- New York
If you’re curious about paranormal encounters in eerie spots, you can explore more than 90 places in New York State.
The state is famed for the glitz of New York City, the scenic Adirondack and Catskill mountains, the wonder of Niagara Falls and the relaxing beaches of the Great Lakes Region. With its abundance of ghostly landmarks, though, you’ll want to add the spooky places on the Haunted History Trail of New York State to travel plans. Whether you’re visiting cities or exploring mountains, here are nine destinations to get you started.
Rolling Hills Asylum – Greater Niagara Region
The Greater Niagara Region includes world-famous Niagara Falls, where you can take a cruise all the way up to the towering cascade, as well as the city of Buffalo, home to a revitalized waterfront, seven Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and its famous Buffalo-style chicken wings smothered in a spicy red sauce. Featured on TV shows such as “Ghost Adventures” and “Ghost Hunters,” the circa 1827 Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany is considered one of the most-haunted sites in the USA. There were more than 1,700 reported deaths during its shady history. You might encounter a few spirits during a guided ghost tour, historical walk or an overnight ghost hunt.
A full moon glowing over the Rolling Hills Asylum
Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse & Veterans Park Museum – Chautauqua-Allegheny Region
Since 1827, the Dunkirk Lighthouse has guided boats traveling Lake Erie and the Erie Canal. It’s still an active lighthouse with an active ghost population. Are they attracted to the museum’s collection of war artifacts, or are the mysterious apparitions coming from lighthouse keepers who lingered in the afterlife? Decide for yourself during a guided or private ghost hunt. When your investigation is complete, enjoy popular Western New York activities such as the beaches of Lake Erie, touring the National Comedy Center’s Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum or visiting the Chautauqua Institute, a seasonal destination hosting lecturers and events in the arts and humanities.
The Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse, known for its active spirit presence
Historic Palmyra William Phelps General Store & Historic Palmyra Historical Museum – Finger Lakes Region
About 35 kilometers southeast of Rochester, Palmyra is the birthplace of the Latter-day Saints movement. The town was founded in 1789 – predating the construction of the Erie Canal by nearly 40 years – and retains significant sites, including the Smith Family Farm and Sacred Grove, where Joseph Smith reported his first visions. Where are the ghosts? Pretty much everywhere. Palmyra is known as the most-haunted place in the Finger Lakes Region. Daily ghost hunts and regular paranormal special events are available at the Palmyra History Museum, brimming with antiques in its 23 rooms, and the William Phelps General Store, a retail time capsule built in 1826.
Waiting to enter the William Phelps General Store, built in 1826
Fort Ontario State Historic Site – 1,000 Islands-Seaway Region
History buffs and paranormal enthusiasts are in for a treat at Fort Ontario at Lake Ontario, an hour north of the college town of Syracuse. The original fort was built in 1755; the current fort is the fourth, built on the ruins of the previous three. Hundreds of people perished here, and 77 are buried at the site – no wonder strange noises and eerie orbs are reported even in daylight. Explore the fort on your own during the day, or book a guided ghost tour at night. In the 1,000 Islands-Seaway Region, save time for a boat ride of the archipelago in the Saint Lawrence Seaway. There are dozens of lighthouses and stunning castles to see and explore.
Daylight paranormal sightings reported at Fort Ontario State Historic Site
Hyde Hall – Central New York Region
Once the home of American author James Fenimore Cooper, Cooperstown is the self-proclaimed birthplace of baseball and site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (which is also thought to be haunted; just ask the staff). You’ll also find Hyde Hall, a National Historic Landmark and a New York State Historic Site. Built in the early 1800s for wealthy landowner George Clarke, the mansion is said to be haunted by Clarke and several other spirits, who make their presence known through footsteps, knocking and as sudden apparitions. The TV show “Ghost Hunters” even monitored the mansion’s paranormal activity during a Halloween special. Guided historical tours are available during daytime hours from May to October. Ghost tours can be scheduled by reservation, or you can join other ghost fanatics for an after-hours paranormal experience.
Antique-filled rooms of Hyde Hall, said to be frequented by ghosts
Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tours – Capital-Saratoga Region
Saratoga Springs is a charming destination known for its beautiful architecture, bustling downtown, impressive arts and culture scene, and thoroughbred horse racing. Many may not realize that it’s also drawing attention as a hotbed of paranormal activity and hauntings. Reserve a walking tour with Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tours, which combines a local history lesson with otherworldly encounters from May to November. You could glimpse a shadow of Old Smoke, the Canfield Casino’s resident ghost; Angeline, the so-called Witch of Saratoga; or Hattie, who still hangs around her old restaurant.
The Batcheller Mansion Inn, one of the stops on Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tours
Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company – Adirondack Region
New York’s Adirondack Mountains are the very definition of natural beauty and an outdoor-lover’s paradise. The largest protected wilderness in the lower 48 states, Adirondack Park encompasses 3,200 kilometers of hiking trails, dozens of mountain peaks and 3,000 ponds and lakes. Ghost hunters can stop in Plattsburgh for a walk with the Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company. Guides wearing period costumes carry flickering lanterns through the darkened streets as they take guests through four unique tours featuring spooky local tales. Excursions are available for downtown Plattsburgh, the State University of New York campus and the Old Post Cemetery.
On a ghost tour outing in Plattsburgh with a costumed tour guide
Burn Brae Mansion – Catskills Region
The Catskills, one of New York’s most popular holiday destinations, attracts visitors to the pristine mountain terrain dotted with charming, artsy villages. Outdoors enthusiasts enjoy hiking, camping and world-class fly-fishing. Back in 1969, the region also hosted the landmark Woodstock Music Festival. In the tiny hamlet of Glen Spey, you’ll find a stunning Victorian mansion called Burn Brae, built in 1907 for the third president of the Singer sewing machine company. Book a room at the inn for a chance to experience the hotel’s off-the-charts paranormal activity and explore its “Attic of Curiosities.” Group tours are by appointment.
Burn Brae Mansion, which has been called “one of my favorite places to stay” by Linda Blair of "The Exorcist" movie fame
Wing’s Castle – Hudson Valley Region
About an hour and a half north of New York City, Wing’s Castle is equal parts gothic architecture and art installation. Quirky sculptures and offbeat collectibles hide in every corner, and the home’s unusual character naturally attracts the paranormal. Ghost tours have limited availability – check the website for details – but you can book a room at the bed-and-breakfast to experience this unusual and unforgettable property. During your visit, check out other Hudson Valley landmarks such as Fort Putnam and Fortress West Point at the U.S. Military Academy; the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and FDR Presidential Library and Museum; and Kykuit, the John D. Rockefeller estate.
The daunting exterior of the famed Wing’s Castle
New York State’s international airports in popular locations include John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA) near New York City, Buffalo Niagara (BUF), Syracuse Hancock (SYR), Greater Rochester (ROC) and Watertown (ART) for the Upstate. Regional airports offer connecting flights to places such as Adirondack (SLK) and Chautauqua (JHW). Rental cars are readily available.