Skip to Content

Think Twice Before Visiting These Haunted Places in California

Think Twice Before Visiting These Haunted Places in California

Everyone loves a spooky story, especially in the fall, which is the perfect time to check out some haunted places in California.

California’s haunted attractions cover everything from prisons to abandoned towns to glitzy hotels.

Will any of these places make your list for a spooky fall road trip?

Let’s explore!

Black and white painting of Marilyn Monroe.
From celebrity ghosts to mysterious houses, California is full of haunted places.

These Haunted Places in California Will Give You the Chills

If you want to go straight for the most intensely scary option, Alcatraz is the place for you. However, if you want more of a harmless encounter, you might consider checking out the Roosevelt Hotel. Either way, here are some fun destinations for a spooky fall vacation. 

1: Winchester Mystery House in San Jose

Sarah Winchester built this home. According to legend, a psychic prompted her to build a mansion for the people killed by her late husband’s gun company. No one understood why she moved out west and dedicated the rest of her life (and multi-million dollar inheritance) to building a house full of staircases, doors, and hallways that don’t always go anywhere. It’s an interesting place to explore and has been a tourist attraction for almost 100 years. 

Pro Tip: This quirky house is quite the mystery, but Why Do People Visit the Winchester Mystery House? Read more to find out!

2: Hotel del Coronado in Coronado

This hotel has been a prime vacation spot for centuries. In 1892 one of their guests shot herself after spending a week alone. She was waiting for a mysterious stranger to join her. Because she died alone, the speculation over her identity consumed the news throughout the country.

Her identity was eventually discovered, and now Kate Morgan is an enigma forever tied to this swanky hotel. Now celebrities and presidents enjoy their San Diego vacations here. However, some hopefuls show up with paranormal detectors, looking for answers long since buried. 

3: Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary – Scariest California Haunt

More than a famous prison, Alcatraz is also one of the most famous haunted places in California. Some of the most famous criminals in American history, including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly, did time here. People claim to hear moaning, whispers, and even banjo music while touring the cells, especially the strip cell where guards punished prisoners.

Only three prisoners ever escaped the prison. However, no one heard from them again and they likely drowned while swimming through the choppy San Francisco Bay. Despite its dark history, the prison hosts gimmicky haunted tours. These feature ghost stories, actors reenacting past prisoners’ stories, and even an escape room. 

4: The Whaley House in San Diego

This historic landmark in Old Town San Diego was declared the most haunted house in America in 2005. In 2012 it inspired the movie “The Haunting of Whaley House.” The Whaley family was very well-to-do and built a beautiful home. The home served as the town’s first general store, theater, and courtroom.

The haunting began when criminals were hanged on the property. The Whaleys themselves lost a couple of their children to illness and suicide. Even now, visitors claim to hear footsteps from empty rooms and see apparitions while touring the house. 

5: RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach – Floating California Haunt

This ship dates back to the Great Depression and bears the name of the former Queen of England. However, during WWII, this luxury ship served as a military operation.

Restored to its former glory, it now acts as a tourist attraction and popular wedding venue. The spookier side comes out at night. The ship hosts ghostly dinner tours, theatrical seance shows, and a paranormal ship walk. 

6: Point Sur Lighthouse in Big Sur

This historic lighthouse opened in 1889. It’s now a state park focused on preserving history — and one of the coolest haunted places in California. Because this has always been a peaceful place, the lighthouse’s caretaker says the ghosts here are rather nice. If you lived someplace that already feels like paradise, then you probably wouldn’t ever leave either.

The only time the staff plays up the spookiness is during their ghost tours for Halloween. Even the nicest ghosts become creepy when you’re on an isolated island at night next to an ocean known for its shipwrecks.

7: Fort Humboldt State Park in Eureka

With an unparalleled view of Humboldt Bay, it’s difficult to believe people know this fort for anything but nature hikes. But it has a bloody history of Americans fighting both Mexicans and Native Americans for land. And multiple visitors report seeing ghosts on the property.

The only building that remains from the original fort is the hospital. It’s a place with enough death to inspire some spooky sightings. 

8: Bodie Ghost Town

If you’re staying at Yosemite and want to spice things up with some ghost stories, Bodie isn’t too far. Take a tour of the abandoned town, cemetery, and mine. Caretakers preserve the buildings to look like their original designs. In fact, you can even peek through the windows to see what the furniture would have looked like. 

This is a classic “Wild West” town from the 1800s. Now, people keep trying to steal souvenirs. Whether it’s a piece of metal or even just a rock, whenever people take things from the town, they send it back with an apology. They’re hoping to undo the haunting they’ve brought on themselves.

Have a nice afternoon strolling through this dusty piece of American history. But be careful to only leave with what you brought. 

Pro Tip: After exploring Bodie, spend a spooking night in Yosemite. Here are 11 Free Yosemite Camping Spots You’ll Love.

9: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles – Celebrity Haunted California

This fancy hotel hosted the very first Oscars almost 100 years ago. With a star-studded guest list, including Marilyn Monroe, it’s no surprise this hotel has become an iconic Hollywood location. It’s also no wonder that celebrities who lived the high life were hesitant to leave the glitz and glamour. In addition to Marilyn Monroe, guests have also seen glimpses of Clarke Gable and Carole Lombard in mirrors and shadows. 

California’s Haunted Places are Historical Treasures

Who says history can’t be both educational and fun? These California landmarks are daytime treasures and nighttime spooks. You can pack a swimsuit and your paranormal detectors to relax during the day and search for ghosts at night. You never know what, or who, you might find. Have you ever taken a haunted tour in California? Where would you recommend for the best fall frights?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *