San Diego Haunted Locations, Houses, Hotels (and more!)
Disembodied footsteps, or voices? What about mysterious lights, or floating orbs? “Cold” spots, vortexes, or maybe a creepy sense there is something – someone – unseen; present with you? All these symptoms of a haunting are reported in these places, waiting for you to discover!
While most of these places have stories you may discover on the internet, many do not. Those stories live on as told by today’s locals. How to find out about San Diego ghost hauntings in some of the more obscure areas? Perhaps the best way is to simply go there and inquire! Maybe begin with a friendly greeting, and ask, “Say – is this place haunted?” People who have actually had a ghostly encounter are often reluctant to talk about it. But especially in the historic locations, the people may relate the stories as they’ve heard them from long time residents. Just give them a little encouragement, but don’t let them catch you taking notes!
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: HOUSES, HOTELS, RESTAURANTS AND CEMETERY IN OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO:
THE WHALEY HOUSE
We Take You There – Go on the Grounds
This house is certainly among the most notorious haunted houses anywhere in the world. The Whaley House was built on grounds used for executions, and that legacy haunted its builders. The Whaley family and others endured strange and tragic deaths, and many supernatural occurrences there for decades, before finally moving. Ghostly phenomenon too numerous and varied to recount here have been marked. Many have been verified, and eerie sightings and other contact with the spirit world continue to be reported to this very day. Read more about the Whaley family, and other haunts, on our ghost biography page.
EL CAMPO SANTO CEMETERY
We Take You There – Enter the Cemetery
Every new settlement needs a cemetery to bury the dead. San Diego’s first, the El Campo Santo Cemetery, opened in 1849, not far from a courthouse and its execution grounds. These grounds later became the site of the Whaley House.
When the city grew, many of the graves were simply built over. Visitors can see brass markers set in the sidewalks and roads bordering the graveyard, marking where the dead are still buried. Two ghosts are frequently reported seen here to this day; one said to be former grave digger, the other a pitiful young boy who doesn’t seem to be able to “pass on”.
EL FANDANGO RESTAURANT
Jose Manuel Machado built three homes for his wife and large family in the late 18th century. One building became a restaurant, open for many years, where a lady ghost liked to come and sit at “her” corner table when the blinds were closed. Thought remodeled, the restaurant still operates, and she is still patronizing the establishment. She is described as moody, wearing Victorian clothing, and able to hover in the air, and dissipate through herself through walls.
Judge James W. Robison built a home here in the mid-19th century. Over time, it was completely run down, then destroyed. Later in the 20th century, it was re-created from photographs.
Today’s Robinson-Rose House welcomes visitors, but keep this in mind: It is the center of much supernatural activity. Footsteps are heard where no one is to be found, lights and other equipment operate by themselves, but more chilling incidents have occurred. People have described ghostly touchings, and even hair-pulling here!
COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL AND RESTAURANT
Formerly the Casa de Bandini restaurant, the Cosmopolitan was once the home of Juan Bandini and his family starting in 1829. Later on, the Bandini residence became the Cosmopolitan hotel before becoming the Casa de Bandini restaurant. That restaurant is now gone, but the site remains as one of San Diego’s many haunted places.
The lights in the building are known to turn themselves on and off, or simply flicker, signifying the presence of spirits. A frequently encountered ghost is that of a woman. She wears a long dress, and at times appears to be translucent. The woman moves through sealed doors and glides effortlessly across the balcony.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: HOUSES, HOTELS, RESTAURANTS AND IN THE DOWNTOWN GASLAMP OF SAN DIEGO:
HORTON GRAND HOTEL
We Take You There – Enter the Hotel Lobby and Bar
The Horton Grand Hotel started out as two different buildings in different locations, which were moved together onto the current site. These buildings date back to the mid/late 19th century, and were in San Diego’s Stingeree (now the Gaslamp), once our town’s most dangerous, deadliest neighborhood. The hotel is regarded as one of the most haunted places in San Diego. Rooms 209 and 309 are highly sought after by ghost hunters, and you can read about their ghosts on our biography page. Spooky goings-on are reported elsewhere in hotel as well.
THE DAVIS-HORTON HOUSE (formerly known as the William Heath Davis House)
We Take You There – Enter the DH House – Most Haunted House in the San Diego Downtown Gaslamp
First of all, this place is creepy, just so you know. It’s reputation as a haunted house comes both from its age, and the fact that it was used as a hospital of dubious practices. Hundreds of patients were housed here over a period of many years, many with consumption. Since there was no cure for the disease aside from rest and prayer, countless victims are thought to have died here. The owner and operator of the hospital is still thought to linger within, and is sometimes seen on the stairway, and elsewhere.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: HOUSES, HOTELS, LIGHTHOUSE, SHIPS, PARK, MUSEUM AND RACETRACK IN SAN DIEGO PROPER:
HOTEL DEL CORONADO
This beautiful old hotel is an architectural delight. Opened in 1888, this old luxury resort has a number of admittedly obscure ghost stories attached to it. There is one infamous spirit resident who has refused to check out for well over a hundred years: Kate Morgan. You can learn more about Kate on our ghost biographies page.
OLD POINT LOMA LIGHTHOUSE
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse that began operating in 1855. It also served as a family home. Now a landmark and a tourist destination, ghostly activity persists here. Some San Diegans believe they’ve seen the ghost of Captain Robert Decatur Israel, the last lighthouse keeper at the site. Others say the spirit of the famed Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo still lingers here, unable to transition to whatever awaits beyond.
But beware! Many who have visited got much more than they bargained for. Sounds of heavy footsteps coming from upper rooms, cold spots at the entry landing to the spiral staircase, moaning, heavy breathing, and that spine chilling sensation that someone is standing right behind you even if no one is there, have all been reported. Many believe the spirit of the famed Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo still awaits here to transition to the other side. Others say that the lighthouse’s final light keeper, Captain Robert Decatur Israel, returned here after his death. He watches over his beloved lighthouse, keeping his eye on all who venture inside.
USS MIDWAY (San Diego Harbor)
Once a US Naval aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Midway saw action in Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Now decommissioned, she is docked in San Diego harbor as a floating museum. Many different ghosts are said to reside on the U.S.S. Midway. Odd, possibly poltergeistic activity has been described. Some visitors say they have smelled old blood on board the warshIp, and felt weighed down by “heavy” air.
VILLA MONTEZUMA (Sherman Heights)
We Take You There – Go on the Grounds
This Victorian masterpiece, complete with gargoyles, is not available for admission. But one, possibly two,
deceased former residents still reside here. Reports off music being played, faces in the windows, and stained glass portraits with faces that appear to have aged over time, regularly occur. Read about Jesse Shepard and Amelia Yeager on our ghost biographies page.
In 1870, the Calvary Cemetery in Mission Hills was opened. Ultimately, over 1,650 dead were buried there. The cemetery fell into disuse, became run down, and was given to the City in 1968. The tombstones were removed, but the graves themselves, and their contents, still rest beneath this tranquil urban park. Ghostly lights, and other phenomenon are reported here.
STAR OF INDIA
This tall ship was built in 1863 in England, and sailed all over the world. Eventually, she came to rest in San Diego Harbor. Restored in 1976, The Star of India is now a floating museum. Its ghostly crew is said to include an officer who committed suicide onboard, a young boy who fell from the mast, and a Chinese fisherman who was crushed by the anchor chain.
SAN DIEGO MARITIME MUSEUM
Close by the Midway and The Star of India are the San Diego Maritime Museum’s offices, occupying what was once the Berkeley Ferry Boat. She served as part of the rescue effort following the San Francisco Earthquake, and has a fascinating history that features a long list of intriguing events and guests. Some who have worked on the boat describe encountering an apparition of a man wearing a fedora. Some believe this is the spirit of John O Norbom, who died in 1911 in a fiery explosion aboard this former vessel.
THE LA JOLLA GRANDE COLONIAL HOTEL
Constructed in 1913, this old style luxury hotel has hosted celebrities and blue-bloods from around the world, in addition to locals and the military. Deceased veterans, particularly from World War II, are described as preferring to be heard than seen. Some report them to be louder on certain military anniversaries. Perhaps not the best place to host your next Marine Corps Ball…
DEL MAR RACETRACK
The Del Mar Racetrack was built in the 1930s. Everyone who loves the ponies has been here, including Hollywood glitterati, the wealthy, and of course, the many lovers of horses, racing, and spectacle. Many paranormal activities have been reported at Del Mar. Visitors have experienced shadowy figures, disembodied voices, lights flickering, and cold spots. Visitor’s tip: Employees, past and presence, point to the fifth floor as the location of many unusual happenings.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: HOUSES, HOTELS, LIGHTHOUSE, SHIPS, PARK, MUSEUM AND RACETRACK NEAR OR IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY – ROADTRIP! (ONE TO TWO HOURS DRIVE):
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: JULIAN HOTEL, CEMETERY AND JAILHOUSE
THE JULIAN HOTEL
During a short gold rush in the 19th century which led to the establishment of Julian, an African-American named Albert Robinson and his family built and operated a hotel here. Upon his death, the “whites-only” cemetery declined him a gravesite, which perhaps led to disturbing, ghostly happenings. These include violent hauntings. There was talk of balls of fire speeding around inside the hotel, glimpsed through the windows. Glass inside was found shattered, and pieces of furniture were moved randomly about. Supposedly, the townsfolk resorted to an exorcism, which served to calm the spirit.
Today’s ghostly activity seems to center around room number 10, where Albert once lived. Maids have spoken of strange happenings in this room. Beds “unmaking” themselves, the smell of pipe smoke (the hotel is non-smoking), even sightings of pipe smoke, even Albert himself smoking, furniture moving around, cold spots, and slamming doors have also been reported. Albert is thought to be responsible for hiding objects from their owners. Other activity is reported downstairs, as well.
JULIAN PIONEER CEMETERY
The Julian Pioneer Cemetery was declared a California historical landmark in 1948. Built to lay to rest the town’s residents, and hundreds of ore miners from 1870s gold rush, this old mining town cemetery is reported haunted by the spirits from that era. Among them is said to be Drury Bailey, the town’s founder.
THE OLD JULIAN JAILHOUSE
With the gold rush came prospectors, many of who were not the best of citizens. The town built this jail after the previous one proved insufficient to contain the clientele! Like many jails in the old West, there were suicides. Stories are told of hangings carried out on the trees outside the jail. Some ghosts are said to still linger in and around the old site.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: THE ANZA-BORREGO DESERT, STAGE STATION:
VALLECITO STAGE STATION
The Anza-Borrego Desert holds the old Vallecito Stage Station. Old-timers say this is home to the Lady in White, a would-be bride who died at the stagecoach station. She still haunts the area. Also, a ghostly white horse is reported seen at the nearby campground.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: VISTA, ADOBE HOUSE:
RANCHO BUENA VISTA ADOBE
This old home in Vista was built in the 1850s, and some say that its early residents never left. It is open to the public, but you won’t hear much about any hauntings from the operators. Even so, the San Diego Paranormal society occasionally holds events such as ghost investigations here, and they have compiled evidence to make even the skeptical think twice.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS: ESCONDIDO, SAN PASQUAL BATTLEFIELD:
SAN PASQUAL BATTLEFIELD
A bloody and controversial battle took place here in 1846, during the U.S.-Mexican War. American soldiers who were unable to fire their weapons because of a heavy rain, were lassoed, pulled from their horses, and speared to death while hogtied. Since then, psychics have identified disturbing vortexes left behind from the violence on the battlefield. Some have reported sighting ghostly soldiers on pale horses here.