When people think about haunted places, they usually think about New Orleans or some old colonial town on the East Coast or an even older European town. You don’t usually associate it with California.
The Most Haunted Places in San Diego
The William Heath Davis House in Haunted San Diego
Born in 1822 in Hawaii, William Heath Davis was known for his thirst for adventure. In 1838, he made his way to the mainland of what is now known as San Francisco. There he roamed and explored all the way to the Sacramento Valley. Due to his knack for all things wilderness, he was chosen to lead John Sutter up the river. He helped usher in the gold rush.
He was one of the few who did not get money from mining. Davis hit it big by selling supplies to make mining easier. So by the time he turned 28, he was one of the wealthiest men in California. He was not a man of greed but of opportunity. His vision was to build a town by the San Diego Bay. But ultimately that plan failed and his friend Alonzo Horton took the idea and built San Diego.
The house itself was built by Davis in 1850 and is the oldest house in San Diego. The paranormal activity is said to be because it had been a hospital for a short period. In that time, many died there and many lived except for William Heath Davis.
Visitors claim to see an unknown Victorian woman and a couple greeting them. Security has reported the lights going out before the alarm being set but when morning comes, a light in the back is turned on. Even before the house was wired for electricity, people have reported the lights going on and off. While the ghosts remain unknown, it is undoubtedly one of the most haunted places in San Diego.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse
There is nothing creepier than an old lighthouse that is said to be plagued by ghosts. Except maybe an abandoned asylum. Back in 1855, (yes I know ghosts seem to be all from the same era) a lightkeeper first set foot in the Point Loma lighthouse. The light helped sailors travel safely around the shores. However, it was put into retirement once a more opportune spot was found.
Today, instead of providing a helping beacon, the lighthouse is open for tours to the public. However, visitors have reported cold spots, the sound heavy footfalls, and a menacing fearful feeling of someone right behind them. Some say that the specter of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo lurks around as he eagerly awaits to cross over. Others think it was the final lightkeeper, Captain Robert Decatur Israel who keeps an eye over his beloved lighthouse. Perhaps both.
Tickets for tours are available at the ticket table but you can visit the website to find out about their free tour days here.
Berkeley Steam Ferry Boat
Today, Berkeley Steam Ferry Boat is home to the offices of the Maritime Museum, its library, special events, and, most importantly, spirits of past guests.
In its prime, the steamboat carried over 2000 passengers since the 1800s. It held some of the best events with esteemed guests. Some say that a few of those guests never left. Current workers report apparitions of a man with a fedora that is believed to be the ghost of John O. Norbom. He died in an explosion in 1911. Others believe it’s another guest waiting to reboard the boat.
Workers also report heavy footfalls that might belong to the man in the fedora. He’s seen so often that workers simply pay him no mind now.
The Whaley House: Old Town San Diego Haunted House
Not only is the Whaley House one of the most haunted places in San Diego and the Old Town San Diego haunted house, it is also one of the most haunted places in America. The long twisted history of the curse of the Whaley family runs long.
The house itself was built over the exact spot where a man named Yankee Jim Robinson or James Robinson was hanged for stealing a boat. Since the house was built, the Whaley family, especially Mrs. Whaley, experienced the pressure of spirits.
Today, the Whaley House is the top attraction of every haunted San Diego tour. Visitors and employees report cold spots, apparitions, strange feelings, and even Mrs. Whaley’s signature scent. Whether the house has malicious intent or not is up to you.
Tours are available and tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth next to the house.
Read our full article on the history of the Whaley House here.
Haunted San Diego’s Horton Grand Hotel
The Horton Grand Hotel is a restoration of the old Grand Hotel Horton and the Brooklyn Kahle Saddlery Hotel. They were originally built in 1886 in two different locations. Both hotels were about to be demolished so San Diego bought them each in the 1970s for $1 each.
Interestingly enough, both hotels were dismantled then combined to build the Horton Grand Hotel then reopened in 1986. The whole building, even the 100-year old staircase, is original. Some even say that a few of the original guests still roam around the hotel.
Among those still lurking is Roger Whittaker. He was a gambler who hid in the armoire of room #309 with a gunshot wound. He would never recover as his creditors found him and shot him right there. Lights flicker in 309 and some report the bed shaking, the armoire opening and closing in the middle of the night, misty glow, and the sound of footsteps. Whether it’s real or fake is up to you.
If you want to see for yourself, you can book a room at the Horton Grand Hotel here.
Hotel Del Coronado
In 1892, she checked into the hotel under the name “Lottie A Bernard” but the poor thing would not check out. Instead, after a 5-day long stay, her body was found dead with a gunshot wound. According to the story, she was there to meet with a lover. He didn’t show. In her heartbreak, the beautiful young woman took her own life.
Today, people refer to her as “the beautiful stranger”. She roams the hotel harmlessly in search of a lover she shall never meet. She most often appears in room 302 or what is now room 3327. Experiences with her are usually fleeting sightings or harmless pranks.
Read our post on the most haunted hotels in San Diego here>>
Why Do All Ghosts Seem to Be From the Same Era?
I’m not an expert, nor do I have a degree in the subject. However, my theory is that justice was hard to come by at that time. Ghosts and specters usually remain because of a traumatic death, attachment to the location, or unfinished business.
It’s my belief that these souls are stuck in our world because many of them suffered terribly before death and have yet to let go of their grievances. Said grievances were more extreme in the mid-20th century and before.
The supernatural world is all around us. One of the most auspicious times of the year is of course Halloween. There is a ton of scary stuff to do in San Diego on Halloween, so if you are into exploring the spooky, this might be a great time to visit. You never know the history of a place until you really look into it. Some of the most beautiful buildings and museums in town can be the most haunted places in San Diego. And if you are in San Diego for Halloween, make sure to visit the 2 best Haunted Houses in San Diego – recommended by a Haunted House Scare Actress. Look into the history and horror of San Diego. If you dare.
The Most Haunted Places in San Diego was written and edited by Hedge Metreyeon. For more San Diego Explorer posts, check out our homepage. For more of their articles visit here. Follow them on social media here.
Last Updated on October 14, 2023 by Maria Haase