In much of the U.S. these days, the air is chillier and the sky is darker. And the vibes? Definitely spookier. At least that’s the conclusion you might draw from Lyft’s data, which shows a significant rise in activity (a rather witch-hat-like bump) in three uniquely eerie cities — Salem, Massachusetts, Sleepy Hollow, New York, and Yuma, Arizona. Indeed, about 12% of these towns’ rideshare activity occurs during the month of October, 33% more than the 8.8% monthly average.
Here’s what makes these locales so popular during Halloween — and precisely where scare-seekers are going.
Salem’s position at the top of the spooky-city list comes as no surprise. It’s been associated with the occult since 1692, the year of the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Here are Lyft riders’ favorite Halloween haunts:
The Salem Witch Museum is the town’s most popular late-October destination. The museum, located in a looming Gothic Revival church with glowing red windows, hosts two core exhibits: an immersive experience on the Witch Trials — with life-size stage sets, a tableau of the devil, and narration — and another on how the concept of “witch” has evolved over time.
This colonial mansion has a cursed history. It was once inhabited by Nathaniel Ropes, a judge and British loyalist. In 1774, a mob of Revolutionaries attacked the house. Ropes, who was already ill from smallpox, died the next day. Sixty-five years later, Nathaniel’s granddaughter Abigail burned to death after her dress caught on fire. In 2009, another fire afflicted the home, with unconfirmed origins. Ghost-seeking visitors still report hearing agonized screams.
Why might so many Lyft riders visit the innocuous-seeming address of 4 Ocean Avenue —especially on Halloween? It’s the location of Max and Dani’s quaint Victorian-era home from the cult-favorite Disney movie Hocus Pocus.
With an athletic team named “The Witches,” it is clear Salem High School is proud of its spooky legacy. But, as the chart shows below, why would there be so many October drop-offs after 11 p.m.? And why are there no corresponding pickups? Some mysteries even data can’t solve…
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Washington Irving made this Hudson Valley town infamous with his 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” in which lanky schoolmaster Ichabod Crane disappears after a terrifying encounter with the mythical headless horseman.
Ten percent of Sleepy Hollow’s October rides are to the sprawling 90-acre cemetery. The graveyard features walking paths, the grave of Washington Irving, and several macabre reenactments.
Featured in Irving’s legend — “It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms” — this 17th-century stone church is the headless horseman’s purported haunt. It also receives 5% of the month’s Lyft rides.
This Gothic Revival mansion found its way into two feature-length films: House of Dark Shadows (1970) and its sequel, Night of Dark Shadows (1971). It now hosts architectural tours and historical exhibitions, although spook-seekers should consider Lyndhurst After Dark.
Known for its Gold Rush heritage, Yuma also has a claim to the macabre: the Yuma Territorial Prison, an 1800s prison whose inmates included a woman accused of ripping her husband’s heart out of his body and a legendary stagecoach robber, Pearl Hart. The prison was closed due to overcrowding just 33 years after it opened, but the ghosts are said to still linger.
Twenty percent of rides to the territorial prison occur in October. Among last year’s Lyft riders was Nathalie B. Compton, a reporter for The Washington Post. Compton and her colleague spent the night in the abandoned prison, armed with a camera and an EMF detector, and recorded a minute-by-minute documentation of what they heard. Happily, Compton survived to tell the tale.
Located next door to the Lyric Theater, this historic Yuma pool hall/casino (now restaurant) can’t seem to shake its sinister past. In a 2019 episode of the reality TV show Ghost Adventures, the team identifies a childlike presence haunting the halls.
Once an underground Western Union telegraph office, Red’s was converted to a brothel-style pub in the 1970s. Narrow hallways and a tight spiral staircase contribute to the saloon’s ominous vibes; visitors describe the second floor as “creepy” and some even claim the ladies’ bathroom is haunted. While Lyft data can’t yet track the undead, it did reveal that almost 2% of all rides in late October in Yuma are to Red’s, and almost all after 7 p.m. — so the joint certainly seems to come alive at night.