Today’s list features a list of haunted places in California; most are in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, and I have seen many of them though not really experienced anything spooky when I visited. The ones I am yet to see are those I heard of during trips to other places on this list, or simply ones that have been on my must-see-locally for too long now.
While I have not had any ghostly sightings or haunting experiences in any of these places or elsewhere, the stories and history of these places do lend an eerie atmosphere to the place. What do you think?
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So here is my list of
Haunted Places to See in California
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
With its history, Alcatraz is bound to be on this list of haunted places. I am not sure why I have not yet visited Alcatraz, but I must tell you that I have “almost-clicked on the submit button” to order tour tickets for Alcatraz a few dozen times over the last few years. Check out this site for more on the haunted history of the island.
The ghosts: various, from Native Americans who were banished to the islands before it became a prison, to the inhabitants of the prison itself.
Books to go with this visit:
- A History of Alcatraz Island by Gregory L. Wellman, which is a nonfiction read chock-full of information about the island
- And this really classic historical fiction for younger audiences but one that will appeal to all ages – Al Capone Does My Shirts (I read this with my son a few years ago, but completely forgot about it until now! It sure was a great fun read)
- Plus, of course, something about the haunted aspect: Ghosts and Legends of Alcatraz by by Bob Davis and Brian Clune
- And another nonfiction geared towards young readers who want to learn about this fascinating place from the ‘Where is..?’ series
Bodie State Historic Park
Bodie in Mono County, California was a gold rush town for a few years during the 1800s, and then it simply and quickly started dying. The townspeople left or , well, died there thus leaving the town as a ghostly empty version of what it was before. In 1962, Bodie officially became a state park and has since been preserved in “arrested development” so visitors can walk through the ghostly town, and hear the many spooky stories around it.
We have heard of this ghost town a few times, and most recently, on our visit to Columbia earlier this year. So Bodie is one place we will make it to pretty soon, I am sure of it.
The ghosts: many! A few specific stories are outright creepy, including those of five of the last six residents of the town
Colma is a city with the motto: “It’s great to be alive in Colma.” The reason for this humorous motto is that the dead outnumber the alive here by 1000 to 1. Why? Because of the sheer number of cemeteries here. Read more about Colma on its wikipedia page.
The ghosts: well, this town is supposedly full of them.
This town is another gold rush town, and unlike Bodie, people continued to live here, and still do. Like I have mentioned before, going to this town is like stepping back in time. You can be a part of history and go on a horse-carriage ride, or do some gold-panning like the miners did eons ago. Or you could sit down at the saloon they did, and have a pizza and beer or Sarsaparilla if you wish.
However, none of us felt any ghostly presence there even when we walked in the night in the historic downtown; but apparently, it is the hotels in this historic state park that are haunted. Oh well, there is always next time!
The ghosts: like I said above, the historic hotels have a few ghostly residents who still stay there; they never checked out!
Stevenson House, Monterey
I have driven past this a few times but never actually stopped for a visit. I guess I did not realize the connections and did not know the story behind it. But I know I will soon, given its haunted history and the simple fact that it is named after Robert Louis Stevenson who once stayed here.
The ghost(s): the owner and care-taker of this property when it was a boarding house in the 1800s
La Purisima Mission, Lompoc
We have been on a “mission” mission since last year, trying to see at least a few each year until we finish up all the California missions. And this is next on our list. Now, its haunted history makes it all the more so.
The ghosts: believed to be the restless spirits of the many Chumash people who perished here
Mission San Miguel
We visited this charming mission earlier this year, and while I did not see or meet any ghosts there, the stories around these missions and the buildings themselves do lend a certain vibe to the place.
The ghosts: various, from possibly a Franciscan friar who maybe lived at the mission ages ago to others related to a more gruesome incident in the mid-1800s
Point Sur Lighthouse, Monterey
This is a beautiful lighthouse that we have been to a few times, and no ghostly sightings yet. Maybe another time is the charm?
The ghosts: various, reportedly at least 20 of them, but nothing to fear!
Preston Castle, Ione
I read about this in a book earlier this year; and then also saw mention of it in Columbia, or maybe at Solvang. Regardless, I am now really looking forward to including this in a trip in the near future. The Preston School of Industry, also known as Preston Castle, was a reform school opened in June 1894 for minors under state guardianship as well as for juvenile offenders. Today, the castle is run by a foundation and offers tours, including haunted tours.
The ghosts: many. Read more here at the Line Up
Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park
I am pretty sure we walked past this lake many a time during visits to the park, but I had no idea about the ghost then. Now I know, and am going to look at it with, well, haunted eyes!
The ghost: The Lady of Stow Lake who has approached many park visitors reportedly asking about her baby.
We peeked down at the famed Sutro Baths from up above near Cliff House during one trip to the city by the bay; but did not venture closer as it was late in the day. Did not want to risk meeting the spirits that haunt the baths when night falls!
The ghosts: various, from those who were visitors at the Baths in its heyday (apparently, you can identify them because of their costumes) to other more spooky ones.
The USS Hornet is an aircraft carrier built for the United States Navy during World War II. She was decommissioned in 1970, and eventually designated as both a National and California Historic Landmark. The USS Hornet Museum opened in Alameda, California, in 1998.
I spent the night at the Hornet years ago, and the docent led us (was a chaperone on an overnight scouting trip) on a night tour, complete with flashlights that went on and off by themselves with no one holding them, and stories about the ghosts that inhabit the Hornet!! Totally ready to repeat the experience too. Read about my trip and tips for the same here.
You can spend a night there too if you wish, or go on a history mystery tour
The ghosts: many, including of course the personnel who were on the ship during the wars.
Winchester Mystery House
Another location I have visited a couple of times. No ghostly sightings, but definitely left bewildered by the home and awed by Sarah Winchester!
Often touted as one of the most haunted places in America, this building is an architectural marvel, or maybe a conundrum in itself.
The ghosts: so many! Read more about its haunted history here.
Related ‘Haunted Places’ Reads
- Travel With the Atlas of Forgotten Places
- 13 Interesting Facts About Spooky Creepy Halloween Handpicked For You
And Now, the End of This Haunted Places Post
Dear reader, have you visited or heard of any of the haunted places on my list? Your thoughts on them? Have you visited any reportedly haunted places? Do let me know of them so I can keep them in mind for later.
Goes towards Thursday 13 and the UBC
6 thoughts on “13 Haunted Places and Such to See in California”
What a spooky list! I have visited Alcatraz several times, but the best experience was the night tour. It wasn’t scary in a Halloween-y way. But it was definitely spooky thinking about what it must have been like to be a prisoner there and hearing happy sounds of the non-incarcerated drift across the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay.
I used to live in that area back in the early 80s, but haven’t been back since. I’d love to visit those scary places.
Cool list! I have relatives resting in Colma. I hope they come out now and then and dance on their gravestones.
Great suggestions for people spending Halloween in Cali. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to visit them this year. Thank you for sharing though!
I love everything haunted! So much fun! I would love to visit the whole list
I would like to visit all of these places in California, however I live all the way on the east coast. There are some really haunted places over here. One of these days I’m going to get a good camera and do some ghost hunting.