Few U.S. regions conjure up visions of ghostly apparitions like the South. Stately old antebellum mansions, often abandoned to the ravages of time, loom from behind moss-draped trees. The specter of Civil War-era soldiers adds to the gothic atmosphere. Many of these houses are now hotels or B&Bs, making your visit easier -- but no less chilling.

LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana:
Dark goings-on at this French Quarter mansion have been a part of New Orleans legend for years. Delphine LaLaurie, the wealthy socialite behind these stories, was reputedly a sadist who mercilessly beat and tortured her slaves. During a dinner party in 1834, a fire started in the kitchen, reportedly by the slaves who were chained to the stove. That night, after guests witnessed the sight of chained and beaten slaves, the LaLauries fled the city in disgrace. The discovery of graves, reportedly hidden in the foundation of the home, has done nothing to dispel the grim reputation of this most haunted house. Information: Haunted America Tours (

Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas:
Teddy Roosevelt, who recruited cowboys fresh off the Chisholm Trail to join his Rough Riders, reportedly still frequents the bar at this ornate 1859 palace, looking for new recruits. Located next to the Alamo, some of the soldiers who died in that famous battle still come by, wearing their buckskins and boots. Most famously, a hotel chambermaid named Sallie White, who was murdered by her hus-band at the hotel, still performs occasional duties, delivering fresh towels to hotel guests. Now that's service. Information: Menger Hotel (

Magnolia Manor, Bolivar, Tennessee:
This elegant Tennessee manor home from 1849, owned by the same family until the 1970s, is now a B&B. Guests have reported seeing the same apparitions. An elderly woman sits in a rocking chair in the corner, quietly humming a tune. She also walks the hallways, carrying a lit candle. Whitey, a white cat owned by a previous resident, slinks along hallways at night. Doors open and close on their own, and lights switch on and off. Information: Magnolia Manor (

Hammock House, Beaufort, North Carolina:
The infamous pirate Black Beard (also known as Edward Teach) supposedly kept a young woman against her will in this 18th-century Beaufort house, whom he hung from an oak tree in the backyard -- her screams still haunt the night air. Other incidents have darkened the reputation of this old house. Richard Russell, who owned the home in the 1740s, tried to punish one of his slaves, but the slave pushed him down the stairs, breaking Russell's neck. He occasionally returns, looking for the rebellious slave. When the Union Army occupied Beaufort during the Civil War, three officers visiting the home disappeared, though they can be heard stomping around the hallways. Their bones were discovered near the back porch in 1915. Information: Beaufort, N.C. (

Kehoe House, Savannah, Georgia:
It's the twins that most visitors to this charming hotel tell of seeing. The two children were playing in the chimney when they were accidentally killed. Guests staying in Rooms 201 and 203 report hearing children's laughter and the patter of small feet running. Other guests and employees of this 1892 inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, have had to contend with doors opening and closing on their own, and the vision of a woman dressed in white. Information: Kehoe House (

The St. James Hotel, Selma, Alabama:
There are no pets allowed in this elegantly restored hotel, but guests keep hearing the sound of a barking dog in the interior courtyard. Some say he's the pet of Jesse James, the outlaw who frequented the hotel in the 1800s, and is sometimes seen -- especially in Rooms 214, 314, and 315, or at his favorite corner table. Maybe Jesse comes back looking for his other pet, the beautiful, raven-haired Lucinda, who can still be seen strolling the hallways, the scent of her lavender perfume wafting after her. 1222 Water Ave. Information: St. James Hotel (tel. 334/872-7055).

Peavey Melody Music, Meridian, Mississippi:
This nondescript building was the original home of Peavey Electronics. Shortly after it was built in 1906, a tornado struck Meridian, killing scores of people; the victims' bodies were stacked on the second floor of this building, which was a funeral parlor at the time. Many of the injured were children who died here while waiting for medical assistance. Employees have heard running and the laughter of children on the second floor late in the evening. Information: Visit Meridian (

Cedar Grove Inn, Vicksburg, Mississippi:
The wealthy Southern gentleman John Klein gave this stately Vicksburg Greek Revival mansion to his bride Elizabeth as a wedding gift in 1840. Guests to the inn describe smelling the smoke from his pipe at odd intervals. After several family graves were moved in 1919, visitors started seeing a young girl whose grave was among those moved. Information: Cedar Grove Inn (

Eliza Thompson House, Savannah, Georgia:
If you're a light sleeper, avoid Room 132 in this lovingly restored Savannah B&B. Guests there report hearing the gleeful laughter of children all night long -- sometimes even being pushed out of bed to join in the play. Eliza's son James, a confederate soldier, was killed by a horse right in front of the property, and his visage is sometimes seen looking out the window. Information: Eliza Thompson House (

Sturdivant Hall, Selma, Alabama:
Wealthy banker John Parkman, president of the First National Bank of Selma, owned this elegant home during the Reconstruction period until he was arrested for cotton speculation. While trying to escape from prison, he was killed. He still wanders the grounds of his former home, opening doors with strong breezes on otherwise windless days, and leaving imprints on freshly made beds. Information: Sturdivant Hall (

Get more travel ideas in the book 500 Adrenaline Adventures.