There are bars around the country where it feels like anything can happen — especially when the bar is dark, dank and divey. Combine that with a pioneering history and the Halloween season, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a haunting.
Haunted bars are scattered all over the United States. People have died in some, and outlaws used to run others. Then there are the paranormal hot spots every respectable ghost hunter knows about. Regardless of the story, though, the bartenders and patrons know what they see (and feel, depending on the ghost).
Here are the eight best haunted bars in the United States appropriate for any time of the year. (If bars aren’t your thing, though, check out our list of the best haunted wineries.)
Wayside Irish Pub in Elbridge, New York
The building that is now the Wayside Irish Pub dates back to the 1800s, has someone who died in it and has caught fire multiple times through the years. History, death and tragedy — check, check and check. Ghosts have allegedly been around since the 1960s, Haunted History Trail writes. The ghosts include a young woman named Sara who hanged herself on the third floor, a friendly ghost named Harry and the Inn’s original owner, Squire Munro.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar in New Orleans, Louisiana
Lafitte’s Blacksmith was built sometime between 1722 and 1732 and, according to the bar’s website, it is one of the oldest bars in the United States. Throughout the years it’s allegedly been used as a smuggling hideout owned by a privateer named Captain Rene Beluche. Although the website also states that, “like most New Orleans’ legends, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.” Sounds like a ghostly combination, nonetheless.
The Ear Inn in New York City, New York
For a sense of the history, perhaps it’s best to look straight to The Ear Inn’s website: “We are the oldest bar continually serving alcohol, even Prohibition didn’t stop us!” It was a home to notable Americans like John Adams and Aaron Burr before becoming a sailor’s bar in the mid 1800s, then a speakeasy during Prohibition.That sailing history apparently never ended: A clipper ship captain named Mickey is still waiting at the bar for his ship to come to harbor.
Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, Florida
Key West is a beach paradise, and Captain Tony’s Saloon fits right in with all of the famous historical partiers who have taken up a barstool (Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Jimmy Buffet, to name a few). But when your bar is on a sliver of land that small, it’s bound to share a darker history. In this case, the building was Key West’s first morgue and the location of the tree where 16 pirates and a woman were hanged. That lady is the ghost that still hangs around the bar, and she has a name: the “Lady in Blue,” named after the blue dress she wore as she chopped up her husband and two kids.
The Blake Street Vault in Denver, Colorado
A woman known as Lydia — or the brown ghost, or the lady in red — is said to haunt around the vault. She used to be a saloon girl from the 1860s, as the story goes, where she had to deal with all the rough and tumble of frontier Denver. When you dealt with that all your life, it’s no wonder she doesn’t want to leave this world quietly.
Arnaud’s in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a town of many spirits. Its got a history of vice, revelry and seafaring visitors who never seem to have left. In the case of Arnaud’s, the ghosts are rumored to be the original owners from 1918, Germaine Cazenave Wells and her father, Count Arnaud Cazenave.
Boardner’s in Hollywood, California
Boardner’s doesn’t shy away from Hollywood’s flashy movie-star reputation. It’s been a classic Hollywood Boulevard bar for some 70 years, but a few recent deaths have led to a couple of spirits who refuse to leave: the co-owner, Kurt Richter, who died while drinking at his bar on Christmas Eve in 1997, and a bartender named Al who died in the 2000s, owner Tricia LaBelle told Locale Magazine.