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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Most Horrifying Cities to Visit for Halloween

City Traveler Blog

Most Horrifying Cities to Visit for Halloween

Now that Halloween is just around the corner, it’s time to finalize your costume details, your pumpkin design and of course, where you’re going to spend the spooky day. Whether you’re staying home or willing to travel, we’ve compiled a list of the most horrifying cities to visit for Halloween -- a list of places with a dose of darkness that is fitting for such a holiday.

1. San Francisco, CA

As one of the oldest cities on the West Coast, San Francisco is also, without a doubt, one of the most horrifying cities of all. The list is extensive, but aside from the tormented souls that still roam Chinatown and the policeman spirit that walks Golden Gate Park at night, there are 3 attractions in San Francisco that catapult SF to the top of the list of scariest cities to visit for Halloween:

San Francisco Arts Institute: It doesn't take a superstitious person to know that when you dig up and transport bodies to make way for a new building, you’ve likely opened a can of ghostly worms. That said, the SFAI was built on top of an old cemetery; since its construction in 1926, builders, employees and guests alike have all encountered some lingering tenants.

The Golden Gate Bridge: Although it is one of America’s proudest engineering marvels, this famous bridge also hosts more suicides than any other point on the planet. Built in 1937, The Golden Gate Bridge has seen more than 1,000 successful suicides — and that doesn’t count the number of failed or never-reported attempts.

Alcatraz: While it is now a popular tourist attraction, Alcatraz has, in the past, been the home of ancient Native Americans, a military fort and barracks and, most recently, a brutal federal penitentiary with a dark past. A maximum-security facility like no other, Alcatraz housed many of the most horrific criminals in U.S. history, some of whom died there, and is now widely considered a “portal to another dimension.”


2. Chicago, IL

Between the 6,000 Confederate soldiers and sailors buried at Oak Woods Cemetery during the Civil War, the gross number of murdered bodies dumped like garbage by mob bosses, and the hundreds of residents killed in The Great Chicago Fire — not to mention Al Capone’s notorious Valentine’s Day Massacre — Chicago is widely considered to be one of the most haunted cities in all of the world. Yes, Chicago is a city that has claimed many lives before their time, and it doesn’t take long to realize that the chilled wind is not the only thing making the hair on the back of your neck stand up...


3. Philadelphia, PA

The city of Philadelphia is the site of much history, but none more interesting than the sordid past of the Eastern State Penitentiary. Now a National Historic Landmark open to the public, ESP once served as a tight-gripped correctional facility that hosted infamous criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and mob boss Al Capone; ESP is well-known for the extremely harsh methods of incarceration that were employed there to keep the prisoners at bay.

Twenty-three-hour lockdowns seem gentle in comparison to measures like the gruesome “Iron Gag,” which attached a prisoner's tongue to his wrists and ripped it out if he moved. It's no wonder that the Philadelphia facility is now known for its unexplained eerie sounds of whispering, laughing and crying, and has become famous for its haunted tours near Halloween. A must-see haunted house if you’re in Philadelphia!


4. Southern California

Do not let the glitz and glam of upscale Southern California fool you into thinking it doesn’t have its darker side, because it surely does. In fact, there are multiple SoCal locations that are active hot-spots for paranormal activity and unexplainable behaviors.

The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, a resort built in 1888, has had its fair share of guests from across the years that have yet to check out. Most notably, Kate Morgan checked into the hotel in 1892, and after the love of her life never showed up, she was found dead at the bottom of staircase near the hotel — suicide from heartbreak. These days, her ghost still roams the grounds and makes itself seen from time to time.

Further up the coast from San Diego, The Queen Mary in Long Beach is a mammoth ship that was permanently docked and converted into a luxury hotel. These days, it's noted for faucets and lights that randomly turn on and off, phones that ring with no one on the other line, and a host of eerie apparitions, including the spirit of a 17-year-old sailor, ghostly children playing about, and a tall dark-haired man appearing in a 1930’s style suit.


5. Atlanta, GA

Whether they’re real-life haunts or manufactured frights, there are a number of notable Atlanta attractions that are worth visiting this Halloween — all of which are sure to spook!

When it comes to real-life haunts, The Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta is an old actors’ hangout that has reported mysterious voices, spirits lurking in both the men’s and women’s dressing rooms, and a lone figure that often walks the stage's catwalk at night. Meanwhile, a house that was built 100 miles from Atlanta in 1797 and later transported into the city is now an upscale restaurant known as Anthony’s — a place that has employees flat-out refusing to work in the house alone because of an unexplained presence that watches them work and invisible footsteps that can be heard walking up and down the staircase at night.

As far as manufactured frights are concerned, the Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta is a legendary walk-through Halloween attraction that has been featured on The Travel Channel and The Today Show and was the film location for the movie Zombieland. It has been named by as one of the top-five premiere haunted houses in the nation.

Whether it’s real or not, any of these haunted attractions makes Atlanta one of the scariest cities to visit this Halloween!


6. New York, NY

When you have one of the oldest cities in the nation, filled with more people than any other, you’re bound to have some dark corners. Several New York City attractions are filled with tall tales of terror, like that of SoHo's Manhattan Bistro. There, it's said that the ghost of Juliana Elmore Sands, a woman who was thrown by her fiance into the basement well and left for dead in 1799, still roams the restaurant. In New York, however, the real haunted attraction is Mount Misery Road.

Located in the West Hills area of Long Island, Mount Misery Road rests on a secluded nature preserve in an up-scale community; however, it’s not as peaceful as it seems. The name and setting couldn't be more storybook – the narrow roads are hardly lit, and many have reported extreme paranormal activity within the woods, including misty apparitions rising from the road, ghostly faces in the trees, a demon dog that roams the woods as if hunting, and a Lady in White that walks along the road side, appearing and disappearing at will.


7. Salem, MA

Although Boston has its own bragging rights in the realm of hauntings, the self-proclaimed Witch City, USA — Salem, Mass. — is a more suited candidate for Halloween tourism because of its famed history in the Dark Arts.

Less than 20 miles from Boston, Salem is the setting for the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. During this shady moment in U.S. history, three women were accused of practicing witchcraft; the initial trial against the three grew into wide-spread paranoia, and over 150 women were eventually arrested and charged. Around 20 of these women were hanged and allegedly haunt the city of Salem to this very day.

In addition to the "Ghosts of Witches Past," Salem is also the site of the Joshua Ward House, one of the most haunted places in America. Because it was the home of the man that served as Sheriff during the notorious trials, and is said to have the body of one of the accused buried below, the Joshua Ward House is an obvious hot-spot for historical hauntings and other Halloween folklore.

If you’re ever in Boston, the short trip up the highway would be well worth the scare!


8. Seattle, WA

Both water and fault lines are believed to be perfect corridors for the paranormal, and because Seattle has both, it’s no surprise that it has a streak of horror in its history. As many know, Seattle is the city where Ted Bundy did most of his damage on his way to brutally killing over 30 young women and becoming one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Seattle also offers The Market Ghost Tour through Pike Place Market, named one of the top ten ghost tours in 2010 by This spectral tour includes walks through Seattle’s first mortuary, the eerie remnants of a cemetary, and a historic brothel that still has a mysterious red glow cast on its side.

Besides, although it’s a major tourist attraction in Seattle, the Space Needle at night has quite an ominous presence -- peering over you no matter where you are.


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