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Family Ghost Tours

San Antonio's Historic Menger Hotel

With a colorful history dating to colonial times, San Antonio has plenty of old haunts and spooky tales to raise goose bumps. At the Alamo, site of a bloody and epic battle for Texas independence, some say they have heard the strains of a fiddle, bringing to mind Davy Crockett’s famous instrument.

Whether you believe or not, the stories and haunted places add spice to any good-spirited visit to San Antonio. You can pay an expert to show you around the city's most haunted spots or take a self-guided tour (see below).


Expert Opinions

Docia Williams, author of “Best Tales of Texas Ghosts” and other books on the subject, and Rhett Rushing, consultant on numerous SyFy and Travel Channel programs, know all of the city’s nebulous nooks and chilling crannies.

The Menger Hotel, where famous people such as Teddy Roosevelt, Oscar Wilde and Roy Rogers once walked the hallways and where a number of people have died, has the most interesting stories, said Williams, who until recently did guided ghost tours. “There’s absolutely nothing to fear about these spirits who frequent the old hotel,” she said. “An occasional manifestation just adds a spicy note of mystery to the elegant inn.”

Hot Spots

Mission San Jose in San AntonioRushing, a folklorist at the Institute of Texan Cultures, of course mentions the institute’s own “haunted hearse” and the little French girl who is said to hang out there. But there are places with a lot more activity, he said. "The Menger Hotel is a famous hot spot, specifically the bar," he said. "Mission San Jose is the leader in sightings of a more spiritual sort, many involving old friars,” he added.

Guided Ghost Tours

With so many haunts and tales to experience — and provided you can handle it — you might consider joining a nighttime tour:

Bad Wolf Ghost Tours features the city's most diverse range of ghost tours, including San Antonio's only Haunted Pub Crawl.

Ghost Hunts of San Antonio Texas Tour, boasting modern ghost-hunting equipment, has nightly hunts that start out across from the Menger Hotel.

Alamo City Ghost Tours has nightly walking tours that begin in Alamo Plaza as well as bus tours of graveyards and other haunted sites.

Ghosts & Legends of San Antonio holds 90-minute walks that start in Alamo Plaza and circle through the shadows of downtown streets. Reservations are required (see website). 

Sisters Grimm Candlelight Ghost Tours of San Antonio walks through the streets of Old San Antonio with lanterns and guides in period dress.

Self-Guided Tours

Or you can try a self-guided circuit using suggestions from Williams and Rushing:

Haunted Hotels

Bullis House Inn
An elegant Greek Revival mansion, now a bed and breakfast, was built from 1906 to 1909 for Indian fighter General John Bullis, who helped capture Apache Chief Geronimo. Today, Geronimo is among the spirits thought to inhabit the mansion.

Menger Hotel
Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders he recruited at the bar weigh heavy is stories surrounding this landmark 1859 hotel. But there’s also the mysterious Lady in Blue, who roams the halls; murdered chambermaid Salie White, who is usually carrying towels; and King Ranch founder Richard King, who died in the hotel in 1885; and many more.

Sheraton Gunter Hotel
One of the city’s most venerable hotels since opening in 1909, the Sheraton Gunter abounds in mysteries, including an unsolved crime, a blood-soaked bed and reenactments of a famous murder. Among the common sightings is an apparition in a long white dress.

St. Anthony Hotel
Many celebrities have stayed at the stylish St. Anthony, which also opened in 1909, but few as eccentric as the wraith of a woman in a veiled black hat, or the woman in a white ball gown who appears on the former roof garden, and an unexplained whistler.

Haunted Chapels & Churches

Southwest School of Art & Craft
The school’s lunchroom, called the Copper Kitchen, is housed in the refectory of the old Ursuline Academy, which was built in 1851 for an order of French nuns. Sounds suggesting spirits of the founding sisters scurrying after young charges have been reported. Male instructors have felt chastised for using profanity. Punchbowls have been turned over in the chapel, which is now used for receptions.

Grey Moss Inn
Once a frontier stagecoach stop on the road west of San Antonio, the Grey Moss Inn also sees its share of spirits. The most prevalent is Mary Howell, the restaurant’s original owner. Mary is said to still take an interest in the management of the property, showing her displeasure in many ways when things aren’t to her liking.

Haunted Historical Landmarks

The Alamo
Established in 1718 as the city's first Spanish mission, the Alamo harbors ghosts of heroes who fought in a bloody standoff and subsequent funeral pyres in 1836 when Mexican troops overran barricaded Texans. Most spirit sightings date from the late 1800s, but current-day psychics report detecting apparitions of Mexican soldiers in their uniforms. There are tales of John Wayne returning to commune with Alamo defenders from time to time. And, of course, there’s Davy’s ghostly fiddle wailing at the walls.

Colonial Missions
Not to be outdone by the Alamo, three more 18th-century missions also reportedly have otherworldly occupants. A dark-robed priest, sometimes headless, haunts Mission San José. A wolf-like animal with dangling chains and an Indian man appear at San Francisco de la Espada. An Indian man has also been seen in the chapel at San Juan de Capistrano. Another mission, Concepción, seems to be ghostless.

Spanish Governor’s Palace
The palace, finished in 1749, once housed officials of the Spanish Province of Texas. Strange sounds are said to emanate from a courtyard well, in which a young servant girl is alleged to have drowned. Bones of an infant were discovered in a chapel wall during restoration. Unexplained noises and “cold spots” are reported by caretakers.

Witte Museum
Dating to 1926, this museum’s many artifacts from the city’s past may encourage spirit encounters. The presence of Ellen Quillin, the museum’s first curator, is taken for granted by many. The museum’s library is said to be her favorite spot, though the attic is the scene of most alleged encounters, with “bony hands” and the like.

Institute of Texan Cultures
Museum directors and curators are apparently loath to leave their former haunts, and such is said to be the case at the Institute of Texan Cultures, where Henderson Shuffler, the first director is alleged to return, complete with the aromas of a smoking pipe. A groundsman named Gerald is thought to have been seen by several employees immediately after his death — in the clothing in which he was later buried. Other stories include the hearse with its doors that stubbornly refuse to stay closed.