The Spookiest Places in Austin, Texas

‘Tis the season for jack-o-lanterns, candy corn, and haunted houses! But,  if staged screams and manufactured mayhem just aren’t your thing, why not try out a ghost hunt of your own? Here in Austin, TX, we’ve got some of the liveliest ghosts west of the Mississippi River. All you need is a GPS or a good old-fashioned map (and some serious guts), and you’ll be ready to seek out these spine-tingling paranormal places…

The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill is rather sophisticated and elegant from the outside, but this historic hotel is known for housing one of the most active paranormal sites in Austin. Several spirits are said to haunt its halls: there’s the long-gone little girl ghost who lingers on the stairs, suspicious sounds that are consistently reported being heard from empty rooms, and the active ghosts of *two* different suicidal brides in room 525. Some of the Driskill’s visitors even claim that the lobby’s portrait of a little girl holding flowers can make you feel nauseous if you stare at it for too long. Without a doubt, something — or someone — strange is in the air at the Driskill.

Driskill Hotel, 6th Street, Austin, Texas

The Governor’s Mansion

Everyone has a good old skeleton in their closet — even the governor! During the time that former Governor Pendleton Murrah held office, he was visited by a young man courting his niece. Madly in love, the young suitor proposed, only to be cruelly rejected by the girl. Devastated, the jilted beau returned to his guest room and committed suicide. Soon after the tragedy, reports of strange sounds came to light. The activity became so frequent that the room was eventually sealed up. Nearly 40 years later, the room was reopened — and the strange noises are still heard to this day.

This apparent ghost isn’t even the “soul” haunter of the mansion. It’s said that Sam Houston, the first governor of Texas, haunts a bedroom that he used to occpy in the mansion. His apparition has been seen on multiple occasions by several different people.


The Littlefield House

One of Austin’s lesser-known (but just as spooky!) haunted places, the Littlefield House looks every bit the part of the stereotypical haunted residence. Its ornate Victorian spires lend a truly creepy aura to the home’s ghost story. The owner of the Littlefield House, Alice Littlefield, suffered from mental illness and apparently never left the house. Ever. People claim to have seen her ghost roaming around the grounds and inside the house, and others have heard her playing the piano during all hours of the night.


Shoal Creek Indian Massacre Site

Despite warnings from his neighbors, a man named Gideon White decided to build his log cabin close to the springs near Shoal Creek in 1839. After a few years of peace, Native Americans attacked and killed White in 1842. His body, along with innumerable others, is buried here. Apparently, this area was a popular spot for burials, as there are many other unmarked graves, as well — presumably victims of cholera and yellow fever. Stroll along the creek’s edge at your own risk, but remember, curfew is at 10 p.m…for a reason.


Oakwood Cemetery and Oakwood Annex Cemetery

No list of scary sites would be complete without a graveyard! Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery may be haunted, but it’s also one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces. Sprawling across forty acres, this lovely (albeit spirit-infested) graveyard includes two historic Jewish sections and over 23,000 burials. Several Oakwood visitors have captured paranormal images on their cameras during their visit, so come prepared to see a spirit or two.



A Life-changing Experience!

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Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

A Life-changing Experience!

Get ready to experience and SPI Abroad program yourself. Learn more about our programs or request more information today.

Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

On-Site Supervision Team Abroad

We hire bilingual high school teachers, university professors, and caring local staff who, as a team, serve as international “moms and dads” throughout the program. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience: helping with housing adjustments, checking in on classes, and making sure students are taking advantage of the wonderful excursion and activity opportunities. All SPI staff go through extensive reference checks.

Training & Experience

Directors are selected based on their experience working with teenagers in an international setting, their ability to communicate fluently in the language of study, and their academic & professional background. All on-site staff go through an intensive training process.

Daily Supervision

Students are expected to be respectful of their directors’ guidelines and abide by the SPI standards of conduct at all times. SPI directors and program staff are available 24 hours a day. Directors check in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings; they also frequently monitor all aspects of each student’s progress. Homestays and residence directors are contacted to learn how students are adjusting, and to handle any concerns. Daily curfews are enforced.

Student Behavior Expectations

Since 1996, we have proudly attracted an academically-minded student body focused on improving their language skills and growing from cultural experiences. At SPI, we take our role as teachers seriously — we recognize that we are responsible for guiding students through one of their most life-changing experiences. We expect students not only to abide by our standards of conduct at all times, but also to serve as ambassadors of their local communities, schools, and cities.

No Alcohol Policy

SPI maintains a strict policy against the use of alcohol. Directors check in with students in the evenings; however, parents are expected to review our standards of conduct with their children and set clear family expectations prior to the start of the program with regards to their behavior abroad.

Afternoon Elective Activities

Our meaningful afternoon elective activities make local culture, art, architecture, museums, sports, and attractions come to life! Each program offers a variety of engaging activities designed to combine serious fun with truly inspiring “once in a lifetime” experiences. Electives are not included in the program price, and we suggest students budget $100 per week for participation in these incredible learning experiences.

Common Afternoon Electives

CULTURAL: Cooking, Dance, Art & Architecture, Museum & Theater Visits, Local Sporting & Cultural Events

SPORTS: Surfing, Volleyball, Soccer, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hikes & Walks

ENRICHMENT: Photography, College Prep (Essay Writing, Admissions Prep), Photography, Guest Speakers

Sample Travel Excursions

SPAIN: Bilbao, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, Guernika, Biarritz (France), Comillas, Picos de Europa

FRANCE: Bordeaux, Bayonne, Anglet, San Sebastian (Spain), St. Jean de Luz, Pyrenees Mountains

COSTA RICA: Liberia, Cloud Forest, Puntarenas, Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo Beach

ITALY: Florence, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Vincezo, Castiglione della Pescaia

Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a local homestay or student residence that is experienced in hosting foreign students. SPI has worked with most participating homestays and student residences for a number of years, and they understand students are there to learn the language and experience the culture. SPI diligently screens each homestay and student residence facility with the following in mind: safety, location, cleanliness, and previous experience hosting students.


Most homestays have hosted students for many years and take their jobs and duties as cultural ambassadors very seriously. Our foreign schools also work with each family on a year-round basis to ensure a positive experience is had by each student. It is critical to understand that most homestays come from humble means and different dynamics.

Location of Housing

All housing options are located within a 10-30 minute commute from the school. Students will walk or take the local bus, which is a safe and normal way for students their age to get around in our host cities. The majority of our housing options are located in the same areas where students will be close to each other.

Evening Curfews

Student curfews are set based on what a culturally appropriate weekday and weekend curfew would be for teenagers in the country of study. This is normally between 10 PM – 11 PM on weekdays and a little later on the weekends depending on location and group dynamic. As an important safety measure, program staff diligently monitor student curfews. Specific curfews are listed on each program page for your reference. 

Typical Housing Dynamics

Students are well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a living and study space, laundry service or facilities, linens and towels. It is fundamental that students have an open mind to trying new foods and living in an environment different than “home” to benefit from this transformative experience!

Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or single/widowed women in their 50s – 60s who have extra room in their home and are eager to host students. We have found this dynamic provides the best support, the most interaction, and the most culturally rich experience. Some homestays do have children, but students should keep in mind that homestays with children are busier and often offer less interaction — much like a busy American family.

Language Course Overview

The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> 2 Hours – Grammatical Concepts

> 1-2 Hours – Conversation, Culture, Literature, Film, etc.

> Small class sizes with levels 1 through AP/IB

College Credit Opportunity

SPI uses foreign universities and accredited language institutes for coursework abroad. These institutions provide high school students, upon successful completion of their courses, with an official transcript that they may use to petition college credit from their future university or college. Official transcripts are first sent to SPI in September, and then we will mail an official copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope to each participant. You will mail the official transcript packet directly to your U.S. university once you are enrolled.

Credit Hours vs. Credit Granted

Most SPI language immersion programs give 30-80 contact hours, or classroom hours, enabling for a potential of up to 1-6 semester college credit hours by your university. Contact hours are treated differently at every school. Some schools will grant specific class credit for the hours (e.g., Spanish), although most give a general foreign language or elective credit. Normally, 15 Contact/Class Hours = 1 College Credit Hour.

IMPORTANT:  Due to the nature of college credit granting by each individual U.S. university, it is impossible for SPI to guarantee credit for any student.