I Heart My Spooky City

To flout superstition, here are 13 of the spookiest spots on Earth, suggested by the locals who know them best:

If you’re planning a trip to northern England (or Scotland), make plans to visit Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, a place that lives up to its name. The medieval castle’s most consistently reported ghost is the “blue boy.” Thanks for the tip, @CruiseMiss!

Anyone visiting Gettysburg, Pennsylvania will eventually walk by the Farnsworth House Inn. Occupied by Confederate sharpshooters during the battle that put the town on the map (the only civilian killed in the three-day battle was killed by a bullet fired from the Farnsworth House), this infamous inn was also the site of Intelligent Travel Editor Leslie Trew Magraw’s first job. “Believe me, things definitely go bump in the night there,” she says.

The Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada oozes opulence…and ghostly emanations. Many guests have reported seeing ghosts at the foot of their bed at night. Request room number 202 if you want to test your mettle. Props to @Marctographer for this one.

Resurrection Cemetery on the edge of Chicago’s South Side. The tale of Resurrection Mary is well known in Chicago and beyond. Several men have reported picking up a female hitchhiker in a party dress who asked to be let out of the car when they neared the cemetery. Legend has it that she was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Thanks, @KarenGeddeis!


@FranceTourismPR suggests visiting the Catacombs of Paris, a subterranean ossuary that houses the remains of approximately 6 million people. Take in graffiti dating back to the 18th century while you navigate narrow passageways lined with bones in this long-abandoned stone mine.

Folks traveling to the City of Brotherly Love aren’t usually looking for scares, but there are plenty of them at Eastern State Penitentiary (thanks, @AliMarieWatkins!). What is considered to be the world’s first true penitentiary (it opened in 1829) required solitary confinement as a means of penitence — and also employed torturous regimens to punish prisoners. If you’re planning a trip to Philadelphia, see it for yourself on a “Terror Behind the Walls” tour.

When Traveler Senior Editor Jayne Wise thinks about scary places, taking a hike through bleak, rainy Dartmoor in late October springs to mind, a time, she says “when it gets dark early and the vast moor suggests all sorts of spooky stories” — including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles, which is set there. “It doesn’t help that Dartmoor is the site of a maximum-security prison,” she says.

Visitors to Perth can stay at the Rose & Crown Hotel, the oldest hotel in Western Australia. The Georgian-style inn once operated as a courthouse, and is said to be haunted by the ghosts of convicts and politicians. @SBPRAbook: Cheers, mate.

On the other side of Oz lies the Manly Quarantine Station. When British colonists began arriving in force in Sydney, immigrants suspected of carrying disease were housed here, often in miserable conditions that led to their death. Nowadays, curious travelers can sleep over at the complex, which is now managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Just watch out for the ghostly girl who is said to take tourists by the hand and lead them around the grounds. Thanks to @rachelnacilla for submitting this one.

Thanks to @GretchenFennema for tipping us off to Shakers Cigar Bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many ghosts are said to haunt this wooden barrel factory turned cigar bar, but a little girl in 19th-century dress has been the most persistent sighting. She’s said to occupy the ladies room, so make sure to look under the stall!

Lawang Sewu in Semarang, Indonesia is said to be haunted by headless ghosts that wander the corridors and a Dutch woman who allegedly killed herself in the building (Lawang Sewu was constructed in the mid-19th century as the headquarters for the Dutch Indies Rail Company). The legend is so strong that it was a setting for a 2007 horror film. Thanks to @andanesian and @exfamaya for the tip!

Who knew it, but rural Ohio is spooked by spirits, at least according to George W. Stone, a contributing editor at Traveler and alumnus of Kenyon College. Stone says students have seen ghosts “moving furniture in dorm rooms, howling about a fire, swimming laps where pools no longer exist,” and more. “It’s frightful enough to make a college kid drink beer!”

Erin Block, former editorial assistant at Traveler, has another campus creep out for us — at her alma mater in Pittsburgh. She says legend has it that the Cathedral of Learning is haunted by four men who were killed by a loose beam during the building’s construction in the 1920s. “The foreman was afraid he would be held responsible for their deaths and had the remaining construction workers bury their bodies in the wet cement,” she says. Ghost sightings have been reported (mainly on the 13th floor) ever since.

Happy Halloween!

What’s the spookiest thing or place about where you live? Tell us on Twitter by pinging @NatGeoTraveler and using the #spookycity hashtag.


  1. Christian Rene Friborg
    November 22, 2012, 10:07 pm

    A friend of mine was able to visit the Catacombs of Paris and she said the place was really creepy, given it houses remains of several dead French people, not to mention it was quite dank with its narrow passageways