America’s Most Beautiful... Cemeteries

It’s not only ghosts who haunt cemeteries. You, too, can spend time in some of our nation’s most beautiful and storied burial grounds, dating back to the Civil War and earlier. Fall is the perfect time of year to wander through the gardens, monuments, and tombstones of this collection of lovely, historically significant graveyards.

  1. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Middlesex County, Massachusetts

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    mount auburn cemetery history

    Consecrated in 1831, Mount Auburn Cemetery is the resting place of prominent Bostonians and many Mayflower descendants. Mount Auburn is one of a handful of cemeteries that have been designated National Historic Landmarks, and it's also a haven for trees, making it an excellent place to admire New England’s finest autumn colors. 

    flickr.com via Jeremy Brooks

  2. Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts

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    Forest Hills Cemetery

    A jewel in Boston’s Emerald Necklace of parks and green spaces, Forest Hills comprises more than 275 acres of outdoor art and gardens. A walk through this living memorial, opened in 1848, takes you past the graves of many notable Americans, including abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and suffragist Lucy Stone.

    Related: 25 Tiny Towns to Visit for a Glimpse at How We Used to Live

    flickr.com via Bill Ilott

  3. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, New York

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    Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

    For a truly authentic experience, read Washington Irving’s spooky short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," while sitting under a tree in the original Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. This is, after all, where the famous author is buried, not far from the Old Dutch Church that inspired such memorable characters as Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.

    Related: The Most Haunted Places in America

    Wikimedia Commons via Acroterion

  4. Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia

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    Arlington National Cemetery

    Arlington National Cemetery is an intensely moving tribute to American military service. The cemetery was established during the Civil War, and today rows upon rows of white headstones covering the grassy hills stand in solemn homage to the more than 400,000 members of the military who are buried there.

    Related: 15 Places Every American Should Visit at Least Once

    istockphoto.com

  5. Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City

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    Trinity Church Cemetery

    This urban graveyard in the heart of Wall Street dates back to the 17th century. Today, it offers visitors tree-lined walkways and a welcome breath of fresh air amid skyscrapers and hurried lives. A stroll through this National Historic Landmark is like a walk through American history, as this is the final resting place of assorted delegates to the Continental Congress, one signer of the Declaration of Independence, and founding father Alexander Hamilton.

    Related: 18 Small Towns That Changed America

    istockphoto.com

  6. Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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    Laurel Hill Cemetery

    Laurel Hill, which opened in 1836, contains more than 33,000 monuments and sculptures, including one by Alexander Calder. The cemetery is the eternal home of many noteworthy Philadelphians and more than its share of Civil War-era generals—yet it also has a knack for fun. Among the events offered at this National Historic Landmark are the annual Rest in Peace 5k, Fall Family Day, and Haunted Halloween History Tours. 

    istockphoto.com

  7. Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

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    Bonaventure Cemetery

    A literary and cinematic landmark, Bonaventure Cemetery is noted for its role in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," John Berendt’s Southern Gothic novel. Created in 1846 on the site of a former plantation, the cemetery once served as cheap "lodgings" for conservationist John Muir, who in 1867 spent six nights sleeping on graves, an inspiring experience he related in "Camping Among the Tombs," a chapter in his 1916 account, "A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf."

    Related: 7 Fictional Towns You Can Visit in Real Life

    istockphoto.com

  8. Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois

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    Graceland Cemetery Chicago

    This Victorian-era cemetery is aptly named: The large family lots, imposing monuments, and "landscape rooms" purchased and erected by wealthy Chicagoans give the cemetery a gracious, pastoral air. "Residents" include retail magnate Marshall Field and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

    istockphoto.com

  9. Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

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    Green-Wood Cemetery

    Spend a day meandering the 478 rolling acres of Green-Wood, a National Historic Landmark where conductor Leonard Bernstein and machine politician Boss Tweed are buried, along with approximately 600,000 others. Visitors can enjoy bird-watching, Historic Trolley Tours of the sprawling grounds, and a host of special programs at this cemetery that was established back in 1838.

    istockphoto.com

  10. Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California

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    Hollywood Forever Cemetery

    For film buffs and star-gazers alike, there is no better place than Hollywood Forever, founded in 1899. The roster of permanent denizens of this cemetery reads like a who’s who of screen legends, including Douglas Fairbanks and Judy Garland.

    Related: What 11 Ordinary People Paid to Live in Your Favorite Movie Homes

    flickr.com via Licorice Medusa

  11. San Francisco National Cemetery in San Francisco

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    San Francisco National Cemetery

    With stunning views of San Francisco Bay and a history dating back to the site's first settlement in 1776, this national cemetery—the first on the West Coast—is dotted with eucalyptus trees and Spanish Revival buildings. The first known American was buried here in 1854, and it became a national cemetery in 1884. Today, it is the final resting place of more than 30,000 soldiers.

    Related: 9 Mistakes You Should Never Make with the American Flag

    flickr.com via Thomas Hawk

  12. Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California

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    Golden Gate National Cemetery

    This military burial ground was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1942 by then-Attorney General Earl Warren, later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Every year on Memorial Day, an elaborate flag ceremony pays tribute to veterans, living and departed. A carillon donated by the American Veterans chimes background music for this beautiful cemetery bathed in California sunshine.

    flickr.com via Pargon

  13. Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California

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    Mountain View Cemetery

    Is it a cemetery or a nature preserve? Mountain View stretches across 226 acres of gorgeous Bay-area property, with seasonal gardens, flowering trees, clear pools, and stately monuments along the grassy slopes. Guests can even book weddings in these lush, eloquent surroundings.

    Related: The 21 Wildest Places in America

    flickr.com via Melinda Stuart

  14. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California

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    Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

    Though its history reaches back to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Fort Rosecrans didn't become a national military cemetery until 1934. Monuments and memorials to those who died for our country pay tribute to human tragedy, international flash points, and famous battles, including the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Battle of San Pasqual, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

    flickr.com via Michael Mayer

  15. Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky

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    Cave Hill Cemetery

    One of America’s earliest “garden” (or rural) cemeteries, Cave Hill first became a graveyard in 1846. By creating cultivated, beautifully landscaped spaces for contemplation and remembrance, its founders wished to change the way the public viewed cemeteries 

    istockphoto.com

  16. Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York

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    Mount Hope Cemetery

    Fall foliage is exquisite at Mount Hope, as one would expect with 196 acres of forestland. Graves date back 175 years, but the cemetery is forward-looking in its care for the earth, offering green burial options that include a Garden of Renewal, where loved ones are interred “in a simpler fashion.”

    Wikimedia Commons via Daniel Penfield

  17. Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana

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    Crown Hill Cemetery

    In 1863, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation—and Crown Hill Cemetery opened its gates. The cemetery is truly a testament to democracy; you will find people of all kinds here, from President Benjamin Harrison to criminals and unknowns.

    Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions

    flickr.com via MCC_Indianapolis

  18. Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx

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    Woodlawn Cemetery

    At Woodlawn, yet another Civil War-era cemetery that is also a National Historic Landmark, visitors can pay tribute to some of our nation’s favorite artists, writers, civic leaders, and musicians. Novelist Herman Melville, poet Countee Cullen, and many jazz legends are buried here.

    Wikimedia Commons via Jim Henderson

  19. Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia

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    Oakland Cemetery

    There’s no better place to begin your exploration of Atlanta than Oakland Cemetery. History converges under the oaks and magnolias, where both Civil War soldiers and Civil Rights leaders are interred. Art history buffs will enjoy the architecture, which borrows from Greek, Egyptian, and Victorian themes.

    Related: 18 American Towns Every Old-House Lover Needs to See

    istockphoto.com

  20. Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

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    Oak Hill Cemetery

    All are welcome at Oak Hill, a nondenominational cemetery that serves people of all backgrounds and beliefs. It is also a living classroom where visitors can learn the intimate backstory of America. For example, the sons of both President Lincoln and Confederate leader Jefferson Davis were once buried in Oak Hill, although both were later removed and reinterred elsewhere.

    Related: 21 Crazy But True Facts About the White House

    flickr.com via Mr.TinDC

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