Old haunted house in black and white
Image by Peter H from Pixabay
Old haunted house in black and white
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

10 Terrifying Places to Spend The Night in the United States

Everyone has their moments of courage in life. Some overcome childhood fears that have haunted them for a lifetime. Others put terror in the background while facing a primal danger capable of wasting human lives. Very few people, however, are willing to spend a night on the verge of wetting themselves in a terrifying haunted house just to get their kicks. To the adrenaline junkies, horror fanatics, spiritualists, and the rest of those brave enough to face the most dreadful horrors, this article is for you. You, after all, are the only ones fearless enough to handle the most terrifying places to spend the night in the United States. Bragging rights are yours. Full stop.


Haunted locations with allegedly confirmed activity, horror movies come to life in the world’s scariest haunted houses, and places that pry out a visitor’s most personal phobias only to turn them against their host – these are the places of darkness. These are the architectural harborers of fear. Whether it’s homes filled with angry spirits or man-made terrors that get your juices flowing, we have a little something for each of you. And for the rest of you who might not have the bravery required to spend a night in these terrifying locations, let this serve as a helpful guide for where not to plan your weekend holiday.

Person wrapped in barbed wire
Image by Martin Redlin from Pixabay

McKamey Manor

Not all of these spine-chilling locations will affect readers equally. That is except for McKamey Manor, a frightening overnight experience designed to make anyone turn tail and run or risk being traumatized for the rest of their lives. This haunted house is so terrifying, in fact, they once offered a $20,000 payout for anyone capable of making it through the entire night. We’re talking 10 hours. Not 24, not a week, just 10 hours. Even so, it’s a dare that’s never been conquered.


Formerly of San Diago, with locations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama as of 2023, McKamey Manor has built a reputation for their extreme horror and downright disturbing enterprise. Participants go through a grueling process of physicals, drug tests, mental health screenings, and more before signing a 40-page waiver to gain access to their most terrifying nightmares. According to the Manor’s owner, Russ McKamey, he tailors his terrors to each participant and uses hypnosis to intensify their fears. It might seem like overkill, but every nail in the coffin counts when said coffin is filled with $20,000.


Contestants have claimed that McKamey’s methods are nothing less than torture. Some have called the police, alleging abuses of one kind or another, while others have attempted to sue McKamey, but the haunted house owner keeps meticulous video evidence of each encounter as proof of his innocence. Often, an instance of torture turns out to be nothing more than a trick of the mind. However, some visitors claim their McKamey experience included such extremes as waterboarding. So, not only is this one of the most terrifying places to spend the night, it may also be the most traumatic. Facebook Page

Sallie House

Some call Atchison, Kansas’s Sallie House the most haunted house in the United States. Though the title is claimed by many homes supposedly bursting with paranormal activity, the Sallie House is high on the list. Several documentaries have been made featuring this house and its haunted history, and numerous allegorical accounts of its phenomena have been published in books and across the web. This house is the real deal if quantity and interest are worthy metrics. And when it comes to paranormal experiences, they tend to be.


Once a doctor’s private practice and living quarters, the house is now said to be the restless haunting grounds of a young girl who died during a surgical operation. The apparition, driven by skewed memories of her operation, is said to attack men who cross her threshold. In her ghostly eyes, she was tortured to death by a man, the doctor. What’s more likely is she died during an operation meant to save her life, performed in the 1800s when anesthesia was far from at its height.


Others believe it’s not the girl who haunts the Sallie House, but the doctor, who was the son of the original homeowner. This story commonly goes two ways: Some believe the doctor was an evil man, while others think an entity or evil force residing in the home turned the doctor’s spirit to the dark side after his death.

Witnesses claim to have seen nearly all kinds of ghastly phenomena, from their dogs refusing to set foot on the property to being outright attacked. Paranormal investigators have found plenty of supposed evidence as well – EVP, EMF, etc. It really is the perfect place for a serine overnight stay, and better yet, it comes at a reasonable price.

Burnside Bridge at Antietam Creek
Image by PETE CHACALOS from Pixabay

Antietam Creek Campsite

If one were looking to spend some time experiencing the great outdoors in Washington County, Maryland, while having the socks scared right off their feet, Antietam Creek Campsite would be the place to visit. This campsite has fire pits, drinkable water, toilets, picnic areas, hiking paths, and – you know – ghosts.


The campground is about ten minutes from the Antietam Battlefield site, where over 20,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in volleys of gun and cannon fire during the Civil War. There are several allegedly haunted locations in this area, including Burnside’s Bridge, where countless dead were laid to rest in unmarked graves; Bloody Lane, where the bodies of Confederate soldiers were piled in heaps; St. Paul Episcopal Church, which doubled as a Confederate hospital; and many others.


Visitors claim to have heard spectral soldiers in this area crying out at night, reliving the affliction of their mortal wounds. Lights flicker in the church’s tower for those with a keen eye. The beat of war drums sound from Burnside’s Bridge, glowing orbs soar through the night in the area, and the apparitions of soldiers can be seen marching off to war. The creepy tales abound around at this haunted campsite.

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The Queen Mary 2 ocean liner
Image by Neil Morrell from Pixabay

The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary was a giant British ocean liner that ran as a transatlantic passenger vessel previous to WWII. During the war, it was conscripted into the naval fleet to assist the war effort. As a warship, the Queen Mary could carry nearly 17,000 people at a time, making it the largest ship on the water during WWII. Before retiring, this monstrous ship found itself at the wrong end of a Royal Naval vessel. The Queen Mary, having somehow failed basic navigation, plowed directly through the other ship’s center. The Queen Mary survived, but it tore the other ship in two. Luckily, the Queen Mary was an ordinary ship instead of a sentient one. Otherwise, she would’ve likely been tried for treason. Even so, the lives that lived aboard The Queen Mary, and the lives she helped take during the war, allegedly echo through her berth.

Later, the wonderous vessel would find a home in Long Beach, California, where it has become a tourist attraction and an onboard hotel, a perfect place for history buffs and ghastly apparitions alike. The current iteration of the Queen Mary boasts that it’s one of the most haunted locations in the country. Creepy ghost children frolic in the pool and down the halls, likely from a time long before The Mary’s conscription. It’s said an engineer who died on the vessel refuses to move on and spends his afterlife within the ship he loved. Numerous phenomena can be witnessed firsthand on the ship’s tours. And, if you want a more encompassing experience, you can always spend the night at the Queen Mary Hotel.

The Cecil Hotel

The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, renamed Stay on Main in 2011 and then again Cecil Hotel Apartments in 2021, is terrifying in a plethora of ways. Some believe the hotel is haunted. The possibility of spirits walking its halls wouldn’t be surprising. It also wouldn’t add much to the already frightening aura the building has unwittingly cultivated. The Cecil’s history of unfortunate deaths is in itself deeply unsettling, and there is more than enough tragedy to fill its 14 floors and more than 600 rooms.


How many deaths have occurred at the Cecil Hotel? According to former hotel manager Amy Price, there were over 80 deaths in the time she worked there alone. Many were of natural causes – some visitors were older residents who’d stayed at the hotel for years  – but the more notable deaths were the product of drug overdoses, suicides, or even murder.


Serial killers were drawn to the Cecil like iron shavings to a magnet. This hotel of nightmares hosted the “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez in the mid-’80s while he was actively on his killing spree. Though he likely never killed anyone at the Cecil, there’s a good chance he’d walk through the front doors after prowling the streets of Las Angeles.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

More incidents at the Cecil Hotel

The list of untimely deaths started shortly after the hotel was established. The first of which occurred in 1927 – a suicide that nobody knew was the beginning of the darkest hotel legacy in the world. The latest incident occurred in 2015 when the remains of a young woman who disappeared in 2013 were discovered in a water tank on the hotel roof. The discovery of Elisa Lam’s body inspired American Horror Story: Hotel. Not that TV shows couldn’t as easily have been inspired by past events since the Cecil was known for harboring sex workers, criminals, and various people involved in illicit drugs.


With the hotel having been converted to apartments, staying at the Cecil isn’t as easy as checking in for the night. A year-long lease is probably required these days. As they say, the only thing more exciting than a nightly stay at the murder hotel is moving in. We don’t make the rules.

Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel is one of the most famous hotels in the world. It was made well-known thanks to one of the greatest horror minds in the business – Stephen King. This beautiful and undoubtedly creepy hotel served as the inspiration behind The Shining. So, even if no spirits are wandering the halls of The Stanley, horror fans should still get their much-needed chills when visiting. The flashbacks of a crazed Jack Nicholson will help with that. If that’s not enough for you, The Stanley is known in paranormal circles for a number of eerie experiences that should keep you on your toes.


Staff and visitors alike have allegedly witnessed paranormal phenomena firsthand at the Stanley. The famous room 217, where King formed the outline for his masterful work, is believed to be haunted by a worker who died in the 1910s. Though the spirit isn’t reportedly harmful – rather helpful really (she’ll even fold your laundry) – spending the night with a specter would be horrifying to most casual visitors.


Room 217 isn’t the only place in this hotel to find specters. It’s said the disembodied ghost of the former owner’s wife (long deceased) enjoys entertaining guests with her musical stylings on the hotel’s piano. Her husband, on the other hand, enjoys sitting at the bar while helping himself to a ghostly drink or two. Out of all the spirits you could spend your time with, those of The Stanley Hotel might be the most friendly. It’s like one, big, dead party.

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

The Clown Motel

Some fears are widespread and shake the population to the bones. Some of these fears even present as true phobias. Not everyone would enjoy a night stuffed in the confining bunks of a sailing vessel or peeking over the edge of the Empire State Building’s roof. One of the more common fears out there involves the lovable, motley performers frequently found at carnivals. Yes, we’re talking about clowns. For those with coulrophobia, the lovable painted faces meant to inspire laughs do nothing but provoke unshakable fear. These are the exact wrong people to spend the night at the Clown Motel.

The Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada, is one of – if not the – scariest motels in the US. Even if you aren’t afraid of clowns, this place holds a high probability of creeping you out simply by the number of wandering eyes in the building’s decor. The motel is plastered with clowns. Clown images mark the outer walls of the building. The inner rooms are no safe haven either, as they’re decorated in wonky, brightly colored themes, often with clown paintings on the walls. 

As if the clowns weren’t enough, The Clown Motel has other rooms based on horror films. They really make sure to check all the boxes on the fear list. That brings us to the weird… Some believe the motel is haunted by a poltergeist who enjoys terrorizing visitors with disembodied laughter, ghost clown apparitions, or, as Ghost Adventures discovered, clown dolls moving on their own.

Pennhurst Asylum


Pennhurst Asylum, formerly Pennhurst State School and Hospital, has a dark, sordid past. Opening in 1908 in Spring City, Pennsylvania, the asylum accommodated the unwanted victims of an ignorant society. Namely, those with disabilities. Around 50% of the facility’s patients died due to poor conditions. Abuse was rampant, and it went on for almost 80 years before the patients were moved out, the doors were closed, and several members of the staff were charged with criminal abuse. It’s a sad and tragic story.


Supernatural aficionados often believe traumatic deaths or tragic lives can tie spirits to a location. Taking that fact into account, it’s no surprise that so many think Pennhurst is one of the most haunted places in the world. If trauma is what causes unfinished business, the former patients at this asylum certainly have some unresolved things to handle.

Pennhurst’s reputation has prompted numerous ghost hunts over the years. Capitalizing on this, or possibly tempting fate, the asylum has begun hosting a seasonal haunted house and camping experience. This outing blends the facility’s haunted history with somewhat extreme fictional horror. Campers, as their website explains, “may be handled, moved, bound, hooded and chained.” The reason they require close-toed shoes is likely a safety precaution. Unfortunately, the website provides no recommendations for how to protect against emotional trauma or restless spirits.

News clipping from the Villisca Ax Murder describing the suspect
The day book, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
News clipping from the Villisca Ax Murder describing the suspect
The day book, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Villisca Ax Murder House

Very few incidences hit as hard as a mass murder. They taint a location until their memory is washed away by the waters of time. For brutal killings like the ones that took place at the Villisca Ax Murder House, those memories will linger for a while.

In 1912, the bodies of eight victims were discovered in a small house that belonged to the tiny Iowa town of Villisca. Two adults and six children had been mercilessly hacked up in their beds by a killer armed with an ax. Creepy details were strung throughout the murder scene. The killer had covered the mirrors in the house with clothing and left food, along with a bowl of blood-tinged water, set out at the table. To the investigators, it must’ve looked like a scene from a vampire movie. And though vampires are make-believe, no one has confirmed the Villisca Ax Murderer’s undead status since authorities never found the killer.

These days, the house serves as a dark tourist attraction. They hold walkthrough tours of the home and allow visitors to stay the night for paranormal investigations or just to test their mettle. Witnesses who’ve taken up these offers claim to have encountered a diverse range of paranormal activity, including hearing scratching and seeing orbs and other visual disturbances.

Read more about the Villisca Ax Murders here!

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, is a visual marvel. The facility began treating patients with mental illness in the middle of the 19th century behind castle-esque walls that scream, “I’m haunted!” The hand-cut stone building was originally created to hold a mere few hundred patients, but by the mid-20th century, it was operating at ten times its original capacity. That’s like packing sardines into an ornate sandstone can, complete with the sanitary and physical issues that come along with that metaphor. The facility no longer operates as a mental hospital. Instead, it focuses on providing the public with historical and paranormal walkthroughs.


Investigators have stayed the night in the Trans-Alleghency halls on ghost tours led by some of the attraction’s current staff for as little as $100. A price well paid. What these paranormal connoisseurs experienced has left them shaken.


One investigator claims to have witnessed a flashlight turning on and off by itself during a Q&A session. He also recorded what he believes to be spirit voices on an electronic device. Another visitor had an almost identical experience, confirming the flashlight phenomenon wasn’t a one-off. But this sort of activity isn’t new to the staff. Workers at Trans-Allegheny already know of several entities in residence, including the spirit of a patient killed by a peer under the ever-so-watchful eye of the former staff and the ghost of a young girl born at the asylum, who now spends her eternity wandering the halls.

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