Every Scary American Horror Story Destination You Can Visit IRL for Halloween
Let's be real—the Halloween lineup isn't complete without new episodes of American Horror Story, and after months of rumors, teasers, and wildly unsettling fan art, the riveting show has finally raised the curtain! Everyone's favorite horror-infused television has returned this year with American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare, the next chapter in Glee-creator Ryan Murphy's journey through the lurid, blood-soaked underbelly of America.
In adhering to the series' tradition of hopscotching across the country to new locations for each self-contained season, this takes place in a brand new locale—joining the throng of terrifying hot spots we love to binge watch on the screen (with the lights on, of course). For those looking to dive into the screen and plunge into something a bit more interactive this Halloween, you can pay homage to the beloved program with an actual visit to some of the creepy real-life locations used on the show. Each installment is its own self-contained series of nightmares with its exclusive nightmare-inducing setting, mingling the scariest bits of U.S. history and urban legend into frightening tales of Nazi medical experiments, immortal serial murderers, and social pariahs in haunted hotels.
To celebrate the return of the AHS ensemble (and with Halloween right around the corner!), we've compiled an index of all the visitable locations from each season run thus far, from menacing mansions in New Orleans to haunted hotels in Los Angeles. So come indulge youself in a horror holiday and explore where all of the terrifying American Horror Story monsters hung out.
1. Murder House from Season 1:
Nobody could forget the gorgeous—and insanely haunted mansion—that started it all. Officially named The Alfred Rosenheim Mansion, and located at 1120 Westchester Place, L.A., the 1908 building is better known to American Horror Story fans as the "Murder House" in which much of its first season took place. But while the fictional mansion contains a horde of homicidal ghosts who were quick to take their suffering out on any brave buyer who dared to move in, visitors will be relieved to know that the real thing is phantasm-free—and utterly stunning. The real Murder House location is true to the storyline—it really does stand in a leafy suburb of Los Angeles. Its standout feature is the main hall, which features a turreted stairwell and is lit with Tiffany stained glass windows. And the best part? Vacationers can add a little black magic to their own trip; the memorably morbid mansion is now available to rent via Airbnb.
2. Briarcliff Asylum from Season 2:
The evil shenanigans of your favorite mentally unstable squad may be over, but you don't have to check out of the institution just yet. The exterior of Briarcliff Manor was filmed far away from the show's New England setting, with SoCal's historic Santa Ana Courthouse providing the exterior of the titular structure. Briarcliff's dreary New England setting is actually a gorgeous monument of California. The glorious Romanesque Santa Ana Courthouse is open to the public from 9 a.m – 4:30 p.m. on weekdays (excluding public holidays), and entrance is completely free. No worries; you won't find any morally ambiguous nuns or Nazi torture commanders here.
3. Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies from Season 3:
The central location of Coven, Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies—a devious and gloomy version of Hogwarts—was portrayed by the Buckner Mansion in NoLa's Garden District. Much of the grittiest action of the season takes place here, the boarding school for wayward witches. In real life, the coven operates from the glorious Buckner Mansion in New Orleans, where all of the show's chief locations can be found. While the exterior of the 20,000-square-foot manor is eerie in itself, set decorator Ellen Brill transformed the formerly inviting interiors to match the chilly monochromatic rooms seen on screen. The mansion can be rented out for $20K a month. As an added bonus, Marie Laveau's Cornrow City Salon and Madame Lalaurie's Mansion are just a few streets away.
4. Mott Manor from Season 4:
For all who were bewitched by Season 3's sultry New Orleans digs, the profligate fictional mansion from Freak Show is another amazing history-horror home to harbor a major crush on. The Manor was the permanent residence of Gloria Mott and her son Dandy, who would later murder the family's servant Dora Brown, his mother, and Dora's daughter Regina Ross, becoming the heir to the family fortune. A breathtaking historical site called Longue Vue House, onetime residence to an offshoot of the Sears and Roebuck clan (the family that made a fortune starting the department store Sears), served as the Mott home's exterior location. The house was built by Edgar and Edith Stern from 1939–1942 and is now open to the public all week long.
5. Hotel Cortez from Season 5:
If American Horror Story makes you afraid of things that go bump in the night, then you might not want to schedule a visit to the this hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This season of the FX miniseries is based off the Stay on Main Hotel, which was formerly called the Cecil. The exterior for The Countess' Hotel Cortez was filmed at L.A.'s infamously haunted hotel: now known as the Oviatt Building, with a crew pinning a neon sign to complete the look. However, the interiors of the Hotel were built from scratch at Fox Studios with substantial inspiration from the Stay on Main Hotel (and the countless records of paranormal activity that has been reported there over the years). Hordes of fans are already trying to book a room at the hotel, especially the notorious room that 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam stayed in when she mysteriously died in February 2013. The show's co-creator Ryan Murphy revealed at the Television Critics Association last year that the basis of Season 5 was inspired by Lam's death.
6. Roanoke Island from Season 6:
From alien invasions to creepy mist monsters and children of the corn, this season is a total mixed bag. The mystery of what happened to the colonists of Roanoke remains unsolved and serves as the primary backdrop for the unfolding drama. In real life, Roanoke Island is still one of the most unique destinations along the Outer Banks and houses the Roanoke Island Festival Park. This particular Roanoke Island attraction, just across from the Manteo waterfront, is a 25-acre interactive historic site representing the first English settlement attempt in 1585. The park also hosts many performances throughout the year in the Indoor Theatre and concerts at the Outdoor Pavilion. Here you can gather clues from the colonists whilst immersed in epic battles and haunting Native American dances.