As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click for details.
Every Halloween – or whenever ghost hunting is trending – people ask, “Where can I find ghosts?”
They’re looking for places guaranteed to be haunted.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees, but some locations are more haunted than others.
The top 10 places to look for ghosts
Of course, you’ll ask local friends if they’ve heard of any place that’s known to be haunted.
That may sound silly, but sometimes people think “everyone knows” about a haunted spot, so they neglect to mention it.
Local newspapers and magazines usually feature noteworthy haunts in the Halloween issues. Check past years for those stories.
If all else fails, here’s where I start when I’m scouting locations for TV shows and movies.
1. Old hotels
Every old hotel has witnessed a tragedy – and has a ghost story – even if they don’t admit it.
Ask to stay in their least expensive room (because people avoid it) or their most expensive room (because that’s where some of the greatest dramas were played out).
If neither are available, choose a room on a top floor, preferably with an unattractive view out the window.
In the past, those rooms may have been where the servants and hotel staff lived. Their lives were often tragic, and those rooms may harbor residual energy at the very least.
2. Neglected cemeteries
Well-kept cemeteries may have ghosts, but the older, more neglected cemeteries are usually more haunted.
They may also be the most interesting to investigate.
You can use Google Maps to find those overlooked cemeteries.
When you visit them with a group of friends or your team, follow the same steps you’d use to investigate any haunted cemetery.
If this is your first time, here are a few tips.
First of all, never go to an isolated site alone. In fact, when visiting neglected cemeteries, I recommend a group of friends (or a team) of at least six people.
Park as close as you can to the cemetery entrance, in case you need to make a quick getaway. After all, there’s a reason people stopped visiting – and maintaining – that cemetery.
Start outside the formal entrance to the cemetery… the gate through which hearses pass. See if any spirits got that far and – seeing where they were going – halted. In some cases, they’re still waiting there, refusing to admit that they’re dead, and unwilling to see their own graves.
Then, start at the most popular entrance to the cemetery. Sometimes, that’s not the formal entrance. It might be a shortcut through the cemetery, or closest to the parking lot.
From there, walk to the back left corner of the cemetery (relative to that entrance). From my experience, if the cemetery is haunted, that corner is where you’ll find ghosts.
Unfortunately, it can also be where darker, more dangerous spirits linger. So, use caution… and remember that the living can be more dangerous than the dead.
3. Very old restaurants, or places that used to be restaurants
Between raucous parties that went very wrong, to emotional break-ups that happened over dessert, restaurants can harbor very odd energy.
Old and haunted restaurant’s “hot spots” tend to be the rest rooms (bathrooms), the kitchen, and outdoors, just outside the kitchen door (often in an alley).
You’re looking for the ghosts of people who died soon after whatever happened there… the kinds of things done and said when a person has too much to drink, and turns morose.
Other ghosts might be former kitchen staff. Often, they weren’t paid well or treated right.
A restaurant with a high rate of staff quitting is a major sign of a haunting. Truly haunted restaurants can have startling poltergeist activity… which the current owners/managers would like to stop. (Either that, or they pretend it doesn’t happen… and look very uneasy when the subject is raised.)
No matter who’s haunting the restaurant (or just outside it), they almost always want to turn back the clock and either say or do something differently. They have the idea that – if they fix things – they can resume their lives and everything will be fine.
4. Racetracks, or places that used to be racetracks
These are among the most overlooked sites for residual energy hauntings.
Racetracks are where emotions consistently run high, whether it’s tension as the crowd watches the race, or the windows where people received their winnings, or the sad walk from the track after losing money the person shouldn’t have bet in the first place.
An audio recording of a past, major race can trigger a residual energy response, or attract an actual ghost who won (or lost) it all at the track.
To find old racetracks, start at YouTube. If you’re looking for horse racetracks, click here for a list of related videos.
If you’re looking for sports car racetracks, you’ll find the most in Europe, however, you can click here for a video about abandoned US speedways, or a search including the term “NASCAR” may be helpful.
5. Colonial ministers’ homes
In Colonial times, before there were funeral parlors, ministers often accepted responsibility for tending the dead.
Those ministers’ literal parlors – today, what we might (ironically) call a living room or a reception room – were where the dead were placed for several days, prior to burial.
There, you’re not necessarily looking for ghosts of the people whose bodies had been on display during the wake and morning period. You’re just as likely to encounter ghostly energy from those who sat near the body, hoping the person was actually catatonic and would wake up.
Today, many of those old homes are restaurants or other places of business, and some may welcome ghost hunters during their off-hours. A local historical society may be a good resource to identify them.
Though in history and legend, crossroads are often associated with death, the “between worlds” and the afterlife, there’s another reason to investigate crossroads.
Simply, it’s a natural crossing of ley lines.
I’ve talked about ley lines before, especially in Salem, Massachusetts. If you extend the “Judges’ Line” in either direction, you’ll find even more haunted places.
However, there’s a lingering question: Which came first, the ley line or the roads (and energy) that flow along it?
When two ancient, busy roads cross, that’s a place to investigate. Old maps can be most helpful. Try OldMapsOnline.org.
7. Desanctified churches, redundant churches, and closed churches
Over the centuries, as populations shifted, many church sites – and adjoining churchyards (burial places) – were desanctified. (They may also be described as “redundant” or “closed churches.”
Those sites can be very haunted, and sometimes dangerously so. After all, when they were desanctified, they ceased being protected by their previous sacred status.
At those locations, the ghosts and ghostly energy you’ll most likely encounter is related to two or three kinds of spiritual energy.
First, there are the ghosts of people who died with a guilty conscience. Some of them are still trying to get into their local (but now desanctified) church to ask forgiveness.
Then there’s the burial yard. Many churches make sure the graves are either protected for the future, or moved to another location.
The cost of that – either maintenance or removals – may be beyond the budget of the church that’s had to close its doors.
So, those neglected graves may harbor some ghosts.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a minister next door to Salem, Massachusetts’ “Witch House.”
He explained that when the Witch House was moved, it was placed on land that had been part of the church’s cemetery.
At the time, the church’s staff tried to be certain all the graves had been moved, but it was long before ground-penetrating radar, and the churchyard records weren’t complete.
Add the possibility of unmarked graves, and there are good reasons for that site to be haunted: Graves may still be there, and at least partially under Witch House. That’s probably not an association some of the deceased aspired to.
Finally, there may be residual energy at the site of the closed/desanctified church. After all, people attended that church for joyous reasons and tragic ones, through good times and bad.
Realtors may be helpful in identifying those locations. Newspapers – including USAToday – sometimes write about them, as well.
8. The “creepy old house”
In or near almost every community, you’ll hear about a “creepy old house.” It’s the place kids whisper about, saying it’s haunted. Often, it’s an abandoned site, so I can’t recommend it for ghost hunting. Not without permission, at the very least.
Don’t expect much. The eeriness of the house may be due to its disrepair, or even amateur carpentry when it was originally built.
(From my experience, 90% of “haunted stairways” seem troubling because they were badly built.)
However, by exploring the history of that house and what used to be in that part of town, you may stumble upon a neglected cemetery or other sites that are truly haunted.
That’s the main reason I recommend asking teens and pre-teens about rumored ghosts and nearby haunts. If they even hint at a “the creepy house,” that may point to the most haunted part of town… even if the actual house isn’t the focal point of ghosts.
9. Where the factory workers lived
In the late 19th century, most communities had factories or mills, big or small.
The people who worked at there, also lived nearby, often in multi-family homes or other communal housing. (These may be “outsider” haunts.)
Today, many of them are apartments or condos, or even single-family homes, and almost 100% of those residences are haunted.
I lived in one in the 1990s, and I’m living in one (a different one) as I write this.
In those kinds of locations, when I mention the ghosts in our home, the neighbors look at me and say, “Of course.”
It’s as if I’d just said “the sky is blue,” or “rain is wet.”
And then they tell me about the ghosts in their homes. The topic seems so mundane to them, they’re amused that anyone is interested.
Realtors may avoid the topic, but – quietly – they’re among your most likely resources, at least in terms of general areas where several homes or businesses may be haunted.
If there was a factory or mill in the area, and mill workers lived there, you’ll find haunted residences. Some of their owners or tenants may be thrilled to tell their stories, or even invite you to investigate their haunted home.
And, of course, many actual mill buildings are haunted, but they can be dangerous (or illegal) to explore.
If you’re not sure what kinds of mills to look for in your area, see this British article about mills in Cumbria. (Often, it’s easy to overlook what may have been a thriving mill, centuries ago.)
Once you’ve identified the kinds of mills that may have been near your current location, you can use old city directories and maps to spot where they were, and where the mill workers lived. Historical societies and museums can be helpful, too.
10. Places of battles, feuds, and duels
Famous battle sites are well-known for their ghosts. However, I believe the ghostly energy may be so diluted by the energy of hundreds (or thousands) of ghost hunters trekking through the site, it’s just not that interesting any more.
On the other hand, some locations witnessed skirmishes or feuds that people have almost forgotten about. They can still provide powerful residual energy for an investigation, and perhaps a few ghosts.
And then there are the isolated parks and other locations where, at dawn, a few people would gather for a duel “to the death.”
Those are among the most overlooked and obscure haunts, but they can also have dramatic ghostly energy. After all, the duelists in Disney’s Haunted Mansion are there for a reason: They represent long-forgotten ghosts. You may have some near your home and not realize it.
At the ballroom, comming out of two portraits, these ghosts constantly duel each other and interrupt the waltz music with their gun shots. Why are they dueling? how does the effect work? which one died first? What are they names? What does fanfiction say about them?
You may find clues to these dueling locations and sites of feuds at a local public library, historical society, or family history (genealogy) library.
And finally… Your childhood home or neighborhood
Almost everyone I’ve ever met with an interest in ghosts… that interest goes back to childhood.
And most of them have a ghost story to share with me, related to their own home or a friend’s house.
If that’s you, find out who lives in that house now. Or chat with childhood friends about your shared “haunted house” memories, and see if they’re interested in ghost hunting now.
By sharing your experiences and memories, you may recall haunted places close to home.
As you can see, there may be an abundance of haunted places near you. You may need to think creatively and use historical maps and records, but it’s likely you’ll find a genuinely haunted site close to where you are right now.
Even better, you and your team may be among the first to explore it and encounter its ghosts.
Can you suggest more classic haunts, or share tips for finding them no matter where the person is? (I’m thinking about haunted bridges, abandoned castles, eerie museums, etc.)
If so, I hope you’ll leave a comment to share with others. (All comments are moderated, but I try to approve them as quickly as possible.)