Elijah Bond's Ouija Board Grave in Green Mount Cemetery.

Eerie escapes: 10 lesser-known spooky cities to visit for Halloween

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October 11, 2023
photosounds // Shutterstock

Eerie escapes: 10 lesser-known spooky cities to visit for Halloween

Americans are making a Halloween comeback. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 7 in 10 Americans plan to participate in Halloween-related activities this year, up from a dip in 2020, when barely 3 in 5 people got into the spooky spirit.

Halloween is an incarnation of the Celtic festival Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), which celebrates the end of the harvest season. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, European immigrants brought Halloween traditions to the United States. Trick-or-treating for children grew in popularity by the 1950s, and today, adults also have plenty of festivities to choose from to get in on the fun.

Tourism typically picks up again throughout the fall, especially on Halloween in towns known for their ghost stories and witch tales. If navigating through large crowds in Salem, Massachusetts, New Orleans, or Savannah, Georgia, sounds too scary, consider lesser-known spooky cities that deliver plenty of Halloween fright and fun.

Stacker analyzed local traditions, ghost legends, and planned events to compile this list of 10 cities you may not expect to be a treat to visit for Halloween.

This list includes a bit of everything, from family-friendly events to history-lover locales. Naturally (or should we say, supernaturally?), there are plenty of opportunities to see or hear something that may not be of this world.

Costumed participants in Anika’s Halloween Parade.
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Akerri // Shutterstock

Anoka, Minnesota

Anoka has organized community-wide Halloween events since 1920, putting it in the running for the U.S. city with the oldest city-run Halloween tradition. Costumed children have marched in Anoka's Halloween parade since its first run. By 1937, Anoka declared itself the "Halloween Capital of the World." Congress reaffirmed the city's declaration in 2002.

Visitors today can participate in several events that run from September through October, including walking ghost tours, pub crawls, and pumpkin carving contests. The city's Halloween parade is still its main event and stretches 1.5 miles long. Excited merrymakers wake up as early as 4 a.m. to reserve spaces on the parade route.

Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.
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photosounds // Shutterstock


Literary fans may know Baltimore as the home to the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, a National Historic Site. But Baltimore has more macabre historical offerings.

Green Mount Cemetery has some of the country's most famous—and infamous—people buried in its plots. President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, is buried in the cemetery. Arguably the most unique headstone goes to Elijah Bond, the inventor who patented the Ouija board. The back of his headstone contains a replica of an Ouija board, which makes for a special visit for anyone who enjoys communicating with the dead.

Low angle view of The Emily Morgan Hotel in San Antonio.
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Rajarajan Kannan // Shutterstock

San Antonio

San Antonio is known as one of Texas' most haunted cities, so it's fitting it's home to one of the country's most haunted hotels. The Emily Morgan Hotel has accounts of more than a dozen paranormal activities happening throughout the building. Room 810 may be the most notorious, with its guests saying they've heard whispers when alone or had an eerie feeling of being watched. The Gothic-style building was originally a medical building, which included a morgue and crematorium.

Ghost-chasers won't have to go far to find other paranormal hot spots; the Alamo is nearby and also known for its ghostly encounters.

Halloween decorations in front of the old courthouse in St. Helens.
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Randy Redfield // Shutterstock

St. Helens, Oregon

Fans of the "Twilight" films have made St. Helens a must-visit alternative for Halloween fun. The small town is the real place modeled after the saga's fictional town of Port Angeles. Visitors can even book a stay in "Twilight" heroine Bella Swan's house.

Beyond the vampire attractions, St. Helens is known for its annual Spirit of Halloweentown celebration, which lasts from mid-September through October. Highlights include a meet and greet with some actors from "Twilight" and a separate event with cast members from "Halloweentown," a 1998 movie filmed in St. Helens.

St Augustine Lighthouse at night.
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Carmen Ziss // Shutterstock

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine could be seen as the older relative of Savannah, Georgia, with just as many ghostly vibes. The city is North America's oldest continually occupied European settlement, established by Spain 168 years before the British set up Georgia.

St. Augustine's lighthouse has had several ghost sightings, particularly of three girls who drowned at a nearby construction site in 1873. Visitors can tour historical sites at the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, which hosts weekend candlelight tours in October that teach the spiritual and mourning practices of the city's 19th-century inhabitants.

Private companies offer citywide ghost tours that visit other notable spooky places like the Old Jail Museum, St. Francis Inn, and local cemeteries year-round.

Spooky cobwebs, candles, and skull.
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Albion, Idaho

Southern Idaho may not be the first place Halloween enthusiasts think to visit, but the less than 300-person town of Albion should be on any ghost lover's list.

People have reported encounters with the dead at the abandoned Albion Normal School, which was once a training school for teachers in the early 20th century. Some visitors have said they left with unexplained scratches on their bodies after walking through the haunted buildings.

Every October, organizers transform the old school into the Haunted Mansions of Albion, a ticketed walk-through event complete with costumed clowns, zombies, and ghosts. Guests can stay at the former school year-round and even host events on the property, as long as they're not afraid of a few uninvited guests showing up.

A scuba diver with a light exploring the Bonne Terre mine.
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Keith Philpott // Getty Images

Bonne Terre, Missouri

Exploring abandoned areas of the underworld may sound like less of a traditional Halloween trip, but that's what makes visiting the Bonne Terre Mine such a thrill.

The St. Joe Minerals Corporation extracted millions of tons of lead from the mine from 1864 to 1972. Water seeped into the abandoned mine, creating the world's largest subterranean lake. Certified open-water scuba divers with nerves of steel can dive into the 17-mile-long lake.

For those not interested in diving, walking and boat tours are also available through the world's largest human-made cavern.

Morro Bay witches and warlocks paddle.
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Courtesy of Visit Morro Bay

Morro Bay, California

Subterranean waters may give some the heebie-jeebies, in which case a bewitching morning gliding on a paddleboard may be a more relaxing choice. Morro Bay is credited with starting the annual Witches and Warlocks Paddle. The event has now spread to other cities across the country. Anyone with a witch or warlock costume can participate, and proceeds for the event benefit the local food bank coalition.

Interior of the Pfister Hotel.
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The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee is a must-see for those who love Halloween and Major League Baseball. It's the hotel where visiting baseball teams sleep when they're in town to play the Milwaukee Brewers, but maybe it gives the home team an otherworldly advantage.

Multiple players have reported strange things happening to them in the hotel; some even claim to have seen ghosts. Many players admit to feeling the heebie-jeebies because of televisions turning on, lights flickering, or objects moving on their own.

Hotel management tends to downplay the spirited stories, but legend has it that the ghost of the hotel's original owner, Charles Pfister, can occasionally be seen walking the halls.

Military park in Vicksburg.
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Kevin Esterline // Shutterstock

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Vicksburg's important role in the Civil War sealed its spot in American history but also fated one of its homes as one of the most haunted places in the South. During the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863, the McRaven House served as a field hospital. The house witnessed cannon fire and sheltered fallen soldiers. A year later, angry Union troops shot the home's owner, John H. Bobb, 100 yards away from the house. He reportedly continues to haunt the site.

Bobb's ghost is joined by highwayman Andrew Glass, the house's original owner. He died the century before Bobb, but not before making a career of robbing people traveling on the Natchez Trace. According to McRaven House tour guides, the most active spirit is a woman who lived in the home and died shortly after giving birth to a child.

In October, the McRaven House hosts candlelight tours that take visitors through the home's secret passageways and share the stories of the apparitions while in period costume.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.

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