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Five five-star U.S. cemetery tours

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Satisfied customer reviews can be a great inspiration for a day out or road trip – and it’s not just theme parks, museums and resorts that visitors recommend.

Many people from out of town love to explore beautiful old cemeteries, enjoying architecture, plantlife, wildlife and soaking up fascinating local history. We’ve picked out guided five cemetery tours that have received hundreds of five-star ratings from visitors on TripAdvisor.

St Louis No.1 Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tombs and mausoleums at St Louis Cemetery Number One Pictures: Photartel via commons.wikimedia.org/Dan Soto via Commons.wikimedia.org

One of the most visited cemeteries in America, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 was founded just outside the city’s French Quarter in 1789 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Among the maze of vaults and tombs commemorating city ancestors of French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish descent is the supposed resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Members of the public must be accompanied by an officially licensed guide when they visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

Not-for-profit preservation society Save Our Cemeteries conducts regular tours of this and other historic burial grounds in New Orleans. With over 800 five-star reviews, this cemetery tour is highly recommended by visitors who praise its knowledgeable guides who relate the fascinating stories behind many graves and tombs in this spectacular city of the dead.

There are several other cemetery tour organizers in New Orleans, which also offer cemetery at night events.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia

Weeping trees over statues and memorials at Bonaventure Cemetery Pictures: Sandy Auriene Sullivan via Flickr/ Ron Cogswell/Flickr

Bonaventure Cemetery has its own dedicated historical society which says the beautiful burial ground should definitely be on your bucket list of must-see Savannah destinations. Hundreds of people who’ve visited agree, describing the cemetery’s official graveyard tour as an informative, fascinating and hugely enjoyable experience.

Originally called Evergreen Cemetery, Bonaventure was designed in 1846 as a traditional Victorian cemetery with curving pathways and lots of trees and grassy areas where families would meet and picnic.

The grounds have matured into avenues of majestic trees and vibrant botanics around wonderful sculpture and masonry. Among its most famous historic monuments is that of six-year old Gracie Watson, who died two days before Easter in 1889. Her grief-stricken parents moved away, but for more than 100 years, folk have visited the statue of the little girl and paid their respects.

Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis, Missouri

An ornate chapel of rest and strking memorial statue at Bellefontaine cemetery Pictures:Viking 55 via commons.wikimedia.org

“A fascinating place to visit” according to members of the public who have given the graveyard tour around this 160-year old cemetery a five-star rating.

Developed as part of America’s rural cemeteries movement to create restful city parks to benefit both the living and the dead, the oldest part of the cemetery incorporates a 200 year old graveyard once part of a family farm.

Novelist William. S. Burroughs was laid to rest here in 1997 and more than 87,000 people have been buried at this beautiful cemetery, which is still open for new burials and the interment of ashes.

A guided cemetery walk will stop by many incredible mausoleums and monuments and allow you to get to know the fascinating stories behind some of the people laid to rest there. Bellefontaine is also an arboretum with more than 200 varieties of tree, making it a peaceful oasis right in the centre of St Louis. Free bus/trolley tours are also available March through November and private cemetery tours by arrangement.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York

Pennies laid on the gravestone of Andrew Carnegie Picture: Anthony22 via wikimedia.org

You can take a guided tour by day, or by kerosene lantern-lit cemetery at night walk, at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Free maps are available to help you get around these beautiful burial grounds on the banks of the Hudson, but many visitors who recommend the cemetery with a five-star rating say that a guided walking tour really brings the stories of this place to life.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving’s tomb is the first port of call on the official two-hour cemetery walk which also takes in Andrew Carnegie’s final resting place where visitors place pennies and William Rockefeller’s family mausoleum.

People are still buried at Sleepy Hollow cemetery, which also has a community mausoleum. Real estate mogul Harry Helmsley was laid to rest in a private mausoleum in 2007, with a stained glass window depicting the Manhattan skyline. His wife Leona joined him in 2007. Famously, she bequeathed $12 million to her dog Trouble.

Key West Cemetery, Key West, Florida

The gateway into Key West Cemetery and a memorial statue in memory of the victims of the battleship Maine disaster at sea Pictures: Avarette via wikipedia.org/Florida Memory via wikipediacommons

The Historic Florida Keys Foundation helps preserve this historic burial ground and conducts cemetery walks around it twice a week. You can also pick up printed guides and explore the 19-acre burial ground on your very own graveyard tour.

Visitors recommend a Key West Cemetery tour not just for the historic interest of its tombs and markers, but for the wildlife – including iguanas – you may see.

Among the interesting graves is that of bartender “Sloppy” Joe Russell (1889-1941) who was Ernest Hemingway’s fishing guide and a famous Key West bartender. One of the most visited graves remembers B.P. “Pearl” Roberts who died in 1979 and famously had the epitaph “I told you I was sick” inscribed on her gravestone.