Full disclosure: Some of the stories below are not for the faint of heart.
Without further ado, here are 20 of the creepiest places you can find in Texas. We’ll start by providing locations, so you can get a rough idea regarding where each spot sits, and then you can read about why each spot is supposedly so haunted or creepy. Be sure to weigh in at the bottom and tell us which site you’d most like to visit.
And before you venture out: Just keep in mind that with COVID-19 still being ever-present in our lives, some of these places might have different hours, rules or circumstances in place -- so it might be worth the effort to do some digging on social media, so you’ll know what to expect.
1. The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (because of “The Face”)
Have you heard of “The Face?” Supposedly, the face of a man can be seen on the side of a building at the School of Medicine. The face does NOT want to be removed. Legend says that the face has even been painted over, possibly even several times, but it keeps coming back -- even showing up in different places on the structure.
2. Hotel Galvez (Galveston)
All the buzz surrounding Hotel Galvez seems to circle back to Room 505. Supposedly, there’s a mysterious scent of gardenias in the room, which is rumored to be linked to a ghost’s presence. Also, a “Lovelorn Lady” often wanders the halls of the fifth floor, which is where she learned of her husband’s death while he was away at sea, according to the website Only in Your State. Hotel Galvez is one of the oldest hotels on Galveston Island. It gets lots of visitors -- just not as many to Room 505. (You can probably understand why).
3. Baker Hotel (Mineral Wells)
While some so-called “haunted” sites or attractions have the locals convinced of the presence of lingering spirits, many people at these spots aren’t sure exactly who these ghosts are, or who they represent. But at the Baker Hotel, in Mineral Wells, let’s just say, they don’t have that issue.
Among the ghosts who’ve stayed behind at the Baker Hotel? The woman on the seventh floor, a bellboy who was sliced in half by a basement elevator, a group of spirits in the Brazos Room, one man in particular who enjoys opening and closing the windows, and a 6- to 8-year-old boy who is always accompanied by his dog with shaggy hair.
As the story goes, the child died in a hotel apartment in 1933, when his parents were seeking medical treatment for his leukemia. Oh, and the woman on the seventh floor just might have been a mistress of the hotel manager’s. Rumor has it that she was distraught by the affair and jumped from the top floor of the building. Some people say they can still smell her perfume, which was lavender-scented. The hotel closed in 1970, meaning no one has stayed overnight on the property since then, according to a website called Texas Escapes. However, if you Google “Baker Hotel,” it appears a revival is in the works.
“As a tribute to its storied past as one of Texas' most famous historic hotels, The Baker Hotel is being resurrected and restored to resemble its former glory – complete with a beautifully preserved hotel facility, a fully-renovated collection of 157 guest rooms, the revival of the hotel’s famous natural spring spas, world-class business and convention facilities, over 11,000 square feet of retail and shopping space, and so much more,” the hotel’s new website says.
So, perhaps a visit will be in order soon? Someone certainly has to check and see if the place is still crawling with activity.
4. Hero’s Water World (now abandoned; Odessa)
Many people online seem to remember when Hero’s opened in 1980. The 16-acre park boasted water slides, bumper cars, mini golf and a huge wave pool -- and it sounded like a kid’s dream. What’s left now is an abandoned wasteland, filled with rattlesnakes, skunks, squatters and graffiti, according to published reports. Hero’s Water World has been described in recent years as post-apocalyptic. In a nutshell, it’s a deteriorating lot of vandalism and abandonment. It switched owners a few times, then was finally closed in 2003 after being hit with several civil lawsuits filed by visitors. It doesn’t seem as if Hero’s will be making a comeback any time soon, and it’s challenging to find much information online about what the park once was.
The YouTube video below gives you a good insider’s look at the creepiness and “abandoned” factor that we mentioned. Although this place isn’t necessarily haunted (that we know of), we still thought it was worthy of a spot on our list -- for the “wasteland” element alone. What do you think?
5. Bruce Hall at the University of North Texas
If you look up Bruce Hall online, you’ll find several stories of people who say they didn’t believe in ghosts -- until visiting or moving into this dormitory. Bruce Hall is the oldest dorm on campus at the University of North Texas. Apparently, it’s well-known around school that a ghost named Wanda lives at Bruce Hall. There’s even a pool hall dedicated to her spirit, according to published reports.
“When I lived there, my roommate — who absolutely didn’t believe in ghosts — asked me if I thought the stairwell outside our dorm room was haunted,” one woman told Buzzfeed. “She always felt like someone was following her when she climbed the stairs. This freaked me out because she went from ‘I don’t believe in ghosts’ to ‘I think there are ghosts here’ in the span of about a day.”
6. The Animal Industries Building at Texas A&M
Rumor has it that a man named Roy Simms haunts the Animal Industries Building on the campus at Texas A&M. Back in the 1950s, the basement of the building was used as a slaughterhouse, to teach students how to cut meat, according to published reports. But one morning in November 1959, Simms, who was an instructor at the time, was down there alone when he accidentally cut himself. As it turned out, Simms had sliced his femoral artery. The meat lab manager bled to death in that basement before help could arrive. Now, it’s been reported that the janitorial staff routinely leaves the elevator door open in the basement -- for Simms’ ghost, of course. Visitors to the building have reported seeing apparitions, finding unexplained dark stains on the floors (blood, perhaps?) and hearing strange noises.
Rest in peace, Mr. Simms.
7. Wilson County Jail (Floresville)
Wilson County, which is more than 150 years old, has many ghost stories out there involving the area. Several are all about the courthouse or the county jail. Allegedly (although we had a hard time tracking down a specific year), the wife to the Wilson County sheriff was having an affair -- perhaps with a prisoner at the jail. When the woman’s husband found out, she killed herself behind bars, as the old story goes. In the room where the supposed suicide took place, items are known to move without being touched (well, if you believe in that sort of thing). There’s also a “woman in red” who stakes out the courthouse, according to Texas Escapes. People aren’t sure if she has unfinished business in the court, or why she makes her appearances.
What do you think?
8. Driskell Hotel (Austin)
The most popular story about the Driskell Hotel in Austin involves a portrait on the third floor, showing a little girl holding flowers. Apparently, when guests look at the picture, they feel a tingling sensation in their feet, as if their heels have been lifted into the air, and then their equilibrium is thrown off for a few hours after that, according to Only in Your State. People have also reported seeing ghosts in windows or chairs, feeling a breeze on their faces and arms, and hearing strange noises coming from the hotel’s upper floors -- only to find out no one is up there. This historic hotel is on Brazos Street. Visitors who reported back to share their stories online said the staffers at Driskell are more than happy to share some of the tales with inquisitive guests.
9. USS Lexington (Corpus Christi)
A haunted ship? Sounds about right. Haunted Places says that an engine room operator and several crew members were once killed in a World War II attack. Now, their spirits remain, as the old story goes. It’s the engine room operator who is now known as “the Blue Ghost.” Visitors to the carrier have heard doors slam shut, seen lights go off on their own and felt cold spots. And then there’s Charly: a former crew member who people say acts as a tour guide for the ship. Want more tales? Check out the comments section here.
10. Tremont House Hotel (Galveston)
Five ghosts in particular are said to haunt the Tremont House: a Civil War soldier, a “lucky man” named Sam, a storm victim, a little boy named Jimmy and the Scattered Clothing Ghost, as he or she is called.
The website Galveston Ghost can tell you all the stories about those five -- and why they’re so scary. It’s kind of a LOT to boil down into just a few paragraphs.
Tremont ranks in the No. 4 spot on Galveston Ghost’s list for the Top 10 Haunted Galveston Island locations. (Also making the list were the Galvez Hotel at No. 1 and “The Face” of UTMB at No. 6).
“We stayed there on our wedding night and barely got any sleep because we could hear running, up and down the halls,” one visitor told Buzzfeed. “And the Tremont is not a hotel where they let kids wander around by themselves.”
The current Tremont Hotel is the third property to bear the Tremont name. The first was built in 1839, the second opened in 1872 and the third came in the mid-1980s. The Tremont has housed a ton of celebrity guests, including presidents Rutherford Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, James Garfield, and Chester Arthur, and other famous faces, including General Sam Houston, Edwin Booth, Buffalo Bill Cody, Anna Pavlova, Clara Barton and Stephen Crane. Today, the hotel remains a 119-room complex that still accepts reservations. What are you waiting for?
11. La Carafe (Houston)
La Carafe is believed to be the oldest building in downtown Houston. (So perhaps it makes sense then, that’s it’s supposedly haunted?) And the cool thing is, the speakeasy/wine bar is still open to this day. So you can check it out for yourself. La Carafe became an official Texas Historic Landmark in 1979, about 120 years after it first opened as a bakery in 1860, according to published reports.
Here’s what people have (allegedly) experienced: They’ve seen the ghost of a large man walking upstairs, heard the sound of a body being dragged across the floor, along with heavy footsteps; bartenders have spotted bottles falling off shelves, and heard a child playing with a ball -- also upstairs. The ghost of a former manager has also been seen in the window, according to Only in Your State. This place dates back to before the Civil War, so we’ll let you determine what’s believable or possible.
12. Spaghetti Warehouse (Houston)
We wish this place hadn’t closed down in recent years. It now appears to be Warehouse 72, but the location has changed, as well.
Only In Your State says Spaghetti Warehouse once served as a pharmaceutical warehouse, and before that, it was a storage facility for cotton right downtown Houston.
As legend will have it, the owner of the pharmaceutical company died one night while working in the elevator shaft. To this day, his wife comes looking for him. Restaurant employees -- (well, back when the eatery was still open) -- sometimes saw a woman walking around, wearing white. They also noticed table settings and chairs rearranged (annoying). Supposedly, visitors have caught orbs in some of their photos, as well. “One waitress said she saw a floating wicker basket near the wooden staircase and she watched as it was gently set back down to the ground,” the site Haunted Rooms says. “She also reported hearing her name being called from an empty room. Another waitress was attending to guests when a bottle of wine was lifted from the table, floated through the air and landed upright.” Eerie.
13. Jefferson Hotel (Jefferson)
Jefferson Hotel is not only one of the most haunted hotels in Texas, but perhaps, one of the most spirited in the whole country, according to Only In Your State. The problem is, these ghosts are a bit angrier than the ones we’ve touched on so far. Reportedly, they’re known to throw items at tourists and lock visitors in their rooms. So that’s creepy -- although it’s not exactly clear what they’re so mad about. Oh, and Room 19 is definitely haunted, Haunted Places said. A hotel worker once reported hearing voices from the room when no one was inside, and guests have said they felt like they were being watched. Strange knocking on the walls, footsteps in the hallways, the sound of kids laughing … the list just seems to go on and on. Needless to say, this place is not recommended to those who are easily spooked.
14. Granbury Opera House (Granbury)
Ready for this? John Wilkes Booth just may be the man haunting the Granbury Opera House. Apparently, a tall figure wearing all black, complete with black boots, is known to lurk around the theater. It’s not clear how the rumor started, but many people online agree that this is most certainly Booth. Abraham Lincoln's assassin used to be a popular actor and he performed here many times, according to Only in Your State. The Discovery Channel Ghost Lab even caught an electronic voice phenomenon of Booth's voice, saying he was there. (Count us out).
15. Emily Morgan Hotel (San Antonio)
Another haunted hotel? Say it isn’t so.
This might explain the alleged hauntings: Before the building became Emily Morgan, the complex served as an advanced medical arts facility, Only In Your State will tell you. The facility included a hospital, a crematorium and a surgical wing. Now, phones are known to ring with no one on the other line (in the middle of the night; shudder), TVs and lights will randomly turn on and off, and there’s even a woman in white who will disappear instantly if you catch a glance of her. The ninth floor is supposedly very active when it comes to paranormal activity, as the old stories will tell you.
16. Littlefield House (Austin)
It’s not clear if the mistress of the home, Alice Littlefield, battled mental illness or was agoraphobic. Either way, she’s said to have rarely left the house when she was still alive. But after she died, her spirit wanted to stay, supposedly. People say they’ve heard her walking around upstairs or playing the piano. The house just LOOKS haunted, you know?
17. Elder Street Artist Lofts (Houston)
These lofts weren’t always just lofts. In fact, this site was once home to the Jefferson Davis Hospital, complete with a psychiatric ward, Only in Your State says. Also, construction took place over the site of the 1800s-era Houston City Cemetery, where more than 3,000 Civil War and yellow fever victims were buried, according to reports. “Before the building became a loft, people reported shadowy figures, an unseen force watching them and smells of sterilization solutions,” the aforementioned website said. It seems dead hospital patients may still be lurking. We’ll admit, the building is gorgeous. But forget staying for one night (like many of the hotels on this list). Would you live or work here? That feels like a whole new ballgame.
18. Marfa, Texas (the lights)
So, no one’s really sure what to make of these distant, glowing orbs in West Texas. Is it UFO activity? Why in the heck would they appear out of nowhere?
The site Visit Marfa said the unexplained phenomena started in the 19th century, just outside the town. Strange reports continue, even today. “Ranchers, Apaches, high school sweethearts and famous meteorologists alike have reported seeing seemingly sourceless lights dance on the horizon southeast of town, an area that is nearly uninhabited and extremely difficult to traverse,” according to the website. “The mystery lights are sometimes red, sometimes blue, sometimes white, and usually appear randomly throughout the night, no matter the season or the weather.” The good news is, the lights seem to be friendly -- not at all menacing or scary (although, they’re definitely creepy; just the way that they can’t be explained alone makes them spooky in our book). Some people say that this phenomenon can be explained by the atmospheric reflections of cars and campfires at night. But whether that’s actually the case, is yet to be confirmed.
An official Marfa Lights Viewing Area sits nine miles east of town on Highway 90, toward Alpine. Go check them out and report back. Until then, the mystery continues ...
19. Cactus Hotel (San Angelo)
The Cactus Hotel still hosts events, or at least, it did at last check, but no longer accommodates overnight stays (bummer!) Go here to view a big list of YouTube videos and social media sites that claim paranormal activity is rampant at the hotel. This is definitely not the only place in San Angelo that’s said to be haunted. Learn more on the San Angelo, Texas Paranormal Happenings page.
20. The White Sanitorium (Wichita Falls)
Rumor has it that this is now a private home. But it used to be an insane asylum. The old art-deco building has taken reports of water dripping in the basement, despite the fact that there’s been no water here in years. Otherwise, it’s a lot of the same (not that “the same” isn’t creepy): including, allegedly, ghost and apparition sightings, lights flickering on and off, screaming sounds, sounds of children playing, etc. We just want to talk to the person or people who live here!
*This story was first published in 2017. It has since been updated.