It’s October, which means, of course, that it’s officially haunted house season.
Just in time, we’ve rounded up 30 of the best haunted houses across 18 different states. Fair warning: these intense and terrifying thrill-fests, many of which are held inside shuttered asylums or other certifiably haunted locales, are not for the weak of heart. Browse at your own risk, and plan a visit if you dare.
1. Pennhurst Asylum, Spring City, PA
Once an actual operating asylum, Pennhurst was shuttered for good in the 1980s, amidst claims of inhumane treatment and physical abuse. It’s said to be haunted to this day by the inmates who suffered there. The comprehensive haunted experience has four distinct parts: the “Pennhurst Asylum,” a walk through the hospital’s old administrative buildings, featuring artifacts from the actual defunct hospital; “The Morgue,” a horrifying walk through the asylum's full service mortuary; “Containment,” a 1,200 foot path below the complex filled with human experiments; and “Mayflower After Dark,” a self-guided tour through one of the most haunted buildings on the asylum’s campus.
2. New Orleans Nightmare, New Orleans, LA
When House of Shock, the long-beloved Nola haunted house, abruptly announced that it was closing its doors last year, many horror lovers were disheartened. Luckily, the new haunted house New Orleans Nightmare has cropped up in its wake and delivers the same level of scares–even if Satan is no longer involved.
3. Blood Manor, New York, NY
Located in the heart of Manhattan, Blood Manor is 5,000 square-feet of themed rooms, corridors, and labyrinths. Some of the 2016 attractions include “The Crypt—Where no one rests in peace!” and “Maggot Invasion—They’ll get under your skin!” If that’s not horrifying enough for you, November 4 and 5 are special “Lights Out” nights, where you can journey through blood manor with just a glow stick and minimal lighting.
4. Terror Behind the Walls, Philadelphia, PA
Terror Behind the Walls is set at the now-defunct Eastern State Penitentiary, an abandoned 11-acre prison. Many believe Eastern State to be haunted by the souls of the inmates who were imprisoned there, making the experience all the more terrifying. This year, a new attraction has been added to the already impressive roster. “Blood Yard” lets you loose among the prisoners where it’s your choice: Hunt or be hunted.
Related: 7 Most Haunted Prisons in America
5. Nightmare New England, Litchfield, NH
Nightmare New England features five separate and terrifying attractions, spread out over 80 acres. “The Haunted Hayride” is a mile-long journey through a spider infested campground, a compound full of disfigured human experiments, and more. You can walk through “Brigham Manor,” once home to the murderous Bishop family, and visit the “3D Festival of Fear,” home to freak show rejects. Lastly, don’t forget “Carnage” and “The Colony,” each featuring horrors more gruesome than the next.
6. Erebus Haunted Attraction, Pontiac, MI
Erebus Haunted Attraction is located in a once-abandoned four-story parking garage. While the specifics change every year, the premise remains the same: a scientist sends visitors back in time, to various different eras in history. Prepare to face a gigantic dragon, a bottomless pit, monsters trying to bury you alive, and much, much more.
7. Fear Overload Scream Park, San Leandro, CA
Fear Overload Scream Park features two uniquely terrifying haunted houses. In “The Grimm Fairytale Killer,” visitors find themselves in the home of a deranged murderer, who attacks his victims in the same manor as Grimm fairytale villains. “Insanitarium” takes visitors inside the fictional San Leandro Asylum, home to the criminally insane. The second attraction is experienced in pitch blackness: Visitors are only allowed a flashlight.
8. McKamey Manor – San Diego, CA, Various Locations
Described by some as the most realistic/best haunted attraction in the world, or, by others, as irresponsible, dangerous, and sadistic, there can be no doubt that McKamey Manor is unlike any other attraction out there. Participants are kidnapped and taken to the manor for an eight-hour-long “tour,” where they are subjected to brutal treatment at the hands of their abductors (volunteer actors). The manor has been operating for over a decade, and, to this day, no one has made it through the full tour.
9. Netherworld, Norcross, GA
Netherworld has been in business since 1997, adding new horrifying elements throughout the years. In this self-guided tour, described as a “multi-story, multi-attraction haunted event,” visitors encounter monsters, nightmarish creatures, and terrifying scenes. Netherworld has been praised, in particular, for its horror-movie-quality special effects, amazing makeup and costumes, and attention to detail. Parts of Zombieland were filmed here, and many crew members also work on the set of The Walking Dead.
10. 13th Gate, Baton Rouge, LA
Consistently recognized as one of the country’s top haunted attractions, 13th Gate is located in a 40,000 square-foot property in Baton Rouge. This Louisiana-style haunted house features “a real snake-infested swamp, nightly voodoo shows, hidden subterranean passages, and even a prehistoric ice cave.” Like Netherworld, 13th Gate prides itself on hyper-realistic special effects, top-notch costume design, and fastidious attention to detail.
11. House of Torment, Austin, TX
Operating in a new, 40,000 square foot location, House of Torment keeps amping up their truly terrifying haunted house attractions. In 2018, they're offering three brand-new haunted house experiences and Halloween escape rooms. Whether you visit the "Blackthorne Penitentiary," "Darkest Dreams," or "Trick or Treat," you're in for a scary good time.
12. The Darkness, St. Louis, MO
The Darkness, located in a two-story building in downtown St. Louis, has been in business since 1994. It stands out for the extensive renovations it undergoes every year, in order to keep raising the bar on horror—this year it boasts six separate attractions. What’s more, if you survive The Darkness, you can head next door for zombie-themed laser tag.
13. Horseman’s Hollow, Sleepy Hollow, NY
You’ve already heard of the terrifying “Legend of Sleepy Hollow:” why not live it? Journey to the very town where Washington Irving both lived, and set the tale of the Headless Horseman. The historic Philipsburg Manor is transformed into a living nightmare, as visitors make their way down a haunted trail, filled with the townsfolk who have been driven mad by the Horseman. Up next is “Ichabod’s Schoolhouse: a twisted maze of horrors too terrible to describe.” The final stop takes visitors to the lair of the Horseman, himself. High-quality special effects and the work of award-winning make-up artists and costumes designers make this attraction truly horrifying.
14. The Dent Schoolhouse, Cincinnati, OH
According to legend, Charlie the janitor, who worked at The Dent Schoolhouse in the 1940s, was responsible for abducting and murdering a group of children after they mocked him. He fled town, but his ghost still haunts the school. Visitors can look out for Charlie, stalking through the school basement—where the students’ remains were discovered sealed in barrels—as well as other teachers and staff roaming the deserted hallways.
16. Cutting Edge Haunted House, Fort Worth, TX
The Cutting Edge Haunted House has won the Guinness World Record for Largest Haunted Attraction four times, cementing its status among the biggest and best haunted houses in the world. It’s also one of the most creative haunted houses, using techniques and scare methods that would never even occur to most. Be sure to wear clothes you don’t feel attached to to this freaky attraction.
17. Brighton Asylum, Passaic, NJ
Only 60 years ago, the Brighton Asylum closed its doors due after New Jersey’s government began investigating the many reports of inhumane medical experiments, disappearances, and unlivable conditions. Today, it has been reopened to allow any curious and brave soul to encounter the spirits left behind. Brighton Asylum offers three separate terrifying experiences—only for the truly hardy.
18. Indy Scream Park, Indianapolis, IN
Indiana’s scariest haunted house is waiting for you … The Indy Scream Park offers a number of haunted experiences within its gates. Choose your worst fear: Zombies, clowns, the plague, homicidal families, and haunted asylums are all there for the scaring. After you’ve been thoroughly frightened, move over to the Monster Midway for food, drink, and games. Maybe after an hour or two, you’ll be calm enough to drive home.
19. Ultimate Terror Scream Park, Sacramento, CA
The “best in the west”, the Ultimate Terror Scream Park includes three separate terrifying haunted house experiences. 2018 brings all new attractions, including the Paranormal Playground, Cabin Sickness, and the horrifying Optic Surgeon. Pick your poison, but be certain that you’ll be stumbling out of the park, terrified and shaking.
20. 13th Floor, San Antonio, TX
Many buildings were created without a 13th floor. Superstitious architects and owners hoped that avoiding this unlucky number would mean that malicious spirits would leave their homes, hotels, and businesses alone. The former hotel where you can now visit the 13th Floor was supposed to be one of those buildings. Unfortunately, thanks to hidden floors, the hotel did indeed have a 13th floor. Visit today to hear the eerie stories of the past and experience the terrifying present.
21. Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, Los Angeles, CA
This hayride is no quaint trip through the woods. The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride takes visitors through the Old Griffith Park Zoo, where ghosts of creatures and humans haunt the paths. Once you’re let off the tractors, you’ll be surrounded by clowns from hell. And that’s not even including the three other haunted attractions around the Hayride.
22. Nile Nightmares, Mountlake Terrace, WA
The winner of multiple best-in-state awards, the Nile Nightmares haunted house is back with a vengeance. As you wander in- and outdoors, this immersive setting will keep shocking you at every turn. Watch out for the chainsaws!
23. City of the Dead, Denver, CO
Denver’s largest and most terrifying haunted house awaits. From the zombie hordes in City of the Dead to the cursed corridors of The Asylum, this sprawling haunted house as sure to terrify. As you’re chased through the city by a horde of zombies, remember that The Lineup is responsible for your terror.
24. The Hex House, Tulsa, OK
In the 1940s, the small community of Tulsa was shocked when a dead body and two enslaved young women were discovered in the home of a seemingly normal housewife. The woman had been starving and beating her boarders in the name of religion. Now, you can visit her home, complete with secret hallways and creepy basement. The Hex House will terrify any sane visitor.
25. Hundred Acres Manor, Bethel Park, PA
The Hundred Acres Manor sprawls over one mile of terror, with six horrifying experiences for visitors. Ranked in the top three scariest haunted houses by a variety of publications, the Hundred Acres Manor will terrify you with an elevator from hell, a trip through the Black Plague featuring serial killers galore, voodoo priests, and more.
26. Haunted Overload, Lee, NH
Visit the terrifying forests of New Hampshire with Haunted Overload. Once, long ago, the small town where you can find Haunted Overload was visited by a supposed demon. When the demon did not receive any care or aid for the night, he became furious, cursing the town with strange creatures, the undead, and unexplainable noises. All of the locals have since left … can you make it through?
27. Castle of Chaos, Midvale, UT
Castle of Chaos offers five levels of fear: They’ll guarantee that even the bravest explorer leaves their underground haunted house fully terrified. The dance club setting and hands-on terror will get you up close and personal with the vampires who are taking over.
28. Dead End Hayride, Wyoming, MN
The Dead End Hayride will bring you through the depths of Pinehaven Farm and forest to the Sunnyvale Asylum. Along the way, you’ll encounter ghoulish creatures, patients who have lost their grip on the world, and other terrifying specters. If you make it through the asylum, the Pinehaven Motor Inn awaits, surrounded by an eerie cornfield. Don’t venture out too far… who knows who or what is waiting for you out there.
29. Asylum 49, Tooele, UT
Asylum 49 accepts no wimps. Be ready to be grabbed, isolated, touched, and restrained by the lunatics who have taken over their ward. The 38,000 square foot attraction has been known to suck scare devotees in for hours on end.
30. Bates Motel, Glen Mills, PA
The Bates Motel has been ranked the number one haunted house in the nation by USA Today, Hauntworld, and more. Drive through an abandoned asylum, visit a creepy New England church filled with ghosts, and get chased by the Headless Horseman during your visit. Try the haunted hayride for a truly supernatural experience.
Featured photo: Fear Overload