News & Politics

Seven Spookiest Places in Washington

Trick-or-treating not freaky enough for ya? Here’s where to look for a real-life scare.

Author Eric Nuzum lying awake in haunted Suite 870 of the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Photograph by Tyler Wilson.

Some people love Washington so much, they never leave—even if their bodies do. Here are seven spots with some seriously spooky history.

Omni Shoreham Hotel
For a night of first-hand experience with the other side, book a room at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in DC’s Woodley Park. Staff talk openly about Juliette, the former housekeeper who passed away at 4 AM one morning under “mysterious circumstances.” While room 870, officially known as the Ghost Suite, isn’t available for reservations, guests staying in adjacent rooms have reported hearing strange noise, such as slamming doors and vacuuming coming from the room late at night. Are the tales true? Back in 2007, a writer recounted his experiences there for The Washingtonian. Read his tale here.

Bunny Man Bridge
The legend of the “Bunny Man” has evolved over the years, but local stories center on a bridge in Clifton, Virginia, where an escaped convict in a bunny costume liked to hang his victims. Although some details are disputed, most residents of the Fairfax County town avoid the bridge after sundown for fear of crossing paths with the Bunny Man’s ghost. Braver souls report seeing strange flickering lights as they drive under the bridge.

Glenn Dale Hospital
Formerly a sanatorium for those suffering from tuberculosis, Glenn Dale Hospital in rural Prince George’s County has since been abandoned and condemned. The underground rooms have flooded, rusted metal and broken glass litter the floors, and asbestos permeates the air—it’s seriously, seriously spooky. Trespassers and paranormal investigators who explore the hospital testify to seeing shadowy figures and hearing disembodied screams, and one legend tells of a former patient who committed suicide and now haunts the second floor wearing a straitjacket.

Decatur House
With its grand three-story brick facade and prime location on Lafayette Square in downtown DC, Decatur House looks like many other historic Washington houses. Commodore Stephen Decatur and his wife, Susan, built the house in 1818 to host lavish parties, but just over a year after moving in, fellow commodore James Barron challenged Decatur to a duel. For Decatur, the confrontation ended badly—he died at swordpoint. Overcome with grief, Susan moved out. Many years later, visitors and residents can allegedly still hear her sobs and have reported seeing Decatur’s ghost walking the halls, lamenting his lost duel.

Capitol Building
A lethal 1980 showdown between Kentucky representative William Preston Taulbee and reporter Charles Kincaid is just one of the incidents that haunt the halls of the Capitol. Legend has it that Taulbee’s ghost will trip any reporter who walks over the steps where he died. Former congressman John Quincy Adams also refuses to vacate the building, long after both his term and his life ended in 1848. Security guards have reported hearing him still debating legislation in what was once his office. Other more fanciful tales include a demon cat that roams the basement of the building and statues coming to life.

Christmas Attic
Many in Congress have denied the paranormal happenings in the halls. However, at the Christmas Attic in Alexandria, they’re pretty open about their resident phantom, Jack, who is known for rearranging merchandise and brushing up against customers and salespeople. The shop owners have installed a spirit bell for Jack to ring in case he has any urges for more direct communication.

Old Stone House
While some may visit Georgetown’s “Exorcist steps”—an outdoor staircase featured prominently in the movie The Exorcist—hoping for a scare, the nearby Old Stone House offers much more in the way of an authentic experience. Built in 1765, it’s one of the oldest standing structures in DC, and it’s reportedly home to several friendly Colonial spirits. While you’re there, watch out for George—a more hostile specter. He doesn’t take kindly to strangers and supposedly announces his presence with cold air before shoving them.

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