Sure, there are plenty of haunted houses, haunted hotels, haunted used car lots, and other haunted places to visit for a scare around Halloween. But how many of them were used as filming locations in the creepiest television show ever to air on basic cable? Location scouts for American Horror Story are some of the best in the business, creating settings for the show that unnerve the audience as much as the talented actors and bizarre plotlines. Over seven seasons, this show has scared us in mental asylums, girls’ schools, mansions, and farm-to-table restaurants. Here are 11 sites you can visit and take selfies in front of this Halloween.
1. Briarcliff Asylum
Address: Orange County Courthouse, 211 W Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana, California
Season: Two, Asylum
The Massachusetts mental hospital that served as the central point for Asylum (plus a cameo in Freak Show) is actually the classic Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana. The Romanesque Revival structure dates back to 1901 and still serves at the seat of OC county government. If you’re down to travel and want to see something creepier, the inspirations for the Briarcliff Asylum were actually the Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts and the Willowbrook State School in New York.
2. Delphine LaLaurie’s House
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Address: LaLaurie Mansion, 1140 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
Season: Three, Coven
Of all the twisted, haunted legends of New Orleans, Delphine LaLaurie’s might be the most disturbing. During the early 1800s, she kept slaves in tiny, confined spaces, torturing, mutilating, and murdering them for her own psychotic entertainment. The atrocities were discovered during a fire at the mansion, where slaves were found trapped in the attic, chained to stoves and dismembered in various ways. Kathy Bates — who does deranged old lady better than anyone — brought a fictionalized version of LaLaurie to life, and though no episodes were filmed inside, the exterior is still a popular tourist stop.
3. Mott Manor
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Address: Longue Vue House & Gardens, 7 Bamboo Road, New Orleans, Louisiana
Season: Four, Freak Show
The aristocratic mansion of Glorian and Dandy Mott that was the setting for Freak Show is set in Florida. But the actual structure used for exterior shots is a grand home and gardens in the heart of New Orleans, called Longue Vue House & Gardens. The house took three years to build, completed in 1942, and has 20 rooms and four lush gardens, including one that still grows food. But don’t expect the inside to look anything like the bizarre mansion you saw on TV; a tour of Longue Vue displays a house full of the original furniture, mostly English and American antiques with European carpets.
4. Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies
Address: Buckner Mansion, 1410 Jackson Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana
Season: Three, Coven
Some people just can’t stop working, even when they’re dead. Such is the case with Miss Josephine, the ghost who haunts Buckner Mansion, a plantation-style home in the New Orleans’ Garden District that served as Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in Coven. Miss Josephine, a former slave in the house, has allegedly been spotted sweeping floors and standing on the stairs, leaving a mysterious lemon-fresh scent wherever she traipses. Despite the ghosts, the mansion was occupied by its original owners — the Buckner Family — until 1923 when it was taken over by the Soule Business School, which closed in 1983. If you’re not afraid of ghosts, you can rent the historic mansion out for $4,700 a night.
5. Hotel Cortez
Address: James Oviatt Building, 617 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles, California
Season: Five, Hotel
The Hotel Cortez was almost entirely filmed on a soundstage, which makes visiting the swanky Art Deco-inspired murder hotel impossible. The exterior of the hotel was filmed at the James Oviatt Building, an Art Deco highrise in downtown Los Angeles. But that really isn’t the location you should be visiting. Though nothing was filmed there, the infamous Hotel Cecil (now known as Stay on Main, also in downtown Los Angeles) actually inspired the events of Hotel. Originally a swanky, 1920s LA hotspot, this hotel turned into a flophouse after the depression and has seen its fair share of suicides, murders, and mysterious deaths.
Night Stalker Richard Ramirez used the hotel as a home base during his serial killing spree, often dropping his bloody clothes in the dumpster outside the back entrance. Most recently in 2013, Canadian student Elisa Lam went missing. When guests complained of low water pressure and strange-tasting water, investigators went to examine the hotel’s water tank and found Lam floating inside. Elevator camera footage later showed Lam pressing every button on the elevator, then crouching in a corner, before furiously gesturing to someone outside. Her case has never been solved.
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Address: Ft. Raleigh National Historic Site, 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, North Carolina
Season: Six, Roanoke
The dual-track theme of My Roanoke Nightmare was set in a house constructed for the express purpose of filming the show, somewhere in a forest near Santa Clarita. But the site of the original lost colony of Roanoke is the Ft. Raleigh National Historic Site on the coast of North Carolina, where John White returned after a two-year supply run to find the entire colony vanished. His only clue to its disappearance: the word CROATOAN scrawled on a tree. AHS used the story as the inspiration for a season of historical fiction, where current residents grapple with ghosts from the past.
7. The Butchery on Main
Address: Corner of Chapman Street and Glassell Ave., Orange County, California
Season: Seven, Cult
Funny that the place where poor Roger the sous-chef found himself hanging from a meat hook in Cult is actually a cosmetology school in Orange County. But such is the magic of Hollywood. The historic brick structure in Old Towne Orange was used as the exterior for Ally and Ivy’s restaurant, and during filming, it drew regular crowds to sometimes-sleepy Orange. It has no real haunted history nor ghostly lore and was most recently home to a cosmetology school, but it’s still a scenic location to snap a picture in front of.
8. Ally and Ivy’s House
Address: 1530 N. Orange Grove Ave., Los Angeles, California
Season: Seven, Cult
Had Ally and Ivy been commuting in real life instead of simply cruising the streets of Brookfield Heights, the drive from LA to Orange would have killed them long before the sinister clowns could. The house used for the exteriors of their home in Cult sits about 40 miles up Interstate 5 or about three hours in traffic if you hit rush hour on a Friday. The maddening traffic might be why this neighborhood seems to house so many crazies: This house, as well as the one across the street, was also used in the filming of John Carpenter’s Halloween.
9. The Murder House
Address: Alfred Rosenheim Mansion. 1110 Westchester Place, Los Angeles, California
Season: One, Murder House
To see where it all began, head to the Alfred Rosenheim mansion — the setting of the notorious Murder House from AHS’s first season. Originally designed in 1902 by the eponymous architect as his private home along billionaires’ row in Los Angeles, it later belonged to actor Edward Everett Horton in the 1930s before turning into a convent in the latter part of the 20th century. It’s adorned in Tiffany stained glass, has six fireplaces, a solarium, and a gold-leafed ceiling. American Horror Story scouts weren’t the first to appreciate this mansion’s creepy façade, either; it’s also been used to film episodes of The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and other paranormal classics. The house is privately owned, but you can still see the creepy exterior.
10. Sepulveda Dam
Address: Sepulveda Dam, 15758 Burbank Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406
Season: Eight, Apocalypse
Apocalypse is considered to be a crossover between the first and third seasons of AHS, with many of those seasons’ stars returning for the eighth installment. One of the season’s most memorable scenes took place at Sepulveda Dam, where Cordelia and the coven condemn Ariel, Baldwin, and Miriam for murdering a fellow warlock and conspiring to commit treason against the coven. They do this by burning the traitors at the stake, though Cordelia honors the tradition where a witch will not kill a condemned warlock — it’s instead a resurrected John Henry that pours gasoline over the three. The dam has been used as a filming location for a number of things, most notably Iron Man 2. While the top of the dam is inaccessible, the basin underneath is open to visitors.
11. Camp Redwood
Address: Franklin Canyon Park, 2600 Franklin Canyon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Season: Nine, 1984
The ninth season of AHS draws influence from classic horror movies, so it comes as no surprise that its main plot line involves young people who get jobs as counselors at Camp Redwood for the summer (Friday the 13th vibes anyone?). This season was mainly shot in studio, but one of the few on-location spots was Franklin Canyon Park, the stand-in for Camp Redwood’s outdoor scenes. The public park is no stranger to Hollywood, with How I Met Your Mother, Twin Peaks, True Blood, and more all filming scenes there. It spans 605 acres that are free to enter, with a host of hiking trails and other outdoor activities available.
A version of this article was previously published on October 8, 2018, and was updated on August 13, 2020, with more information.
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