Full disclosure: Some of the stories below are not for the faint of heart.
We’ll start by providing locations, so you can get a rough idea of where each spooky spot sits in the state, 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!)
But before you venture out: Just keep in mind that with the COVID-19 pandemic still here, 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.
Take the following with a grain of salt, considering our topic, which is ghost stories.
Without further ado, here are 20 of the creepiest places you can find in Michigan.
1. Mackinac Island (Mission Point and the Grand Hotel especially)
Mackinac tops our list as one of the most haunted places in Michigan, you know, if you believe in that sort of thing. The island is home to more than 100 individual ghost sightings -- not to mention, many visitors report that many Mackinac locations “just don’t feel right.”
Maybe they’re colder, even in the middle of the summer.
Ghost sightings have included ghosts of Native Americans, soldiers, students and tourists. Mission Point Resort and the historic Grand Hotel are among two of the more popular spots for these apparitions, supposedly. One of the most famous ghosts of the island was a student at Mackinac College who allegedly killed himself in the midst of heartbreak. (Did you know? The building where Mission Point now is, used to house the college). Locals report that the ghost now flirts with the female tourists and plays jokes on the men, according to the website Thought Catalogue.
2. Traverse City State Hospital
One of the most notoriously haunted places in Michigan is the Traverse City State Hospital.
OK, these days, it’s more like “The Village at Grand Traverse Commons," which is a project involving the renovation of dozens of historic buildings formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital. But the bottom line is, although it’s not a hospital anymore, you can still visit -- and read about the history here. (They’re even hosting something called “Asylum After Dark,” which sounds neat!)
The space was originally established to care for patients with mental illness, and its use expanded during outbreaks of polio, influenza and tuberculosis. The institution then closed in 1989.
More recent visitors to the area have since said they saw ghosts, felt unseen forces and experienced drastic changes in the air and energy. Bodiless voices from abandoned areas, unexplained lights and footsteps are commonly reported, as well, if you do some internet message-board reading. Another creepy story surrounds a priest of the asylum’s chapel who allegedly hanged himself there. Some say the priest was driven to suicide by dark spirits. Read more inside ClickOnDetroit.
3. Old City Orphanage (Marquette)
This old Marquette orphanage has a rather ghostly history.
Opened in 1915, the orphanage once housed mostly Native American children who were removed from their tribe to accommodate their integration into white culture. The orphanage at one point had fully furnished classrooms, kitchens, dining halls and bathrooms. But urban legend says the place was run by abusive nuns -- and you can still hear the children playing. Children were reported to have been beaten or killed, and one story involves a little girl who caught pneumonia and died from playing outside in a blizzard. As the tale goes, her body was put on display as a lesson to the other children on why not to play outside. Overall, it’s not surprising as to why the building is considered haunted. It’s very large and very creepy, a group called the U.P. Investigators said. Read more inside ClickOnDetroit.
4. Pere Cheney (near Grayling)
Pere Cheney was once a busy and well-populated sawmill village, according to Thought Catalogue, but the lumberjack town near Grayling was eventually ravaged by smallpox, diphtheria and cholera. Pere Cheney was abandoned sometime after 1912 when the post office closed. Now it has a reputation as a ghost town.
Some say the village was cursed from the beginning, based on the fact that it was built on top of Native American land. Legend has it that neighboring towns tried to burn down Pere Cheney twice in an effort to stop diseases from spreading.
5. River Raisin National Battlefield Park (Monroe)
Ghost investigators, as they call themselves, say River Raisin is home to apparitions of soldiers, ghost orbs and even more paranormal activity than one might imagine. These investigators also claim to have captured or recorded voices at the park.
The Battle of Frenchtown was the largest battle fought on Michigan soil, and it also marked one of the bloodiest events of the War of 1812. So maybe it's no wonder this area is considered so creepy. Read more about the specific ghost stories dating back to the war, from Motor City Ghost Hunters.
6. Michigan Bell Telephone Company (Grand Rapids)
Here’s the scoop on the Michigan Bell Telephone Company: It sits on the grounds of a demolished mansion once called the Judd-White House. A man named Warren Randall and his wife Virginia lived there.
Warren, who worked in some capacity on the railroad, lost a leg on the job and required a wooden prosthetic. He started to feel insecure and paranoid about it, so he accused Virginia of having an affair. The two became very unhappy in their marriage as the insecurity issues spiraled. Virginia left him in 1910, but she eventually came back. As the old story goes, one day, neighbors started to notice a strange smell coming from the house, which led investigators to the couple’s bodies. Warren had beaten Virginia to death with his wooden leg, and then he slit his own throat, according to a Ghosts and History website.
People have since reported hearing screams in this area (which are said to be Virginia's), seeing strange lights and hearing the thumping sound from Warren's leg. The Michigan Bell Telephone Company bought the site in 1920 and established the new building four years later. It's on Grand Rapids' east side, reportedly at the corner of Fountain and Division.
7. Eloise Psychiatric Hospital
The history of the Eloise hospital is more like Michigan folklore. At its peak in the 1920s, the Eloise complex was a small city with a hospital and an asylum, housing 10,000 patients and a staff of about 2,000 workers. The legend of Eloise is still talked about around Metro Detroit, and is even known outside of the state as one of the creepiest places around.
The Eloise began as the Wayne County Poorhouse, which opened in 1839 in the now-defunct Nankin Township. (Nankin was a part of Wayne County, and it included what are now the cities of Livonia, Inkster, Dearborn, Redford, Wayne and Westland). After the Great Depression, the population of the complex started to decrease, as reports of violence, questionable conditions, misconduct and overall neglect surfaced. The main hospital then closed in 1984.
Visitors started to report odd occurrences on the hospital grounds after Eloise was shuttered. Some found medical waste and other strange items. Others reported finding jars containing human body parts, as well as documents outlining strange medical procedures. A group once claimed to have seen a spirit of a woman wearing white, often on the building’s upper floors and roof. Others claimed to hear moaning, screams and roars throughout the old grounds. Some believe these are the souls of tormented patients. The old Eloise graveyard is also said to be haunted. The Dearborn Paranormal Research Society of Michigan has conducted investigations at Eloise, as well. Read more inside ClickOnDetroit.
At one point, it was open for tours. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.
8. Felt Mansion (Saugatuck)
Felt Mansion, which was once occupied by Agnes and Dorr Felt, is supposedly haunted by the couple, whose time together at the estate was cut short. About a month to two months after work on the house was completed, Agnes died. Dorr was reportedly grief-stricken. He ended up dying about a year and a half later, in 1930. Agnes and Dorr just might be living it up in the afterlife, some believe. However, they are believed to be kindred spirits -- and not out to frighten anyone.
9. Masonic Temple (Detroit)
The Masonic Temple seems to top many Michigan lists for the spookiest and most haunted places in the state. George D. Mason, who built the temple, reportedly jumped to his death from the building in 1948. Could his ghost be walking the roof? Some security guards seem to think so. The 1912 temple is a pretty cool building, with many compartments, passageways, more than 1,000 rooms and plenty of hidden staircases. Visitors have also reported hearing strange noises including doors and windows being slammed shut -- and seeing moving shadows. "Cold spots" have been experienced, as well.
10. Henderson Castle (Kalamazoo)
Henderson Castle embraces its creepy factor: It offers a haunted history tour, complete with dinner. Frank Henderson had the castle built for his wife, Mary Henderson, in 1895. Frank died in 1899. Mary stayed until 1908. Visitors say they’ve seen the couple, a war veteran who served with the Hendersons' son and a strange girl. Mary is often spotted at the top of a first flight of stairs. Other people say they’ve felt a tapping on their arms, heard the words “go away” and doors jolting around when they’re supposed to be locked. The castle is now being used as a bed and breakfast, a wedding venue and a winery. It’s also been featured in three scary movies, including “Into the Woods,” according to published reports.
11. Bruce Mansion (Brown City)
At Bruce Mansion, several of the building's owners have either died at the house or somewhere on the grounds, according to Thought Catalogue. When the Waite family bought the mansion in 2009, relatives reported that its past occupants -- who, just to be totally clear, were dead -- had never left. The family called paranormal investigators to see what was up. When a team came to the mansion for a 2011 investigation, a group member was pushed (it was caught on a recording, allegedly), and then another video camera toppled off its tripod as it captured the voice of a child saying, "Grandpa."
The home used to offer ghost tours, but those are now a thing of the past.
12. Historic Fort Wayne (Detroit)
Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne has long been rumored to house some restless souls of the past. Many have taken the four-hour tour at night to try and see them and record them. In recent years, Local 4′s Jason Colthorp braved a tour to hear for himself -- and at one point, he asks if anyone else is with him.
13. Paulding, Michigan
The Paulding Lights are also sometimes called the Lights of Paulding or the Dog Meadow Lights.
The lights supposedly appear in a valley outside of Paulding, Michigan, in the state’s Upper Peninsula. Reports have been coming in since the 1960s regarding what might be behind these mysterious lights: Is it ghosts? Aliens? Geologic activity?
The Paulding Lights cannot be explained, the Syfy Channel's "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files" determined in 2010. A crew came out to scope for possible paranormal activity, and it seems as though the group wasn't really sure what to make of the situation.
However, Michigan Tech students conducted an experiment and saw car headlights and taillights when viewing the Paulding Light through a telescope. So, maybe that solves it?
The lights are usually white or red, sometimes even green, and often seen floating along the telephone wires. Some say this is the spirit of a Native American, dancing atop the power lines. Unless you buy the Michigan Tech explanation (which seems logical enough, so why not?) ... we just may never know.
14. Hell’s Bridge (Algoma Township/Rockford area)
In a nutshell, in the 1800s, a man named Elias Friske -- who many in the town had actually deemed "friendly" -- went on a rampage, killing a group of children and saying that demons made him do it. As the story goes, that's what's now haunting Hell's Bridge.
The story is a bit more involved, so we'll let you read on at your own risk. Roadtrippers.com details the murderous event better than we could. Just look at the picture, below. Would you visit?
15. The Whitney (Detroit)
David Whitney Jr. and his first wife Flora are supposedly haunting this fancy and classic Detroit establishment. Here’s the tale behind this one: Flora always wanted to live in a mansion, but she died before the home was completed. David then married Flora’s sister Sara, so now Flora haunts the house to fulfill her dream of staying at the mansion, according to reports.
David died there as well, so his spirit still lingers inside the house.
The mansion, which is about 21,000 square feet, has nearly 220 windows, 20 fireplaces and an elevator that has reportedly moved on its own -- as in, without any riders on board. Supposedly, the phenomenon has been caught on camera.
16. Historic Holly Hotel (Holly)
Could it be? An active haunted hotel? The Holly Hotel seems to believe so, saying strange occurrences continue to happen throughout the building.
"The ghostly residents seem to follow certain ‘habits,' and even if one is ignorant to the fact that the restaurant is haunted, their experience will often fit into a known set of occurrences," the hotel's website says. "For example, many people have smelled cigar smoke, even though they didn't know that original owner of the Inn smoked cigars. The descriptions of flowery perfume is often strikingly similar as well, and, for some reason, the meat cleaver is the favorite toy for a little girl's spirit who still plays in the kitchen and on the banquet room steps." Read more.
17. Old Presque Isle Lighthouse
Lorraine and George Parris moved into the historic monument after the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was replaced by the New Presque Isle Lighthouse -- about 20 miles south of Rogers City. The Parrises were caretakers of the building, and they spent their retirement years caring for the property and welcoming visitors to the site. George eventually died -- and one evening in May 1992, just as Lorraine was driving back to the lighthouse and thinking of her late husband, she saw that the light in the tower was on. But the light had been permanently disconnected in 1979, so how could that be? George had disconnected it himself, with the help of the Coast Guard. Lorraine didn’t tell anyone, but then she kept seeing the light flicker on from the lantern room. It was never visible from the station grounds, but only from across the harbor, as the story goes, according to Lighthouse Digest Magazine.
Once Lorraine started telling people, the news spread like crazy. The Coast Guard couldn't explain it, nor could anyone else. Perhaps this was a sign from George, communicating that he was back and staying in the area to watch over Lorraine. Some people even reported seeing a figure of a person inside the lantern room. Lorraine said there were other unexplained occurrences, such as the time she woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking. George loved breakfast, she said.
18. Bath, Michigan
If you’ve lived in Michigan for awhile, by now, you’re likely familiar with the Bath massacre. On May 18, 1927, a 55-year-old farmer named Andrew Kehoe killed his wife (who was dying from tuberculosis), all the animals on his farm, he burned his house down and then proceeded to the elementary school in town, where he set off 500 pounds of dynamite. (The reason for all this? He opposed an upcoming city millage that would raise taxes, and the fact that his farm was facing foreclosure due to property tax issues).
The blast was horrific -- killing students and teachers alike. When the superintendent tried to wave Kehoe over, Kehoe ignited another round and misfired, killing himself, the superintendent and eight more students. The final death toll was 44 -- many of whom were children -- with nearly 60 hurt. The attack had been planned for months, allegedly. Many visitors say you can smell the smoke still in the air, and some people have even had their hands held by child spirits while walking away from the school, as the reports go.
19. Old Mill Museum (Dundee)
The haunted Old Mill Museum, in Dundee, has served as a hydroelectric plant and a fabricating factory. Henry Ford himself even used the building at one point. Today, you can still tour the museum, and although no one has died inside, it’s a hotbed for spooky and paranormal activity, according to the website Onlyinyourstate.com. Water, limestone, a power generator and the abundance of antique items are said to increase the presence of paranormal energy. There was a time they were offering private or group tours, and even a family-friendly version.
20. South Lyon Hotel (South Lyon)
The haunted rumors surrounding this hotel stem from when the building was constructed on the site of an old cemetery. It’s been said that two men moved all the bodies to a new location for $2.50 per body. Once all of the bodies were removed, the hotel was constructed.
Another possible reason for the alleged “haunting” is a fire that erupted in 1977. One person died, but the building survived. It was then converted into a restaurant and bar, which, at last check, appeared to be open.
*This story was first published in 2017. It has since been updated.