AAA Travel Tips / The Most Interesting Cemeteries to Visit in the United States

The Most Interesting Cemeteries to Visit in the United States

AAA/Greg Weekes
By Samantha Brown , Host of “Samantha Brown's Places to Love”
October 15, 2019
Cemeteries are an unexpected way to experience a new place. It may sound strange, but hear me out. They’re often meticulously maintained, offer beautiful walking paths, and provide insight into local history. With that in mind, here are a few of the most interesting cemeteries to visit in the United States.
The Italian Benevolent Society Tomb at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans
AAA/Laurie Sterbens

Cities of the Dead—New Orleans

The Big Easy (New Orleans) is filled with iconic places of rest, and the city’s above-ground tombs are stuff of legend. Both beautiful and haunting, a stroll through a NOLA cemetery is something you won’t soon forget. If you’re staying in the French Quarter, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is an easy walk. It’s the oldest cemetery in town (dating back to 1789), and allegedly houses the remains of voodoo queen Marie Laveau. You have to check out the pure white pyramid that actor Nicolas Cage erected for himself.
You can check off a few boxes visiting this historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Since it’s located in the Garden District, you can take the St. Charles Streetcar from the French Quarter for a city tour. Take your time wandering through this non-denominational, non-segregated cemetery from 1833. Fun fact: Horror writer Anne Rice used to live around the corner, and drew inspiration for the Mayfair Witches and Lestat the vampire’s tombs.
After, grab lunch at the historic Commander's Palace—it’s just kitty corner (or is it katty corner? Guess that depends on where you’re from!). Open since 1880, this is the place where fancy people enjoy turtle soup, shrimp and tasso henican (wild Louisiana white shrimp with tasso ham, pickled okra, five-pepper jelly and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc), gumbo and fresh Gulf fish. Don’t come dressed like a schlub—the dress code prohibits shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants and ripped jeans. That sounds so southern, doesn’t it?
cemeteries, GEM place attracitons
AAA/Greg Weekes

Arlington National Cemetery—Arlington County, VA

Located in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., this iconic American cemetery sprawls over 624 rolling acres. Established in 1864, this land serves as the final resting place for Civil War soldiers (and some reinterred soldiers from prior wars), U.S. presidents, politicians, chief justices, notable astronauts and more. Today, the cemetery still conducts between 27 and 30 funerals each weekday.
ANC is the perfect place to reflect on American history and the sacrifices made to establish this great country. Visit the eternal flame burning for JFK at The Grave of President John F. Kennedy, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the changing of the guard (which happens every hour on the hour October 1 to March 31; and from April 1 through September 30 another change is added on the half-hour).
You may schedule a tour, or if you’re more of a DIY-er, download the ANC Explorer app. This app enables families, visitors and the public to locate gravesites, events or other points of interest throughout the cemetery. It also offers self-guiding tours, easy access to general information and the ability to save searched burial records to a mobile device.
Granary Burying Ground in Boston Massachusetts
AAA/Greg Weekes

Freedom Trail Burying Grounds—Boston, MA

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is home to many a historic graveyard. One of the best ways to visit a few is by walking the Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile, red-lined route leads you to 16 historically significant sites, including museums and meetinghouses, churches, and yes, burying grounds.
You’ll find three cemeteries included on the Freedom Trail. The Granary Burying Ground, which dates back to 1660, has 2,300 markers though it’s estimated over 5,000 people are actually buried here. Pay your respects to John Hancock, Paul Revere, James Otis and Samuel Adams. King's Chapel Burying Ground and Copp's Hill Burying Ground also sit along the Freedom Trail.
Stars of television and screen are buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
AAA/Frank Swanson

Hollywood Forever Cemetery—Hollywood, CA

The culture of celebrity lives on for eternity at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hundreds of celebrities permanently call this 64-acre park home. Founded in 1899 by Lankershim and Van Nuys, visitors pay their respects to stars like Mickey Rooney, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Jr., Peter Lorre, Judy Garland, Cecil B. DeMille, Fay Wray, both Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone, and my personal favorite Mel Blanc—the voice of Bugs Bunny.
But wait! There’s more! Hollywood Forever also hosts incredible movie nights. Bring a blanket, pillows, low chairs and a picnic (with your own beer and wine if you want!) and enjoy a flick on the Fairbanks Lawn. Films have included “Ghostbusters,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Some Like It Hot,” and “The Princess Bride.” The cemetery also hosts concerts at the onsite Masonic Lodge. I love how this place continues to celebrate both the living and the dead.
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