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Something Wicked This Way Comes: Best Cities In the U.S. for Ghost Tours

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If you’re the type of person who counts down the days until Halloween—not because you need a pumpkin spice latte but because you love all things spooky—then this post is for you. Cities all over the U.S. have ghost tours, usually late at night, where often-costumed guides lead you in the footsteps of the dead. They’re sometimes historical, sometimes true crime or celebrity oriented, but the best of them are a window into the past. Here are some of our favorite ghost tour destinations.

Jerome, Arizona

What’s that, you’ve never heard of Jerome? That’s not surprising. Jerome was a once-thriving copper mining town, the “wickedest town in the west,” that fell on hard times thanks to a combination of the Great Depression, assorted mining disasters, and horrific disease, and is now a designated National Historic District and “ghost town” with only a few hundred full-time residents. All that bad luck and sordid history may have doomed the town, but it makes Jerome a prime location for ghost tours. The cool thing is, Jerome is just a little ways outside of Sedona, one of the premier tourist destinations in the west. Come to Sedona for the spiritual vortexes, desert hikes, and wine tasting, then take a side trip into Jerome’s ghost-filled past.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans French Quarter is considered one of the most haunted places in America. With its history of voodoo, pirates, plagues, disasters, and real-life serial killers, New Orleans—specifically the French Quarter—is ground zero for unsettled spirits of all kinds. See the house of horrors of Madame LaLaurie, the row house where Marie Laveau lived, and the hunting grounds of The Axeman. There are a multitude of tours to choose from, although the Voodoo Bone Lady comes highly recommended. And, if you get too creeped out by a ghost tour, then strolling down Bourbon Street with a hurricane or eating an order of beignets with chicory coffee at Café Du Mond is just the thing to take the chills off.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

More than 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in just three days during the battle at Gettysburg, the bloodiest conflict of the Civil War. It should come as no surprise that restless spirits are said to walk the cobblestone streets, bullet hole-riddled buildings, and surrounding battlefields of this picturesque town. Have a meal at one of the many excellent Gettysburg restaurants, lift a glass at a local brewery, then follow the swinging lantern of a costumed tour guide as they regale you with tales of the ghost of Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed during the battle.

Los Angeles, California

Much like Gettysburg, ghost tours of Los Angeles are historical of sorts, but the history is much more recent. Stroll down Hollywood Boulevard listening to stories of gangsters and showgirls, doomed actors and actresses, and murdered party girls like the Black Dahlia. Visit the Griffith Observatory and commune with the ghost of James Dean. Plus, you’re in L.A., with sunshine, beaches, and all the world-famous bars, clubs, and restaurants at your fingertips.

San Francisco, California

Head north from L.A. on the Pacific Coast Highway to your next stop: San Francisco. From the catastrophic fire of 1906 to the cutthroats of the notorious Tenderloin district, San Francisco has been home to serial killers, cult leaders, slave dens, and the infamous opium dens and brothels of the Barbary Coast. It’s now one of our most beautiful, cosmopolitan cities, but its dark history makes it the perfect spot for ghost tours. As you feast on fresh seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf, gaze across the bay to Alcatraz Island and think about the spirits that haunt that prison’s dungeons.

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, founded in 1565, is the oldest city in America. With so many generations of people passing through the St. Augustine City Gates, it should come as no surprise that the city is considered haunted. From the City Gates themselves to the Lighthouse, Old Jail, churches, and cemeteries, the many ghost tours available in St. Augustine are sure to bring you chills and thrills. And when you’ve had your fill of frights, climb aboard a sunset cruise, paddle a kayak in search of sea turtles and manatees, and dig into a fabulous meal at one of the many restaurants in town.

If you’re planning a spooky getaway, learn about why you should use a travel agent to get the most out of the experience.

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