Death can be disconcerting to some people, but there is so much beauty to behold behind the gates of the most stunning cemeteries in America. Graveyards aren’t all spooky places. Some cemeteries of historical value are filled with lush greenery and remarkable architecture. Burial grounds such as these serve as monuments to death but also sites of contemplation and appreciation of life. Whether to go bird watching, history hunting, or tomb touring, there are plenty of pretty graveyards to see right here in the United States. Legacy Headstones rounded up the top ten scenic cemeteries in America to help you plan your next grave adventure.
Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington, VA)
Few places are as graceful and moving as Arlington National Cemetery. This beloved burial ground is a final resting place to more than 400,000 active-duty service members, veterans, and families of the U.S. Armed Forces, but the cemetery performs about 30 funeral services each weekday. More than three million people visit the graveyard each year to honor John F. Kennedy’s eternal flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Though there are 624 acres to explore, you can listen to a self-guided audio tour of some of the most notable grave sites.
Bonaventure (Savannah, GA)
As one of the most celebrated cemeteries in the South, Bonaventure is certainly a burial site to see. With enormous oak trees that are strung with long garlands of Spanish moss, this legendary graveyard is a favorite of Savannah tourists. This mystical cemetery sits on the historically significant site of the Bonaventure Plantation along a scenic stretch of the Wilmington River. Today, the old plantation house sits in ruins and only a small plot of the original grounds is occupied by graves and tombs. Surrounding Savannah residents can purchase burial plots and interment rights.
Green-Wood Cemetery (Brooklyn, NY)
This historical landmark was established in 1838, presenting a peaceful oasis in an otherwise urban environment. Today, the burial site encompasses 478 acres right in the heart of New York City, overlooking both the city skylines and residential neighborhoods that surround it on every side. Visitors arrive at an entrance of the Gothic revival design that features limestone panels that depict biblical scenes of death and resurrection.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Hollywood, CA)
Of all the cemeteries in this list, Hollywood Forever is one of the most fascinating landmarks. After being founded in 1899, the graveyard became an integral part of the growth and death of early Hollywood elite. With more than 62 acres of graves, crypts, niches, and sarcophagi to see, this is one stop on your star-studded tour that you won’t want to miss.
Lake View Cemetery (Cleveland, OH)
Ohio’s landscape is varied and beautiful, but Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery is a spectacular example of how lush gardens and scenic views can transform the gloom of death into a celebration of life. Each summer, the cemetery hosts a concert series on the lawn of the Garfield Memorial. As a great example of horticulture, the cemetery contains over 285 acres of trees and shrubbery as well as a breathtaking view of Lake Erie.
Lone Fir Cemetery (Portland, OR)
Nestled in the southeast part of bustling Portland, the beautiful cemetery is not only one of the most treasured landmarks but also the site of the city’s second-largest arboretum. You will find no shortage of birds, bees, blooming trees, and other natural artifacts to admire. This parklike setting is home to more than 25,000 grave sites across 30 green acres.
Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, MA)
In a national pastime that is known as the rural cemetery movement, the Victorians were inspired to picnic among tombstones. Few graveyards can compare with the pastoral peace offered by Mount Auburn Cemetery, which was the first rural graveyard in the United States. 174 acres of rolling, landscaped terrain are spotted with classical monuments, mature trees, ponds, wildlife, and much more. If you visit in the fall, the foliage will only intensify the cemetery’s beauty.
Rock Creek Cemetery (Washington, DC)
Established in 1719, this historical landmark is the oldest cemetery in DC as well as home to countless political figureheads and famous residents. Although it is surrounded by the bustling, urban environment of our nation’s capital, Rock Cree Cemetery features 86 acres of rolling landscape that functions both as a burial ground and as a public park for local residents and tourists alike. Visit and you’ll find a variety of sculptures and monuments to appreciate.
Old Dutch Burial Ground (Sleepy Hollow, NY)
If you are a fan of the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” you will be happy to know that there is indeed a cemetery you can visit to hopefully catch a glimpse of the Headless Horseman. These historical burial grounds are some of the oldest in the country and encompass two and a half acres of land, fields, forests, and hills peppered by the red sandstone graves of Dutch tenant farmers, Revolutionary War soldiers, and individuals that likely inspired some of the characters in Washington Irving’s haunting tale.
Saint Louis Cemetery (New Orleans, LA)
Founded in 1789, the first Saint Louis Cemetery is the oldest graveyard in the Big Easy. Each aisle of the maze leads to the magnificent tombs and grave sites of more than 100,000 deceased. Due to the landscape of New Orleans, the dead had to be buried above ground in the event of flooding. The elaborate stone crypts and mausoleums are within walking distance of the French Quarter, making this celebrated cemetery a prime tourist attraction.
Don’t wait for Halloween to visit old haunts and historical burial sites. We hope that this top ten list inspires you to go and explore all the scenic offerings cemeteries have to offer.