10 Storied Cemeteries to Visit This Fall
What’s spookier than a graveyard around Halloween? Cemetery directors across the country are luring intrepid visitors to attractions ranging from organ concerts to photo workshops to flashlight tours guest-starring local “residents.”
Here, 10 storied burial grounds worth visiting this fall:
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, N.Y.
Through the end of November, evening tours explore the graveyard along its twisting narrow roads by the flickering light of lanterns. You’ll visit the grave of Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving, of course; then pay your respects to a revolutionary war militia captain, and captains of industry Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller. On Saturday, November 2, a special-themed Murder and Mayhem tour introduces guests to some of the cemetery’s more infamous residents, including the flamboyant businesswoman remembered as “the wickedest woman in New York,” a notorious counterfeiter, and a celebrated opera singer who was alleged to have killed various of her seven husbands.
Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pa.
On October 25 and October 30, Laurel Hill offers its annual Soul Crawls—”haunted history” tours of this bucolic Victorian-era cemetery overlooking the Schuylkill River, home to 39 Civil War generals and six Titanic passengers. After the two-hour walk, visitors cozy up to blazing fire pits for cookies and cider. A series of events scheduled through the month of November reveal why Laurel Hill is a National Historic Landmark: A “Crooked Cronies” tour on the 3rd visits the graves of Philadelphia’s rogues, rascals and reformers. Learn about the city’s shipbuilders and mythic maritime history on the 9th. And remember legendary women of the Civil War on the 23rd.
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Ga.
The gates of this historic cemetery are locked at night, except during the month of October, when the stay open long after dark for the Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween tours. Among ancient oaks, magnolias, and candlelit mausoleums, actors playing a host of the cemetery’s eternal residents deliver first-hand accounts of the city’s past.
Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Ind.
In Crown Hill’s Gothic Chapel, built in 1875, organist Charles Manning and vocalists will fill the night with haunting music from the Phantom of the Opera and many familiar TV and movie theme songs in a series of concerts October 24-26. After the show, join the Skeletons in the Closet walking tour, and learn secrets that many of the cemetery’s residents thought they’d taken to the grave.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.
Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos on November 2 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Hollywood’s founders and hundreds of stars. The theme for this year’s festivities—an evening of exhibits, presentations, music, and other activities—is the Magical World of Alebrijes, the Mexican folk art sculptures depicting fantastical creatures.
Cedar Rest Cemetery, Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Spend Halloween night in this quaint Gulf Coast cemetery, where Hancock County Historical Society members will re-enact life during the era of the city’s earliest residents. The oldest grave dates back to 1815.
Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Green-wood historian Jeff Richman will share tales of murder and ghosts on his Spirited Stroll tours October 26-27. While exploring the grounds, visitors will get to go inside the Catacombs, usually closed to the public, and see the graves of the Wizard of Oz (actor Frank Morgan Wupperman), George Washington’s dentist, the founders of spiritualism, and more.
Riverside Cemetery and Conservancy, Macon, Ga.
Costumed actors bring to life stories about the residents buried in this historic cemetery above the Ocmulgee River October 24-27.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, La.
Just outside the French Quarter, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest existing cemetery in New Orleans. Highlights of the daily tour (run by a nonprofit called Save Our Cemeteries) include the resting place of rumored voodoo queen Marie Laveau and the spectacular tombs of the French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish societies.
Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Va.
Veterans of every American war are buried here, including 30,000 Confederates killed in the Siege of Petersburg (1864-65) during the American Civil War. The annual Historic All Hallows Eve event at Blandford Cemetery on October 31 unearths the history of the cemetery and some of the most intriguing people buried there.
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