9 Most Haunted Places in San Diego, California

San Diego is a city with a wonderful history that is evident through its many beautiful sights and attractions. In May 1769 it was founded by Gaspar de Portola, who established Fort Presidio. It was the first settlement by Europeans in California.

100 years later, Alonzo Horton stepped off a boat from San Francisco into San Diego, which he called "the prettiest city in the world".

Both of these men had discovered this coastal paradise at the bottom of California. This long and rich history has lead to many tales being told of ghosts, apparitions, and other paranormal activity throughout the city.

Check out this list of the most haunted places in San Diego.


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Hotel Del Coronado
Opened in 1888, this seaside hotel has a long history of ghost sightings. Legend has it that Kate Morgan was a guest at the hotel in 1892, and that she checked in waiting for a husband who never showed up. She was found dead on the hotel steps, leading to reports of a woman in a black dress at the hotel.


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Presidio Park
This park is known as a hotbed for ghosts and other paranormal activity. Tales date back to the 1760s telling of witches, evil apparitions, levitation, and even a phantom deer named Lucy who roams the area scaring visitors.


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Mt. Helix
Under the Mt. Helix Cross people have spotted a woman dressed in white Victorian-era clothing. This woman has tears streaming down her face, then quickly disappears. Other reports state that people have not seen the ghost, but simply heard a lady sobbing.


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Whaley House
The Whaley House was named the Travel Channel's Most Haunted House in the USA because of its dark past. The Whaley family lived here, and Violet committed suicide on the property after a rough divorce. There were also hangings there before the family moved in. This house also served as a city courthouse, a theater, and a general store. This house is rife with paranormal activity due to its many roles throughout the years.


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USS Midway
The Midway ship, which set sail for the first time in 1945, is thought to have a few dozen ghosts roaming the halls. This boat was a Navy aircraft carrier and served for 47 years. While the staff of the ship keep its dark history hidden, it was named one of the four most haunted ships at the 2012 Maritime Ghost Conference in San Diego. Some Midway visitors claim they see figures wandering the halls who look suspiciously like Vietnam-era soldiers.


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William Heath Davis's House
This home was built in 1850 in the Gaslamp District. It has had many residents over the years and ghost hunters love the home. Oil lamps mysteriously go out, furniture moves around, and shadows seem to appear out of nowhere. Famous residents include Alonzo Horton, founder of San Diego, and a German spy. Also spotted: a Victorian woman in period clothing and a couple in cocktail attire.


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Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Opened in 1855, this lighthouse served the city for 36 years. Visitors have heard heavy footsteps, felt cold spots at the entry of the spiral staircase, heard moaning and heavy breathing, and other sensations. Many believe the spirit of Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo lives in the lighthouse, waiting to transition to the afterworld. Others are convinced it's the lighthouse's final keeper, Captain Robert Decatur Israel.


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Horton Grand Hotel
This hotel is a combination of two old hotels from the late 1880s, and was re-built and re-opened in 1986. Some of the old features were restored, such as the oak grand staircase. Stories are told about Roger Whittaker, a cheating gambler who hid inside a dresser in room #309 after being shot for his indiscretions. In the hotel lights flicker, dresser drawers open and close, beds shake, and footsteps are heard in the night. Whether this is truth or folklore is up to you.


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Berkeley Steam Ferry Boat
Used as a special events venue as well as library and office for the San Diego Maritime Museum, the Ferry boat started operating in the late 1800s with 2000 passengers. Many of the past boat passengers are said to haunt the ship, such as John O Norbom, who died in 1911 in a fiery explosion onboard. He is spotted throughout the ship wearing a fedora.

Interested in finding out more about haunted San Diego? There are several companies which run ghost tours year-round. Get info on them here.

Whether you're looking to explore San Diego's dark side for the Fall season, or simply wanting to learn more about the paranormal activity in Southern California; be sure to check out these haunted locations and decide for yourself if they are truly possessed by spirits.

Author Aimee Engebretson is a lifelong resident of Orange County, California. She frequently visits San Diego and enjoys hanging out in the Gaslamp District and exploring the museums in Balboa Park.

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