No matter where you live in the U.S., there’s a good chance you live a stone’s throw away from at least one of the creepiest places on earth. That’s either good news or bad news.
Tis the season to be terrified, after all, so you might as well get your creep on. Of course, it’s better to scream in terror at creepy destinations than to wail in fear over your bank balance. Click through to see where you can get your Halloween scares on a budget.
West Virginia Penitentiary
- Location: Moundsville, W.V.
- Admission Fee: $20
Standing since 1876 but out of service since 1995, the Gothic-styled West Virginia Penitentiary has stood through riots, fires and the executions of nearly 100 prisoners — who might or might not still haunt its halls — via electrocution and hanging.
Nowadays, it hosts horror-themed tours, escape rooms and overnight stays that you’re (probably) guaranteed to live through. The tours are the best bet for your Halloween budget, as the penitentiary’s regular tours cost $20 per person.
Bodie State Historic Park
- Location: Bodie, Calif.
- Admission Fee: $5 to $8
When the California Department of Parks and Recreation describes one of its historic parks as in a state of “arrested decay,” you know you’re in for the willies. The Gold Rush made Bodie a bustling town in the 1870s, but it was abandoned more than 50 years ago. Today, it’s one of the most historic sites you can visit.
Lucky for creep-seekers, the parks department kept the ghost town exactly as the fleeing townsfolk left it — right down to the trinkets decorating the interiors. Creepy bonuses include the ominous winds that howl through the buildings and the rumored paranormal residents.
The Mütter Museum
- Location: Philadelphia
- Admission Fee: $13 to $18
Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum is one of the weirdest museums in the U.S. It positions itself as “America’s finest museum of medical history,” but that description doesn’t convey how macabre a collection it holds.
Among the disturbing displays, you’ll find the human skull collection of anatomist Dr. Joseph Hyrtl, the plaster cast and shared liver of conjoined twins Chang and Eng, pieces of John Wilkes Booth’s vertebra and sections of Albert Einstein’s preserved brain.
For all that, regular adult tickets are only $18. Plentiful discounts are applied for military personnel, seniors, youth and students, making Mütter a truly gruesome bargain.
St. Roch Cemetery
- Location: New Orleans
- Admission Fee: Free
There are plenty of free things to do in New Orleans. And the best scares are free scares, which is exactly what St. Roch offers enthusiasts of sinister sights. You won’t jump at masked murderers wielding chainsaws here, but the cemetery’s yellow fever shrine is sure to give you big chills grounded in serious history.
In the cemetery’s 1876 chapel, you’ll find a shrine commissioned by Father Peter Leonard Thevis. To show gratitude to the saints for surviving the yellow fever outbreaks of the mid to late 1800s, locals filled the shrine with plaster molds of human body parts, antique medical gear and old photos. The tradition continues to this day, and it hasn’t gotten any less disturbing.
Villisca Ax Murder House
- Location: Villisca, Iowa
- Admission Fee: $5 to $10
In June 1912, murderers killed Josiah Moore’s entire family and his two sleeping guests at his home in Villisca. Maybe the house itself is crying out the names of those murderers in the form of ghostly childlike voices, falling lamps and flying objects — all of which have been repeatedly reported by visitors.
If just reading that didn’t completely repel you, you can stay at the house overnight for beaucoup bucks ($428 for groups of one to six), or save your money for the post-visit therapy you’ll need with a $10 tour (or $5 for kids and seniors). Either way, it just might be one of the creepiest places in the world.
National Museum of Funeral History
- Location: Houston
- Admission Fee: $8 to $10
Who knew so many American museums were obsessed with death? While Houston’s National Museum of Funeral History might be a little cleaner and more brightly lit than some of the other dreadful destinations on this list, its contents are sure to have you dwelling on the mysteries of the afterlife.
It’s not one of the free museums you can visit. But for admission fees that are never more than $10, you’ll find permanent exhibits, including a deep dive into Dia de los Muertos, an exploration of embalming, journeys into worldwide mourning rituals, heaps of hearses, and lots of coffins and caskets. Fortunately, the Museum went undamaged during Hurricane Harvey and is still operating as usual.
- Location: West Milford, N.J.
- Admission Fee: Free
Clinton Road in West Milford is truly bizarre. You won’t find an attraction in the traditional sense, but this 10-mile stretch of Passaic County road is known as the most haunted street in America, making it a must-see destination for brave road trippers.
At the intersection of Route 23 and Clinton Road, you’ll start your journey ominously with the longest traffic light in the country. You’ll then pass a 18th-century iron smelter that the locals call the “Druid Temple of Clinton.” From there, you’ll scream over a dead man’s curve near the Clinton Reservoir and creep past the ruins of Cross Castle, a former three-story residence that is rumored to host occult rituals to this day.
Other potential sightings include mythical creatures and, at the reservoir, the ghost of a boy whose reflection appears in the water.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum
- Location: Fall River, Mass.
- Admission Fee: $12 to $20
Why on earth would anyone want to stay at a place called the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast? To be terrified beyond their wits, obviously.
This menacing B&B is exactly what it sounds like: The former residence of one of the world’s most famously fascinating alleged murderers, who was arrested for killing her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892.
The B&B now offers everything from Lizzie Borden bobbleheads in the gift shop to private readings with a house psychic to nightmarish overnight stays. But the 50-minute long house tours for $20 and under ($18 for seniors and $12 for children) are the least scary option for your wallet.
Bannack State Park
- Location: Dillon, Mont.
- Admission Fee: $0 to $10
In Dillon, more than 50 abandoned structures comprise the 19th-century ghost town of Bannack, including hair-raising gallows, a sinister chapel and a creepy cemetery.
Bannack was once featured on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” but you don’t have to wait for a rerun. The ghostly residents come out to play in person every October during the Bannack Ghosts Walks, a lantern-lit reenactment with a ghoulish, true-to-history theme.
Regular park admission is $6 for parking, or free if you have Montana license plates. The nighttime Ghost Walks cost $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Museum of Death
- Location: Los Angeles
- Admission Fee: $15
Some creepy places become creepy by accident. Others were built that way from the beginning. Hollywood’s Museum of Death is definitely the latter, and it doesn’t skimp on the real-life terror.
The collection boasts replicas and real-life execution devices and autopsy instruments, gory gobs of media and artwork from historical murder cases, the actual guillotined head of the Bluebeard of Paris and morgue photos from the Black Dahlia case. It’s no wonder that visitors have been known to pass out before completing the self-guided $15 tour.
Or, maybe they passed out because of all the videos on display, which show archival footage of serial killer autopsies, a Heaven’s Gate cult recruiting video and real-life footage of human deaths. Because it wouldn’t be Hollywood without movies.