Updated: Apr 12
I love traveling, but the word "tourist" has a bad reputation. We all know the stereotype of the middle aged couples in oversized t-shirts and fanny packs, fawning over ordinary looking landmarks simply because someone famous lived there or made a speech there. But there are plenty of tourist attractions with a darker history they don't tell you about in guide books. Here are four famous places you probably didn't realize are haunted
The White House
It's been the home of every U.S. president since John Adams, who moved in with his wife, Abigail, way back in 1800. As one of the oldest and most notable of America's tourist attractions, it's no surprise then, that the White House has its share of ghost stories.
Former presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson have been seen in their spirit form, as well as the first, um, First Lady to live there, Abigail Adams herself. But the hauntings aren't limited to well known figures. Another oft reported ghost is a woman named Annie Surratt (or Anna, depending on the source). Surratt's mother, Mary, was executed for playing a role in President Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Annie has reportedly been spotted pleading for her mother's release. Other sightings include a demon cat and a teenage boy known only as "The Thing."
But the most frequently reported ghost is also one of the most famous -- our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln himself. Multiple first ladies as well as a seamstress and even Winston Churchillall claimed to have either seen his ghost or felt his presence.
In life, Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, held seances in the House's Red Room after the death of their son Willie in 1862. At one point, Mrs. Lincoln even reported seeing her son's ghost at the foot of her bed. President Lincoln was said to have told his wife about a premonition he had of his own death...three days before he was assassinated. Could her seances have opened up a portal into the spirit world?
According to researcher Jared Broach, Lincoln's ghost reappears when the country is in great need or peril. With all the contention still surrounding the 2016 presidential election, could Lincoln be due to make his next appearance sooner rather than later?
The Golden Gate Bridge
Built in 1937, this San Francisco bridge is among the most famous in the world, boasting over 10 million visitors a year. The surrounding area, complete with boat tours, campgrounds, and wildlife events, is clearly appealing to tourists. Unfortunately, the Golden Gate Bridge has a darker side to its history.
The bridge is one of the most popular sites in the world for suicides. It’s estimated that anywhere from 1,600 to 2,200 people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. In June of 1995, with the official toll creeping close to 1,000, the California Highway Patrol stopped keeping track, fearing the publicity would only encourage would-be jumpers. Sadly, two months later, the bridge claimed its 1,000th victim.
But suicide victims aren't the only ones whose lives have been lost on the bridge. In February 1937, 10 construction workers fell to their deathswhile building the bridge. An estimated 300 ships lay in the waters beneath it. The death toll from these wrecks is unknown.
Unsurprisingly, many spirits have been reported on the bridge. Although it's closed to foot traffic after dark, many witnesses have spotted ghosts walking along the sidewalk at night. Disembodied screams and ghosts ships that pass right through solid objects on foggy nights have also been reported.
The Hollywood Sign
Built in 1923 as part of an ad campaign for a housing development, the Hollywood sign now symbolizes the glamour of the entertainment industry. But, much like Hollywood itself, the sign has a darker history than you think.
In 1863, the park was a ranch belonging to a wealthy bachelor named Don Antonio Feliz.When Feliz died and left his housekeeper nothing in his will, the housekeeper allegedly cursed the property. Several bouts of misfortune followed, including the premature death of the ranch's new owner as well as a lightning storm and cattle deaths.
In 1976, a couple was crushed to death by a falling tree branch while making love on a picnic table. Yes, you heard that right. Today, moans are often reported in the area, as well as shaking tree branches. Is the area actually cursed, or perhaps merely haunted by the spirits of the dearly departed lovers?
But the most famous ghost in the area is that of Peg Entwistle. Many people move to Hollywood in hopes of stardom. Most don't make it, but few create the same impact as Entwistle.
On September 16, 1932, after a string of bad luck looking for work, Entwistle jumped to her death from the 'H' in the sign. Ironically, she would receive a letter the very next day offering her a leading role in a film.
Entwistle has reportedly haunted the area around the sign since the 1940's. Park rangers as well as hikers have seen a woman in 1930's clothing wandering in the mountains, and some even say they've witnessed her making her infamous jump. Rangers claim she appears on foggy nights, and her appearance is often accompanied by the smell of gardenias, even in the winter when no flowers bloom.
It's the happiest place on earth...or is it? Rumors of hauntings plague all three of the park's major locations in Orlando, Anaheim, and Paris.
Since the original Anaheim park opened in 1955, dozens of deaths have supposedly occurred on the grounds. While many have been confirmed as fact, ghost stories associated with the park often seem to spring from urban legends.
One of the most popular ghosts is George, a former construction worker at the park who reportedly fell to his death from a high area of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It's said that park workers say good morning and good night to him every day. If he's not given the respect he feels he deserves, he's known to do things like appear in monitors and even shut the ride down.
Others report seeing the ghost of a little boy in the Haunted Mansion attraction. As the story goes, a little boy died and he loved the ride so much that his family scattered his ashes there. Now people report seeing a young boy running around the attraction or standing next to the exit, crying.
This story, however, is dubious. Although it's possible the boy's ashes were secretly dumped, Disney employees highly discourage this as the ashes will just end up in the trash. So I doubt this boy's spirit is still hanging around if his ashes aren't.
Other stories include a little girl wandering around Epcot (though this is probably a common occurrence at a theme park) and a ghost man at the Tower of Terror. Among Disney's many locations, and with so much dark history, there probably won't be a shortage of ghosts any time soon.
What are your favorite haunted tourist attractions? Let me know in the comments below.