s also perfect for some twilight photos as long as you wear a skeleton face.
Eastern State Penitentary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What is it? This former prison operated from 1829 to 1971 was a hell on earth. The prison management locked inmates in solitary confinement for as many as 23 hours per day and punished them often. It’s no wonder current visitors and staff report hearing strange occurrences. You can definitely get creative with maybe an insane look at this place.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky
What is it? The old sanatorium, located in southwest Jefferson County, was a tuberculosis hospital that closed it’s doors in 1961 and currently hosts ghosts tours. Waverly Hills closed in 1961; it’s death toll in the tens of thousands. There is now what people describe as “weird energy” around the place, with many lurking spirits.