Cemeteries are not on most people’s list of top ten favorite vacation spots; however, America has some of the most beautiful and unique cemeteries in the world. While you may not want to plan your entire vacation around visiting a cemetery, you may want to consider visiting the cities that host these cemeteries because they, like the cemeteries, are beautiful and make wonderful vacation destinations. Cemeteries are home to ornate crypts, elaborate tombstones, breathtaking natural beauty, notable residents and a taste of local history.
Some cemeteries are famous and well-known while others are hidden treasures that very few people have discovered. In either case, you should consider a trip to one of these five vacation destinations to enjoy the local attractions that include a fascinating and beautiful cemetery.
Neptune Memorial Reef
This unique and breathtaking cemetery is located three miles from Key Biscayne in Florida. What makes this cemetery truly unique is that it is underwater along the world’s largest man-made reef. It is also the only underwater cemetery in the world. Ashes of deceased loved ones are encased in concrete sculptures or ornate columns before being placed 40 feet below the water. It is free to visit the cemetery and local tour operators offer scuba diving excursions to visit the reef.
Located in Brooklyn, New York, Green-Wood Cemetery dates back to 1838, pre-dating Central Park, with 478 acres of beautiful trees, ponds and grassy hills. It is on the Revolutionary War trail and is one of the largest collections of 19th and 20th century mausoleums and statues in America. Green-Wood Cemetery is second only to Niagara Falls as one of New York’s most popular and visited attractions.
Mount Auburn is America’s first cemetery that adopted a garden setting rather than the traditional church cemetery. Developed in 1832 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mount Auburn is home to more than 1,500 plant species as well as some very famous people including writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and painter Winslow homer. The gardens are breathtaking with tree-lined lanes adorned with fragrant, colorful flowers. For those who love to walk, you can tour the 175-acre cemetery on foot; however, it is also quite breathtaking by car as well.
Considered by many as America’s most haunted cemetery, Bonaventure Cemetery is located in one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia. Moss covered trees cast an eerie shadow over Gothic-style tombstones and crypts making Bonaventure one of the most beautiful and haunting cemeteries on our list. Long before Bonaventure was featured in the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it attracted ghost hunters and historians from around the country.
Located across from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is home of many of Hollywood’s most beloved stars. You can pick up a free map at the entrance that will guide you to the final resting place of such greats as Mel Blanc, Jayne Mansfield and Johnny Ramone. During the summer, visitors are invited to bring a picnic and enjoy a classic Hollywood movie under the stars projected against a giant marble mausoleum.
If you are searching for something different to do on vacation, check with the local visitor’s bureau for old cemeteries in the area. They often have information on the oldest and most beautiful cemeteries in the area.