We all remember the images that haunted our childhood nightmares: ghostly women wringing their hands and wailing, vampires with fangs dripping blood, enormous monsters lurking just behind our closet door. The only way to truly capture the creepy-crawly terror you knew as a kid is to go to the real thing: haunted towns. These are our picks for the best eerie Halloween towns in North America that will make your hair stand on end:
Check In, Never Check Out
Waverly Hill Sanatorium, a closed hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, was initially used for advanced tuberculosis patients, so it’s no surprise that there have been over 60,000 deaths here. It was repurposed in 1962 as a geriatrics hospital, only to be shut down 20 years later because of many allegations of patient abuse. Most of the gruesome stories told about this place have been proven completely and chillingly true.
What are the creepiest parts? Room 502 and the Death Tunnel, no question. Room 502 is said to be haunted by the ghosts of nurses who killed themselves there, while the Death Tunnel refers to the passageway beneath the hospital where the staff stashed dead patients’ bodies. The bodies were later taken out of the tunnel by train for burial, but the image of dozens of corpses piled beneath the building is certainly a grisly one. Book an all-night tour here, as it’s practically a guarantee that you’ll jump every time you see a shadow move.
Walk Through Hundreds of Ghosts
If you’re looking for more ghosts than you could possibly count, Ontario’s Niagara-on-the-Lake is the place to visit. The town’s bloody, war-torn history has provided the background for hundreds of disquieting ghost stories. The town’s “Ghost Walk” tours have nearly too many stories to share. The guides get to choose their favorites, so you can take several tours and have a different experience every time.
“Sure, they may have a lot of ghost stories, but are they scary ones?” you may ask. The answer: Absolutely. Hear tales of headless soldiers, angry ghosts wreaking havoc on visitors, strange blue lights that appear only at night, and dead brides walking the streets crying. Spending just a day here will give you enough scary stories to terrify kids around the campfire for years to come.
Don’t Lose Your Head In Sleepy Hollow
The town may be famous for Washington Irving’s fictional Headless Horseman, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few real ghost stories in Sleepy Hollow, and the locals certainly go all out to create a deliciously spooky atmosphere. Take a tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery or a nighttime hayride through town and look for spirits floating in the night. Whether you read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in school or not, it’s hard not to get sucked into the dark tale of Ichabod Crane fleeing frantically from the Horseman.
There’s nothing quite as scary as walking through a building where long-dead men and women may still be present. Save the cheesy horror movies for another time and go see the real thing. Find just enough nightmare fodder to scare yourself silly until it’s time to visit again next year.
Which haunted town are you planning on checking out this Halloween?