Wilmington hosts visitors from near and far throughout the year for one special reason: it is one of the most actively haunted cities in the South. With a 230-plus-block historic district and a deeply rich history, it should come as no surprise that ghostly spirits from days gone by may still linger.
Keep reading to discover how to tour the haunted side of the city and get a preview of a few of the frequent apparitions:
Boos and Brews
In the early 1700s, well before Wilmington became the arts and culture hub it is today, it was notorious for being a rough and rowdy seaport. As pirates circled the coast, sailors gravitated toward the Blue Post, a bar in the area now known as Michael’s on the Waterfront. Gallus Meg, the bartender of Blue Post, garnered the reputation of ruling the bar with an iron fist. A mammoth of a woman, she earned her nickname – an old derivative of the word “gallows” – by grabbing unruly men by the neck and lifting them off their feet so it appeared they were being hung. Her ghostly figure is known to still haunt the area, with several sightings reported by restaurant employees and patrons. Visitors to present day Wilmington can learn more about the eerie details of Gallus Meg and other infamous spirits during a Haunted Pub Crawl. Enjoy a drink or two as you stop into some of the area’s most haunted pubs and hear the tales of Wilmington’s ghostly history.
Stories from Beyond the Grave
Located on Market Street, St. James Parish serves as a resting place for Samuel Jocelyn Jr., who stormed off on horseback in a fit of rage and was ultimately found lying in a shallow swamp. As his friends and family were mourning his supposed death, he appeared to one of his friends, Sandy, and asked that he come dig up his body. In disbelief, Sandy waited three days before visiting his friend’s graveside, only to discover Samuel had been buried alive. To this day, locals refuse to walk alongside the graveyard alone because it is said in the quietness, you can still hear the muffled cries and scratching noises as Samuel attempts to escape his grave. Hear all the chilling details of Samuel’s death on the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, a 90-minute adventure to the city’s most actively haunted homes and burial grounds. Professional storytellers and ghost hunters share eerie tales and true ghostly occurrences during this nationally acclaimed, award-winning tour.
Get in! We’re Going Ghost-Hunting!
Known as one of the most haunted locations in Wilmington, Battleship NORTH CAROLINA welcomes both believers and doubters aboard to search the ship high and low for paranormal activity. Enter at your own risk to investigate haunted areas on select weekends throughout the year with Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Ghost Hunt USA. Attendees can use the provided equipment, such as EMF readers and trigger objects, to explore exclusive off-limits parts of the ship. You may catch a sighting, as many visitors do, of the ghost of a young man with blonde hair in the passageways, who is said to be one of the sailors who lost his life during a Japanese torpedo strike.
On select evenings each October, Poplar Grove Plantation opens up to ghosthunters to search for the spirits that haunt the manor. The Paranormal Investigation Tours uncover the true stories of the deceased family members and why they are trapped in this side of the nether.
Tickets for both haunted experiences sell out quickly, so be sure to plan ahead and get them before they are gone!
Home to the Civil War’s largest land and sea battle, nearby Fort Fisher has many scary stories to tell. Hear some of them during the Fort Fisher Haunted Trail Tour Oct. 28. But beware, as this tour is not for the faint of heart: Participants are guided through the secluded Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in the hopes of coming face to face with the legends of the haunted maritime forest.
By day, the Cotton Exchange is a unique shopping experience full of art galleries, specialty shops and restaurants, but by night it becomes full of frights. Known for being one of Wilmington’s most paranormal locations, guests are invited to tour the eight interconnected buildings during the Haunted Cotton Exchange Tour. Don’t forget to grab your ghost-hunting gadgets to capture all the strange things that are known to happen during this tour. This year-round experience can be booked by calling (910) 409-4300.
Fright-Free Family Fun
Wilmington’s haunted history is sure to scare even the most serious of thrill seekers; luckily, there are several not-so-scary activities everyone can enjoy. Break out the matching costumes and listen to the family-friendly ghost stories of downtown Wilmington on a Halloween Ghost Trolley tour. Or spend a day at Goosebumps in the Grove, a weekend-long festival full of tricks and treats for the whole crew at Poplar Grove Plantation. Check out all the hallo-fun happening in Wilmington here.
From haunted houses and bars to spine-chilling cemeteries, ships and forests, there is no shortage of paranormal activity in Wilmington and its nearby beaches. Plan your trip to experience a hauntingly good time.