America’s Dark Side: 5 Destinations for Dark Tourists

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

For many of us, a good vacation needs a few staple things: good food, plenty of laughter, and maybe a day or two by the pool.

Yet, some travelers are looking for less wholesome fun and more tragedy, with a good sprinkling of sadness and suffering. These people are known as ‘dark tourists.’

It turns out America is a real hotspot for these types of vacationers, so let’s take a look at their five most popular destinations.

Alcatraz, California 

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Once housing some of the nation’s most notorious criminals, including Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the ‘inescapable’ Alcatraz is a must-visit for any dark tourist.

Located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, the prison known as ‘The Rock,’ has a haunting atmosphere, with its eerie ambiance, crumbling infrastructure, and dark legends of escape attempts and harsh punishments.

Salem, Massachusetts

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Image Credit: DepositPhoto.

Salem is a town infamously known across the world for its links to witchcraft. Between January 1692 to May 1693, 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, resulting in 20 executions.

With such a bleak history, it’s no wonder thousands of dark tourists head to the streets of Salem to visit the witchcraft-themed shops and museums and take part in the witchcraft tours each year.

Museum of Death, California

Musuem of Death
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When most of us think of vacations in California, images of beaches, Disneyland, or the bright lights of Los Angeles will flood our minds. However, dark tourists are known to find darkness even in the brightest of locations.

Nestled in Hollywood, the Museum of Death is a magnet for vacationers looking for some doom and gloom among the sunshine of California. The museum is not for the faint-hearted and showcases artwork by serial killers, autopsy instruments, and displays on infamous murders.

Dealey Plaza, Texas

Dealey Plaza
Image Credit: Dealey Plaza

We all know the tragic outcome of 22nd November 1963, where the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.

As one of the most significant days in US history, the spot draws visitors from across the world who want to learn more about that fateful afternoon. With museums, tours, and a memorial plaza all located close by, there is plenty to do for any dark tourist visiting Dallas.

Area 51, Nevada

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Hidden in the remote desert of Nevada, Area 51 is a location drenched in mystery and unknowns. Believed to be a classified US Air Force facility, it is shrouded in conspiracy theories and speculation about extraterrestrial life.

Any self-respecting dark tourist will have Area 51 high on their bucket list. Despite the fact none have entered, the region still attracts visitors all year round, with the local town of Rachel being home to plenty of UFO-related attractions.


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