One of my favorite hobbies when living in or visiting a new city is to explore the neighborhood via ghost tour. Any respectable city has a few ghosts, and many cities incorporate these hauntings into their tourism industry through professional walking tour companies that specialize in the spooky. Sometimes these tours can be kind of corny, but the good ones will really delve into the history of the area through the lens of its ghosts. What a great way to learn about a new city! Here's a list of some of the best cities to take a ghost tour in:
New York City, NY
Ancient ghosts and buried horrors aren't usually the first thing to come to mind when you think of the bustling city of New York. But keep in mind that this city has been around since the earliest Colonial days and has seen its share of bloodshed and death. There are many different groups that offer ghost tours of the Big Apple, but my favorite is Boroughs of the Dead. This boutique tour company offers different themed tours of various neighborhoods in Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The hand-selected guides are all passionate about both historical accuracy and the macabre. I personally recommend the Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, where you can see sites like the Merchant's House (the most haunted house in Manhattan!) and the tree used in New York's last public hanging.
Just the name of this city already conjures up images of the supernatural and macabre. But the legacy of the witch trials isn't all that haunts Salem. Quite a few companies offer ghost tours of Salem, but many of them can be quite kitschy. It you want some well-researched history with your hauntings, check out Salem Night Tour, one of the few unscripted walking tours. Trained historians and folklorists provide an all-original and custom-tailored tour as they take you on a stroll through historic downtown Salem. For fans of the witch trials, you'll see the site where Giles Corey was pressed to death and the thoroughly-haunted old Salem jail where the accused witches were imprisoned. You'll also learn about some non-witch-related hauntings, like the murdered sea captain of the Gardner-Pingree House. I didn't get the chance to take this tour on my last visit, but it's definitely top on my list!
The more history a town has, the more ghosts as well! So of course Colonial Williamsburg is a great spot to go seeking spirits. You can check out Colonial reenactors by day, then go on a lantern-lit ghost tour at night through the Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Tour Walk. As you walk down the cobblestone streets, you'll hear of hauntings dating back to the 1700s, such as the historic Wythe house where the ghost of Lady Skipwith prowls up and down the stairs in her single red shoe. The tour also takes you onto the campus of the College of William & Mary, where you learn of dead soldiers and other souls that allegedly haunt the school. What a place to get an education!
New Orleans, LA
The Big Easy is a city that has always fascinated me--in no small part because Anne Rice has imbued the area with a lasting association with vampires. But Lestat and Louis aren't the only ones haunting the city. As with New York, there's an endless supply of ghost tour companies in New Orleans, but I've heard particularly good things about French Quarter Phantoms. This locally-owned company provides you not just with a tour guide, but with a Master Storyteller, who has really done their research. They offer a few different tours, including one specifically themed around ghosts and vampires. On that one, you'll learn all about the haunted LaLaurie Mansion and dreaded vampire convent. But the best part? They let you buy a drink at the beginning to bring along as you walk. There's no better pairing than spirits with spirits!
And last but not least, how about the nation's capital? The White House may be the most famous haunted house of all, as more than a few dead presidents are said to still be in residence. Through Washington DC Ghost Tours, you can explore either the White House grounds or Capitol Hill. Spirit guides dressed in Victorian costume will give you an education on the locations at the center of American politics--from the president's chapel to the Supreme Court Building, and the Library of Congress--and the curses, tragedies, and ghosts that haunt them.
What cities would you want to explore through a ghost tour? Have you been on any of these tours or others like them? Let me know in the comments!