Haunted Houses and Hotels for a Truly Chilling Vacation

We get it. Most people like to spend their vacations in relaxing locations where they can kick back and enjoy some stress-free time in the sun with a margarita. But some of us find solace in visiting mysterious sites and staying in haunted houses or hotel rooms. Nothing says vacation more than hanging out with ghosts.

The Franklin Castle / Haunted Corridor / Lincoln Bedroom / The White House.

Source: Getty Images

Well, luckily (or not so luckily), many haunted locations have been reported worldwide. If you like to relax by communicating with the dead, here are some spooky locations you could visit right now. Here are some of the most haunted houses and the ghost stories behind them.

If you’re looking for a chilling vacation, stop by one of these houses or stay at one of these hotels.

The Whaley House Museum: San Diego, California

So, the story goes like this. In 1952, a man named James “Yankee Jim” Robinson was hung by his neck for the crime of grand theft. Just a few years later, Thomas and Anna Whaley built a house on the exact spot where Robinson was executed.

A current photo of the Museum / An image of a ghost inside the house.

Source: Wikipedia / Reddit

Soon enough, the ghost of Yankee Jim showed up and haunted the site. It is said that you can hear his footsteps clumping around the house. I know this sounds like your classic, fictional ghost story, but Yankee Jim isn’t the only specter.

The Whaley House Museum: San Diego, California

Others have haunted the site: Mr. and Mrs. Whaley, a little girl, and even the family’s pet dog are said to have surfaced from beyond the grave. According to Time, this house is so spooky that in the 1960s, the U.S. Commerce Department classified the Whaley House as haunted.

A dated picture of the Whaley House.

Photo by Harvey Meston/Archive Photos/Getty Images

I, for one, had no idea that a location could be officially classified as haunted, but that only adds fuel to the idea of ghosts. If you want to check out the creepy location, you can visit The Whaley House Museum.

House of Death: New York City, New York

Some of the most desirable real estate in the world is located in New York’s Greenwich Village, and one brownstone on West 10th Street is particularly one-of-a-kind. Known as “The House of Death,” the townhouse is reportedly haunted by 22 spirits of people who lived or died within its eerie walls.

An exterior photo of the house.

Source: Pinterest

Among these ghosts is one 6-year-old girl who was beaten to death by her adopted father. For some reason, the ghosts of cute little kids are much creepier than adult ghosts. Either way, the stories that happened in that home are quite disturbing.

House of Death: New York City, New York

On another note, this New York City home also has a celebrity pedigree. Author Mark Twain used to stay in the house back in 1900 and made occasional visits.

A portrait of Mark Twain sitting at home.

Photo by Library of Congress/Getty Images

If you’re interested in the haunted history of the home, you can check out Jan Bryant Bartell’s “Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea,” where she documents her experience living on the top floor of the apartment building. The street is a popular stop on New York City Ghost Tours, but we can’t tour the inside since the building houses private apartments.

Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California

Legend has it that the rambling Victorian mansion located on a busy street in San Jose, California, is haunted by the ghosts of everyone who died by a Winchester rifle. That’s a lot of spirits hanging out over there.

A picture of the Winchester Mystery House.

Photo by Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images

To keep them happy, the owner of the home and heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, Sarah Winchester, added a room to the house to make more room for the dead. Yeah, that’s one way to deal with your ghost problem. Sarah is the widow of the Winchester rifle founder.

Winchester Mystery House: San Jose, California

But Sarah did more than add rooms. She created a labyrinth with halls leading to nowhere, cut-off staircases, sloping floors, and a rabbit warren of chambers. According to ABC News, she has “10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms, and nine kitchens”.

A look inside the staircases in the house / A portrait of Sarah Winchester.

Photo by Barry King, WireImage, Getty Images / Bettmann, Getty Images

I know the house looks haunted, but if you’re looking for a less spooky explanation for the home’s design, the podcast 99% Invisible suggested a theory that Winchester was just a huge fan of architecture and continued adding more rooms without tearing down the other ones first.

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast: Fall River, Massachusetts

If you’re a horror fan, chances are you’ve heard this ghost story: Andrew and Abby Borden were found dead back in 1982 – murdered by an ax-wielding psychopath. The prime suspect was Andrew’s daughter Lizzie.

People are heading into the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.

Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Lizzie Borden stood trial for the murders but was eventually acquitted. But like Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson, she spent the rest of her days under a shadow of guilt, despite being found not guilty. Nowadays, her ghost hangs out in Fall River, Massachusetts, haunting the home where her father and stepmother were killed.

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast: Fall River, Massachusetts

People have even reported hearing her laugh at the top of the stairs. The house has since become a museum and bed and breakfast (equipped with ghost cams), where guests can spend the night listening for the ghost of Lizzie, the real murderers, or the echoes of the maid’s screams after she found their dead bodies. That sure sounds like a pleasant stay.

A portrait of Lizzie Borden hangs on a wall of the house.

Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

With all the hype and mystery surrounding the supernatural, many people pay extra to stay in haunted houses or haunted hotel rooms. So, if you’re looking for some haunting excitement in your life, you should spend a night at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast.

Villisca Axe Murder House: Villisca, Iowa

Villisca is a tiny town in Iowa (population: 1,252). It’s not a well-known town and doesn’t have much to offer tourists… except for one thing. If you’re cruising through Iowa, you should spend a ghostly night at the Axe Murder House! You know, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

A photo from the house.

Source: Pinterest

Back in 1912, the events that took place in that white-wood framed house was a horrific crime that left a family with four children and their two young friends lifeless—killed by an ax. So, who was this heartless killer?

Villisca Axe Murder House: Villisca, Iowa

There were several suspects, one being an Iowa state senator. But, ultimately, no one was ever charged with the murder, and the bloody crime remains a mystery. You know what they say about spirits whose death was never solved: they are stuck in limbo. Over a century later, their ghosts are said to roam the house, yearning for justice.

A look inside the room of the crime scene.

Source: Flickr

Visitors who are fascinated by the supernatural can book tours of the site. Really brave guests can even spend the night. The house is currently reopened after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with health and safety measures in place.

Bell Witch Cave: Adams, Tennessee

John Bell bought a tract of land along Tennessee’s Red River in the early 1800s. Bell and his family thrived on the farm until something strange started to happen. They started to see weird-looking animals around the property. And when I stay weird, I mean creepy.

An exterior shot of Cave.

Source: Wikipedia

The most notable of these animals was a dog with a rabbit’s head. It kind of freaked the family out. From that point on, unseen forces were set upon the family. The spirits seemed to target Bell and his daughter Betsy especially.

Bell Witch Cave: Adams, Tennessee

They experienced physical attacks, heard unexplainable sounds, and even communicated with the “entity” who identified herself as the Bell’s former neighbor, Kate Batts (according to one account). She was getting revenge from beyond the grave.

An inside look of the Cave.

Source: Pinterest

It is rumored that the entity stopped Betsy’s marriage to a local boy and killed John. According to a Bell Witch website, there is plenty of evidence to back up the haunting, such as “eyewitness accounts, affidavits, and manuscripts penned by those who experienced the haunting firsthand.”

The White House: Washington, D.C.

Even presidents aren’t safe from the supernatural. The White House is said to have many ghosts living within its storied walls. Reportedly, President Ronald Reagan would tell dinner party guests stories about his dog barking at spirits and his daughter, Maureen, walking to a figure looking out the window of the Lincoln Bedroom.

A picture of The White House at night.

Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

You never know, maybe it was President Lincoln himself, returning his old home from beyond the grave. Reportedly, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill encountered the ghost of Lincoln as he was stepping out of the bathtub.

The White House: Washington, D.C.

Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, held séances in the White House to communicate with their son, Willie, who passed away. He died of typhoid, which presumably came from contaminated water in the White House. They never contacted their son, but they claimed to contact President Andrew Jackson, who was roaming over his former bedroom.

A photo of The Lincoln Bedroom.

Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images

He is also the first president to die in the White House; President William Henry Harrison remains there. It’s more than former presidents who haunt the halls of this famous house, and it’s their wives too: Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison, visits the gardens she planted, and Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, is said to do her laundry in the East Room.

The Sallie House: Atchison, Kansas

If you’re like me and look up ghost stories when you’re bored, you probably already know all about this famous haunted house. The legend says that this Kansas home is the dark lair because of all the family’s spooky experiences. To make matters even creepier, the demon takes on the form of a little girl.

An exterior shot of The Sallie House.

Source: Pinterest

New renters moved into the home in the early ‘90s, Debra and Tony Pickman. They claimed to have seen supernatural occurrences in the house, including flickering lights, apparitions, possessions, unexplained voices, and strange scratches, marks, and burns on their bodies. Yikes!

The Sallie House: Atchison, Kansas

The ghost causing these strange events seems to be the ghost of a little girl named Sallie. Bobby and Colleen Humbard, former renters, claimed that their daughter Heather saw and heard Sallie, but Heather called her an imaginary friend. Somehow that makes it scarier.

A view inside the house.

Source: Visit Atchison

But Sallie isn’t an innocent ghost. There are plenty of theories about her terrifying presence in the house and some evidence of Satanic rituals in the basement, suggesting that Sallie is a demon disguised as a harmless child. The house offers overnight visits if you’re interested.

Franklin Castle: Cleveland, Ohio

Known as the “most haunted house in Ohio,” this imposing Victorian house looks like ghosts are living it in. It was built in the 1800s by a man named Hannes Tiedemann, who was famous around Cleveland for being mean and abusive. Those rumors crystallized when a series of mysterious deaths happened to Tiedemann’s family members in that house.

An exterior view of the Franklin Castle.

Source: Cleveland.com

Many sudden deaths took place in the house; one was the death of Tiedemann’s daughter, Emma. She died because of complications with diabetes. But then, Tiedemann’s mother died, and so did three more of his children.

Franklin Castle: Cleveland, Ohio

Tiedemann’s wife passed away due to liver failure. Still, many stories circulated about how Tiedemann was the one responsible for her death and murdered other members of his family as well – one being his niece, a possible illegitimate daughter, and his rumored mistress. However, Tiedemann got the heck out of there after his wife died.

A photo of an investigator inside the house.

Source: Cleveland Historical

The house has been passed from owner to owner, but a German Socialist Party remained there for 55 years. Locals heard that the home was a den for Naz* spies. Recent investigations suggest evidence of foul play and human bones within the walls.

Biltmore: Asheville, North Carolina

Back in the 1800s, George Washington Vanderbilt II built this vacation home. But ever since, the location has gained a reputation for being of the most haunted homes in the state or even the country. So, what exactly happened there?

A panoramic shot of the mansion.

Photo by James Bulebush/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

Well, that’s the weird part; nothing nefarious seems to have happened on the property (that we know of, at least). However, former owners remain active at the home, even in the afterlife. When Vanderbilt died in 1914, he passed the estate on to his children, who chose to open it up to the public; that’s when the supernatural activity began.

Biltmore: Asheville, North Carolina

Visitors reported hearing a woman’s voice, presumably Vanderbilt’s wife, Edith, calling his name, and some say they saw the ghosts appear. The home includes several hidden doors and passageways, adding to the overall spook factor of the property.

An indoors shot of the Biltmore Mansion.

Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Nowadays, anyone can take a tour of the estate; there is an option for a guided tour, and you can explore the property independently. If you’re hoping to make a nice, relaxing trip out of it, there are places to stay and winery tours nearby.

If there is one thing creepier than haunted houses, it’s haunted hotels.

Stanley Hotel: Estes Park, Colorado

One of the most famous haunted hotels is the Stanley Hotel, popularized by Stephen King’s horror novel, The Shining. The author and his wife stayed there back in 1974, and they were the only guests. The hotel was getting ready to close up for the season. Sound familiar?

A picture of the Stanley Hotel.

Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Their experience in room 217 inspired the classic book – and later the Stanley Kubrick film. In the movie, they used room number 237. Why the change? The hotel was worried that guests would be too scared to stay in room 217, so they used a room that doesn’t exist in the Stanley Hotel, 237. They didn’t realize people would pay good money to stay in a haunted room.

Hotel Chelsea: New York City, New York

The Big Apple’s Hotel Chelsea was built back in the 19th century and has become a muse to artists for decades. This hotel-inspired talented people like Mark Twain, Andy Warhol, and Ethan Hawke. With such famous guests, the hotel has also seen equally high-profile scandals.

An exterior shot of the Chelsea Hotel.

Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

The most known Hotel Chelsea story is the unsolved murder of Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, fellow rocker Nancy Spungen. The hotel went through renovation but reopened in 2018. Many supernatural occurrences have been reported before and after the renovations.

Bourbon Orleans Hotel: New Orleans, Louisiana

This nearly two-century-old property used to be a ballroom and theater, then a convent and orphanage. In the 1960s, it was converted into a hotel. Why is there something so eerie about the fact that it used to be an orphanage? It seems like that automatically makes this place haunted.

An exterior shot of the hotel.

Source: Pinterest

And it looks like the hotel guests feel the same way and have reported plenty of paranormal guests. These include a Confederate soldier who hangs out on the third and sixth floors, a woman and children from the convent days, and a dancer who performed at the theater.

Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn: Big Sur, California

These haunted house movies aren’t always pure imagination; art often imitates life, and many have experienced supernatural occurrences. Ellen Brill, the set director of American Horror Story: Hotel, claimed to hear paranormal footsteps and a door slam during her stay at this hotel.

An exterior view of Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn.

Photo by Armin B./Yelp

According to Vogue, Brill was told by the innkeeper that it was Grandma Deetjen, referring to inn founder Helmuth Deetjen who built the property with his wife, Helen Haight, back in the 1930s. They say the ghost of Grandpa Deetjen isn’t a particularly threatening specter.

Battery Carriage House: Charleston, South Carolina

This establishment is proud to be known as the most haunted inn in Charleston and the most romantic bed and breakfast. This is my kind of place! Nothing says romantic evening like spending the night in a haunted hotel room.

An exterior shot of the Battery Carriage House Inn.

Source: Battery Carriage House Inn

Many people left the hotel with chilling stories, which they shared on the inn’s website. Examples include a headless spirit that haunts Room number 8, an entire congregation in Room number 3, and a gentlemanly apparition in Room 10. I know where I’m going for my next date!

Hawthorne Hotel: Salem, Massachusetts

Because this is the site of the infamous Witch Trials, it’s no surprise that this place is haunted. This entire New England city has had its share of paranormal occurrences, but this hotel, in particular, has had many reported instances.

A view of the Hawthorne Hotel from the street.

Photo by David Kamerman/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The 91-year-old Hawthorne hotel is a hotbed for dead people activity. Guest have claimed to see lights flickering, faucets turning on and off by themselves, and human-shaped figures. Fun fact: the television series Bewitched shot multiple episodes at the property.

1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa: Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Throughout its 130-year existence, the Crescent Hotel building served as a woman’s college and a hospital – infamously run by crackpot “doctor” Norman Baker. He made a name for himself and landed jail time after promoting a supposed cure for cancer in the 1930s.

A current image of the Hotel / A portrait of the former female students.

Photo by Gregory Ballos

These days, the hotel has been dubbed as “America’s most haunted hotel,” with ghosts named Michael, Theodora, and even Morris the cat. These all seem harmless ghosts; however, seeing paranormal events was enough to scare some of the guests.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: Los Angeles, California

You know how hotels don’t have a 13th floor because it’s a haunted number? Well, we all know those hotels have a 13th floor, just disguised as the 14th floor. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles is 12 stories tall, with 300 guest rooms and 63 suites.

An exterior shot of the hotel.

Photo by Murphy O’Brien/Hollywood Roosevelt

However, stopping at the 12th floor didn’t keep the ghosts away. The luxury hotel built in 1927 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has hosted many legendary guests, and some of them are still roaming the halls. One of the most famous is the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

La Fonda on the Plaza: Santa Fe, New Mexico

While the current construction of the Santa Fe hotel was built in 1922, inns (then known as fondas) have been constructed on the site since 1607. I don’t know why, but ghosts seem to like the older buildings. I haven’t seen a new building with no tragic history on the property that has had reported hauntings, but what do I know?

A current photo of La Fonda on the Plaza hotel.

Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images

This hotel had some supernatural guests, including the Honorable John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. He was shot in the lobby of the hotel in 1867.

The Hay-Adams: Washington, D.C.

The Hay-Adams hotel is known to be haunted and has had plenty of reported paranormal events. The hotel is built on former mansions owned by John Hay and Henry Adams – a descendent of both Adams presidents.

An exterior shot of the hotel.

Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis/Getty Images

The hotel has been around for almost a century and is haunted by the ghost of Adams’ wife, Marian Hooper Adams, who stayed there once as a guest. As we know, spirits bring their supernatural friends, so this hotel is probably haunted by more than just one ghost.

The Driskill Hotel: Austin, Texas

Back in 1886, Civil War Colonel Jesse Driskill founded this hotel in downtown Austin. He is one of the spirits that continues to haunt the premises. He seems to be a harmless ghost, but it doesn’t mean that horrific things didn’t happen on the property.

An exterior view at The Driskill Hotel at night.

Source: Pinterest

Room 525 is considered the room with the most paranormal activity. As it turned out, two brides committed suicide in the room 20 years apart. It makes it creepier that they were both brides. In my opinion, brides are scarier than demons disguised as little girls in pigtails.

The Sagamore Resort: Bolton Landing, New York

It was 1883 when the Sagamore Resort hotel was built on Lake George. Ever since guests of the property have stayed around long after checking out. The ghosts of many people who stayed there come back and haunt the building.

An exterior shot of the hotel.

Source: Pinterest

Current guests have claimed to see a boy from the 1950s on the golf course, an eerie-looking woman in white, and a couple dining at one of the hotel restaurants. Nothing particularly tragic happened on the property, but it must be alarming to see dead people walking around there.

The Seelbach Hilton: Louisville, Kentucky

If you’re into ghost stories, you’ve certainly heard of the legendary Lady in Blue. She stayed at the Seelbach Hilton in 1936 and died there. As the legend goes, Patricia Wilson planned to meet up with her ex-husband at the hotel so they could work things out.

Night vision inside the haunted hotel / A photo of The Seelbach Hilton.

Source: Pinterest / Seelbach Hilton

Tragically, he died in a car accident on the way to the hotel. She was so devastated that she threw herself down the elevator shaft. Guests and hotel employees have seen a woman in a blue chiffon dress with long, black hair walking around the eighth floor.

Hotel del Coronado: San Diego, California

Ever since 1892, Kate Morgan has been the resident ghost at the Hotel del Colorado. The story follows: the 24-year-old checked into the hotel for Thanksgiving and stayed on the third floor for five days waiting for her lover to join her.

An exterior shot of Hotel del Coronado.

Photo by Dave G. Houser/Corbis/Getty Images

But when he didn’t show up, she took her own life. Even the most skeptical guests claim to feel her eerie presence at the hotel, specifically in the room she died in and at the hotel gift shop. Next time I’m in San Diego, I hope to see the ghost of Kate Morgan with my own eyes.

Emily Morgan Hotel: San Antonio, Texas

Way before the Emily Morgan Hotel was a place to give tourists a pleasant stay. The neo-Gothic building was the site of a medical arts facility – complete with a hospital, doctors’ offices, and a morgue. Yeah, no wonder it’s haunted.

An exterior picture of Emily Morgan Hotel by night.

Source: Ghost City Tours

What’s with people building hotels in former orphanages and morgues? You might as well invite the ghosts personally. Interestingly, the 12th and 14th floors are specifically spooky. The 14th floor is the 13th floor and used to be a crematorium. The elevator is also known for numerous supernatural instances.

Hotel Sorrento: Seattle, Washington

If you’re bored of the children ghosts or spirits of suicidal brides and looking for a celebrity ghost, look no further than Hotel Sorrento, located in Seattle. Alice B. Toklas, the partner of Gertrude Stein, wanders the halls of the fourth floor.

An image of the entrance gate at Hotel Sorrento.

Source: Pinterest

Room 408 is her favorite haunt. It is also said that glasses in the Dunbar Room move on their own. While she was studying music at the University of Washington, Toklas lived near the hotel. The strange part is that Toklas never even stepped foot in the hotel, so it’s interesting that she decided to haunt it.

Admiral Fell Inn: Baltimore, Maryland

Admiral Fell Inn is a wonderful place to stay, offering cozy, European-style ambiance, lavish rooms, and, oh yeah, ghost tours. This hotel cleverly used its haunted reputation to entertain guests with ghost stories of the historic establishment.

A picture of the exterior at Admiral Fell Inn.

Source: Tumblr

The hotel is located in Fell’s Point, made up of seven buildings, and was once a major shipbuilding area. Throughout the years, guests reported hearing parties in unoccupied rooms. If you want that ghost tour, the hotel offers it on Wednesday through Saturday. You can check out their website for additional information.

Myrtles Plantation: St. Francisville, Louisiana

The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, is a historic antebellum home built by General David Bradford in 1796. Bradford founded the hotel when he fled to Pennsylvania during the Whiskey Rebellion.

A dated picture of the Myrtles Plantation.

Source: The Myrtles Plantation

The current owner claims that nine ghosts inhabit the hotel, which is now a bed-and-breakfast. I hope there aren’t more he didn’t find! But how does he know it’s not just one ghost trying to trick him? Well, it’s possible that two ghosts appeared in photographs.

The Queen Mary: Long Beach, California

There was a time when this legendary ocean liner hosted royalty dignitaries and Hollywood stars. These days, it’s docked in Long Beach and is a stationary hotel. But ghosts don’t discriminate against water, and it looks seems as though the ship is haunted.

A photo of the haunted deck leading to staterooms.

Source: Forbes

The ghosts include a sailor, a lady in white, and a few children. Good thing there is no bride ghost on this ship! Like the Admiral Fell Inn, The Queen Marry capitalized on their haunted reputation and offered spooky ghost tours for guests. One of the tours is led by the paranormal investigator on the ship.

Congress Plaza Hotel: Chicago, Illinois

Here is another hotel with “guests” that check-in and never leave. The Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago is known as a prestigious place in the Windy City. Still, over the years, it also developed a reputation as the most haunted place in Chicago.

An exterior shot of the hotel / A look inside the hotel’s corridors.

Photo by Education Images, Universal Images Group, Getty Images / Source: Pinterest

The Congress Plaza Hotel opened its doors in 1893 to bring in visitors passing the city of the Chicago World’s fair. But the ghosts that stay there include notorious crime boss Al Capone and another criminal known as Peg-Leg Johnny. Each October, the hotel hosts a haunted Halloween ball, which sounds like so much fun!