San Diego has its share of epic ghost stories.
San Diego’s history is long and varied. According to The University Of San Diego, Native Americans, like the Kumeyaay people, lived in the area around 12,000 years before any Europeans. Then, it was the first area of California where Europeans settled, dubbing San Diego “the birthplace of California.” Throughout this rich history, San Diego has garnered quite a range of ghost stories from our famous residents, be it sailors, soldiers, gamblers, and more! We’ve made a list of the spookiest and supposedly “haunted” places in the city! And best of all is that you can visit them…if you dare!
1. Horton Grand
The Horton Grand Hotel is a lavish piece of Victorian architecture. Upon entering, you will be transported to another era, ghosts included! Amongst the hotel’s permanent guests is the infamous gambler, Roger Whitaker. Whitaker was a man who loved his whiskey. He was known to be a heavy drinker with and less than ethical card-playing methods. After raking up quite a debt be met his demise at the hands of his creditors while hiding out in Room 309. Guests who’ve stayed in the same room have reported bed rattling, flickering lights, and moving objects! Another resident you might encounter is Ida Bailey. She was the owner of a brothel that stood on the exact site of where the hotel was rebuilt. Ida has appeared to guests in various forms, sometimes as a floating white mist!
Location: 311 Island Ave., Downtown
2. El Campo Santo Cemetery
A cemetery is always a spooky spot, particularly at night. However, this 169-year-old San Diego cemetery is on another league! You’ll find this creepy location just two blocks away from the infamous Old Town’s Whaley House… that’s one scary double feature. The cemetery is believed to be home to a strong spiritual presence. The reported sightings range from pockets of freezing air, floating orbs, flashing lights, and vanishing spirits. Among the ghosts roaming the grounds is Juan Mendoza, a rancher shot in the back by Col. Cave Couts. Perhaps the creepiest of all of their ghost is Anita Gillis, a 9-year-old girl who died of scarlet fever. What is it about little girl ghosts that are so scary?
Location: 2410 San Diego Ave., San Diego
3. Whaley House Museum
The Whaley House Museum has a history going back to 1857. This historic house was dubbed “the most haunted house in America” by Life Magazine and the Travel Channel! There are over 30 spirits said to reside within the halls of this iconic San Diego landmark. The most notable spirits are husband and wife Thomas and Anna Whaley, their great-granddaughter Marion, and their fox terrier Dolly Varden. The spookiest resident is perhaps “Yankee Jim” Robinson. In 1852 he was hanged, and his heavy boots can be heard thumping through the house. There are frightful tours throughout the year.
Location: 2476 San Diego Ave., San Diego
4. Hotel Del Coronado
This amazing hotel is an iconic American landmark. It first opened its doors back in February 1888 and has since hosted a plethora of guests, including a slew of U.S presidents, movie stars, amongst other memorable people. However, one particular story stands out for spooky reasons. Only four years after Hotel del Coronado’s opening, a young woman checked in on Thanksgiving Day and never checked out. The woman was found dead on a hotel exterior staircase. Since she had used an alias when checking in, little was known about her identity, so the newspapers dubbed her the “Beautiful Stranger.” In this tour, you will learn the official account of her 1892 visit to The Del and why her spirit has remained with us today. There are nightly tours in October starting at 7 pm, and tickets cost $30 per person.
Location: 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado
5. Davis-Horton House
Formerly known as William Heath Davis, this is the oldest building in San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter. The beautiful 164-year-old Victorian home is said to house the spirits of many now deceased San Diegans. Warm-blooded guests have reported paranormal events, such as seeing an elegant ghost believed to be Anna Scheper. She is usually spotted atop the stairs. Other apparitions are credited as the spirits of hospital patients, given the building served as a makeshift hospital for a decade. There are both self-guided and guided tours available.
Location: Island Ave., San Diego
6. Star of India
Star of India was the world’s oldest working sailing ship, according to the Maritime Museum. It is reported to have made 21 voyages worldwide before being taken out of commission to be restored to San Diego. Throughout its 21 trips, crew members sadly passed on the ship. Many of their spirits have remained in the Star of India. There are reports of uniformed shadowy figures and the sound of heavy boots taking slow steps along the deck.
Location: 1492 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego
7. Villa Montezuma Museum
The 19th-century building that is now Villa Montezuma Museum was built back in 1887. If we’ve learned anything from this list, Victorian buildings have a risk of hosting spiritual guests. Villa Montezuma’s rumored ghost is its first resident, Jesse Shepard. He was a gifted pianist and spiritualist. Shepard loved his musical craft to such a degree that he was rumored to have been found dead on his piano bench. The Friends of Villa Montezuma Museum insists the building isn’t haunted but rather enchanted.
Location: 1925 K St., San Diego
8. Berkeley Steam Ferry Boat
The Berkeley is an 1898 steam ferryboat that operated for 60 years on San Francisco Bay. This Californian Landmark is now the beloved Maritime Museum. Many passengers never got off the shop and are reported to haunt the iconic vessel to this day. One famous guest is The Fedora Man, who walks silently haunts the ship.
Location: 1492 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego
9. San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
This historic park was the very spot of one of the bloodiest battles during the U.S-Mexican War. In 1846 the controversial battle took place in the San Pasqual Valley. Psychics and mediums have reported heightened spiritual activity in the area. Many apparitions of young soldiers on horseback have also been reported.
Location: 15808 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido
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