San Diego has its reputation for its giant stretch of white sand beaches and amazing weather, courtesy of the Pacific Ocean. It is recognised as “America’s finest city” and one of the most visited cities in the California state. San Diego offers plenty of attractions for people of all ages- monuments, parks, historic sites and alluring beaches. Despite the many other charms of San Diego, the city is still known chiefly for her beaches. This surfer’s paradise boasts miles and miles of beaches perfect for playing or relaxing. In this connotation, we are going to unleash 20 most haunted places in San Diego; spots where you can actually do ghost hunting. If you choose to take a break from taking it easy, the following sites are reported to be spiritually active.
Table of Contents
The Whaley House
Often considered “The Most Haunted House in America,” this Greek-Revival structure was built by Thomas Whaley in 1856. Now fully restored and operated as a museum, the home reportedly plays host to many spirits, said to include Thomas Whaley, his wife, Anna, and his daughter Violet, who committed suicide on the property in 1885.
Another often-reported spirit is that of James “Yankee Jim” Robinson who was hanged for theft on the site prior to construction of the house. Reports are numerous of cold spots, unexplained movement of furniture and curtains, apparitions, and many photographic anomalies. Famous living guests have included Regis Philbin, Hanz Holtzer, and psychic/witch Sybil Leek.
Address- 2476 San Diego Avenue
El Campo Santo Cemetery
San Diego’s second cemetery, El Campo Santo, can be found on the outskirts of old town. Many prominent families are represented in this small burial ground, as are some of our most notorious former residents. “Yankee Jim” Robinson of Whaley House fame is buried here, as well as Antonio Garra, a Cupeno revolutionary who was executed on the site in 1851.
In 1889, the city used part of the cemetery as a public right-of-way, and in 1941 that section was paved over to become present day San Diego Avenue. Many of the graves were left in place, and now are memorialised by small brass markers placed in the street and sidewalk. Unverified witness reports include apparitions, cold spots, mysterious lights, and difficulty starting cars that have been parked along the street.
Where At: 2400 Block San Diego Avenue, San Diego
El Fandango Restaurant
Built on the site of the Juan Machado estate, this historic restaurant on Old town square is said to have once been the venue for a typical Grey Lady apparition. Although not seen for years, the unknown Lady still brings in her share of thrill-seekers who hope to spot her at her corner table in the main dining room. After the Machado house burned in 1858, the property was used for stores, a saloon, and even a stable before the present building was erected.
Where At: 2734 Calhoun street, San Diego
La Casa de Estudillo
This home and its lavish garden courtyard were built by former presidio commander Jose Maria Estudillo in 1827. It was later owned by John D. Spreckles, and was even briefly known as “Ramona’s Marriage place” after its inclusion in Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel, Ramona. Reported Phenomena include chills and even full apparitions.
Where At: 4002 Wallace street, San Diego
The Robinson-Rose House
Once the home of San Diego businessman and pioneer James Robinson, the home was later sold to the similarly successful Louis Rose, the namesake of Rose Creek and Rose Canyon. While the original building was destroyed by fire and neglect, this reconstruction houses the visitor’s centre for the Old Town State Park. Witnesses claim to have seen mysterious individuals dressed in mid-19th century clouting who, when spotted, slowly fade from sight. It is now temporarily closed for investigations but the ghosts still haunt this location.
Location- 4098 Mason Street, San Diego
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Now one of the highlights of Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma, this lighthouse has a specious reputation as being haunted. The structure served as San Diego’s first lighthouse for a mere 36 years before the heavy fog common to the site necessitated a move to lower ground.
The fact that the lighthouse only had one keeper – Captain Robert Decatur Israel – who enjoyed a happy and trauma-free family life there seems to do little to quell the rumors of apparitions. Some diehards claim the ghost is that of Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo himself, who died nowhere near the lighthouse. Today this lighthouse is open as a public museum, parrying a blow of its former memories.
Location- Point Loma Peninsula, San Diego Bay
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
Large cemeteries always seem to attract reports of hauntings, and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is no different. This cemetery served as a burial ground long before the presence of the US military in California. It is now administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and claims over 91,000 burials on these 77.5 acres. Civilians as well as USN and USMC personnel have reported apparitions in this beautiful military cemetery overlooking both the ocean and the bay.
NOTE: There are signs of coyote presence in the area. Could this explain some of the spooky sounds and sights after dark?
Address- 1700 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego
Hotel Del Coronado
Like any good old hotel, the Del has its share of hauntings. Its best known ghost is of Kate Morgan, an Iowa girl who turned up dead here in 1892. Officially ruled a suicide, her body was found on the steps leading to the beach, a .38 caliber bullet wound in her head. While alive, it’s said that she stayed in room 302, which has since been renumbered 3312. Reports of hauntings, however, tend to focus more on room 3502.
Address- 1500, Orange Avenue, Coronado
The House on Chalcedony
This Colonial-Revival home in Pacific Beach seems like any other older home in this neighborhood known for its surfing and partying lifestyle. The unique gate and lush landscaping, however, help to hide a house plagued by rumors of ghosts stretching back over decades. The house was even the subject of a newspaper article in the 1980’s, describing phantom footsteps, cold drafts, and shadowy apparitions. Remember: the house is not public – please respect the privacy of the homeowners!
Where at- Chalcedony, San Diego
The Hunter Steakhouse
Oceanside’s own location of the Hunter Steakhouse chain is a classic California haunting. Once the site of the Buena Vista Cemetery, encroaching development made it very profitable to move the graves elsewhere and reuse the land once sanctified for the dead. Except, according to the construction crew, not all of the graves were moved.
It’s said that this oversight was covered-up in order to keep the project moving along. Employees sometimes report hearing their names called when alone in a room, witnessing chandeliers and fixtures move without obvious cause, doors slamming, and unexplainable chills.
Address- 1221 Vista way, Oceanside
Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove
The Elfin Forest has a long history of being used by San Diego Spiritualists, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it has also long been rumored to be haunted. Questhaven Retreat was founded in 1940 by Flower Newhouse. Her “Christward Ministry” is a combination of traditional Christianity with Spiritualism and many other tenets of New Age doctrine.
Perhaps because of its private nature, its gothic sounding name, and its fancy iron gate, many people have assumed (falsely) that the property is a former insane asylum (Read- Most haunted asylums in America). While they do enforce trespassing laws rigorously here for the privacy of their guests, they also offer weekend retreats to the public at reasonable prices. Most reports of paranormal activity seem to be of the second-hand or drunkenly anecdotal variety.
Located at- 8833 Harmony grove road, Escondido
Several reports of paranormal sightings surround hangar 1 at MCAS Miramar. Tragedy struck this location when on December 22, 1969, a damaged F-8 Crusader of the 191 Fighter Squadron (nicknamed “Satan’s Kittens”) crashed into the hangar. While the pilot had already safely ejected, 14 mechanics and ground crew who were working in the hanger were killed by the impact or the ensuing fire. Personnel report the sound of footsteps when alone in the hangar and the appearance of hazy apparitions.
Where at- Mitscher way, San Diego
Vallecito Stage Station
At one time, the famous Butterfield Stage passed through this area on its way from St. Louis to San Francisco. Vallecito, with its strangely cooler temperatures than the surrounding desert, made a fine place for a stopover to catch a bite to eat and water the horses.
The original 1851 station is long-gone, but in 1931, an historically accurate reconstruction was built on the site. Today, the land is a County park and host to no lack of ghost sightings. Phantom stages and apparitions of horses are said to still pass through, although the star of the ghostly show is Vallecito’s own White Lady.
It’s claimed that the apparition is that of a young woman now buried on the site. Legend has it that she was traveling on the stage in the 1850’s when she took ill and died at the station. Stage employees searched her luggage and, unable to find any identification or information about her next of kin, they did find her white wedding dress, in which they promptly buried her. The park offers several camping sites and full daytime access to the rebuilt stage station and adjoining cemetery.
Address- 37349 Great southern overland stage road, Julian
Julian Gold Rush Hotel- Oriflamme Mountain
This desolate area is reported to be the site of reoccurring ghost lights. The name “Oriflamme” seems provocative, translating in French to “golden fire”. But, It probably refers to the steamship Oriflamme that brought gold prospectors to the region in the middle of the 19th century. According to witnesses, multiple bright lights appear on the mountain after dark without explanation. Classic “Mountain Lights.”
A short drive east of San Diego proper reveals a surprising change in the landscape. The rolling hills become more jagged, the temperature drops in the mountains, and just over the peaks, an arid desert stretches out as far as the eye can see. These lands were the homes of Kumeyaay Indians, gold miners, cutthroats, and all the ghosts they’ve left behind.
Situated at- 2032 Main Street, Julian
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
This beautifully appointed Victorian-style bed and breakfast in the heart of Julian offers many ghost stories alongside their famous homemade granola. Guests in the upstairs rooms of the main building frequently report a definite sense of being watched or the presence of something unknown. While this is understandably uncomfortable for some guests, many instead claim they find the presence warm and welcoming.
Where at- 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs
The Horton Grand Hotel
This 132-room Victorian-style hotel located in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter has at least one room, alleged to be haunted. It was built in 1986 using building materials salvaged from the Grand Horton and the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery Hotel. Both of them were knocked down in the 1970’s. One ghost is said to be that of Roger Whitaker, a scoundrel and gambler who haunts room 309. Although accounts of the man’s life seem to be apocryphal at best. The hotel’s website coyly hints at the presence of other ghosts as well.
Address- 311 Island Ave, San Diego
US Grant Hotel, San Diego
The US Grant is an extremely high-end hotel built in 1910 and named for our 18th president. Size and unique architecture make this 270-room Kumeyaay-owned behemoth stand out on Broadway Avenue. As they cater more to the luxury crowd and less to the curiosity seeker, they are a little more tight-lipped about hauntings than most, but it is rumored that at least one room has a ghost as a permanent resident. Due to the presence of a malevolent spirit, It is among the most haunted places in San Diego.
Address- 326 Broadway, San Diego
This elaborate Victorian mansion was built in 1887 for musician and author Jesse Shepard. After Jesse Shepard left San Diego in 1889, the house went through a succession of owners, due to the severe downturn in San Diego’s economy. Nevertheless, the poor fortune of many of the house’s owners was chalked up to a curse of some sort.
Shepard held seances here in which he was known to “channel” famous composers and musicians while playing the piano. Docents stated that there are secret passages throughout the house that might have been in use to trick his audience. Currently owned and maintained by the San Diego Historical Society, public tours of the Villa have temporarily been discontinued.
Where at- 1925 K St, San Diego
The Star of India
A San Diego landmark just blocks away from the airport, this steel-hulled ship is officially part of the San Diego Maritime Museum. Christened the Euterpe in 1863, she has served as a cargo ship, a transport for New Zealand emigrants. It was also a support ship for the Alaskan fishing fleet. As the world’s oldest active ship, she’s seen her share of misfortune and tragedy, including the death of her captain while onboard in 1868. Witnesses report cold spots, phantom smells, and apparitions.
Situated at- 1492 N Harbor Dr, San Diego
Other Haunted Places in San Diego
Because San Diego has gotten through many changes, it is important for you to retrospect the city’s history. Majorly, this city is divided into three zones; Old Town, Downtown and North County region. Each of them host an abundance of haunted location which differ in the style of construction.
We have Old Town San Diego grew up around the site of the first mission and presidio, located at the crest of what is today called Presidio Hill. This part of town saw Spanish, Mexican, and finally American rule and the remaining structures showcase this mix of influences. In 1871, the city center was shifted to “New Town,” or the present-day downtown area. Old Town is a beautiful area. It is full of restaurants and shops and is dominated by the Old Town State Historical Park and Presidio Park.
Downtown San Diego is a lively area with a mix of hip new condo developments and tarted-up old Victorian homes. Our city center is vibrant thanks to the Padres’ home, Petco Park, and the trendy Gaslamp district. It might be cleaner and safer than many other downtown areas, but still has quite a reputation for ghostly happenings.
More than just a collection of San Diego suburbs, North County is full of self-contained communities and major attractions. Ranging from beachside surf towns, to hard-core military reservations, to mountain retreats, North County offers much more than a brief pit stop on the road between the Whaley House and the Queen Mary.
Well, which of the aforementioned haunted places in San Diego is your top pick? Be sure to drop it in the comment.