Margaret Barry / Alamy

At these haunted hotels, bars, and asylums, the locals have been around for centuries and things go bump in the night.

The Pine Barrens, NJ

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Kids growing up in southern Jersey are bound to hear tales of the Jersey Devil, perhaps told around a campfire. The main plot point is that when Mrs. Leeds gave birth to her 13th child, the baby transformed into a winged devil—a grotesque flying beast, with cloven hoofs for feet, a goat’s head and haunches, a forked tail, and massive wings. For nearly 200 years, the creature has supposedly roamed the haunted forest, with the worst sightings in 1909; area residents were so terrified of running into the monster that schools shut down and the local mill closed for several days. Some still avoid the Pine Barrens or warn their children not to swim in the Blue Hole, a natural pool said to be bottomless and frequented by the winged monster.

Pine Barrens

America's Most Haunted Places

The Pine Barrens, NJ

Kids growing up in southern Jersey are bound to hear tales of the Jersey Devil, perhaps told around a campfire. The main plot point is that when Mrs. Leeds gave birth to her 13th child, the baby transformed into a winged devil—a grotesque flying beast, with cloven hoofs for feet, a goat’s head and haunches, a forked tail, and massive wings. For nearly 200 years, the creature has supposedly roamed the haunted forest, with the worst sightings in 1909; area residents were so terrified of running into the monster that schools shut down and the local mill closed for several days. Some still avoid the Pine Barrens or warn their children not to swim in the Blue Hole, a natural pool said to be bottomless and frequented by the winged monster.

Margaret Barry / Alamy

America's Most Haunted Places

Some guests of Savannah’s Kehoe House have dismissed the sound of giggling and running up and down the hallway as typical kid antics—until they learn there’s an adults-only policy.

Young twins who died while playing in a chimney are rumored to haunt the 19th-century Kehoe House, one of many hotels and other sites across America where tales of the supernatural persist. In a New Orleans bar, a long-dead pirate guards the riches of his plundering; a screeching monster in the New Jersey woods has spooked locals for generations; and a one-armed stagehand roams the catwalks above an Illinois theater.

Related: World's Most Unusual Hotels

Ghost hunting has become big business, with paranormal experts offering as evidence dark shadows and orbs of light caught on film, recordings of strange noises, and unexplained temperature drops. Most haunted places capitalize on the attention by offering ghost tours. Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, KY, even lets you spend the night. Request room 502 only if you want company: the spirit of a nurse who hanged herself from a lightbulb wire.

But not all ghosts are scary; some just want to have fun. One specter spends her days stealing earrings from female patrons at a historic New York restaurant, while the apparition of a little girl faithfully turns up to watch rehearsals from her favorite seat at a Memphis theater.

Related: America’s Coolest Ghost Towns

Even for skeptics, playing along can be irresistible. So turn out the lights, and get ready to conjure some spirits at these haunted places.

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