You know what they say… everything is bigger in Texas. And, that apparently includes its haunted hangouts. Both historic small towns and huge cities have seen their fair share of shocks from the supernatural — some even attracting multiple visits from paranormal experts and “Ghost Lab” investigators.
So, if you want to channel your inner Ghostbuster and scare up a road trip that will send shivers down your spine, this list has you covered.
Get Halloween started early with these spooky destinations that promise to chill and thrill — from “real” haunted houses, to paranormal hotels, ghostly roads and creepy bridges, and even a bar where your drink might just come with a side of spookiness.
Let the fright fest begin.
The Excelsior House
Where: 211 W. Austin St., Jefferson
This hotel is steeped in Southern charm, historic elegance, and grace — and maybe a ghost, or two. It was built in the late 1850s by Captain William Perry, who served as mayor of Jefferson. He was fatally shot one evening while walking home, near the hotel, and some suspect that the spooky sounds heard in the Excelsior could be his ghost. The place is also said to be haunted by a headless ghost that roams the second floor as well as a female apparition named Diamond Bessie.
They've all apparently frightened many guests, including film director Steven Spielberg. Local legend says that the filmmaker stayed in Room 215 — the Jay Gould room — in the ’70s and was thoroughly spooked, which led him to make “Poltergeist." We’ll let you be the judge of that. But, what you can be sure of is that a majestic stay at the well-preserved hotel that will take you back in time — with or without a historic haunting.
Where: 124 W. Austin St., Jefferson
This other historic hotel in Jefferson is also home to some serious paranormal activity including knocking on the walls in the middle of the night, lights turning off and on, footsteps running down the hall, ghostly children laughing, disembodied voices, and strange shadows — all of which give new meaning to its Victorian-era charm.
Where: 405 Moseley St., Jefferson
The ghost stories of The Grove are many — and majorly spooky. The 1861 house has a laundry list of supernatural experiences witnessed by its owners, both past and present, as well as by many other visitors. Everything from the property’s famous mystery lady in white, to reports of inky swirling masses, mirrors suddenly falling off the walls, swaying chandeliers, wet footprints, and so much more. You can take a tour of the place and scope it out for yourself.
San Fernando Cathedral
Where: 115 W. Main Plaza, San Antonio
As the oldest church in Texas, this cathedral is not only a beautiful piece of architecture and place of worship it’s also been called haunted. Guests on ghost tours have seen paranormal things including brightly lit orbs, dark shadowy figures, and faces on the exterior walls — perhaps the energies of the people who were once buried within the church’s walls. The apparition of a white stallion has been spotted, as well.
Donkey Lady Bridge
Where: Applewhite Road, San Antonio
Rumored to be haunted by a frightening spirit known as the Donkey Lady, the bridge is nestled in the woods and can be quite the scary place to go at night. Well, frankly, it’s pretty spooky any time of the day.
Victoria’s Black Swan Inn
Where: 1006 Holbrook Rd., San Antonio
Hauntingly romantic, this 19th century Greek Revival-style plantation mansion on the banks of Salado Creek has a long history of unusual activity and is a prominent place for paranormal investigations. The inn’s ghostly occurrences reportedly include moved dolls, eerie music, and doors opening and closing. You can join the club by touring the place with experienced ghost hunters on weekly excursions.
McNay Art Museum
Where: 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., San Antonio
Haunted or not, the McNay is worth a trip for its 22,000-plus works of art and thematic, immersive installations along with a luscious courtyard and garden. That said, the museum is partially housed in a former 24-room Spanish Colonial-Revival house and the west wing is reportedly haunted by the woman who used to live at the home.
Emily Morgan Hotel
Where: 705 E. Houston St., San Antonio
From the outside looking in, you’d never guess this lavish hotel in all of its grandeur would be haunted. But, before it became a hotel, it was a medical arts facility complete with a hospital, surgery floors, and a crematorium, which might explain the ghostly happenings. The hotel staff regularly receives reports of paranormal occurrences, with guests complaining of the phone inexplicably ringing in the middle of the night, televisions and lights randomly turning on in the late hours, and the apparition of a woman in a white dress (or hospital gown). Ooh, creepy.
Where: 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio
Another “haunted house” in San Antonio where you can lay your head, the historic Menger makes no excuses for its mysterious, paranormal ways. You can book a “Menger Haunted Stay” package which includes a night at the hotel along with a Sisters Grimm Ghost Tour that takes you on a dedicated adventure through more of city’s spookiest spots. Of course, you don’t even have to leave the property to possibly experience its apparitions, ghostly visitors, and other uninvited guests.
Where: 813 Congress, Houston
This downtown Houston treasure (and terror) is housed in the oldest standing building in the city — originally built in 1845 — making it a sultry-quaint little spot. However, it's also apparently haunted. Guests have reported seeing the apparition of a large man walking around upstairs along with the sounds of heavy footsteps and a body being dragged across the floor. So, if grabbing a drink with a ghost is your idea of spiked fun, then this is the place for you.
Where: 604 Brazos St., Austin
Boasting considerable magnificence, this historic hotel in the heart of downtown Austin is undoubtedly luxe — and also quite possibly loaded with paranormal phenomena. The sophisticated spot is well-known for its ghostly presences; just ask the staff. Even the hotel’s namesake, Civil War Colonel Jesse Driskill, is said to make his presence known with the scent of cigar smoke. Other weird happenings include guests’ sightings of apparitions in chairs and windows; the feelings of strange sensations on their arms and faces; and misplaced and moved belongings in their rooms.
Miss Molly's Hotel
Where: 109 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
With seven themed rooms — all boasting stories of paranormal activity — this bed and breakfast in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards seems to have plenty of ghostly visitations. In fact, it has even been featured on Discovery Channel's "Ghost Lab." The property does have a long history, first as a boarding house in 1910 and later as a bordello in the ’40s; most of the sightings seem to involve working girls from this era.
The phenomena at Miss Molly’s includes full-bodied apparitions, unexplained scents, items disappearing and reappearing, toilets flushing on their own, lights turning on and off, unlocked doors refusing to open, and a variety of unidentified but entertaining sounds. Time to cowboy up for a wild stay.
Where: 112 W. Exchange Ave.
Speaking of the Fort Worth Stockyards, the whole place is apparently quite spooked. You can take a ghost tour that starts at the haunted Cowtown Winery and weaves through The Cadillac Hotel, The Stockyards Hotel, and more while the guides share stories of paranormal activity along with the history of the Stockyards and its shootouts, bordellos, and hangings.
Bragg Road Ghost Lights
Where: Bragg Road, Saratoga
This East Texas road might leave you quite shook. According to chilling local tales, most nights you can see a flickering light in the distance as you drive down the old logging road. It’s said that the light is actually coming from the lantern of a railroad worker searching for his head after being decapitated by a train.
Martha Chapel Cemetery - Demon's Road
Where: Martha Chapel Cemetery Road and Bowden Road, Huntsville
At the dead end (literally) of Bowden Road, this small 1800s-era graveyard has been the reported sight of many hauntings. Bowden has even been nicknamed Demon’s Road as a result. So, what might you expect if you dare to tread on the cemetery’s grounds? Hands coming up out of graves; invisible sensations of pushing and shoving; large handprints left on vehicles; the apparition of a child with glowing eyes; and a faceless creature are all part of the mix. Locals also warn people not to provoke the spirits, as ghosts have been known to follow visitors home.
Queen Isabel Inn
Where: 300 S. Garcia St., Port Isabel
As the Rio Grande Valley’s oldest seaside resort, this inn was originally constructed at the beginning of the 20th century as an exclusive hunting and fishing club on the Laguna Madre Bay. If the beach isn’t reason enough to visit, maybe the disembodied footsteps that apparently plague the property will entice you.
Where: 1 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso
It seems this circa 1930 theater features more than just its roster of Broadway performances. The former movie house is home to several ghosts, according to witnesses, including a shadowy man in black and an older gentleman smoking a cigarette. Plaza Theatre performers and patrons have also claimed to have seen eerie red-orange lights traveling through the mezzanine and creepy movements in the backstage area.
Where: 1120 Magoffin Ave., El Paso
Flickering lights; rocking chairs that rock in a ghostly way; and doors that open and close on their own… it’s all part of the haunted house that is the Magoffin Home. Other stories include sightings of a woman in a white gown and a little girl roaming the outdoor patio, but this adobe-style homestead that dates back to 1875 also serves as a museum. So, you have something to see, regardless of any extraneous sightings.
Granbury Opera House
Where: 133 E. Pearl St., Granbury
The theatrics at this place extend way beyond the shows on its stage. People have reported seeing a tall man dress in black haunting the opera house, which was founded in 1886. Some say the ghost could even be John Wilkes Booth, the actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln and who performed in Granbury many times. The Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Lab” supposedly even captured an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) of Booth's voice saying he was there.
Catfish Plantation Restaurant
Where: 814 Water St., Waxahachie
“Serving souls and spirits” is the tagline of this historic home-turned-restaurant, with visitors reporting numerous ghostly activities, including floating fry baskets, flying food, smashing wine glasses (the home’s former owner, Caroline, doesn’t approve of alcohol, so it’s said), and visits from a certain Elizabeth whose presence is detected by the sweet scent of roses, moving cold spots, and actual materialization in windows. It’s a huge helping of craziness to go along with that fried catfish and those hush puppies.
Where: 2024 Seawall Blvd., Galveston
You won’t just get a day at the beach when you come to this hotel that’s one of the oldest on Galveston Island. It’s most infamous visitor is called “The Love Lorn Lady,” and her apparition has been seen wandering the halls of the fifth floor — she hung herself there after her husband died at sea. The smell of gardenias apparently signals her presence. The infamous Rooms 501 and 505 are said to be the most haunted with many guests unable to make it through the night due to inexplicable feelings of eeriness and uneasiness.
Old Alton Bridge
Where: Old Alton Road, Denton
Nicknamed the Goatman’s Bridge, this creepy pedestrian crossing is apparently haunted by a demonic figure of a man with a goat’s head — waiting for those who dare to venture to the other side. The popular local ghost story says that it’s the person who was lynched on the truss bridge by the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1938. Since then, there have been numerous alleged sightings of his apparition, with some people even claiming to see glowing eyes and hear splashing in the creek directly below along with the sounds of unsettling laughter.
Disclaimer: This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.