It’s the season for scary, and for a lot of us that means it’s time visit your favorite local haunt!
Haunts are events where the audience travels through a maze decorated with scary props and filled with actors jumping out and scaring people as they pass by. They range from homemade ones built in people’s front yards to elaborate multistory professional productions with lines stretching out for ages.
But what about haunts built on actual paranormal sites? Wouldn’t that be a special thrill?
The United States has no shortage of paranormal sites and more than a few of them pull out all the stops for Halloween, tapping into the cursed legacies of those places to scare new generations of horror fans. Here are five of the most amazing haunts based on real life paranormal locations.
Eastern State Penitentiary, PA
Before it shut down in 1971, inmates of this prison were tortured by sadistic guards using unusual and cruel methods. Some were soaked in freezing water outside in the middle of winter while others had chains looped from their tongues to their wrists and bound behind their back. Meant to hold 250 people, the overcrowded prison actually held around 1,700 inmates. The ghosts of those criminals are said to lurk around the cells of this National Historic Landmark.
If walking through a Haunted Prison is more your style, then you should check out this extreme haunted house near Philadelphia. There are 6 interactive options here, and you get to decide "touch" or "no touch" before entering. If you want to go for the full, immersive, terrifying experience then get ready to be taken from your group, grabbed by "prisoners" using you to break out .. and much more. Even better, according to some, the penitentiary is actually haunted. On the site it says: Many people believe that Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. As early as the 1940s, officers and inmates reported mysterious visions and eerie experiences in the ancient prison. With the growing interest in paranormal investigations, Eastern State Penitentiary may now be the most carefully studied building in the United States. Nearly 60 paranormal investigation teams explore the site each year, capturing extensive evidence of ghosts within the penitentiary walls.
The Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA
I’m a native San Franciscan and this location was one of the regular haunt locations we used to visit. This imposing mansion, located in a cheerful Northern California neighborhood, is the home of Sarah Winchester, one of the last members of the Winchester family of gun manufacturers. The house inside is a mad jigsaw puzzle of hidden passages, crawl spaces, staircases that lead to nowhere and doors that open onto brick walls.
According to legend, after the death of her husband and children, Sarah Winchester consulted a seer. The seer told her that the family was haunted by the spirits of all the people killed by Winchester firearms. The only way to disrupt their attacks was to confuse the spirits with a house that went on forever.
Sarah never stopped working on the house after that. The sound of hammers never stopped falling on the property as it grew wider and more confusing. Today the site is a popular place for Northern Californians to visit. If you're in the area, be sure to take their late night flashlight tour.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, WV
Much of the history of mental health care in this country is a history of poor quality treatment, overcrowding, and brutal living conditions. A notorious example is the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
Opened in 1864, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was built to hold 250 patients, it held 2,400 at its peak. With such powerful overcrowding, as well as the generally poor understanding of mental health treatment, the asylum became a horror show of inhumane conditions and violence between the staff and the inmates.
During Halloween, the nighttime tours take a more sinister air. Hospitals of Horror are a series of scary events featuring flashlight tours, ghost hunts, and even zombie paintball battles!
Sleepy Hollow, NY
The small town of Sleepy Hollow in upstate New York is immediately evocative of colonial America. From Washington Irving’s famous story of the Headless Horsemen to the eerie haunted cemetery where Irving has been laid to rest. There’s an otherworldly atmosphere to the town nestled among the slowly changing leaves.
For those of you who want some colonial scares, the Horseman’s Hollow is a favorite destination for horror fans. The town has been cursed by the presence of the Headless Horsemen and terrifying monsters haunt the woods. Take a visit to this sleepy town if you dare….
USS Lexington, Corpus Christi, TX
Haunted houses and haunted insane asylums are all very well and good, but can you imagine spending a night in a haunted battleship?
The USS Lexington, known as the Blue Ghost, is anchored in Corpus Christi. According to the legends, the ship is haunted by the ghost of an engine room operator who was killed in battle. Strange lights and slamming doors have been reported by workers and tour groups who visit its claustrophobic hallways.
For the month of October, the ship is taken over by monsters! Can you escape this dangerous relic of the past?
Got any favorites we missed? Let us know in the comments.