San Diego, known for its stunning beaches, vibrant dining scene, and rich history, also holds a darker allure. This beautiful city is a treasure trove of haunted locations that attract paranormal investigators and thrill-seekers from all corners of the globe.
From historic hotels to ancient sailing ships, the haunted places in San Diego offer a chilling glimpse into the city’s spectral past.
Known as America’s finest city, San Diego is a place of beauty and mystery. Its unique attractions, such as the Gas Lamp Quarter, Maritime Museum, and the U.S.S. Midway, are not just tourist hotspots but also home to some of the most haunted places in the country.
So, if you’re ready to explore the city’s ghostly side, put on your brave face and join us as we delve into the most haunted places in San Diego.
1. Whaley House Museum, Old Town
What better way to kick things off on our rundown of San Diego’s haunted hotspots, than the one of the most infamous haunted locations in the country!
The Whaley House is not only verified as one of the most haunted places in San Diego but was declared an authentic haunted house by the United States Department of Commerce.
It served as the Whaley family home for many years. It was also a storage location for public records until they were stolen while Thomas Whaley was out of town.
Many tragic events occurred in the house or on the property. Violet Whaley committed suicide on the property, and a young girl died on the kitchen table after a clothesline hanging outside crushed her throat. Jim Robinson was hung on the property on the archway between the music room and the parlor.
The amount of paranormal activity and sightings in the house is astounding. Windows open and close at will, lights flicker, pots and pans in the kitchen move on their own, and the impressions of someone laying on the beds are visible.
People who have seen figures in windows have heard the sounds of a baby crying, which people believe is the ghost of 17-month-old Thomas Whaley, who died in the home.
All the paranormal activity in the Whaley House is too extensive to list here, so perhaps visit and arrange a tour. Visit their website or call to book 619-273-5824.
2. El Campo Santo Cemetery
Next on our list of San Diego’s most haunted spots, is just a few blocks away from America’s Most Haunted House – the Whaley House!
Early settlers of San Diego needed to construct a place to bury the dead. Thus the El Campo Santo Cemetery opened in 1849.
As the city expanded, living residents decided that the graves could either be moved or built over. One area of the cemetery became the location for a horse-drawn streetcar. The idea sounds nice as it served a purpose; however, the line went directly over 18 graves, eventually paved over.
At one point, there was a considerable amount of paranormal activity at the cemetery. Although it has reduced dramatically, there is still some activity. People have experienced extreme cold spots in the area and cars refusing to start when parking in the cemetery parking lot.
The ghost of a former gravedigger is seen at the cemetery and a young boy who appears to be trapped and confused.
You can conduct your own paranormal invesigation here, as the cemetery is open to the public 24 hours a day. Just remember to be respectful of the area and the spirits that may call it home.
3. Robinson-Rose House
Judge James W. Robison built had a home built for him in 1853. The building was not only his home but also served as an office for a newspaper and a railroad over the years. Eventually, the ravages of time destroyed the home, leaving nothing.
To preserve some of the history, it was rebuilt in 1987 using old photos of the original building and records. The revamped building sits in historic Old Town and serves as the visitor center.
The Robinson-Rose House not only welcomes visitors but is the home to a host of ghostly and paranormal activity. Ghost hunters and the average visitor have heard footsteps when no one is around and witness the elevator operating without the assistance of anyone.
Some female visitors have felt their hair pulled, and lights have randomly switched on and off.
Apparitions and cloudy mists have also been witnessed here!
As it’s a visitor information center, access is 10am-5pm daily and admission is free.
4. Horton Grand Hotel
The Horton Grand Hotel started as two different buildings. The buildings were eventually joined together. Moving two different buildings brick by brick from different locations to come together as one was not an easy task, but the beautiful hotel still stands today.
With the history of the buildings dating back to the late 1800s, it is only natural that it is considered one of the most haunted hotels in San Diego.
Roger Whitaker is the most famous of the ghosts that haunt the Horton Grand. How he died is up for debate. Some stories state he died of a gunshot wound in room 309. Other reports claim he died on the property long before either building was built.
Regardless of how he died, he has been seen in the hallway and room 309. Room 309 experiences several mysterious incidents, such as random hot temperatures happening with the window open or the air conditioning turned on.
Lights come on in the room on their own, the bed gets shaken, and the armoire door opens on its own. Other witnesses have seen the ghost of a former Madame where a brothel used to stand in the hotel.
The four of spades was found in the bathroom of one of the rooms after a couple had been up the previous night playing poker. They had left the cards on the table.[BOOK A ROOM] (619) 544-1886
5. Hotel Del Coronado
Adding to the list of the most haunted places in San Diego, we introduce the Hotel del Coronado.
This beachfront hotel, affectionately known as Del, is not just a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark, but also a dwelling for the spirits of past guests. Its unique wooden Victorian architecture and rich history dating back to 1888 make it a magnet for both the living and the dead.
The hotel’s most famous spectral resident is Kate Morgan, a woman who checked into the hotel in 1892 and never checked out. After being jilted by her lover or husband, she took her own life in the hotel.
Her spirit is said to linger in her former guestroom, Room 3327, and many have reported seeing her lovesick figure wandering the hotel’s grounds. Her ghostly antics include unpacking suitcases, leaving guests’ clothes strewn all over the room.
But Room 3327 isn’t the only haunted spot in the hotel. The resort’s gift shop, established in 1888, has seen its fair share of paranormal activity, with objects flying off shelves and walls.
Room 3519 is another hotspot for ghost hunters, as it’s believed to be haunted by a young maid who hung herself there.
Guests and staff members throughout the hotel have reported mysterious temperature changes, disembodied voices, footsteps, and the sensation of unseen hands touching them.
Despite its ghostly residents, the Hotel del Coronado continues to be a popular destination for tourists and ghost hunters alike.
Its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful beachfront location make it a unique place to visit. But remember, if you decide to stay in one of the haunted rooms, you might not be the only guest checking in. [BOOK A ROOM]
On your stay, be sure to book onto one of the nightly ‘Haunted Happenings’ Tours, which take you on a guided ghost tour of the resort. Tickets are $30 per person, and for ages 12+.
6. The Berkeley Steam Ferry Boat
Joining the ranks of San Diego’s most haunted locations is the Berkeley Ferryboat, a vessel with a history as deep and mysterious as the waters it once navigated.
Now serving as the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s primary entertainment venue, library, and office, the Berkeley Ferryboat began its operations in the late 1800s. But it seems that some of its passengers from the past have never disembarked.
Among the spectral passengers said to haunt the vessel is a figure known as The Fedora Man. Jim Davis, the Director of Marine Operations for the Maritime Museum, recounts a chilling encounter with this apparition.
Late one night, while walking the upper deck of the Berkeley Steam Ferry Boat, Davis spotted a vivid image of a man leaning against a door jam. The man, clad in a trench coat and a fedora, bore a striking resemblance to the iconic detective Sam Spade.
Despite Davis’s insistence that the man needed to leave, the figure remained motionless. As Davis approached, the Fedora Man vanished into thin air.
But the Fedora Man is not the only spectral presence on the Berkeley Ferryboat. Davis and others have reported hearing heavy footsteps echoing across the Upper Deck, long after the last living visitor has left.
Disembodied voices carrying on conversations have also been heard, adding to the eerie atmosphere.
The Berkeley is open daily for those brave enough to explore its haunted decks. But remember, when you step aboard this historic vessel, you may find yourself sharing the deck with passengers from a bygone era.
7. Old Point Loma Lighthouse
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse situated at the mouth of San Diego Bay in San Diego, California. Opening in November 1855, it is no longer in operation as a lighthouse but is open to the public as a museum. The lighthouse operated for almost 40 years before operations ceased as a better location was found.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is a landmark and a tourist destination today. Although many visit to learn about the area’s magnificent past, people are intrigued by the ghostly activity there.
A visit to the lighthouse is not for the faint of heart, though. Reports here include disembodied heavy footsteps coming from the upper floor, unexplainable cold spots on the entry to the spiral staircase, moaning, heavy breathing, and that constant feeling that someone is watching you.
Many believe the spirit of the famed Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo lives here, waiting to transition to the other side. Others say that the lighthouse’s final lightkeeper, Captain Robert Decatur Israel returned after his death, watching over his beloved lighthouse and keeping his eye on all who venture inside.
Today you can visit the museum, which is part of the Cabrillo monument. It’s open daily from 10am – 5pm and a standard entry pass is required (between $10-$20). (619)-523-4285
8. Del Mar Racetrack
The Del Mar Racetrack has a long history that dates back to the 1930s. Everyone from the Hollywood elite to business people, to lovers of horses, the races, and more have ventured to the famous racetrack.
Many of the most common activities attributed to the paranormal have occurred at Del Mar. People have experienced lights flickering, disembodied voices, and cold spots. Other people have captured shadowy figures on camera.
Many current and former employees believe the fifth floor is the center of many unusual happenings. Some of these include the elevator refusing to stop at that floor, hallways quickly becoming extremely cold, and some people seeing what they believe to be ghostly figures.
9. USS Midway
At one time, the U.S.S. Midway was an aircraft carrier in the navy. It was decommissioned in 1992 after seeing action in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Today she sits docked in San Diego and is a museum.
There have been claims that as many as 30 different ghosts reside on the U.S.S. Midway. People visiting the Midway have had mannequins on the ship move and appear to speak, while others have felt they were not alone when in the sickbay.
Additional visitors claim to have smelt what they believed to be old blood and stated the air felt very heavy. www.midway.org (619)-544-9600
10. The Davis-Horton House
Located in downtown San Diego, the Davis-Horton House was built by Davis in 1850 as he attempted to establish “New Town,” which is now the current downtown San Diego.
The home is not only the oldest wooden building in San Diego but also one of its most historically significant.
Although many people lived in the house over the years, ironically, never did Davis himself. It wasn’t until Alonzo Horton (the founder of San Diego) purchased the property that the city started to boom.
The spirits of many of its former owners still reside here. However, a lot of the paranormal activity can be attributed to the many deaths that occurred here during the ten-year period it was used as a hospital.
One of the most active spirits is a Victorian lady who has appeared in front of guests on many occasions. There are also the apparitions of a Victorian-era couple that appear often. The woman is often seen wearing a white gown, and the gentleman a suit.
Other typical reports include lights turning on and off on their own and disembodied voices.
The museum is open for tours daily, though be warned, you may just come face to face with one of the many spirits that haunt here!
11. Star of India
Adding to our spectral haunts of the San Diego Maritime Museum, we sail to the haunting waters of the Star of India, the world’s oldest working sailing ship.
This venerable vessel, which made 21 voyages around the globe before being retired and restored in San Diego, has seen more than its fair share of tragedy and loss.
Over the years, many lives were lost aboard this merchant vessel, each one adding to its ghostly crew. One of the most tragic tales is that of an Army captain, who, overwhelmed with grief over the loss of his platoon in the India War, took his own life aboard the ship.
As Jim Davis of the Maritime Museum recounts, the captain slit his own throat, only to be stitched up by the ship’s surgeon. In a final act of despair, the captain removed the stitches and bled to death. His restless spirit is said to contribute to the ship’s paranormal activity.
But the Army captain is not the only ghostly sailor aboard the Star of India. Reports of shadowy figures seen on the ‘tween deck, the sound of heavy boot steps echoing through the ship, and disembodied voices speaking in hushed tones have all been reported.
Ported at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the Star of India is open to visitors daily from 10am – 5pm. General Admission.
12. Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant
Lastly on our haunted tour of San Diego, we step into the historic Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant. This two-story establishment, once the home of Don Juan Bandini, was known as the hip social scene of Old Town in its heyday. But the lively gatherings of the past have given way to ghostly encounters in the present.
The most famous ghostly resident of the Cosmopolitan is Ysidora, Juan Bandini’s youngest daughter from his first marriage.
Legend has it that in 1846, Ysidora leaned so far over the balcony of the home, entranced by a procession parade, that she fell. But did she hit the ground? No, she fell into the arms of Col. Cave Johnson Couts, who happened to be passing by on horseback. Or so the story goes.
Today, Ysidora’s spirit is said to frequent Room 11 at the hotel, where she once stayed. Guests have reported lights turning on and off without explanation, and other spirited mischief that can only be attributed to Ysidora’s playful ghost.
It seems that even in the afterlife, Ysidora continues to be the life of the party. [BOOK NOW]