Have you ever visited one of America’s most famous or infamous haunted houses? If you haven’t why do so this 2023 Halloween season? After all, it’s among the most popular things to do and All Hallows Eve is fast approaching. Besides, wouldn’t you rather be doing something scarier than just passing out candy? Of course, you can still pass out candy but why not celebrate the season with a haunted tour? Whatever the case may be, you must act fast as Halloween season tours are quickly selling out.
Amityville Horror House
112 Ocean Ave.
Amityville, NY 11702
Whether it’s haunted or not, the Amityville Horror House in Long Island can still give you chills. Built in 1925, it’s best known as the setting for the 1977 book “The Amityville Horror” and subsequent 1979 film. The story is based upon the accounts of the Lutz family, who moved there two years after a mass murder. Today, the Amityville House is under private ownership and is not open to the public. However, you can still view the exterior of this Dutch-Colonial style home if you are mindful of the residents and the neighborhood. Yet another creepy fact is that Amityville is close to Gilgo Beach. That’s the setting of the infamous Gilgo Beach murders from 1996 to 2011.
The Amityville Horror House in New Jersey
While the true life Amityville home is in its namesake village on Long Island, the home isn’t the one you see in movies. In fact, the 1979 film and the two following sequels were filmed in New Jersey. In detail, you can see the haunted house from those films at 18 Brooks Road in Toms River. Like its counterpart on Long Island, this home is under private ownership. Nevertheless, you still might want to see yet another one of America’s most famous haunted houses.
Joshua Ward House
148 Washington St.
Salem, MA 01970
What could be better for Halloween than visiting a haunted house in one of America’s most haunted cities? In this case, it’s the Joshua Ward House, built on the site of a former home whose resident had a connection to the Salem Witch Trials. That resident was George Corwin, Salem’s sheriff who helped execute victims believed to be witches. Today, it’s known as The Merchant, an upscale hotel that’s likely unavailable during Halloween. However, there may be ghost tours still available. While the Joshua Ward house might be Salem’s most haunted, there are other attractions worth visiting. For instance, the House of the Seven Gables is known to have ghosts as well as the Salem Witch Village.
1140 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
New Orleans has long had an association with voodoo, as well as haunted cemeteries and houses. Of all the haunted homes, the most famous is LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter. Originally built in 1832, it was the former residence of Delphine LaLaurie, a wealthy slaveowner. She was also known to be a serial killer, having tortured and murdered as many as 12 slaves. Shortly after the discovery of a torture chamber, the mansion was set on fire by an angry mob. Today the infamous is under private ownership, with no tours of its interior. On the other hand, many tour operators offering walking tours of New Orleans that includes LaLaurie Mansion. With its horrible past, many consider this attraction as easily one of the most famous haunted houses in America.
Lizzie Borden House
230 Second St.
Fall River, MA 02721
Whether Lizzie Borden was guilty or not, her former home ranks among the most haunted in America. First of all, this was the setting of an infamous 19th century ax murder of Lizzie’s father and stepmother. Furthermore, the ghosts of Andrew and Abby Borden are known to reside here. That’s not to mention that Lizzie was acquitted of the murders and a nursery rhyme chronicles the story. Since 1996, the Lizzie Borden House has been operating as a bed and breakfast and is sold out through October. However, you can still see the exterior of the home or if available, take a house tour.
Related: America’s Most Unusual Spite Houses
Myrtles Plantation Home
7747 U.S. Highway 61
St. Francisville, LA 70775
Just minutes from the banks of the Mississippi River, the Myrtles is haunted by not one, but several ghosts. In fact, at least 10 murders occurred there and may have been built over an ancient Indian burial ground. Today the home operates as a hotel but also offers several tours daily. A historic antebellum home that dates to 1796, the Myrtles’s most famous ghost is Chloe and some say her presence is felt there. That’s one of the reasons why the Myrtles is often known as one of “America’s Most Haunted Homes”.
Historic St. Francisville
The town of St. Francisville is 31 miles north of Baton Rouge and less than a two-hour drive from New Orleans. St. Francisville is also a popular stop along the Mississippi from steamboat cruises like the American Queen. If you can make it, you will quickly understand why it’s among America’s most haunted houses and particularly on Halloween.
508 N. Second St.
Atchison, KS 66002
Sallie House may not be as famous as other haunted houses like in Amityville and San Jose. Yet at the same time, this mid-19th century has it own unique association with the paranormal. Formerly the home of Dr. Charles Finney, it’s said to be haunted by a young girl who died while undergoing surgery. That’s to say nothing that well known paranormal shows like the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures had investigations here. In case you hope to visit, you can book a self-guided tour or even stay overnight. Unfortunately, you might have to wait awhile for an overnight stay over Halloween as reservations are sold out. But if you are patient, you’ll realize the Sallie House is definitely among the most famous haunted houses in America.
411 Craven St.
Beaufort, SC 29902
One of the most beautiful and most famous antebellum homes in historic Beaufort is the privately owned Castle. And it comes as no surprise that this 23-room residence is haunted by a ghost. In this case, it’s the ghost of a 16th century French court jester. According to the legend, Gauche was found killed on this property. Today, the ghost of Gauche is said to be residing in The Castle. While no public tours of are available, The Castle will host a trick-or-treat party for children on Halloween night.
Villisca Ax Murder House
508 E. Second St.
Villisca, IA 50864
Although it’s not nearly as famous as the Lizzie Borden house, the murders in this Iowa home are more tragic. That’s because in 1912, eight people, including children were murdered here in the Josiah Moore residence. By the same token, like the Lizzie Borden case, no suspect was found guilty. As a result, many visitors and locals insist that this house is haunted. In an effort to determine if there are ghosts here, the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures ran a segment. Today, the Villisca Ax Murder House offers daylight tours and, if you dare, overnight tours. One last unusual fact to point out is that it’s street address is nearly identical to the Sallie House.
2476 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110
Like many other cities, San Diego claims to be the home of America’s most haunted house. While this historic city has plenty of ghostly attractions, the Whaley House is clearly its most famous haunted house. What’s more, it’s a California Historic Landmark and offers daily tours, including an “After Hours Paranormal Investigation”. So you might ask, why is Whaley House such a scary place to visit, especially during Halloween? Built in 1857, the home is known to be haunted by the ghost of James “Yankee” Robinson. Just five years earlier, Yankee Jim Robinson was hanged for stealing horses on this site. Today, the Whaley House serves as a museum and is the oldest brick structure in Southern California.
Winchester Mystery House
525 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128
Sarah Winchester wasn’t a serial killer nor was she an ax murderer. However, she was the wife of William Winchester, the treasurer of the namesake rifle company. That was enough to lead Sarah to believe her Victorian Gothic home was haunted by those killed by a Winchester rifle. What’s more, she thought by continually expanding the construction of this home, she wouldn’t be tormented by spirits. Not long after her death in 1922, her home became a tourist attraction and has since drawn over 12 million visitors. Today the home features 160 rooms, including some “secret rooms”. Although tours of the one of America’s most haunted houses are offered year- round, it’s very popular during Halloween. However, reservations for the Halloween season evening tours are nearly sold out.
Bonus Recommendation for a Haunted Halloween
1313 Disneyland Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92802
The famous Haunted Mansion at Disneyland isn’t nearly as scary as your typical haunted house. Moreoever, it’s not exactly a real residence and more of a family-friendly ride. On the other hand, it’s one of the world’s most famous haunted houses and even has “ghosts” you can actually see. In fact, according to Disneyland, there are 999 ghosts that lurk in the dark inside the Haunted Mansion. In addition, at the beginning of the ride attraction, you can get experience the mansion’s famous stretching room. Yet another interesting fact is that the pipe organ in the ballroom is from Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”!
Murphys Historic Hotel
457 Main St.
Murphys, CA 95247
Known as the Queen of the Sierras, Murphys Historic Hotel is one of California’s longest operating hotels. It’s also possibly haunted, according to both previous guests and staff members alike. Some say this historic Gold Country era hotel is haunted by the ghosts of its famous guests, such as Mark Twain and Ulysses Grant. That’s not to mention its most famous ghost, Eleanor, a maid who reportedly still uses a rocking chair at night. Although it’s not nearly as famous as the Stanley Hotel, Murphys Historic Hotel is a must-see during Halloween season. Besides, the Stanley Hotel, known for the 1980 film “The Shining” gets enough attention.
About the Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 stories still appear in syndication across over 20 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, The CW, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.