Spine-Chilling Tourist Attractions To Visit In Texas All Year Round

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that's definitely true when it comes to supernatural or just straight-up scary places — and we're not just talking about around Halloween. While you wouldn't particularly expect the down-home southern state to be a hotspot for ghoulish beasties, the history of Texas is a violent one and has primed the area to be a hub for haunted happenings all year round. In fact, an actual portal to Hell is rumored to exist here that, of course, has been turned into a full-time roadside tourist attraction.

The doorway to the Devil isn't the only hellish haunt open for tourists to explore. Ghost-ridden manors, towns steeped in bone-chilling urban legends, and mysterious phenomena scour Texas and have visitors either scratching their heads or frozen with fear. The southern state's most terrifying destinations will have even horror-loving travelers shaking in their boots, whether visiting during the spooky season or in the height of Spring.

Menard House in Galveston

Pretty much all of Galveston is haunted — no, really, even the Walmart isn't safe from a specter or two. The island city's history boasts pirate associations, but the biggest source of ghostly activity is believed to be a result of the massive hurricane that turned the city into an underwater graveyard more than a century ago. Menard House, owned and named after one of Galveston's founders, claims to be the oldest home in Galveston and, as such, has seen it all.

Now a museum under the Galveston Historical Foundation, Menard House is reportedly home to many spirits. Used as a yellow fever hospital, the home was frequented by the Grim Reaper even before the hurricane in 1900 added to its death toll. A later owner of the house held public seances here, making it an even bigger magnet for wayward spirits.

Odd and unexplainable happenings have been reported in the house, from disembodied footsteps and items being moved around to full-blown apparitions. You're not guaranteed to spot the ghost children frolicking in the garden, but the eerie feeling of something "other" may wash over you just by viewing the property from the street.

Hill House in Mineral Wells

Texas is hot, and that portal to Hell located in the state's center isn't helping to cool down its blistering summers. Mineral Wells' own Hill House is reported to be ground zero for demonic activity and summonings, and the history here is so dark that a doorway to demons existing here actually makes sense. 

This 5-bedroom, Civil War-era Victorian home is available for ghost hunters to book for overnight investigations. Not only can you stay in one of the rooms, but the entire estate is open for exploration by those who dare interact with the spirits who roam freely. At least nine entities are said to inhabit the former brothel, and Death has remained present at the property throughout its history.

Both professional and newbie paranormal investigators are welcome to attempt to uncover the dark secrets of Hill House, with equipment provided for overnight stays. Commit to a night here with caution, though, as there have been reports of nausea and even assault while inside the house. Some of those who leave are haunted with dreams and a strong pull to return.

Marfa Lights in Marfa

Everyone loves a good mystery, and Texas has one so compelling that it brings in people from all over the world. There is no doubt that the Marfa Lights are real; it's what causes them and what they really are that has everyone scratching their heads. Are the balls of light in the desert surrounding Marfa paranormal, or can they be explained away as some kind of desert mirage? No one knows the truth, and the countless sightings of the "Ghost Balls" have inspired a whole festival celebrating their mystique.

Weird things go down in the desert, and seemingly random balls of light witnessed sporadically for well over a century certainly call for speculation. Some believe them to be ghosts, while others chalk them to be evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials. No matter what they are, their unknown nature speaks to the heart of anyone who has ever found themselves enthralled by an Agatha Christie novel.

Visiting Marfa and the lights' lookout point doesn't mean you're going to be lucky enough to actually see the phenomenon. Even so, the cool desert town is as unique and eclectic as the lights themselves, making a trip here worth it even if the lights don't appear on the desert horizon for you.

The Jefferson Hotel in Jefferson

Tragic is the only word to describe the legends that surround The Jefferson Hotel and the ghosts that are said to inhabit it. Booking a room here is to step in the direction of the spirit world, as some of this world's departed still hold claim over their former spaces. A forlorn bride, as well as a number of ghost children, are among the many that have met a violent end here.

Entering the Jefferson Hotel is like walking into a different time, as the rooms and lobby are packed with items from the past. The hotel looks more like an antique shop than accommodation, but its appearance only adds to the eerie feeling of being in a space that houses something beyond the living.

Rooms at the Jefferson Hotel have less than charming themes, from one that has clowns and marionettes hanging from the ceiling to another with an old wedding dress on display. No room in the hotel is safe from reported paranormal encounters, so it's really a pick-your-poison kind of experience.

Bragg Road in Saratoga

Does driving down dark roads give you the creeps? Most of the time, you probably have nothing to worry about. But if you happen to be cruising down Bragg Road after dark, prepare for the possibility of a ghostly encounter.

The stretch of rural road is surrounded by dense forest, blanketing it in darkness even when the night sky is clear and coated with stars. This makes the appearance of strange orbs of light even more striking. Some believe the Saratoga Lights are ghost orbs that are commonly reported in haunted areas all around the world, but one theory points toward a single spirit in particular.

The soul of a railroad worker who met his end while working on the tracks that used to lay nearby is said to roam Bragg Road. According to legend, it is the light from his lantern that witnesses see as he spends his afterlife wandering the path. There are various theories related to the origin of the light, but no matter the cause, visitors make it through the stretch of road with the hair on the back of their necks warning of something not entirely of this world.

The Plaza Theatre in El Paso

Texas has its fair share of haunted hotels and highways, but El Paso has a historic theater that practically plays out its own Texan version of "The Phantom of the Opera." The Plaza Theatre was constructed in the 1930s as a cinema and still operates as a live performance theater — the one thing that hasn't changed is a few key patrons who like to enjoy a good show.

Reports of a shadow man who watches shows from the back row are abundant, and the Smoking Man sometimes makes an appearance on the balcony. The smell of cigarettes foretells his sightings, if not just the tiny lit end of a cigarette floating in the air. One witness recounts seeing the Smoking Man standing on the balcony from the stage, where he spoke to her before plummeting over the edge. He then appeared on the balcony again in a tragic loop.

Catch a concert or musical here throughout the year, but be aware that there may be more than just the living among the audience. While the entertainment-loving spirits here don't seem to harm anyone, they do add a little real-life horror to productions.

The town of Toyah

Largely abandoned and considered a ghost town with only around 50 residents, Toyah is haunted by the legend of the black-eyed children. Once thriving, the town's population steadily decreased throughout the 1900s, with buildings having been left to rot. Some attribute the abandoning of the town to the children, who wander the streets knocking on house doors and car windows, hoping someone will let them in. While there isn't too much known about these dark-eyed children, the consensus is that letting them in would be one of the last mistakes ever made.

Though there have been black-eyed children sightings throughout Texas, there seems to be a concentration in Toyah. The abandoned high school is thought to be their lair, where they retire after wandering around attempting to catch those remaining in the town off guard. There is nothing stopping visitors from exploring Toyah High School, but proceed with caution, as those who believe in the black-eyed children consider them to be demonic entities.

Big Bend National Park

You don't have to stay in an old hotel to have a paranormal experience in Texas, as the very land is swarming with the supernatural. Hiking or camping at Big Bend National Park is excellent for those who love the solace of solitude, as it is one of the least trekked national parks, but you may come across a phantom or two while exploring.

Even before the national parks were established, the land that has become Big Bend National Park was considered to be haunted by Native tribes. The Chisos Mountains — or "Spirit Mountains" — within the park are speculated by some to be named after the supernatural beings spotted here for centuries.

Ghost orbs, abandoned towns with wandering spirits, and remnants of enchantments by powerful witches cling to Big Bend. Visiting Bruja Canyon, you may even be able to spot a witch lurking in your peripherals, only to disappear when you attempt to take a closer look. Just remember that the canyon and the park are pretty remote, so running scared isn't much of an option.

The Alamo in San Antonio

San Antonio is a must-visit city for history buffs, even if some of the historical events here are of a darker shade. Hundreds of people died at the battle of the Alamo, making the Texas landmark also one of the bloodiest attractions in the country. The resulting ghosts remain with the iconic "Remember the Alamo!" cry echoing through the grounds as they continue to defend the still-standing fortress. Such a violent event has turned The Alamo and its surrounding area into one of the most haunted places in the United States.

Though the majority of people, both fighters and civilians, were killed during the battle of the Alamo, there were some survivors whose eyewitness accounts of the event make the now-haunted location even more spine-chilling. The survivor stories speak of those who fell in the battle, giving a unique perspective on those who may still be with us after death. The ghosts of a father-son pair that appear just after sunrise are especially hard-hitting after considering the stories of surviving family members separated from their loved ones.

The Alamo is open to the public and free to visit. Keep your eyes and ears open while indulging in history, as some aspects of the events that took place here may not be stuck in the past.

The Blue Ghost in Corpus Christi

Nicknamed "The Blue Ghost," the USS Lexington is a World War II Naval ship that has now been converted into a museum and, interestingly enough, an escape room. Some of those wandering the vessel will likely never be able to leave, though, as playful ghosts remain and play pranks on visitors to pass the time. One spirited sailor pretends to be a tour guide while others move small, unassuming objects around.

Some who come for a unique museum experience end up leaving with a new appreciation for the supernatural, and visitors report unexplainable happenings all the time. While the spirits on board do seem to be quite active in their shenanigans, this haunted ship is perfect for those who want to dip their toes into the paranormal, as the hauntings here have been harmless and strictly good fun.

USS Lexington's nickname has nothing to do with these good-natured ghosts, though, as it was named that while still in commission. Apparently, the ship was thought to have been sunk many times by the enemy but just kept reappearing to do its duty. There's just something about the Blue Ghost that is "other," and it has been felt by many who have come into contact with the vessel.

Oakwood Cemetery in Austin

Over 20,000 skeletons lie beneath the soil of Oakwood Cemetery. You'd think at least a few of those would be roaming the ground in their spare time, and you may be right. Austin's oldest cemetery has a history of grave robbing, which is said to have contributed to many restless spirits found wandering amongst the bluebonnets here.

While we're not quite talking Doctor Frankenstein-level horror here, the practice of stealing buried bodies from cemeteries for science is a well-documented practice from the past. Medical students wanted bodies so they could study anatomy, and Black cemeteries were often targeted. Oakwood Cemetery is a segregated burial ground with many Black people and impoverished individuals with little family having been buried here. At the time, the cemetery was a prime spot for grave robbers selling cadavers to medical school professors.

Oakwood Cemetery is open to all every day of the year. It's always important to be respectful when visiting a cemetery, both for those buried there and their families. However, the roaming spirits of this particular cemetery may give extra incentive for the best behavior from visitors — especially given the disrespect shown toward them just after their deaths.

Goatman's Bridge in Denton

Texas is home to all manner of creatures, some of which may be merely legends. Real or not, though, the beasties thought to roam different parts of the state are terrifying, even in theory. You've probably heard of the chupacabra, but Texas also boasts a half-man half-goat aptly named Goatman, and his namesake bridge is one of the most haunted places in America.

Goatman's Bridge, officially known as Old Alton Bridge, is an iron bridge from the 1800s. While it is now only open to pedestrians, the passage used to be one of the main routes out of the town of Denton and saw plenty of traffic. This was good for the business of goat farmer Oscar Washburn, but he suffered from racial violence and was hatefully lynched on the bridge by members of the KKK. His family was also murdered, and his spirit is said to haunt the area in the form of a half-man, half-goat creature looking for vengeance.

Washburn has become a local legend, but there's actually no evidence that he ever existed. Some believe that it's his wife who haunts the bridge, while others chalk the seemingly supernatural presence here to occultists. Whatever the truth is, three knocks seem to be the key to summoning Goatman, and he isn't always friendly to those who do.

The Driskill Hotel in Austin

Standing proud as an impressive example of Romanesque Revival architecture, The Driskill radiates power and opulence. The historic hotel rakes in accolades for Austin's Bests and Texas' Treasures, but you won't find any reference to the permanent guests that allegedly roam the halls when booking your room. The luxury hotel is Austin's most haunted landmark, and it's very possible that you'll be bunking with spirits if you stay the night.

If you're a fan of Stephen King, you'll know all about the horrors that hotel rooms can hang onto, and The Driskill Hotel has its fair share of rooms with their own attachments. Room 525 has seen the bitter end of not one but two brides who have remained after taking their own lives. Another room houses a cowboy with a love for musical women, as the lead singers from Concrete Blonde and Eurythmics both reported having had experiences with him.

The Driskill Hotel's gorgeous, timeless design and decor make it a luxurious accommodation, which may be why some of the previous guests are so adamant about spending their afterlives here. A stay here is a real treat, especially if you are wishing for ghost interaction and don't mind the phantom smell of cigar smoke that pops up throughout the hotel.