California, commonly known as the “Golden State,” is best known for the glitz and glam of Hollywood. However, sunny California also has quite a few haunted spots and spooky places that most people would probably avoid at night.
From ghost towns to haunted ocean liners to abandoned prisons, there’s no shortage of haunted places in CA, whether you’re seeking thrills up or down its coast.
If you’re the type to head into a scary haunted building when the sun goes down instead of hunkering down at home, this list of the most haunted places in California will give you plenty of places to explore.
- 1. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA
- 2. The Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
- 3. Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
- 4. Cerro Gordo, Keeler, CA
- 5. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
- 6. Padre Hotel, Bakersfield, CA
- 7. Preston Castle, Ione, CA
- 8. Point Sur Lighthouse, Big Sur, CA
- 9. La Purisima Mission, Lompoc, CA
- 10. Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA
- 11. Los Coches Adobe, Soledad, CA
- 12. The Whaley House, San Diego, CA
- Conclusion on the Most Haunted Places in California
- Related Articles
1. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA
Address: Fort Mason, B201, San Francisco, CA 94123
Alcatraz Island was once home to a Native American burial ground. Then, in 1933, it was transformed into Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison with one purpose: to break the minds of some of the world’s most notorious criminals.
The prisoners of Alcatraz were forced into some of the worst living conditions imaginable. Their cells had no mattress, sinks, or toilets. Worse, they had no lights. As a result, their days and nights were spent in abject misery as they pondered the life they once had.
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It’s no surprise, then, that those who died on Alcatraz Island still linger in the afterlife, waiting to haunt any who came to explore this infamous place. Take a walk through the remains of the prison and keep your ear out for Al Capone’s banjo music in the shower. Pay attention to the chilly air in cell 14D, where a man hung himself after claiming a spirit tried to kill him.
Most importantly, bring a friend when you tour the cell blocks. The last thing you want is to get caught alone where the spirit of hitman Abie “Butcher” Maldowitz reportedly roams.
2. The Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
Address: 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90802
The RMS Queen Mary was a luxury ocean liner that sailed the North Atlantic in the mid-twentieth century. She served as a hotel and tourist destination until 2020 when she was closed for repairs.
But the Queen Mary’s story doesn’t end with its history as an ocean liner. In fact, this ship has become one of the most haunted places in the world. Countless reports over the decades detail encounters with spirits. It’s no coincidence that her nickname just happens to be the “Grey Ghost.”
The Queen Mary’s tragic history includes a child drowning in the pool, a man getting crushed by a boiler-room door, and a criminal who was denied a dignified death. Disembodied laughter, mysterious footsteps around the pool, and a somber apparition are just a few of the things you might encounter on a tour of this ship.
One of the most haunted places on the Queen Mary is room B340. Many accounts have detailed the strange voices and sounds in this room, but one of the most recent accounts comes from Julie Tremaine, who spent a night in B340 alone.
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Although she didn’t see any paranormal activity during the night, video footage the following morning indicated she’d been anything but alone.
3. Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
Address: 640 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
The Cecil Hotel was constructed in 1924 as a premier destination for travelers. However, when the Great Depression hit a few years later, the developers’ plans crumbled and the hotel became affordable housing for low-income residents.
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The hotel saw many tragedies over the years, including suicides and violent murders that occurred in the first few decades of the hotel’s opening.
The most famous former resident, though, is Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker. It’s believed he committed some of his crimes in the Cecil Hotel.
The first incident that provides real evidence of a haunting occurred in 2013, when Elisa Lam, a student visiting from Canada, was filmed on the elevator behaving erratically. Shortly afterward, she disappeared.
Her body was later found floating in a hotel cistern. Her behavior, coupled with the hotel’s sordid history, makes the Cecil a place worth exploring if you want a spooky experience.
The Cecil Hotel is one of the most haunted places in CA.
4. Cerro Gordo, Keeler, CA
Address: Cerro Gordo Rd, Keeler, CA 93530
From 1866 to 1957, the Cerro Gordo mines produced a variety of metals in the Inyo Mountains of California. The town of Cerro Gordo consisted of only 5,000 residents, and shootouts among the citizens were a frequent occurrence. In fact, you can still see the bloodstains and bullet holes that are remnants of the town’s violent past.
One of the saddest events in Cerro Gordo’s history was the collapse of a mine in 1870. Thirty Chinese miners were trapped underground, unable to be rescued. Their bodies still remain today, entombed in the very place that killed them.
The town is a veritable time capsule, still filled with the personal effects of its former residents and workers, many of whom went to work and simply didn’t return.
Cerro Gordo’s current owner and only resident, Brent Underwood, reports lights turning on in empty buildings and items in strange places.
5. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
Address: 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
You may be surprised to hear that one of the most haunted places in California is none other than Hollywood, and it’s apparently rife with the ghosts of film stars. One of the most popular haunts of these ghosts is the Roosevelt Hotel.
This iconic structure sits along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. It was used for movie premieres and award shows, and was constantly frequented by some of Hollywood’s most elite.
There are multiple reports of celebrity ghosts in the Roosevelt. Actor Montgomery Clift is said to haunt room 928, occasionally patting guests on their shoulders.
Carole Lombard, the wife of the legendary Clark Gable, still hangs around the twelfth floor. The Blossom Ballroom is home to a well-dressed man who often plunges the room into chilling temperatures.
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If you make a visit to the Roosevelt, be sure to take a peek in Marilyn Monroe’s mirror, which is often put on display. Of course, you may only see your face staring back. Or, if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the original blonde bombshell, herself.
6. Padre Hotel, Bakersfield, CA
Address: 1702 18th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301
The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield was opened for business in 1928. Since then, this hotel has been the scene of many tragic deaths. Many of those deaths were accidental, while others have more sinister stories. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this landmark is now a hotbed for paranormal activity.
Specters that were the victims of a fire in the 1950s still wander the hotel. Spirits on the seventh floor take turns pushing guests. Perhaps the eeriest phantom is a little girl who left a permanent handprint in the lobby and still fills the halls with her childish giggles.
A more recent addition to the ghostly reports is from renovation workers in 2008. These workers reported their tools being moved or disappearing entirely, which they often attributed to the discontent of the hotel’s former owner, Milton “Spartacus” Miller.
7. Preston Castle, Ione, CA
Address: 900 Palm Dr, Ione, CA 95640
In June of 1894, the Preston School of Industry, a juvenile facility for troubled boys, opened in Ione, California. The goal was to help young boys avoid prison by learning a trade. However, the horrifying truth became clear as time went on. Starvation, isolation, and public lashings quickly became a way of life for the residents.
Twenty-three graves in a cemetery outside the castle are the only remnant of the children who were abused, neglected, and in some cases, murdered. The spirits of these children reportedly live within the castle’s walls, along with housekeeper Anna Corbin, who was brutally beaten and murdered in 1950.
By the time the school closed in 1960, more than 30 deaths had been reported at the school. Today, disembodied voices, loud noises, and the chilling touch of an invisible hand tell the story of the restlessness of the people who died in Preston Castle.
8. Point Sur Lighthouse, Big Sur, CA
Address: Highway 1, Big Sur, CA
Surrounded by glittering water and the bark of sea lions, Point Sur lighthouse is a jewel along the California coast. Its light has guided seafarers as they navigated the treacherous waters of the Pacific and was home to generations of lighthouse keepers.
The peaceful beauty of the lighthouse has reportedly lured former residents back to visit. In fact, volunteer Julie Nunes, who offers tours of the lighthouse, recorded a young girl and her mother speaking as the child got ready for bed.
In all, Point Sur Lighthouse is reportedly haunted by more than 20 ghosts. Some of these phantoms are previous residents, but many are victims of tragic accidents. Shipwrecks were common in the area around the lighthouse. The spirits of sailors who met a watery end often found their way to the lighthouse, where they continue to reside today.
If you decide to take a trip to Point Sur Lighthouse, be sure to bring a recorder with you. The largest body of evidence demonstrating the presence of ghosts consists of recordings of disembodied voices.
9. La Purisima Mission, Lompoc, CA
Address: 2295 Purisima Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436
In December of 1887, a Spanish priest founded La Purisima Mission in Lompoc, California. The priests baptized thousands of Chumash, the native residents of the area, and the mission was turned into a living facility.
However, the Spanish also brought foreign diseases, including chickenpox and measles, that wiped out swaths of Chumash. Any natives who chose to rise up against the Spanish were executed. Those who lived struggled to find food because the mission’s cattle depleted the surrounding land.
Today, the ghosts of the Chumash can be heard throughout La Purisima State Historic Park. Whispering voices, phantom touches, and dips in temperature all speak to the restless nature of these spirits. But, perhaps most eerie is the haunting sound of flutes you can hear on the grounds.
10. Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA
Address: 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
In 1892, 24-year-old Kate Morgan, a traveling con artist, checked into Hotel del Coronado. Four days later, she was found dead at the foot of a staircase from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Ever since that tragedy, stories of reported paranormal activity in her third-floor room abound.
The presence of a poltergeist in Kate’s guest room, number 3327, has been demonstrated many times. A visitor to her room might notice doors slamming, a TV turning on, lights flickering, and items getting moved inexplicably.
Another room, number 3519, was the home of the former owner’s mistress, who committed suicide and reportedly continues to haunt the room today.
If you’re aiming to record some ghostly activity, be sure to pack your ghost-hunting equipment. Many researchers have recorded paranormal activity in Kate’s room and the gift shop using infrared cameras, night vision, and sound detectors.
11. Los Coches Adobe, Soledad, CA
Address: Highway 101, Soledad, CA 93960
Los Coches Adobe in Soledad was once a stop for stagecoaches in the nineteenth century. Over time, the lore surrounding the inn began to proliferate. Now, it’s reputed to be a place where the past and present collide.
Some reports of visitors describe the inn’s rooms changing in appearance. Instead of the decrepit building that stands today, the rooms took on the inn’s original nineteenth-century appearance. Another legend surrounds the inn’s former innkeeper. The lore says the innkeeper would slit guests’ throats as they slept, then she’d toss their bodies down an abandoned mine shaft.
Soledad’s mayor, Fred Ledesma, has received reports of loud voices, rattling stagecoaches, and ghostly apparitions on the Los Coches property. Wisely, Mayor Ledesma has opted not to enter Los Coches because the spirits that haunt it are far too restless for his liking.
12. The Whaley House, San Diego, CA
Address: 2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA
The Whaley House is a California landmark located in Old Town, San Diego. Built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, the house has seen many incarnations. Over the last two centuries, the house served as a general store, a morgue, a courthouse, a theater, a granary, and now, a museum.
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The property the Whaley House sits on saw its fair share of tragedy over the years. Before the Whaley’s built the house, a man named Jim Robinson was sentenced to death and hanged on the grounds in 1852.
His execution was slow and torturous due to his size, so many believe he still haunts the grounds. The Whaley family often heard heavy footsteps they attributed to Jim.
In 1858, Whaley’s youngest son, Thomas, died at only 18 months old. Some visitors have reported hearing tiny footsteps, giggles, and cries that imply little Thomas hasn’t moved on. However, Thomas’ wife, Anna, is the spirit you’ll most likely encounter because she’s rumored to enjoy offering visitors a warm welcome.
The Whaley House’s tragic past gives life to the lore that surrounds it. When you take your tour through this historic building, be sure to sniff around a bit. If you’re lucky, you might get a whiff of Anna Whaley’s French perfume.
Conclusion on the Most Haunted Places in California
After the sun sets in you can find a lot of haunted places in California. With such a murderous past you will be sure to find a story that creeps and crawls through your dreams for months to come. We hope you enjoyed our list of the most haunted places in CA.
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