Austin, Texas is a wonderfully haunted city. Its ghosts are more colorful than most, with the kinds of histories you’d expect from a “wild west” city. In fact, many of Austin’s ghosts linger because they want to, not because they’re stuck in our earthly plane.
These are the five places that I’d visit with just a brief time to investigate Austin’s ghosts.
1. The Driskill Hotel
You have to stay somewhere when you’re in Austin, so why not stay at the city’s most elegant, haunted hotel?
In my book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas, I devote an entire chapter to the Driskill’s great ghosts.
The lobby has at least two ghosts. One is a little girl who follows a bouncing ball (that manifests as an orb) on the staircase near the front desk.
Almost directly across the lobby from that staircase, a small room was once the hotel’s vault. It’s haunted by the cheerful ghost of a Depression-era hotel manager. When the banks closed during one financial crisis, the Driskill’s manager opened the vault and handed out cash to patrons. He trusted them to return the money when they could, and every one of them did. His ghost lingers through hard times and good, occasionally greeting guests in slightly outdated formal wear.
Be sure to visit the Maximilian Room, for some of America’s most haunted mirrors. (For their tragic history, see page 18 & 19 in my book about Austin’s ghosts.)
Upstairs, in addition to famous ghosts such as LBJ, you may catch a glimpse of the phantom hotel security guard. He’s always on the job, striding quickly through the halls to be sure that everyone is safe and sound in this magnificent hotel.
2. Buffalo Billiards, 201 East Sixth Street, Austin, TX
Buffalo Billiards is less than a block away from the Driskill Hotel. In 1861, as the Missouri Hotel, it was Austin’s first “boarding house” and a popular place for a cowboy to find a date… for an hour or so.
Today, the former brothel is one of Austin’s most popular night spots. Stop in for a drink and some food, and you’ll see tourists, locals and scantily-clothed ghosts among the crowd.
3. The Spaghetti Warehouse, 117 West Fourth Street, Austin, TX
When you’re ready for a good, filling meal, Austin’s Spaghetti Warehouse is the place to eat… and encounter ghosts.
Ask your waiter about the latest ghost sightings at the Spaghetti Warehouse. Most of the staff seem to have first-person stories to share.
In addition to quirky poltergeist activity, ask about the ghost who appears as a man — or just legs — around the restaurant’s vault.
After dinner, stroll up the street to the upscale gay men’s bar, Oilcan Harry’s. There, look for one of Austin’s most colorful ghosts, the late madam Blanche Dumont. She’ll be among the dancers.
4. Texas Capitol Building (Visitors’ Ctr: 112 E 11th Street, Austin, TX)
Day and night, you’ll see ghosts around the Capitol building. The most famous is probably Governor Edmund Jackson Davis (1827 – 1883) who is seen gazing from a first-floor window. On foggy and misty days — especially around mid-winter — and around dusk, he’s seen walking on the paved paths around the Capitol building. He’s tall and has a moustache, but people most often comment on his chilling stare. In fact, he often pauses when he sees someone, stares at them, and doesn’t move until they’ve passed him.
If you’re at the Capitol, be sure to walk past the Texas Governor’s Mansion. It has its own dramatic history with multiple hauntings. I recommend early morning photos at the mansion grounds, as well.
5. Oakwood Cemetery and Oakwood Annex Cemetery, Navasota St., Austin, TX
Oakwood Cemetery and its annex may be Austin’s most beautiful and haunted cemetery. There, you can visit the graves of many of Austin’s ghosts including Susannah Wilkerson Dickinson and Ben Thompson.
Most of Austin’s cemeteries close at dusk, but you can take photos through the openings in the fences around Oakwood. If you’ve been in the cemetery during the day, you’ll know exactly where to point your camera to capture eerie, phantom images.
Austin features many more, chilling locations where you can encounter ghosts and other frightening entities. Some of them — such as the nightly appearance of as many as a million bats, around one downtown Austin bridge — are entertaining.
Others, such as the ghost of Jack the Ripper and his victims, are best avoided unless you have nerves of steel.
For more ghosts (and true ghost stories) around Austin, read my book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas.
In its pages, I list over 130 ghosts and haunted places in and near Austin, Texas. You’ll read a full description of the Driskill Hotel’s many ghosts, a list (with details) of Austin’s most haunted cemeteries, the connection between Austin and Jack the Ripper, and the Shoal Creek Curse.
In addition, you’ll discover haunted sites around Austin, including Columbus, Texas. I describe its strange history and many ghosts as something like a “theme park for ghost hunters.”