For those who seek it, New York State has a darker side to show off to fans of the offbeat, eerie, or macabre. Discover ghosts, haunted hotels, and creepy graveyards when you check out these spooky spots. Remember to social distance and wear a mask as required by state guidelines. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available.
Discover the paranormal on the Haunted History Trail
The best collection of all things paranormal is the Haunted History Trail, with opportunities to discover 400 years of history and maybe make some disembodied friends along the way. Their website is chock full of spooky locations, spirit hunts, guided tours, haunted inns, ghostly events, and even other-worldly dining all across New York State for the paranormal-curious, even some locations that cater to spectral investigation teams.
Stay in a haunted hotel
The Sagamore Resort on Lake George (pictured) has been recognized as one of the Best Haunted Hotels in the US. Visitors have been said to come across a ghostly couple in the restaurant, a woman in a pinkish-brown dress on the porch, a young child on the golf course who pranks golfers, and a ghost in the elevator, among other spirits. Spooky stories have also been reported at Fainting Goat Island Inn in Nichols and Belhurst Castle in Geneva.
Tour a real haunted asylum
Try to make a date with a real ghost at Rolling Hills Asylum in the Greater Niagara town of East Bethany. This is not a theatrical attraction—it is an actual historical asylum and one of the most haunted locations in the world, featured on shows like Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures. There are tours ranging from two-hour historical flashlight walking tours to the three-hour Psych Hold and eight-hour Captive stay, plus private Ghost Haunts. Too much for you? Maybe get a sample of the insanity by attending one of their movie nights—check their Facebook page showings this season.
Medical museums to make you shiver
From bloodletting to electric shock therapy, what was once cutting-edge medicine can years later seem outlandish. The Dr. Best House & Medical Museum in Middleburgh is a step back into a 1920s historic Victorian home and medical office. The site features a myriad of preserved items, including antique medical equipment like Dr. Best's bottles of potions that range from Hemlock Oil to Digitalis to Calamine Powder. Special paranormal programs are held at various times of the year as well. In addition, the Saranac Laboratory Museum tells the fascinating story of Saranac Lake's role in the treatment of tuberculosis.
Explore castle ruins
On an island just off the shores of the Hudson River are the mysterious, ornate, still-standing remains of Bannerman Castle. It was once an ammunition storage facility modeled on a Scottish castle. Now the Bannerman Castle Trust hosts tours, hikes, and outdoor film screenings.
Find great graveyard tours
Graveyards are inherently creepy for some, but they can also be educational and even serene. A number of cemeteries across the state offer tours that run the gambit from the historic to the chilling.
During the day, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (pictured) offers a tour focusing on Washington Irving and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow as well as one focusing on all the important people buried there. The cemetery is currently closed to the public, but there are tours by lantern-light like "Murder & Mayhem" and "The Good, the Bad and the Unusual" available for advanced purchase.
The Grand Torchlight Tours of Mount Hope Cemetery include intriguing stories from Rochester's history, as do twilight and daytime themed tours that focus on the luminaries who are interred there, like Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.
Annual lantern-lit tours of Woodlawn Cemetery in the Finger Lakes include "appearances" by notable tenants of the cemetery, like famous writer Mark Twain. This event sells out so grab your tickets in advance.
The 269-acre Forest Lawn Cemetery has unique offerings like Civil War history and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
In Jamestown, the final resting place of Lucille Ball and home of the Lucy-Desi Museum and the new-in-2018 National Comedy Center, the Fenton History Center (pictured) offers tours of Lakeview Cemetery.
Famous New York City cemeteries with tours include: Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, home of Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, and Jean-Michael Basquiat, with a historic trolley tour, and the "Into the Veil" evening of exploratory theater; and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx (pictured), with residents like Miles Davis, Robert Moses, and Joseph Pulitzer, and tours like "Illuminated Mausoleums."