32 Most Haunted Places in San Diego
For those that are interested in attempting to connect with the other side, or perhaps just enjoy learning of San Diego's darker history, it turns out that we've got many haunted locations out here. From old Victorian homes, abandoned cemeteries and haunted forests, we've compiled quite the list over the years.
Here is our list of the Most Haunted Places in San Diego:
1. Victorian Village
Heritage Park is a county park located near Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and measuring almost eight acres. It was developed to preserve examples of San Diego’s historic Victorian architecture including Italianate, Stick-Eastlake, Queen Anne and classic revival styles. The properties were all relocated from their original locations with the help of San Diego County and Save Our Heritage Organisation.
There have been reports of footsteps making their way around the houses along with many other unusual and unexplained annoyances in these homes.
Many times these disturbances were loud enough to cause staff to peak around the corner to check out where the strange sounds were coming from – only to find hallways and rooms totally empty and silent.
2. Elfin Forest
Elfin Forest, which neighbors Questhaven and Harmony Grove, is not only great for hiking but also for delving deeper into the mysteries that surround this area. Like its popular neighboring communities, the Elfin Forest is rumored to be extremely haunted with hundreds if not thousands of stories and sightings to back up this claim.
The most popular myth is about the white witch. As the story goes, her husband and son were murdered out here a long time ago. Rumor has is she is still looking for her family, or possibly the person who murdered them.
3. Cosmopolitan Hotel
he Cosmopolitan hotel is one of the oldest standing buildings in San Diego County. Built in 1829, this hotel was once the home of Juan Bandini and his family, whom are some of San Diego’s first settlers/colonizers.
There have been multiple witnesses who claim to have seen a woman in a long dress wandering around the upstairs balcony. She is said to move through closed doors. Whether or not there is any truth to that story, there is definitely a thick energy felt throughout Old Town. Employees also speak of lights flickering and randomly turning on and off.
4. Tunnel 2
his is probably the “spookiest” tunnel I’ve explored so far with ghosts being the main theme around the artwork inside. It kind of feels like you’re going through a true “underground” art gallery with a sinister twist. My advice is watch the new IT movie and then head in here. 😉
The tunnel goes many miles with multiple chambers you can take. We did not go all the way but did go several miles deep. Try to bring water boots if you venture out here as there is at least some water inside year-round. Storm drains are never safe to explore within 48 hours after or during a rainfall
5. El Campo Santo Cemetery
If you want to really get a glimpse into the past, here is a good place to stop by. El Campo Santo Cemetery began its story in 1849. There are 477 bodies buried here and unfortunately not all of them retain their tomb. Take a look at the sidewalk and street directly outside for grave markers.
Yep, some of the graves are literally in the street! If that isn’t going to upset the spirits here, how about injustice and grave robbers!
6. Cara Knott Memorial Garden
The 1986 murder of twenty year-old Cara Knott by California Highway Patrol Office Craig Peyer was a case that shook the San Diego region like an earthquake. It frightened women young and old, it horrified parents who wanted to believe their daughters were safe in our community, and it engendered a gut level distrust of police that persists in many to this day.
One tangible manifestation of the Knott tragedy is the San Diego Crime Victims Oak Garden located near the site where Cara’s body was dumped just northeast of the intersection of Interstate 15 and Mercy Road.
7. Carmel Valley Cemetery
The Carmel Valley Cemetery was established by the Sisters of Mercy around 1900 on land acquired from the McGonigle family. The McGonigles were the first Anglos to settle in what is now known as Carmel Valley and some were interred in the tiny cemetery, but their markers have long since been destroyed by fire or vandals.
Only 55 of the roughly 100 burials are marked. All wooden and handmade markers were destroyed long ago by fire. Catholics to the west, Protestants to the east, the division within Christianity is clear even in death. There are not many Protestant graves, but markers remain for the Knechtels, another pioneer family.
8. Hotel del Coronado
The hotel has a history of over 130 years and it has packed both stories and notable guests in that time. Movies such as Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Some Like it Hot’ was partially filmed here and a ton of presidents and celebrities have stayed here over the years.
Kate Morgan was found dead on November 29, 1892, on the exterior staircase leading to the beach, of what was believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This was five days after checking into the hotel.
A San Francisco lawyer, the late Alan May, speculated in the 1980s that her death involved foul play. Evidence for the alleged homicide was a passing statement (or misstatement), during the coroner’s inquest, that the bullet found in her head did not match that of her own gun.
9. Buena Vista Cemetery
This sadly isn't the first time we've written about a cemetery being bulldozed over by the city. Disrespecting the deceased is definitely not uncommon in San Diego when money is involved. And that is exactly what happened to the people buried at what was known as the Buena Vista Cemetery in Oceanside. Today we know that spot as Hunter's Steakhouse. And yes, it is said to be extremely haunted.
In 1929, Vista Way was being widened which meant that some of the bodies would need to be removed. During the grading process to build a gas station and the Hungry Hunter, more bodies were discovered. Each body that was found would be exhumed and moved to a different cemetery.
10. Eichar's Grave
Although it turns out Eichar’s Grave is not the actual gravesite of John Eichar (his true burial spot is unmarked) there is a sweet memorial set up for him that is fenced off with a tombstone.
11. Gaslamp Museum
Located in the heart of the Gaslamp District remains downtown’s oldest standing structure known as the Gaslamp Museum. Built in 1850 by William Heath Davis, this house is what was known as a “salt box” family home, shipped from the East Coast to CA by boat around Cape Horn.
Any house that doubled as a hospital where many people died and suffered is going to up its chances of being haunted. A 1977 San Diego newspaper article featured interviews with the occupants of the house who reported stories of the lights going on and off by themselves.
What’s even more unusual about this is that the house was not wired for electricity until 1984 – the lights that went on and off were either gas or coal oil lamp flames which requires a match to light!
12. Grant Hotel
The Grant Hotel’s elegant décor has been drawing in elite guests for over a century with ornate details filling every inch of the hotel. From the dazzling crystal chandeliers to the award-winning art gallery, no corner appears to have been overlooked.
The Grant Hotel is said to have at least one resident ghost. Her name is Fannie Chaffee Grant, the first wife of the hotel's builder who was instrumental in getting the hotel up and running. She died, almost a year to the day, before the hotel's grand opening. Her husband remarried a few years later and moved with his new bride into the hotel.
13. Harmony Grove
On this one road alone you will find a psychic village complete with little colorful homes & a séance room, ruins dating back to the early 1900’s, a two-story house on a hill with no doors or windows (only a garage and vents), a labyrinth and many other photo-worthy opportunities! This whole area is rumored to be haunted by a white witch and many other apparitions.
14. Star of India
What makes the Star of India so unique is she is the world's oldest, active sailing ship, beginning her life in the Isle of Man in 1863. She was built during an experimental period of iron ships, during a time when most ships were made out of wood.
This is one of San Diego’s haunted hot spots. If you’ve got the delicate touch of being able to feel such energies, make sure to give this place a visit and see what how you feel and perhaps what you witness!
One of the people said to haunt the Star of India was a young stowaway from 1884. His name was John Campbell and he was still a teenager when he died. When he was discovered hiding on the ship, he was immediately put to work. One day while high in the rigging, he lost his footing and fell 100 feet to the deck below.
15. La Punta de los Muertos
The Seaport Village that we know of today holds a much darker past, and thousands of people walk right over the grim history every day. Unbeknownst to most lays an old, forgotten La Punta de los Muertos (Dead Man’s Point).
There is some dispute of who, exactly, is buried underneath Seaport Village but some solid facts remain in tact: Beginning in 1769, two Spanish ships anchored across from this spot. Within days, the sailors began to fall ill and die, most likely from scurvy. These men are thought to be the first buried in this location.
16. Mt. Woodson Castle
When one thinks of a 27-room castle with roots in the occult, Ramona, San Diego most likely doesn’t come to mind. And yet there it sits, the mysterious Mt. Woodson Castle. The castle was completed in 1921 during the Craftsman Movement for the successful dressmaker, Amy Strong.
Amy later developed deep roots in the occult and spirit realm. Many claim her house to be haunted for this reason. She even had a zodiac room built! When I asked several of the employees working there if they thought it was haunted they unanimously shook their heads and said most definitely. There have been multiple employees who have abruptly quit due to frightening experiences in this home.
17. Dia de los Muertos
Día de los Muertos is a very special time, when once a year, the spirits of loved ones who have died return to earth to celebrate this holiday with friends and family. Over fifty local businesses, museums, and shops will create traditional Día de los Muertos altars that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Many of the altars will honor the historic figures from Old Town’s past, and others will reflect more current stories meaningful to that place of business.
18. Berkeley Ferryboat
The Berkeley Ferryboat is a steamboat that was built in 1898 and operated for 60 years on the San Francisco Bay. For a ferryboat with as much chaotic history as it has, it should come as no surprise that it is rumored to be haunted. In fact, the director of Marine Operations for the Maritime Museum has even had his own occurrences here!
When interviewed by the Union Tribune, he said “I was walking the upper deck of the Berkeley Ferry Boat making my way to the front and back deck, originally known as the Ladies Deck. It was pretty late in the night, and I saw a vivid image leaning against a door jamb.’
19. La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum
Jose Manuel Machado, a corporal in the soldados de cuera (leather-jacket soldiers) at the presidio, built an adobe here in the early 1830s. All of Old Town State Park is said to be extremely haunted. I do not doubt for one second that this old adobe is part of the supernatural lore. Although I do not know any specific stories, if you have one to share, please leave a comment!
20. Meadowlark Pioneer Cemetery
Just like Pioneer Park in Mission Hills, all is not what it appears to be at this busy intersection. If you look closely, you will notice a modest memorial for a group of Spanish settlers from Ventura & Ojai, CA. There are 7 people buried at the Meadowlark Pioneer Memorial Cemetery total. Nearby are two white, wooden crosses within a 20X20′ enclosure. This area is respectfully closed to the public.
The inhabitants of this cemetery are tied to some fascinating stories. One of the couples lived on a 160-acre homestead near Questhaven Rd. and another was killed by a relative of Colonel Cave Couts.
21. Old Point Loma Lighthouse
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is an historic structure located on the Point Loma peninsula inside the Cabrillo National Monument. Although it hasn’t been in use since 1891, the public is still welcome to visit it and explore the grounds.
The lighthouse is said to be haunted. There are reports of of heavy foot steps coming from upper rooms, cold spots, heavy breathing, lights turning on. This site is no longer considered an “active haunted” location though.
22. Presidio Park Historical Spots
There are a lot of grounds to cover around here so bring your hiking shoes! Explore the mission, canyon, hiking trails, ruins, statues and more! This is a very interesting area with a lot of San Diego history. Given the history of Presidio Park, it should come as no surprise that this is believed to be one of the most haunted areas in San Diego.
23. Oddfellows Cemetery
The Odd Fellows cemetery is the final resting place to many of Fallbrook’s early homesteaders and community leaders. As of 2014, the cemetery appears to be in a state of disrepair and negligence, but from what I gather, maintenance is performed by family members of the deceased. If you’re a fan of rickety, old cemeteries brimming with historical personality then you will probably enjoy this place as much as we do.
I personally love these kinds of graveyards, with so many unique tombstones. Walk around and pay attention to all the tiny details this spot has to offer. You will notice that many of the markers are nothing more than a simple wooden cross or small brick with etchings.
24. Pioneer Park
Over the years, Pioneer Park has become a popular spot for family picnics, summer concerts and various community events. It is not uncommon to see children from the school next door playing in the grass and families having outings. Take a stroll along the outskirts of the park though you will be in for an awful surprise.
A once prominent pioneer cemetery has now been reduced to a lone row of headstones which are displayed as a memorial for those buried at this park—yes, the bodies are still buried here. You can even find a plaque with the names of the 1800+ bodies whom are interred within, although it is rumored that there may be up to 4,000 bodies buried here.
25. Proctor Valley
Proctor Valley is an extremely large, dry and mostly deserted area with one lone, dirt road taking you from Chula Vista to Jamul (UPDATE: It appears MUCH of this poor road is falling victim to development). The ghost stories of this area date back to over a century ago, with tales ranging from a large ape-looking beast to a screaming banshee to a hitchhiking lady dressed in blue.
You will also hear stories of a demon car chasing after you, small hand-prints on your car and your car mysteriously breaking down or crashing out here.
26. Questhaven Rd.
Questhaven Rd., which is neighbors to the Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove, is filled with haunted rumors. Whether or not there is any truth to these rumors will remain a mystery. What is undeniable about this place is the spooky feeling that it gives you when you drive on the windy, woodsy road.
Much of what used to be known as Questhaven is now known as the San Elijo Hills suburbs. Tons and tons of wooded acres were cut down to replace homes. Although this area is definitely scariest at night, I also recommend checking out the area during the day too because the surrounding area is actually filled with interesting spots to explore.
Questhaven Rd. has now partially been turned into a hiking trail which will give you the opportunity to get an intimate experience with the land in the day.
27. Rancho Buena Vista Adobe
The original Buena Vista land grant of where the Rancho Buena Vista adobe now sits was issued in 1845 Gov. Pio Pico to Felipe Subria. Felipe was a Luiseño man who was “awarded” the land grant due to converting to Christianity at the Mission San Luis Rey.
We were told when we visited that this home is allegedly haunted with many creepy stories. There is said to be a body buried in the walls of one of the rooms! That leaves a whole other list of unanswered questions such as WHO is buried in the wall and WHY were they put there?
28. San Luis Rey Pioneer Cemetery
The cemetery was placed in use in 1869, its first sad burial being that of a one year-old girl. Its very existence arose out of a need for a burial site for non-Catholics, as they were excluded from burial in the Mission Cemetery.
The cemetery today is loosely protected by an iron-gate and barbed wire fence. On the day we visited, the gate was unlocked and we were able to pass through to walk the grounds.
Some of the graves are identifiable by a hodgepodge of flat and stone markers, the oldest of which have had their engravings worn away by winds and the sands of time. Others are unmarked and seemingly forgotten. There is no landscaping of any kind, and fledgling tumbleweeds are the most prominent vegetation growing among the markers.
29. Villa Montezuma
Just on the outskirts of downtown stands an unusually-stunning piece of Victorian-era architecture. This intricate mansion known as the Villa Montezuma was built by several members of a local spiritual society in 1887 for famous musician and author Jesse Shepard.
Shepard was a worldly composer, known for giving elaborate performances, oftentimes for royalty. He was quite the eccentric, rumored to have held seances in his home in order to channel famous composers, musicians and even Egyptian spirits.
31. Whaley House
For those whom are curious or into the paranormal side of things, the Whaley House definitely needs to be added to your list of places to visit. Built in 1857, the Whaley House is actually the oldest brick structure in Southern California. It was also San Diego’s first commercial theater, general store and county courthouse.
The owners of this home went through many heartbreaks, losing multiple family members inside (and directly outside) these walls. One would almost wonder if the Whaley House could in fact, be cursed? And that is quite possible, considering it was built upon the city’s old gallow where the accused were hung from the trees in the backyard!
32. Cave 7
This cave got its name after a tragic incident involving a young lady named Mrs. Hathaway. The incident is believed to have happened in the 1800’s while Hathaway and her husband were collecting sea shells on their honeymoon.
Hathaway ventured into the cave while the tide was quickly swelling up and sadly did not get out in time. The waves swept her out to sea and she was never seen again. Let this be a stiff reminder of the power of the sea and the importance of common safety precautions while exploring seacaves.