In the time of the rise of the American road trip, New York’s Haunted History Trail offers a unique experience — and one where social distancing doesn’t seem to be a problem. There are several dozen places to see on the trail, many with dining experiences, overnights, and cool small towns. Whether it is ghosts, spirits, apparitions, unexplained movements, smells, and sounds, or suspense you crave, here are places to find ghosts on New York’s Haunted History Trail.
Please note, several stops on New York’s Haunted History Trail require appointments or reservations. Check listings before traveling.
Haunted New York hosted me and my friend Howard for tours of these places, including an overnight at Allegiance B&B. Reviews and opinions are always my own.
1. Burn Brae Mansion, Glen Spey
The Burn Brae Mansion seemed to be in the middle of nowhere to me, but Upstate New York areas are like that, long and winding roads with beautiful natural scenery around every bend — and then a stunning structure appears out of nowhere. When we arrived at the Burn Brae Mansion, my jaw dropped at the beauty of it.
Mike Fraysse, owner and former Olympic Cycling team manager, guided us through the property. Collections of his many Olympic and professional memorabilia decorate the spacious and welcoming interiors. Mike led us to a room where many unexplained occurrences (doors opening or slamming unexpectedly) had happened and used a hand-held EMF meter to show where the spiked electromagnetic fields were within the space. When I held it, the balls that spun around the meter went crazy, spinning almost like a top. That was enough to pique my curiosity.
We went upstairs through a variety of rooms, some with very eerie stories attached to them, like the one with a secret door leading through the wall, hidden behind a mirror or a creepy doll closet that in itself is scary enough. When we found our way to the attic, a small corridor led the path, and the air thickened as soon as I approached it. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I felt something, though I didn’t see anything.
Once downstairs, the feeling was gone. I would love to have spent the night because we were told the spirits at Burn Brae are nice ones. Sometimes, an elderly couple who died in the house is seen in the yard, or visitors hear an organ playing, though there isn’t one in the home. Ghost Hunters and Psychic Kids were filmed there.
2. Allegiance Bed & Breakfast, Mount Morris
You can enjoy (or be frightened) overnight at the beautiful and majestic Allegiance Bed & Breakfast, a circa 1838 building symbolic of The White House, complete with white pillars and Victorian-era furnishings. There are reports of paranormal activity in a few of the rooms at the Allegiance B&B, and my friend Howard stayed in the Dansville room, which supposedly has a high level of such activity. Events such as coat hangers changing locations, doors opening and closing, and lights suddenly turning on are some of the mysterious happenings at the B&B. The ghosts are Raymond (pleasant and friendly) and Karen (dressed in a long flowing dress), who sometimes climb in bed with the guests. I don’t know about you, but this is one line I would draw.
My room was gorgeously decorated all in red, white, and black. It had a step-down bathroom that had been a hotspot for paranormal activity in the past. Neither Howard nor I had anything unusual happen to us during our stay but darned if we didn’t try to encourage it. Regardless, a stay at the B&B is a great way to relax and unwind, plus it provides a stellar breakfast that is worth sticking around for.
3. Lily Dale Assembly, Lily Dale
Lily Dale Assembly is the world’s largest center for the Spiritualism religion. The town, or camp, holds a 10-week summer training course offering seminars and demonstrations for healing, clairvoyance, and other areas relating to Spiritualism. You can also meet with registered mediums year round; reservations are required. There are no ghosts here, but it is something the curious should check out.
On my visit to Lily Dale, I scheduled a reading with Rev. John White, one of the most well-known residents at Lily Dale. This was in the fall of 2018. One of the things he told me, and he even gave me specific dates, came to fruition within weeks, and it still brings tears to my eyes to think how accurate he was. All was okay, but it was a big scare. I love a good reading, and the one I had in Lily Dale did not disappoint. I would love to go to one of its camps and learn more about Spiritualism.
4. The Naples Hotel, Naples
The Naples Hotel has a welcoming vibe and a fun lower-level bar that reopens later this year, in a town I would like to spend more time in. The hotel’s general manager (his name escapes me) led Howard and me through several haunted hotel rooms and shared ghost stories with us. The most famous ghosts at the Naples Hotel are a man who killed himself on the third floor (wanders the hotel), and a lady (Alice), and her two children, who are believed to have died there.
The hotel dates back to the 1920s, and the stories were exciting and a little hair-raising, but what came next was super cool. The manager took us to his office, where he rewound videotapes to show us evidence of the suspicious activity. We were able to see orbs and apparitions in the footage for ourselves, which was a little unnerving.
There are 32 rooms at the Naples Hotel and a handful of spirits, including one named Topper, who reportedly likes to turn on the lights and move things around.
5. Dunkirk Lighthouse, Dunkirk
The Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse & Veterans Park Museum has its fair share of ghost encounters stemming from the military moments and collections of WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The horrific and numerous shipwrecks on the Great Lakes may also play a part in the high level of spiritual activity.
Guests have allegedly experienced sightings of the lighthouse keeper’s spirit, and one visitor even sent in a picture that reflected the spirit’s apparition, not just a typical orb. Chains rattling, stairs creaking, and a ball that changes locations frequently is no stranger to this beautiful beacon of light overlooking stunning Lake Erie. Check for ghost hunts staged at Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse throughout the year.
6. Belhurst Castle, Geneva
In the Finger Lakes, a love affair that was cut short seems to be the culprit behind the hauntings at stately Belhurst Castle, circa 1889. Isabella Robinson, a rising star and beautiful opera singer, fled her country and came here to hide out with her forbidden Spanish lover in a house they built. She was tragically killed when the tunnel in her home collapsed on her, or so the legend goes. People have seen her ghost, coincidentally in a long, flowing white gown, moving through the property, or standing on the shoreline, grieving her lost lover.
Belhurst Castle has had violent outbursts of paranormal happenings, which add to the allure of visiting. I won’t spoil it for you, but if I encountered some of the weird things (like showers turning on and garments tied to chandeliers without explanation) that have been documented here, I would tuck my tail and run.
Fun Fact: Belhurst Castle has two excellent restaurants: Stonecutter’s Tavern and Edgar’s Restaurant in the Castle. Pencil in time to enjoy a meal there.
7. William Phelps General Store And Palmyra Historical Museum, Palmyra
Experience and explore the dusty but original Phelps General Store that purportedly has an active adolescent spirit on the premises. Julius, the son of the store’s original owner, lived in the apartment on the second floor (the early 1900s). His daughter, Sibyl, lived her entire life there, dying at age 81 in an apartment that never had electricity or plumbing (keep in mind this is a winter wonderland). Sibyl and a girl named Holly are the two most famous ghosts at the Phelps General store.
The store and 23-room historical museum have had black cat and apparition sightings, as well as unusual tobacco smells. My guide had me sit by a fireplace and place my hand under a small table. Though I didn’t feel anything, many people who have done the same have had their hand touched or held by Holly, the girl who makes her presence known occasionally. She, her mother, and siblings perished in a fire at the store in 1964, which explains the sounds of children laughing and playing that occur routinely.
This is one of the most haunted sites in the state of New York and has been featured on dozens of TV shows.
Fun Fact: Phelps General Store has original merchandise in it, preserved from 1940.
Other upstate New York destinations are just hauntingly beautiful: