The History: A preserved example of Miami in the 1920s, this home of Charles Deering—a Chicago industrialist, preservationist, environmentalist, art collector, philanthropist, and early Miamian—is both a museum and an ecological gem. Now a state-protected park, the property is spread across more than 400 acres of coastal Miami. But it’s also said to be one of the most haunted places in South Florida—frequented not only by Deering himself, but by the ghosts of the native people who once lived upon the land.
The Chills: Visitors and ghost hunters alike say they’ve heard or recorded the voices of spirits throughout the property. See (and hear) for yourself on one of the popular Historic Ghost Tours that the estate offers throughout the month of October. Walk the same paths that indigenous people, Miami’s early settlers, and even Charles Deering might have walked on a guided tour that touches upon historic events, previous inhabitants, and the estate’s paranormal activity.
The History: Founded in 1897, just a year after the city’s incorporation, this historic graveyard stands as a monument to more than 9,000 departed souls—including many of the folks who shaped the Magic City’s early history. Book a tour with HistoryMiami to walk the cemetery alongside historian Paul George and hear stories of notable Miami residents, from civil rights leader Reverend Theodore Gibson to “Mother of Miami” Julia Tuttle to Bernard Mackey of the Ink Spots Quartet.
The Chills: Guests who visit Tuttle’s burial site report feeling the presence of someone watching over them. Don’t miss the final resting place of Carrie Miller—her husband couldn’t bear to bury her, so he bought an altar, placed her body on it, and had concrete poured over her corpse. Her tombstone reads: “The body of Carrie Barret Miller was molded in this solid block of concrete. December 4, 1926. After the body has gone to dust, her sleeping form will remain.” Listen for the scratching sounds that many say they hear coming from inside the monument. Want to encounter a ghost yourself? Grab tickets to the popular Miami City Cemetery Tour, held this year on October 28.
The History: Lincoln Road’s famous Art Deco–style Colony Theater first opened as a Paramount Pictures movie house in 1935. During WWII, soldiers garrisoned on Miami Beach watched propaganda films and training reels on its screens. Since then, it’s exhibited both movies and live theater shows. Today, it’s managed by Miami New Drama, a South Florida theater company that hosts music, dance, and theater performances.
The Chills: After almost a century of history, the Colony Theater has been said to have picked up a few ghosts. But the most commonly seen ghost doesn’t belong to a departed person. Instead, the venue’s most celebrated spirit is a small white poodle that is known to haunt the building, chasing guests and barking at them. (Perhaps not out of the ordinary for the high-class luxury lifestyles of Miami Beach, where even the ghosts have designer dogs.) Other reports include an entity that’s not seen but rather heard—via disembodied footsteps that some say roam the building, especially in the area behind the main stage, in the theater lobby, and on the main elevator.
The History: Built in 1926 by George Merrick (the venerable founder of Coral Gables), The Biltmore quickly became the toast of the town, hosting fashion shows and galas complete with famous guests like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Al Capone, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Chills: Biltmore-based ghost stories began when gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed after an argument over a gambling dispute at a party there in 1929. It is speculated that his ghost still lingers at the hotel, especially in the bar area, where sounds of glasses clinking and bottles shaking have been heard. Some say Walsh—who was known for his taste in alcohol and Cuban cigars—hangs around the bar, playing tricks on staff and guests. Others claim that Walsh’s apparition haunts the thirteenth floor (where he was killed) and that the scent of his ghostly cigar smoke can be picked up throughout the property.
The History: Villa Paula was built to be Miami’s first Cuban consulate in 1926. Today, it boasts an art gallery—with works from Picasso to Miami’s own Pervis Young—a beautiful exhibition space, a striking gazebo, and bougainvillea-laced gardens. But while the setting is stunning, Villa Paula is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former resident.
The Chills: Consul Domingo J. Milford’s wife, Paula, died at a young age after a leg amputation went wrong. (There’s a stone monument in Villa Paula’s backyard marked with her name, but it turns out that Paula is buried elsewhere and the marker was simply placed there in her memory.) Reports of ghostly activities include slamming doors and gates, piano music playing, and dishes and glassware rattling off shelves. Most eerily, it is said that Paula’s ghost can be spotted moving throughout the house on a single leg. Others have reported the smell of strongly brewed Cuban coffee and blooming roses—believed to have been two of Paula’s favorite things.