Time to bring out the jack o'lanterns, scarecrows, and Halloween candy. It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the fall and, of course, Halloween. If you’re looking for something spooky to see, visit, or do this Halloween, there are many options in San Diego. The most famous is probably the Whaley House Museum. Located in Old Town, it was the subject of the 2012 film The Haunting of Whaley House. Whenever the topic of spooky San Diego comes up, Whaley House is always at the top of that list.
But there are so many more spooky things to discover in this city. And by “spooky,” we mean probably haunted. Here are three neighborhoods with spooky fun for all.
Horton Grand Hotel
The Horton Grand Hotel dates back to the 1800s. Allegedly, it is haunted by a couple of ghosts, but the most famous one is Roger Whittaker, who either died in room 309 via gunshot wound or on the land prior to the building’s construction. Still, a number of odd occurrences have happened either in the hallway leading to or within room 309. Guests have felt warm temperatures despite running air conditioning and seen shaking beds, lights turning off and on without anyone touching a switch, and dresser drawers opening and shutting.
Some of the occurrences are attributed to the four-story Victorian-era hotel’s history. The hotel began as two separate buildings and was moved, brick-by-brick, to become one building on this plot of land (ghosts allegedly don’t do well with renovations). Either way, if you’re feeling adventurous, try to book room 309 and see how well you sleep...
Hotel Del Coronado
Opening in 1888, the Hotel Del Coronado, was and continues to be a major attraction. Given how long the hotel has been around, it’s only natural that rumors of hauntings make the rounds. The most infamous guest who won’t leave is Kate Morgan, who at the age of 24 committed suicide at the hotel five days after Thanksgiving in 1892. She's been spotted around her room, on the beach, and (strangely) in the hotel gift shop. Voices, footsteps, and electrical oddities have also been reported.
Allegedly, the young woman committed suicide at the hotel after being abandoned by her lover for five days. Kate stayed on the third floor, which is where most of the strange phenomena occurs, including random breezes, objects moving for no apparent reason, unexplained sounds, and even unusual scents. The room during her stay at this grand hotel is the most requested among guests. The hotel, contrary to most haunted places, actually promotes and discusses this on their official site—they even put together a book about Kate entitled Beautiful Stranger.
El Campo Santo Cemetery
If you want to hear a real “Poltergeist”-type story, check out the El Campo Santo Cemetery. Built in 1849 in then rapidly expanding San Diego, developers—having never seen a single horror movie—simply built over existing graves. This included a horse-drawn streetcar portion of the cemetery, which entailed paving over 18 graves. Because of the many disturbances of the dead (and downright disrespect), there has been a number of reported supernatural occurrences, including cars stalling in the cemetery parking lot and severely cold spots. Some of the ghostly sightings include a trapped little boy and a former grave digger.
Funnily enough, this cemetery is only blocks away from The Whaley House. It is unclear how many people are buried there given all of the changes, but today, there are only 477 grave sites that are visible. Visit if you dare.
Coral Tree Tea House
Built in 1887, the Coral Tree Tea House was first home to the McConaughy family. These original homeowners are now said to haunt both the tea house and the Old Town Gift Emporium. The most active ghost, according to legend, is the benevolent Mary, the daughter of John McConaughy. She is said to play with the house’s electricity as well as rearrange the merchandise to her liking. Her father, however, prefers to stay in the area that is closed off to the public, making his heavy footsteps heard.
“A recent preliminary investigation of the house by psychic Ginnie McGovern, members of the International Paranormal Research Organization (IPRO), and the San Diego Ghost Hunters reported some interesting results when they were allowed to roam freely inside,” as reported by the official site. “The group heard a woman’s voice coming from a deserted hallway and then heard clicking and shuffling sounds that seem to surround them, but no one could find the source. Several photographs taken in the house produced orbs.”