News & Politics

Boo! Ghost Tours and Haunted Houses in Washington

Prepare to be spooked with our guide to haunted houses, ghost tours, and other Halloween events.


Washington Walks: The Most Haunted Houses
Is Lafayette Square the most haunted place in Washington? Find out on this eerie two-hour walking tour, where the wraiths of history emerge from centuries-old shadows every night. Learn about the Presidential Circle of Death and the grim underbelly of the city. Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30 through October 30. $10.

Boo at the Zoo
The National Zoo is inviting all ghosts, wizards, and princesses to trick-or-treat alongside their favorite animals for the best candy in town. The zoo will have all sorts of Halloween festivities including snacks, treats, zookeeper talks, and of course, animal encounters. Children ages two to 12 can gather from 5:30 to 8:30 October 23 to 25. Tickets are $15 for Friends of the National Zoo members, $25 for nonmembers.

National Building Museum Ghost Tour
Everybody knows the best museums are the haunted ones. Explore the bedeviled past of the National Building Museum on its lantern-led tours with the ghost of the Civil War conspirator Mary Surratt, and solve the mysteries behind some of the more supernatural exhibits. Tours are held on October 16, 18, and 26 at 8. Tickets are $12 for members and $20 for nonmembers.

Fright at the Museum: Dead Men Walking
From 1916 to 1960, one Tennessee electric chair executed 125 men unfortunate enough to find themselves strapped to its cold wooden frame. Now that chair has made its way to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment—and so have the ghosts that haunt it. Experience a one-of-a-kind haunted house where tortured souls shadow your steps through the museum’s dark corridors. The event runs Wednesday through Saturday from October 21 to October 31. Tickets are $20.

Things to Do DC is hosting several haunted walks and tours throughout the area. To find the scariest one, check the schedule here.


Markoff’s Haunted Forest
Spooking guests for 17 years, these vexed woods feature enough scares to keep you terrified all month. Survive the haunted hayride, escape the haunted bus, stalk ghost hunts, meet fortunetellers, and even take a frightful flight across the forest’s zip-line. This farm in Dickerson, Maryland, is open October 9, 10, 15 to 17, 22 through 25 as well as October 29 to November 1, and tours begin at dusk. Tickets are $25 except on Thursdays, when they’re $20.

Bennett’s Curse
Once, the mighty knights of Castle Bennett stood for glory and valor in the face of evil. But after encountering a cruel army of underworld creatures, only ruin and despair exist between its walls. Wander the darkest corners of this besieged castle and the insidious creatures hiding within. Also explore the shocking House of the Vampyres and escape an illusion-fraught labyrinth hoping to claim its next victim. This tour in Hanover, Maryland, is open October 8 through 11, 15 through 18, 22 through 25, and 28 through 31. Tickets are $20.

CreepyWoods Haunted Trail
Come face to face with the wretched undead at this trail in Kingsville, Maryland, where you’ll traverse the demonic grounds of the mausoleums, the prison, and the home of the terrifying 17-foot tall Pumpkin King. In its second year, this trail promises a longer and more intense walk packed with more scares and more gore than its competitors. And beware of werewolves. Open Friday and Saturday from 7 PM to 11 PM and Sunday from 7 to 10 through October 31. Tickets are $15.

Ghost Tours of Frederick
Explore the historic district of Maryland’s most haunted city with a 90-minute candlelight tour. Revolutionary-era poltergeists will follow your footsteps as you try to unravel the mysteries behind their untimely demise. Tours run every Friday and Saturday from October 16 through November 7 at 7:30 and Saturday, October 10, at 8:15. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for kids.


VSRA Ghost Tours of Leesburg
Get a tour of historic downtown Leesburg with real-life Ghostbusters every Friday and Saturday of the month at 9. This haunted stroll, led by two paranormal researchers, will examine the historical phantoms of the area from a scientific perspective. See demonstrations of research equipment and get a hands-on ghostly experience for $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Tickets can be bought at Esoterica (25 S. King St., Leesburg; 703-777-4642).

Alexandria Ghost & Graveyard Tour
Follow an 18th-century costumed guide through the haunted streets of Old Town to discover the legends and folklore that have resided here for hundred of years. This lantern-lit, one-hour tour will chill you to the bone with ghost stories of these historic streets. Through November 1, Sunday through Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and 9. Tickets are $10, $5 for ages 17 and under.

Halloween Woods
Legend has it that 13 children vanished from a boarding school located in what is now known as the Haunted Woods at Algonkian Regional Park. Take the haunted walk and perhaps you’ll hear the children’s laughter. $13; selected dates in October. See the full schedule here.

Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.