Full disclosure: Some of the stories below are not for the faint of heart.
Without further ado, here are the 20 creepiest places you can find in Virginia. (We’ll start by providing a map, so you can get a rough idea of where each location can be found in the state, and then you can read about why each spot is supposedly so haunted or creepy). Be sure to weigh in at the bottom and tell us which site you’d most like to visit!
And don’t be too hard on our map. It was tough to be precise in the Williamsburg area, considering the number of places in close proximity! Scroll over the map for the pinpoints to appear.
1.) The old Public Hospital (Williamsburg)
As we hinted at above, you’re about to find Colonial Williamsburg on this list a handful of times, so let’s dive in, shall we?
This place is absolutely swarming with history. Many stories of the paranormal surround Williamsburg, starting with the Public Hospital (which, fun fact, is now a museum).
But let’s rewind to the 1800s, when the building served as the country’s first mental hospital. Patients were treated very poorly here, and living conditions were deplorable. People were often confined, isolated, shackled to the walls, and they didn’t have access to much sunlight, according to the website colonialghosts.com. That is, until Dr. John Minson Galt II became superintendent. He dedicated the next 21 years to improving things for the patients at the hospital, and he wanted to make a difference in their lives. Galt was largely successful.
But with the start of the Civil War came Union soldiers who took over the grounds. The Battle of Williamsburg, which began in spring 1862, started when Galt was really hitting his stride. Galt was soon forced out of the hospital -- and devastated by it.
Galt then overdosed on opiates and died in his home, which was on hospital grounds. Many speculated that his suicide was based on the anguish he felt over his removal from the facility. Now, Galt is supposedly the ghost who remains at the Public Hospital, even all these years later, according to folklore.
"When the doctor's house was demolished, townspeople sincerely believed that his spirit simply moved into the neighboring asylum since it was the real source of his agony," the website mentioned above says. "Amy Billings, an employee working in the rebuilt Public Hospital, says, ‘Tourists complain of sudden gusts of wind sweeping through the halls. What's even more strange is sometimes when we arrive in the mornings, the bed in the exhibition room looks as if it's been slept in.'" Shudder.
2.) Crawford Road (Yorktown)
Yikes: There are a LOT of stories floating around online about the old, creepy bridge located down Crawford Road in Yorktown. Read on at your own risk.
One tale involves a group of friends driving down the road while playing a brand new CD. Suddenly, the track let out a startling shrieking sound -- for about 10 seconds. The noise stopped once the group got far enough away from the bridge. But what’s even scarier is that, allegedly, the CD recorded the strange noise … meaning, the sound remains embedded on the CD. You can supposedly hear it when you play that track. Needless to say, the group of friends has not returned to the bridge, according to Colonial Ghosts.
There's also a story about a group of people who could have sworn they ran something over one night while out for a drive. When they stopped the car to check, the vehicle windows fogged up and handprints could be seen from the outside, reports say.
Finally, an old wedding legend involves a bride who got married in the area and then hanged herself from the bridge. Her body can still be seen, decked out in a white dress and everything -- that is, if you believe in these types of things.
There are also some conspiracies involving the Ku Klux Klan. Like we said: there’s a lot here. Read more.
3.) The Lightfoot House (Williamsburg)
You would NOT want to be on the cleaning staff at the 18th century Lightfoot House. Let’s just say that.
One former employee reportedly turned around one day to see a man dressed in colonial-era clothing, according to Colonial Ghosts.
Now, that in and of itself isn’t so weird; you’ll sometimes see people dressed up in Williamsburg. But this worker said the man she saw was not alive. She quit on the spot, as the story goes. Other housekeepers at Lightfoot have reported making beds, only to have the beds in a disarray, minutes later (ghosts or no ghosts, that’s just frustrating).
It's not clear who these ghosts might be, or what they're after.
"What's interesting to point out, is that a member of the Peachy family resided in the Lightfoot House," the website says. "It's known that the Peachy family owned the Peyton Randolph House, one of the most haunted houses in Williamsburg. Whether or not this is all coincidence is for you, the reader, to decide." (Keep on reading to learn more about the Peyton Randolph House, which is No. 20 on our list).
The Lightfoot House was restored in 1940.
4.) Major Graham’s Mansion (Wythe County)
As legend will have it, in 1786, two slaves killed their master and were hanged from a tree as punishment. The property hasn't been the same since.
The two slaves are apparently the ghosts who are haunting the place -- and the word is out on all the strange occurrences at Major Graham's Mansion, seeing as a number of paranormal TV shows have highlighted the property and its vast stories.
The mansion even looks like a haunted house, according to published reports. It takes forever to get there, and you have to navigate some back roads before finding the house itself.
Learn more about the mansion's spooky history.
5.) Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Spotsylvania County features several locations that are said to be haunted. Or perhaps this area is a lot like other regions of Virginia: there's just so much history there, that it maybe leads to a certain "eerie" factor.
Spotsylvania National Military Park, established in 1927, offers 8,374 acres for visitors to explore, according to Colonial Ghosts. This park is best known for being the "bloodiest ground in North America" following a particularly violent Civil War battle.
The county also is home to the Spotsylvania Courthouse, Chatham Manor, Ellwood Manor, Salem Church, and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. The sites have been attracting ghost hunters for years. Read more.
6.) Public Gaol (Williamsburg)
Supposedly, this place was pretty claustrophobic for the inmates back in the day -- and by "back in the day," we definitely mean the 1700s, so that's no exaggeration.
There was not a lot of space to move about inside. It's probably hard to imagine having to stay for an extended period.
Let’s talk about this hotspot: In the mid-1700s, Williamsburg was the state capital. The Public Gaol -- better known now as the Jail -- held a lot of bad guys, or accused bad guys. Remember learning about Blackbeard, as in, the notorious English pirate? He was killed and his crew was sent here, so that’s a fun fact. And it just goes to illustrate the vast history involved here.
Visitors to the jail have reported hearing footsteps, conversations and even seeing shackles on the wall move without explanation.
There's been talk of a phantom horse and buggy, along with the sound of horse hooves, associated with the town and the jail. Not sure about this place? Neither are we. If you're going to visit, might we suggest bringing a friend?
7.) Staunton Train Station (Staunton)
The Staunton Train Station looks pleasant enough from the outside -- especially during the day.
But people say this place gets pretty spooky once the sun sets. Its reputation as a so-called "creepy" site has really taken off in recent years. One report even goes as far as to say the train station has become known as one of the most haunted places in the state.
Among the popular tales that led to the station's infamy? Several people died in 1864 when the station was burned down by Union soldiers, according to reports. And then the station was destroyed by a train derailment in 1890, which led to fatalities, as well. A mental hospital with poor living conditions sat nearby at one point, so perhaps ghosts wandered over to the station, one website speculates.
So we'll ask: Would you visit?
8.) Ferry Plantation House (Virginia Beach)
Eleven spirits reportedly haunt the Ferry Plantation House, including victims of a shipwreck that happened in 1810, and the Witch of Pungo, who was once convicted of witchcraft.
The house now serves as a museum, and people are typically able to tour and visit the historic grounds.
Each year around Halloween time, the site hosts an event called Stroll of Lost Souls, in which visitors can learn more about the 11 ghosts and the sad stories surrounding them. The Ferry Plantation House has been a plantation, a school, a post office and a courthouse. History on the grounds dates back to the 1600s.
9.) Paxton Manor (Leesburg)
Paxton Manor was once known by the name Carlheim, according to published reports. It was constructed in 1872, and -- are you ready for this? The house has a subterranean body of water (meaning, an underground water table) flowing underneath it. Some people even say this is one of the reasons why the building is so haunted.
The website hauntedrooms.com says the manor now exists as an education center for young people living with disabilities, and also partly as a haunted house attraction. Investigators believe that perhaps members of the Paxton family, who once resided in the home, never left.
10.) Swannanoa Palace (Afton)
It just may be members of the the Dooley family who are haunting this spacious, old home. The Dooleys owned Swannanoa Palace at one point, although it's not clear what unfinished business they might have.
Work on the so-called palace was completed in 1912, according to hauntedrooms.com. It took crews about eight years to finish construction.
When the Dooleys died, the house was reportedly transformed into a country club, but then abandoned once the Great Depression and World War II hit.
For nearly 50 years, until about 1998, the University of Science and Philosophy rented the house, but now it’s back to old form: meaning, it’s decaying (at least, it was at last check). And as for ghosts and the like, “The paranormal activity only really started to gain attention in the last couple of years, but in that time, a number of different paranormal investigators have manage to pick up some very compelling [electronic voice phenomenon] evidence,” the aforementioned website says.
Take that for what it's worth.
11.) The Graffiti House (Brandy Station)
The Graffiti House, built in 1858, was a frequent stop during the Civil War for Union and Confederate soldiers alike. At first, it held local families, but the building was transformed into a field hospital in 1863, according to Colonial Ghosts. When it turned into a medical facility, injured soldiers were sent here to be treated.
One of the bigger events to wound members of the military was the Battle of Brandy Station -- the largest cavalry engagement the country had ever seen. It lasted an entire day. About 10 hours in, the Confederates started seeking refuge at the Graffiti House, and they also left behind markings; hence, how the house earned its name.
“One room, known as the Marshall Room, is named after one of its most significant signers: Lt. James Marshall, a Confederate officer who was killed during the famous Battle of Gettysburg,” the website reads. “The room also features simple sketch of a downcast-looking Confederate soldier.”
There is a LOT of graffiti in the house.
And odd events have been taking place in the home for decades, experts say.
In 2007, the Virginia Paranormal Institute was invited to the Graffiti House to conduct an investigation. What they found upstairs was definitely more than graffiti, Colonial Ghosts said. Everyone in the group experienced something paranormal: ghost hunter Jackie Hicks felt a force “tightening” around her wrist; journalist Donnie Johnston witnessed a picture frame move on its own; and the team’s ghost-detecting instruments were “racing off the charts.” Hmmm.
12.) The Wythe House (Williamsburg)
Perhaps it's the home's original owner, who was reportedly poisoned with arsenic, who haunts the house. Believers in the paranormal certainly think something, or someone, is still lingering. Rumor has it that the old owner comes back to the property (in spirit form, of course) from time to time with his wife.
Or maybe it's Lady Skipwirth, who got into a fight with her husband at a Wythe House soiree one night and killed herself in an upstairs bedroom, according to published reports.
(Or is it both Skipwirth and the original owner?) You decide.
Still, the Wythe House looks gorgeous in photos, despite its rather creepy past.
13.) Cold Harbor Battlefield (Mechanicsville)
This is believed to be one of the nation's most haunted military sites, with plenty of "unsettled spirits" to go around.
So many soldiers died in the Battle of Cold Harbor that some victims never got a chance to be buried properly. (Hence, why the grounds just might be so haunted).
Historian and paranormal investigator Mark Nesbitt experienced a strange occurrence while visiting the battlefield, according to Colonial Ghosts.
"I got to the highest point of the arched bridge and suddenly was stopped," he said, according to the site. "I didn't stop -- I was stopped, and looked to my left down into the remnant of the Confederate trench. I heard myself say, ‘Something awful happened to me right here.' I didn't think it. I said it out loud. Did this have some to do with reincarnation? To unconsciously blurt out that something terrible happened to me right at a specific spot where I had never been before – at least in this life – is incomprehensible to me."
Other people have reported leaving the battlefield feeling possessed.
14.) Boxwood Inn Bed & Breakfast (Newport News)
Originally built in 1897 but then known as the Simon Reid Curtis House, this building has been a private home, a tax office, a general store and a post office.
Most recently, it was the Boxwood Inn Bed & Breakfast, and one of the most haunted places in the state, some would say.
The ghosts here are quite talkative, which had led to some great electronic voice phenomena, or EVP. One spirit in particular lives in the attic, according to hauntedrooms.com.
*Unfortunately, if you visit the website of the bed and breakfast, it appears the owners have since closed up shop. (Hope you didn’t get excited and start to plan your visit).
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15.) Bacon’s Castle (Surry)
"The Lady in White." Spirits that are known to pull at visitors' pant legs. Doorknobs that will turn and open on their own. Nope, that's not creepy or anything.
Bacon’s Castle embraces its creep factor -- hosting an event called Haunt Night, so you know there must be something to all these strange reports (alleged, of course).
This rural Surry County hotspot has been looked into by the Center for Paranormal Research and Investigation, in Richmond.
As for what makes the castle so creepy, it's been said that a man named Nathaniel Bacon took over the property during 1676 Bacon's Rebellion -- an event in which Bacon and nearly 100 of his followers holed up in the castle and destroyed the grounds. Perhaps he and his group decided to stick around, all these years later? We may never know.
16.) Edgewood Plantation (Charles City)
First it was called Berkeley Plantation, now it's known as Edgewood Plantation. And just like Boxwood (No. 14 on our list), this property turned into a bed and breakfast.
But restless spirits are said to roam the place, including a woman who is possibly the fiancée of a Civil War soldier who never returned from battle, according to hauntedrooms.com. The woman lingers in the halls of the plantation house, lost and broken-hearted.
So you tell us: Is that creepy, or just tragic?
17.) St. Albans Sanatorium (Radford)
An abandoned mental institution? Sounds about right for a creepy spot.
St. Albans Sanatorium just might be able to boast the highest rate of paranormal activity on the East Coast, according to published reports. Some of the alleged ghosts include kids, former patients and former staffers.
Why children? St Albans started out as a school for boys in 1892.
One spirit in particular is a former staff member who keeps to the lower level of the building and behaves aggressively toward girls and women who visit, reports say.
Oh, and in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a sanatorium is something from the early 20th century: a facility that, in this case, was known for using cruel practices such as electroshock therapy and performing lobotomies, according to virginia.org.
"The trials had no positive effect for the patients, who acted as test subjects for the doctors curious to see the results of such savage experiments without practicing on the general public. St. Albans Sanatorium was one such facility, and the tortured patients did not always survive the tests."
The property was also the site of a violent Civil War battle, and visitors sometimes will report hearing rifles or cannons firing and smelling gun smoke when walking the grounds.
18.) Historic Avenel (Bedford)
Want to spot a ghostly woman in a long, white dress strolling outside the house with an umbrella in hand? Perhaps you should stop by the Avenel House, which is also sometimes called the William M. Burwell House.
Burwell owned the small Bedford plantation back in the day. The historic mansion was built in the 1830s.
Even now, many visitors have reported strange happenings: recording EVPs, seeing an orb that resembles an eye, hearing a cat's meowing noise, smelling tobacco and feeling dizzy, according to Colonial Ghosts.
The Robert E. Lee Room, where Lee himself is rumored to have stayed, is also pretty spooky. Apparently, there's a weird and inexplicable indentation in the bed, as if someone is lying in it.
Do you believe it?
19.) Henricus Historical Park (Chester)
Yikes. There's way too much history to get into in just a few paragraphs, but we'll send you here if you want to read all about it.
In a nutshell, archaeologists have uncovered artifacts and remains from Native American tribes that date back nearly 10,000 years ago. (Yes, you read that correctly). Henricus, established in September 1611, eventually went on to become the colony's second settlement, according to Colonial Ghosts. And the town of Chester, where the Henricus Historical Park is located, was involved heavily in the Civil and Revolutionary wars.
(Why are we throwing all these facts at you?) To explain where the restless ghosts might have originated.
Spirits on the grounds seem like they want to interact with visitors -- although they mostly seem friendly, the aforementioned website said. Paranormal specialists have become increasingly fascinated with Historic Henricus Park, likely due to its deep and rich history.
And Henricus itself has capitalized on its storied past. If you visit the park's website, you'll see listings for several "haunted"-type seasonal events, including Haunted Henricus Jr., which is for children; a haunted Henricus overnight event; and another called Things That Go Bump in the Night. Learn more.
20.) The Peyton Randolph House (Williamsburg)
A slave once cursed this Colonial Williamsburg home before the woman died, as legend will have it.
The curse was supposedly punishment for the way that the slave owner’s wife treated the workers.
Many other deaths have been reported on the property as well, including those of Civil War soldiers, a boy who fell from a tree, a girl who fell from her window, and two men who shot each other in a fight.
"It is said to have poltergeist-like activity," the website Thought Catalogue says. "People hear glass breaking, children laughing (and) a woman who sings to herself. People also report being touched, pushed -- and even a security guard claims to have been held down with extreme force." Whoa.
And before you venture out: Just keep in mind that with the coronavirus pandemic raging on, some of these places might have different hours, rules or circumstances in place -- so it might be worth the effort to do some digging on social media, so you’ll know what to expect.
*This story was first published in 2017. It has since been updated.