October knows how to whip up a magical and supernatural experience, and it’s no surprise that travelers have been looking forward to a more experiential way of vacationing. When people want to curate the perfect travel experience for themselves, they need all of the details in order to make the best itinerary. If you are a traveler who is fond of visiting the creepy crawlies, then we have quite the list and data for you.
What We Did
SmokyMountains.com sifted through thousands of data points around each state’s most haunted locations, haunted houses, and Halloween stores in order to accurately rank each state on their Halloween spirit and place them on our Spookymeter.
- Alaska is the state with the lowest sum of Spirit Halloween stores, haunted houses, and search results for haunted location. It only has 5 known haunted houses, 4 Spirit Halloween stores, and an average of 36,300 search results for their most haunted location – Begich Towers.
- California is home to the most sought after haunted location, Alcatraz. There are over 2,000,000 search results for Alcatraz hauntings. California also has over 170 Spirit Halloween stores and over 120 known haunted houses.
- The Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico is the most haunted hotel that you can still currently stay at. On average, it has over 800,000 search results on how haunted and scary it is.
California and Utah Ranked as the Top Spooky States in the U.S.
When it comes to all things haunted, California has a good handle on it. California is the state with the most Spirit Halloween stores (172 to be exact). For its most haunted location, Alcatraz has on average 2,240,000 search results that populate via Google search. That’s the most out of 1,100+ haunted locations that we researched. To add to these high numbers, it takes second place for the number of haunted houses – while Ohio takes first place for this category at 135.
Utah’s most haunted location is Union Station. Union Station is known to be haunted by paranormal activity. So much so, that it has 1,044,000 search results on average via Google talking about how haunted and scary this Utah location is, as well as the stories of the woman and children who roam about this old railroad station. Utah is also home to almost 30 haunted houses and 23 Spirit Halloween stores.
When it comes to the least spooky states, there are a few that hit the mark. Alaska has the overall lowest amount of search results for its most haunted location, Begich Towers. It also has only 4 Spirit Halloween stores and 5 haunted houses. On top of all of this, Alaska also has the lowest ratings when it comes to its haunted houses. On average, haunted houses in Alaska are rated as 4 stars, while most states have above 4 stars. The state with the least amount of Halloween stores, South Dakota, has only 2 Spirit Halloweens, 13 haunted houses, and less than 200,000 search results for its most haunted location – The Washington Pavilion.
Alcatraz: America’s Most Haunted Location
It’s no surprise that Alcatraz is known for its epic hauntings and restless ghosts. Infamous criminals like Al Capone and The “Birdman” are just two of a long list of dangerous inmates that spent time here. Alcatraz is so well known for its haunting history, that you can actually take a haunted tour of the facility during the nighttime. Some people go so far as spending the night at Alcatraz prison by jumping over hoops to get a permit that allows them to do so…
While Alcatraz is the top haunted location, a few other haunted locations also quickly rose to the top of the list. The University of New Hampshire is known to be haunted by a lady in white, haunting footsteps and stompings at night, as well as whispers of a female voice. Another university, Iowa State University, is also no stranger to the legends and tales of spirits haunting its corridors. There’s apparently a nurse from World War I that haunts the campus…
Then, there are places like Ashley’s in Florida. Over 800,000 search results are dedicated to the mysterious hauntings of this Florida restaurant. Ashley’s is known to be the most haunted restaurant in America, with several ghost hunters actually proclaiming that ghosts reside in the building. The most popular tale is one about a ghost named Ethel Allen who allegedly still haunts this restaurant. In fact, the ghost stories from this restaurant are so well-known that people actually include the stories in their reviews of the restaurant.
Slumber with the Ghosts and Ghouls of these Haunted Hotels and Homes…
Part of the lure that makes haunted locations so exciting is the possibilities of encountering ghosts or spirits while also reflecting on the history and stories of the location. Something that makes haunted hotels and homes particularly exciting is the opportunity to spend the night at them to see for yourself if it is really as haunted as other people say…
In order to pick out the most haunted hotels and homes, we chose the top 5 locations per each category with the most search results on average. At the top of our hotels list, we have the Plaza Hotel in New Mexico. The Plaza Hotel has over 830,000 search results on average talking about the legends and ghosts of this hotel. Stories about the former owner’s spirit and boiler room hauntings are some of the first stories that come to mind.
Other hotels like The Queen Mary in California and the Rose Hotel in Illinois can also still be booked if you are looking to enjoy some haunted happenings while you slumber. The Queen Mary is a ship that is transformed into a hotel in Long Beach with a long, haunted history. You can even book twilight encounters and spiritual dining experiences to add to the ambiance. The Rose Hotel in Illinois is said to be haunted by former staff and has over 340,000 search results that focus on the details.
When it comes to haunted homes, most are available for tours and visits, but not for an overnight stay. Ravenswood in Missouri is one historical home and landmark with tales of unexplained music and flickering lights. Another haunted home you can visit is based in Philadelphia. Cliveden of the National Trust is a country house that was home to seven generations of the Chew family, and with seven generations comes generations of hauntings.
These Are the Top 5 Most Haunted Locations Per Category
Great ghosts think alike apparently, because there seems to be a trend in haunts. We’ve discussed hotels and a couple of universities, but there are several other categories that remained constant in our research. We noticed that there were several cemeteries, prisons, hospitals, and theaters that also earned their “haunted location” badges.
Capitol Theatre has over 500,000 spooky search results dedicated to the hauntings to this Florida location. From orbs appearing on film to alarms randomly going off in the building, there is enough reason for suspicion. Besides the Capitol Theatre, there is the Bijou Theater in Tennessee with over 75,000 articles dedicated to the hauntings, Strand Cinema in Maine with over 37,000 search results, and the Orpheum Theatre in Arizona with an average of 44,950 spooky search results via Google.
As far as prisons go, while Alcatraz takes first place, there are others that have some seriously spooky tales. Scott County Jail in Tennessee has an average of 280,000 search results dedicated to the hauntings — most of which talk about the third floor of the jail in relation to paranormal activity. Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania also made the list with an average of 100,850 search results, and Ohio State Reformatory made the list with an average of 56,800 haunted search results.
Hospitals and cemeteries are also no stranger to eerie, paranormal stories. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wisconsin has over 205,000 spooky articles — most of which hitting on the story about a man in black wandering the halls. Then, there is the obvious, cemeteries that have wandering spirits… The Evergreen Cemetery in California, the Greenwood Cemeteries in Florida and Minnesota, and the Oak Grove Cemetery in Virginia are just to name a few.
Venture Off Into A Full-On Spook-tacular Halloween
As we are heading further into October, we hope that these lists have made you determine which locations to visit to enjoy a truly spooky Halloween and fall season. These are open year-round, however, so don’t limit yourself to only visiting during this time period. Most places are more than likely to be less crowded during off-season.
Be sure to snap a pic and share with us on your social media: here is our Instagram. We can’t wait to see the Halloween and spooky spirit!
In order to find the most haunted location per state, we gathered a list of 10-20 knowingly haunted locations per state. We then used Google search operators in order to find an accurate number of search results for the specified location. For the Spooky ranking, we used these search results and also gathered a list of Spirit Halloween stores per state in combination with the number of haunted houses in each state. Finally, we used all of this data alongside the average reviews for these haunted houses to create our spooky meter.
This was updated in October 2023