Flickering lights. Creaking floorboards. Ear-splintering screeching. The sneaking sensation of someone – or something – behind you. Every Halloween, thousands of people daringly face their worst fears in some of the most terrifying haunted houses across the U.S. While the characters and settings may be staged, the frightening screams heard from within are most definitely real.

So where are the spookiest and most popular haunted houses located? And how do real haunted houses compare? What words best describe these creepy lodgings? Do you need to be wearing a Halloween costume to enjoy the full experience? To see which haunted houses are giving the biggest thrills, we analyzed posts on Instagram that used the hashtag #HauntedHouse. Think you’re brave enough to withstand the terrors inside? Enter at your own risk.

#HauntedHouses’ Biggest Fans

Beyond these doors lay your worst nightmares. As a long-standing tradition in the U.S., haunted houses continue to bring new terrors to life – terrors that many brave souls hope to survive. But where are these willing victims? As it turns out, Instagrammers in the Northeast might be the most obsessed with facing their fears.

Looking at Instagram posts per 100,000 residents, New York and New Hampshire were the biggest fans of #HauntedHouses throughout the year – in fact, during this time, they contributed more than 16 and 14 posts, respectively. Even Utah seems to love a good scare; nearly 13 posts came from this state. And let’s not forget the South, where Instagrammers of Georgia (11 posts per 100,000 residents), Tennessee (nine posts), Louisiana (eight posts), and Florida (eight posts) are eagerly counting down the days until Halloween. And while many fans said they'd like to wear a costume when visiting their favorite haunted house, most establishments do not allow them to be worn within the facility itself. You will however find plenty of haunted house patrons decorating their homes with this year's most popular Halloween decor and props.

#HauntedHouses On My Mind

 

👻 The Gracie Mansion. Once the rural estate of shipping merchant Archibald Gracie, later a museum, then appropriated in 1946 by Fiorello La Guardia as the official mayoral residence of the City of New York. Current home to Mayor de Blasio and his family. Said to be haunted by the ghost of Elizabeth Wolcott Gracie, daughter-in-law of Archibald Gracie, who, according to some accounts, died there tragically and unexpectedly several hours after her wedding ceremony. Other reports have her living for 6 more years and dying of apoplexy in 1819. Either way, she died in the house at a young age and her spirit has been seen floating through the home and wandering the gardens. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #architectureisfrozenmusic #architecture #october #halloween #ghoststory #hauntedhouse #hauntedhistory

A photo posted by Carter R. Thompson (@carterrthompson) on

Even excluding the month of October, Instagrammers in New York were still committed to shivering their way through a haunted house. With nearly 10 posts per 100,000 residents, New Yorkers may just be adrenaline junkies. Interestingly, though, Utah might be slightly more committed than New Hampshire when it comes to these time-honored horror settings – Utah had 8.43 posts, while New Hampshire had 8.14 posts.

Georgia (7.25 posts), however, remains in the No. 4 spot. And with its rich and terrifying legacy, Pennsylvania comes in at No. 5 – it had roughly six posts per 100,000 residents. For some Instagrammers, it doesn’t need to be Halloween for them to enjoy the macabre and creepy. Some expressed an interest in using the latest in Halloween digital decor to achieve their own creepy haunted house look at home.

Most Popular #HauntedHouse Posts

 

Got our scare on last night!! 🎃👻🎃 #owensgirls #pumpkinhollow #horrorinthehollow #hauntedhouse #halloween

A photo posted by Heather Owens Photography (@howensphoto) on

Dark rooms, eerie music, and ominous animatronics – there’s a lot to love about haunted houses (even if you’re scared out of your wits). There’s even more to love about Instagram posts featuring them. When it comes to the most-liked #HauntedHouse posts across the U.S., the South has quite the following (and we’re not talking about what’s lurking in the shadows).

With 86 average likes per post, Instagrammers in Arkansas are probably inspiring fear in their followers through tales of the Crescent Hotel and Allen House. Kentucky (81 likes per post) may have followers saying a little prayer while viewing photos of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, and Tennessee (68 likes) may look appealing because of its Devil’s Dungeon attraction – one of Nashville’s most intense and controversial haunted houses.

Noticeably, Virginia and California are tied, with 43 average likes each.

Cat Got Your Tongue?

Haunted houses evoke a lot of emotion – fear, panic, even excitement. But what words come to mind on Instagram? It turns out, #HauntedHouses are to Halloween as black cats are to witches – you really can’t have one without the other. “Halloween,” by far, was the most popular word associated with the hashtag #HauntedHouse. And while “scary” was another word that paired perfectly with #HauntedHouse, it didn’t come nearly as close in popularity.

Instagrammers also agree that a haunted house is “horrifying,” “spooky,” and a little “creepy.” If they’re not careful, though, a black cat might just get their tongue!

Most Popular #HauntedHouses Across the U.S.

In this day and age – when real life can be just as scary as fiction – it can take a lot to scare the pants off dedicated horror fans. If you’re addicted to being terrified, you might just want to visit the locations above. Your blood is sure to curdle.

Looking at the most popular #HauntedHouses across the U.S. – both real and created – Atlanta, Ga., proudly claims the No. 1 spot. As one of the nation’s top haunted attractions, the Netherworld Haunted House is known for its original themes, terrifying live actors, and incredible monsters. In fact, it attracts so many thrill seekers each year that the turning lane off Interstate 85 is jammed for hours during a typical night. Just as scary (and maybe even more so) is the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Featuring crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers, Eastern State ensures guests will feel the presence of its most notorious prisoners.

Instagrammers are also trembling with fright when it comes to Halloween Horror Nights: Universal Studios and the 17th Door Haunted House (college has never been scarier). Think you can’t get lost at Blood Manor? Be our guest.

Most Popular Historic #HauntedHouses

 

Spooky-ass corridor #halloween

A photo posted by John Paul Titlow (@feralcatcolonist) on

When it comes to the most popular real #HauntedHouses across the U.S., the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is not to be messed with – and Instagrammers know that. As early as the 1940s, officers and inmates experienced ghostly visions, and these sightings have only increased since the prison officially shut down in the 1970s. Even San Diego’s Whaley House strikes fear in the hearts of its visitors. It appeared on an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.”

The Queen Mary, in Long Beach, is the third-most popular #HauntedHouse on Instagram, followed by the Old Spanish Trail in Jacksonville, Fla. Finally, the LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans’ most infamous haunted house – comes in at No. 5. Life can be a cruel mistress, but Madame LaLaurie was even crueler.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

 

Our sweet last ride #riversideentertainment #riverside #scary #hearse #casket #skull #nwarkansas #warehouseoffear #siloamsprings #hauntedhouse

A photo posted by Riverside Entertainment (@riversideentertainment) on

Scary is as scary does. Next, we looked at the states that mentioned “scary” most in conjunction with #HauntedHouses. From the looks of it, Arkansas may be home to the most hair-raising haunted houses around. Not only does Arkansas have the #HauntedHouse posts with the most likes, but it’s also the clear and spooky winner for the most mentions of “scary.” If you’re looking for a howling good time, Arkansas’ ghosts and creepy lodgings are sure to show you proper Southern hospitality.

And while Kansas only had 42 average likes per post, it has the second-most mentions of “scary.” It just might not be as convincing.

Hauntingly Fun Houses Across the U.S.

Fear can be surprisingly fun – especially if you’re visiting haunted houses in the states mentioned above. The last thing we looked at were states that mentioned “fun” the most in relation to the hashtag #HauntedHouses. A ghoulishly good time is sure to be had in Idaho, which came in at No. 1 for the most “fun” mentions. Just visit Dr. Slaughter’s House of Terror, which is considered to be one of the largest indoor haunted houses in the U.S. Instagrammers are also having a fang-tastic time in Oklahoma, most likely due to its Trail of Fear Haunted Scream Park – Oklahoma’s largest haunted attraction.

Finally, West Virginia and Utah had the third- and fourth-most mentions, while Nevada claimed fifth place for both the most liked #HauntedHouse posts and the most mentions of “fun.”

If You’ve Got It, Haunt It

On a night meant to give chills and thrills, Halloween would not be the same without haunted houses. As our breakdown of Instagram reveals, New Yorkers have the softest spots for double, double toil and trouble, while Arkansas is home to the scariest and most-liked haunted attractions. The Eastern State Penitentiary, with its nefarious ghosts, has Instagrammers gripping the edge of their seats, and when it comes to the most common words associated with the hashtag #HauntedHouse, “Halloween” is on everyone’s mind.

It’s also probably on yours. With the 2016 Halloween season upon us (along with the scariest haunted houses you can imagine), a good costume is essential to paint the town dead. If you want something that’s going to show your hauntingly fun spirit, visit Halloween Express. You’ll fit right on in with the monsters and ghouls lurking around every corner.

METHODOLOGY

We scraped Instagram for posts with the hashtag #HauntedHouse that also included a location in the U.S.

Fair Use Statement

Looking to spook your readers? Feel free to share our hair-raising content. All we ask is that our ghouls and goblins (authors) are given credit and that your article links back to this page. Happy haunting!