The Most Bone-Chillingly Haunted Places in Texas
Everything’s bigger in Texas—even the frights.
Ah, Halloween, the thrilling season where we can tap into our ghost-hunting bags—or simply munch on some sweet treats from the comfort and safety of home. With a vast landscape boasting thick woodlands, deserted (and thriving) buildings, and curious remote attractions, it comes as no surprise that Texas’ broad expanse is home to its fair share of eerie tales.
From spooky hotels riddled with touristy kitch to historic landmarks teeming with strange sightings, these 13 haunted destinations come with horrid backgrounds that mirror the ghouls allegedly haunting them.
This bone-chilling story is definitely a butcher’s nightmare. In November 1959, Roy Simms, a meat locker foreman, was slicing some product in the university’s Animal Industries building. Legend has it, as he was cutting towards himself, the knife slipped and punctured his leg, severing his femoral artery and causing him to bleed profusely. He tried crawling to safety, as his assistant had briefly stepped out, but once they returned, they found him bleeding out near the elevator. Unfortunately, Simms died at the scene. Since this tragic mishap, both students and staff have reported hearing shrieks and other strange noises coming from the building. Even worse, some have spotted quickly dissolving footsteps and reported the elevator operating without passengers throughout the day.
Some bars have that special, boozy charm that keeps the wine flowing and customers returning. For La Carafe, however, their popularity lies within their infamous ghost sightings and architectural ode to the French Quarter. Built in 1847, this bar is said to be the oldest pub in the downtown Market Square district. Every inch of the cozy nook sports an eclectic history, from the numerous black and white photographs on the walls to the tales of important figures such as Sam Houston being a regular guest there. And considering this building’s antiquated age, it’s no surprise that a couple of phantoms also call this place home.
Among the rumored residents is a former bartender named Carl, who still clocks in for his shift and keeps an eye on the establishment, especially on the second floor—which is reportedly vacant—after closing time. Customers have also reported glasses breaking, hearing heavy footsteps and eerie bangs, and sensing cold spots in the bathroom. If these occurrences intrigue you enough to reserve a table for a candlelit dinner, remember to bring a mask, as it’s required when ordering inside.
Tucked away in downtown El Paso, this performing arts center has served as a cinematic hub for over 50 years. And even with its new modern nips and tucks, those plush wine-colored seats and mosaic-tiled floors continue to blast visitors back to 1930, the year it debuted. The center originally operated as a movie palace before dimming their lights in 1985. It wasn’t until 2006 that awe-inducing renovations rebirthed The Plaza as a premiere destination for entertainment, but during that long period of closing, it garnered a much different reputation…
The space accumulated a long, chilling roster of specters bewitching enough for a horror film of their own—the smoking man that haunts the theater’s balcony, the floating woman in white, and the phantom child and her bouncing ball being among the many ghastly residents. Visitors have also reported other unusual phenomena, ranging from unexplainable orbs and shadows to objects moving on their own. Think you can handle the hauntings? Reserve a ticket for an upcoming Broadway revival, and check the website for updated safety restrictions.
It might seem like an obvious pick, but the Alamo is far more than just a place elementary school kids visit on field trips. During the infamous siege of 1836, thousands of men were killed and their bodies dumped unceremoniously into mass graves, so it's no wonder a few of their disembodied spirits remain pretty pissed off. Several security guards have reported hearing footsteps in the middle of the night, some have seen a small blonde-haired boy wandering the gift shop, and a ghastly John Wayne—yes, that John Wayne—reciting lines from his 1960 film on the subject. When exploring this haunted historic mecca, visitors are required to wear a mask and tour reservations are also required.
Unless you're a character in a Harry Potter book, your school probably doesn't have its own resident spirit -- but Lake Highlands supposedly does, and she's named Elizabeth. According to local legend, she fell to her death in the school auditorium back in the '70s, and students and faculty have both reported seeing objects moving inexplicably across the room in which she died. An actual apparition's never been sighted in the auditorium, though, which might mean Elizabeth's specter suffers from a bad case of… stage fright. Sorry.
Most Texans have heard their grandmother say these terrifying words: "La Llorona will get you." Well, San Antonians can probably thank Woman Hollering Creek for that. According to urban legend, a woman who was physically abused by her husband drowned her children in this river. Now her "high, silver" voice mourns for her dead children along the banks of the creek. Is there a chance that fed up grandmothers just use La Llorona to dissuade their rambunctious grandkids from going hanging out near the water? Yeah, probably... but that still doesn't mean it's not real.
Known locally as the "Blue Ghost"—a nickname originally given to the ship during its service in World War II—the Lexington has long been considered by Corpus residents to be occupied by spirits. An engine room operator who was killed during one of the ship's battles is said to roam the boat at night, and visitors claim to have witnessed doors slamming and lights flashing on and off at random. That's right—flickering lights in a 75-year-old ship with absolutely no explanation whatsoever. Luckily, this national treasure doesn’t shy away from allowing curious guests to explore the grounds, so be sure to check the website for admission times and safety precautions, while the truly brave can even snag an overnight reservation via a special one- or two-night program.
Bill Clinton visited the Menger once, but the hotel's non-living guests are its most infamous. Fellow ex-President Teddy Roosevelt, who recruited rough & tumble cowboys to his detachment of Rough Riders during the Spanish American War, is said to serve himself a drink in the dark barroom off the main lobby some nights. A chambermaid named Sallie was killed by her husband in 1876 and is also said to continue her cleaning duties every day at the Menger.
El Paso High School
When an unidentified girl showed up in the graduating class of 1985's yearbook photo, people became suspicious. When everyone denied the presence of said girl when the picture was shot, they all felt their palms sweat. To this day, no one can identify the blurry woman who appeared in the graduating class of 1985's yearbook photo. Some say she was a student who died falling from a balcony at El Paso High, but no one is certain. In addition to the unknown student, some alumni & faculty claim hundreds of ghosts hold pep rallies in the middle of the night. They claim to hear basketballs bouncing against the court and hoards of people cheering, but when they peer into the auditorium... no one is there.
Marfa isn't just a quaint, remote art gallery filled with delicious food and cocktails in the middle of the desert, but also home to quite an interesting sensation. The Marfa Lights have intrigued Texans for decades. Are they space aliens, the angry ghosts of Spanish Conquistadors, or… y'know, something as benign as car headlights reflected in the atmosphere? Whatever the case, the yellow-orange spheres floating just above the desert foliage near US Route 67 remain unexplained to this day. If you’re looking to bask in the city’s beauty for a couple days before investigating these lights, they have a roster of modern and vintage hotels for you to choose from. Pop on over to Marfa’s website for details.
Built in 1851 as a cotton warehouse, the Jefferson hasn't changed much over the years. Besides the outdated decor, guests often report "sudden cold chills, odors with no discernible origin, phantom footsteps, and strange apparitions" throughout the space. Sounds a lot like puberty, eh? Employees claim most of the haunting comes from Elizabeth, a 19-year-old bride who hanged herself on her wedding night. Dishes move unexpectedly, televisions turn on and off, and objects fall from their place without any human touch... allegedly. Residents can witness these spine-chilling spooks by either booking a room or renting out their Crystal Palace Ballroom for a festive evening, masks in tow.
You might not think the Driskill is haunted based on its clean and recently renovated interior—or its brief, stunning appearance on AMC’s Texas-brimmed drama, The Son—but it’s loaded with plenty of stories that keep even the most adventurous guests running from these historic halls. Consider the girl who fell to her death down the grand staircase; the "suicide brides" who killed themselves in the bathtub of the same room exactly 20 years apart; and the reports of Col. Jesse Driskill (who opened the hotel in 1886) checking on his hotel, cigar still lit in his mouth. Those interested in plopping on their ghost-hunting hat and witnessing these occurrences in person can book a room online or by calling 512-439-1234. The hotel has also rearranged their quarters to allow guests to safely explore, adopting paperless menus, sketching 6-feet floor decals in the lobby for social distancing, and requiring masking for all unvaccinated guests.
Galveston was once the most populous city in Texas, a booming commercial center with nationwide prominence. However, as chilling natural disasters and other events began sweeping through the coastal metropolis, the population began to decline. Ever since Hurricane Ike—which whittled the city’s then 57,000 residents down to 48,000—hit in 2008, Galveston has tried to revitalize its small-town allure with new enterprises. But this isn’t the city’s first reawakening—after a devastating hurricane in 1900, Galveston attempted to reinvigorate its tourist appeal with Hotel Galvez, a beautiful building bearing features straight from the Spanish Colonial era.
Though the place is a product of the past, its eerie backstory has produced specters rumored to haunt the grounds to this day. The most infamous spirit reported here is Audra, a bride-to-be in the 1950s who stayed in room 501 while her fiancé was out at sea. When she heard his ship had gone down and all hands were lost, she hanged herself in her room. In a twist, her fiancé actually survived the wreck and came back to the Galvez, only to find his betrothed dead. Guests and employees both report feeling the presence of the forlorn lover, and doors slamming shut in the middle of the night, strange smells, and visions of orbs are all common occurrences. Interested in booking a spooky staycation? The hotel is currently operating at 50% capacity to ensure social distancing, so mask up and snuggle in—if you dare…
Founded by a religious group called the Felician Sisters, Yorktown Memorial Hospital was established in the 1950s to treat alcoholics and drug addicts. Since its construction, it's said that over 2,000 troubled individuals died within Yorktown Memorial's walls, and the spirits of many of those patients still inhabit the building to this day. Ghost-hunters exploring the now-abandoned facility frequently report being pushed, touched, and having their shirts tugged while inside—talk about aggressive. See for yourself by booking an onsite tour via the ruins’ Facebook page and sketching out your Yorktown itinerary.