Most people associate Florida with beautiful beaches, sunshine, and a huge playground of theme parks and tourist attractions. There are plenty of shadows in the Sunshine State, and there are actually a number of notoriously haunted (or celebrated, depending on who you ask) landmarks in Florida. All of these can still be visited, and in some of them you can even spend the night! Check out a few of the most haunted places in Florida:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Miami Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables
The most famous legend at this historic hotel is of a mobster killed in a gambling dispute, who is said to remain here in spirit. Visitors and employees have seen lights turn on and off by themselves and the elevator repeatedly going to the wrong floor. This resident spirit has also been known to hold doors open for servers in the hotel's restaurant.
2. Key West Cemetery
Most hauntings we read about are benevolent, but here that's not the case. Key West Cemetery is rumored to be haunted by a ghost so angry that it has been known to attack those who visit at night. Some visitors hear the laughter of children, attributed to the ghosts of several children who perished in a fire across the street many years ago.
3. Loews Don CeSar Hotel, St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach's iconic "pink castle" is rumored to be haunted by the hotel's original owner and his sweetheart. The most common report is of a man walking the beach in a white suit, waiting for his lover.
4. Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine
St. Augustine is our nation's oldest city, so it makes sense it would also be one of the most haunted. There are plenty of ghost tours offered there that can tell you about haunted hot spots all over town, but the Castillo de San Marcos is one of the most famous. This 17th-century fortress is the oldest standing masonry fort in the country. The most popular stories involve a Seminole man who haunts the fortress and leaps from the walls and a lovesick woman in white.
5. The I-4 "Dead Zone"
There’s a stretch of I-4 between Orlando and Daytona that has had so much strange activity (as well as accidents and injuries) that it has been nicknamed the “I-4 Dead Zone.” Legend has it this small stretch of highway was built over the graves of four German immigrants who died of yellow fever. This area has supposedly had an unusually high number of accidents as well as two hurricanes that seemed to follow its path.
6. Ashley's Restaurant, Rockledge
The main spirit here is tied to a story that is truly gruesome. It has been verified by local reports from the time. A young woman, Ethel Allen, was last seen at the restaurant (then Jack's Tavern) before her body was found near the Indian River. Workers and visitors have reported being tapped or pushed, seeing objects move on their own, and a woman in period clothing.
7. The May-Stringer House, Brooksville
This Victorian house is often called Florida's most haunted house, occupied by past residents who passed away on the property. The historic house is now a museum displaying antiques and artifacts of the Victorian era. At night, it hosts adult-only haunted tours and groups of paranormal researchers.
This town is called the "Psychic Capital of the World," because it has a large number of resident psychics and spiritualists. There are several places in Cassadaga that are rumored to be haunted, from the Cassadaga Hotel to the Devil's Chair in the Lake Helen-Cassadaga cemetery.
9. St. Augustine Lighthouse
Since the lighthouse was constructed in 1874, several people have passed away in or near the lighthouse. The most famous story is that of the Pettee girls. Their father was hired to work on the lighthouse, and the girls, one 13 and one 15, got in the construction cart and it rolled into the Bay. No one could reach them quickly enough, and they drowned. Children's laughter and footsteps on the stairs, among many other occurences, are often reported here.
10. Bellamy Bridge, Marianna
Built in 1914, this steel-frame bridge is over 100 years old, and the oldest of its kind in Florida. Elizabeth Bellamy and her husband, Samuel, had been married for three years when she died in 1837. Elizabeth actually died from fever, and her infant son died a week later from the same illness. Her husband became deeply depressed and turned to alcohol. 15 years after her death, he slit his own throat with a straight razor at Chattahoochee Landing. He was not buried next to his bride, despite his last request. Sightings of a ghostly woman near the bridge have been reported since the late 1800s.
11. Tampa Theatre
This beautiful 1926 theater is still in use today. Many employees have experienced paranormal events when alone in the theater. It's supposedly haunted by the longtime projectionist who worked in the theater from 1930 to 1965 and died of a heart attack in the projection booth.
12. The Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg
The Vinoy in St. Petersburg hosts a lot of famous folks, especially professional sports players, and some have reported paranormal activity including ghostly apparitions and unexplained sounds.
13. Apollo 1 Launch Complex 34
Complex 34 was envisioned as a major launch pad for NASA, until tragically, three astronauts died in a cabin fire here in 1967. The launch pad was shut down and stands as a memorial to the fallen astronauts. Paranormal activity has been reported here, from mysterious screaming to a sudden overwhelming sense of dread. It can be visited as part of a special tour offered through the Kennedy Space Center.
14. Arcadia Opera House, Arcadia
This 1905 theater is currently occupied by an antique store and museum. The theater has been rumored to be haunted by a little girl who some say jumped out the second story window. Phantom footsteps and laughter have also been heard here.
How many of these haunted sites have you visited? Do you have any others we left off the list?