Dating back to 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest European-founded settlement in the U.S. Situated along the Atlantic Ocean in North Florida, on what’s commonly referred to as “Florida’s First Coast,” St. Augustine has a storied history that’s evident throughout the city’s centuries-old buildings, brick-lined streets, and hidden courtyards. Ponce de Leon famously sought the Fountain of Youth here, and today his spirit is just one of many thought to haunt this notoriously ghost-filled destination.
With so many historic places to see in St. Augustine, and its reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the country, it’s the perfect spot to begin a bewitching road trip this spooky season. Travel through haunted hallways, graveyards, and museums in this eerie hot spot before journeying on to other nearby spirited destinations to make the most of your decidedly dark visit to the Sunshine State.
1. St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
St. Augustine is more than 450 years old, and in the last few centuries the town has racked up more than its fair share of haunting tales. Perhaps the most infamous locale in St. Augustine is the lighthouse, which has stood watch over this waterfront town since 1874. Many spirits are rumored to haunt its halls, drawing the attention of ghost hunters and tourists looking to spy a specter of the lighthouse keeper who tragically died here, or hear the lingering laughter of two young girls who drowned nearby.
2. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Next, head to St. Augustine’s imposing 17th-century fort, which has survived more than 300 years of bloody battles and disastrous storms. While traveling through Castillo de San Marcos’ hallowed halls, be on the lookout for supernatural occurrences, which are commonly reported here, such as flickering lights, ghostly sightings of a Spanish soldier, and the feeling of cold hands pressed against your skin.
3. Spanish Military Hospital Museum
When the Spanish Military Hospital was rebuilt in 1821, workers discovered thousands of human bones buried beneath the building’s foundation. Today, visitors report hearing moans, screams, and cries, along with strange sightings of the restless spirits who were unearthed during construction. Many say that the building gives them an unnerving sensation of dread, making this stop on your journey one that’s not for the faint of heart.
4. Huguenot Cemetery
Located near the Old City Gate, Huguenot Cemetery holds more than 400 bodies, many of whom were victims of the yellow fever outbreak in the early 1800s. While many of the cemetery’s residents are believed to haunt these grounds from the beyond, the location’s most famous ghost is the spirit of a judge who has been unable to rest since grave robbers stole several of his possessions, including his gold teeth.
5. Old Jail Museum
To conclude your visit to St. Augustine, be sure to check out the Old Jail, which is listed on the Florida and National Register of Haunted Places. At least eight hangings, along with other prisoner deaths and acts of cruelty, occurred at this site, making it a hotbed for paranormal activity. Locals and visitors alike report eerie occurrences at this location, especially when toured under the cover of darkness.
6. Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp
After leaving St. Augustine, head for a destination where you can communicate with ethereal spirits, and perhaps even peek into the future. Named the “Psychic Capital of the World,” the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp is home to a community of like-minded citizens united by spiritualism, with many of the resident mediums offering readings in local businesses and homes. Wander through this quiet hamlet’s unique bookstores and curio shops before seeking psychic services from whichever spiritual guide calls out to you.
7. C Green’s Haunted History House and Museum
The unassuming C Green’s Haunted History House and Museum is part history museum and part haunted house. The 122-year-old building is packed full of hundreds of mesmerizing items, ranging from nightmarish dolls to creepy artifacts, witchy collectibles, and recreations of legendary creatures. Explore the collection by flashlight and purchase your very own haunted doll at the onsite gift shop… if you dare.
8. Lake Helen-Cassadaga Cemetery
Folklore tells of a haunted chair found in graveyards throughout the U.S. Perhaps the most storied of these legendary “Devil’s Chairs” is a graveside bench in the cemetery that borders Cassadaga and nearby Lake Helen. The Devil is said to appear to those bold enough to sit in the chair, and local legend claims that an unopened can of beer left on the chair will be empty, though still sealed shut, by morning.
9. Wop’s Hops Brewing Company
Continuing down Interstate 4 toward the city of Sanford, take caution as you head through the deadliest portion of the roadway, known as the “I-4 Dead Zone,” where ghost hitchhikers have reportedly been spotted by weary drivers. Head through the charming downtown and keep an eye out for a ghost horse that’s rumored to haunt the streets as you make your way to Wop’s Hops, a former fish market turned brewery. Built in the early 1900s, this historic building boasts five spirits in residence, with many visitors claiming they’ve encountered cold spots and apparitions while sipping on their IPAs.
10. The Manikin Lounge
After the sun goes down, head a few doors down to The Manikin Lounge. This last stop is only for the 21+ crowd, but it offers a unique environment that blurs the line between illusion and reality. The lounge is the brainchild of a rumored immortal, and possible descendent of Vlad the Impaler, and offers a chance to step inside a goth-inspired fantasyland. Whether you believe the mystical lore surrounding the venue’s creator or simply enjoy dancing to darkwave, EBM, metal, and ‘80s industrial music, you’ll discover an appropriately sinister environment in which to reflect on this otherworldly road trip.