Grave Matters: Spooky Southern Cemeteries

Day or night, these six Southern cemeteries make for a memorable Halloween field trip.

Bonaventure Cemetery
Savannah, Georgia

Made famous by the book and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, this sprawling, oak-shaded Southern–gothic graveyard is just a short drive from downtown Savannah. Block out an afternoon to explore the resting places of lyricist Johnny Mercer, poet Conrad Aiken, and Edward Telfair, Georgia’s first governor.

Hollywood Cemetery
Richmond, Virginia

The nineteenth-century burial ground is the second-most-visited cemetery in the nation, behind only Arlington National. Its 135 riverfront acres—dotted with ancient tulip poplars, bald cypresses, and black gum trees—are home to the grave sites of two presidents and thousands of Confederate soldiers.

Scott Adams

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
New Orleans, Louisiana

This beautiful oak-lined grid of aboveground tombs rests on the edge of the leafy Garden District. The city’s first planned cemetery, its 10,000 interred include jazz musicians and Civil War soldiers. But perhaps its most famous inhabitants are fictional—a family of witches created by the author Anne Rice.

Amy Dickerson

Magnolia Cemetery
Charleston, South Carolina

Hugging 130 acres on the banks of the Cooper River, the oldest public cemetery in Charleston is so lovely that it’s not uncommon for visitors to drive up to explore this oak-lined gem in the Holy City.

Beverly Donald

Oakland Cemetery
Atlanta, Georgia

Visit the graves of prominent Atlantans, including Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell; the city’s first African American mayor, Maynard Jackson; legendary golfer Bobby Jones; and thousands of nameless Civil War soldiers. In October, the cemetery’s “residents” come to life through reenactments—it’s the only time the gates stay open after dark.

Ren and Helen Davis

Randolph Cemetery
Columbia, South Carolina

See the ongoing efforts of a dedicated preservation team at this early African American cemetery, where nineteenth-century plots display West African burial symbols such as yucca and cactus to ward off evil spirits.

David Parsons