The Most Haunted Places In California

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Published: October 24, 2022
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California is a very large state, so it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of interesting haunted sights. Unexplained murders, unsettling locations, and thousands of Hollywood stars create a perfect combination for hunting the supernatural. Visiting a haunted location is thrilling, exciting, and a unique part of tourism. Whether you are just interested in history, or you are planning your next spooky vacation, California has a little bit of everything for you!

Listed below are seven of the most haunted places in California and background information on why they are haunted.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Hollywood Roosevelt

The Hollywood Roosevelt is considered to be one of the most haunted hotels in Los Angeles.

©Les.The.Chef, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

So many rumors flood the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has fascinated ghost hunters and skeptics for years! For instance, some people claim to have seen Marilyn Monroe’s ghost smiling and blowing kisses at them in their hotel mirrors. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel first opened its doors in 1927 and was a frequent home to Marilyn Monroe who often stayed in the second floor cabana. Interestingly, the doors to this hotel are still open, allowing visitors to spend a night in Marilyn’s suite, overlooking the Tropicana Pool.

Marilyn Monroe is just one of many ghosts who seems to frequently haunt and scare guests. Hotel workers often talk about seeing the ghost of Charlie Chaplin and feel temperatures drop quickly from one room to the next. What do you think? Are you brave enough to stay a night? If not, you can also join a ghost tour around Los Angeles where one of the most famous stops is the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Who knows, maybe you will sneak a peek and see a blonde pouting ghost.

Contact Information

Address: 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (323) 856-1970

Winchester Mystery House

Shot of the Winchester Mystery House from the outside

The Winchester Mystery House features staircases that lead to the ceiling instead of a landing and doors that open to a sheer drop outside.

©Spiel, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

If you are into haunted locations and “dark tourism”, there is no way you can miss visiting the Winchester Mystery House. Now it is a museum that you can visit daily. Sarah Winchester lived a tragic, yet interesting life. She married William Wirt Winchester 1862, a very wealthy man. Sadly though, less than twenty years after they were married, her husband, mother, and father-in-law passes away all within the same year.

To deal with her grief, Winchester moved to California after gaining a large inheritance from her husband. She bought a small farmhouse and began construction. Actually, Winchester Mystery House is nicknamed the home with never-ending construction. So, why is it haunted? What have people seen?

Some people believe that Sarah Winchester roams the halls of the home, looking for redemption and peace. She took 36 years to construct the home and some rumors suggest it is because of guilt since her family’s Winchester rifle caused so much death. Workers and visitors swear they hear howling at night, loud creaking, and sometimes the kitchen smells like someone is actively cooking.

Regardless if you believe in ghosts or not, the house is stunning. It is Victorian-style and has continued to be restored. This house has six kitchens, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, and 17 chimneys. Where once stood a small eight bedroom farmhouse, now sits a magnificent 160 room masterpiece!

Contact Information

Address: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

Phone: (408) 247-2000

Berkeley Steam Ferry

Photo of a plaque about the Ferryboat "Berkeley", located at its berth in San Diego, California.

The Ferryboat “Berkeley” is berthed in San Diego, California.

©Harry Cutts, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Moving away from buildings and hotels, we have the Berkeley Steam Ferry in San Diego. Almost every night, you can catch a ghost tour on this 1898 steam ferryboat. There are rumors that this ferry that once transported thousands of people to safety after a devastating earthquake, has some ghostly residents! The Berkely Steam Ferry is a large boat that operated for 60 years. It is no longer in operation, but you can still visit the ferry and its indoor exhibits at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. It also has a special events venue with room for 800 guests.

Now, onto the hauntings! When something is over a century old, it’s safe to say that it may have one or two ghostly guests still holding on. The likely culprit is John Norbom, a miner who was onboard the ferry when an explosion occurred in the men’s bathroom. Another injured man passed away. Although it was ruled as an accident, his family did not believe it was. They swore it was foul play and an assassination attempt, but nothing was ever found. Regardless of what happened, visitors sometimes see shadows and a figure of a man wearing a long coat. Could it be John Norbom?

Contact Information

Address: 1492 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 234-9153

Julian Cemetery

You can’t have a list of the most haunted places in California, without mentioning one of the state’s many famous cemeteries. Julian Cemetery is located in the city of Julian. It was established in the 1870s, during the Gold Rush and the start of the city. Some residents buried in the cemetery were born in the early 1800s are may still roam around their graves.

The Julian cemetery looks a lot like something from the movies and a different time period. The rolling hills are green and quiet and the tombstones are old, grey, and weathered. Sadly, there are a lot of people buried in the cemetery without a proper tombstone, meaning we don’t know who they are or when they passed. The hard living conditions resulted in many deaths on the hills while traveling during the gold rush.

This cemetery is open to the public and you can take a Julian Cemetery Tour for a small fee. If you choose to visit this somber location, be respectful and careful since most of the markings are falling apart with age.

Contact Information

Address: 2948 A St, Julian, CA 92036

Preston Castle

Outside of Preston Castle during the day

Seventeen young men and boys are buried on the grounds of Preston Castle, Ione, California.

©There is always more mystery, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

As featured in Ghost Adventures, you can visit Preston Castle while vacationing near Ione. Although at first glance the unique architecture makes it seem like the building is a castle, it is the Preston School of Industry. It first opened its creaking doors in 1894 where it first hosted seven wards from San Quentin State Prison. The boys in the school could cook, clean, and grow their food within the “castle” grounds.

So, why does this make our list? Well, first, this school has seen a lot of death. There are seventeen young boys and men buried on the school grounds because they died there. An example is Samuel Goins who was shot three times when attempting to escape from the school. He was 20 years old and only had 2 months left until his release. Employees and visitors believe that these young men are still haunting the school, which only closed in 1960.

If you are interested in visiting this location, you can take a morning informal tour through the castle. However, for those of you who are fearless and interested, you can also book a private and overnight nighttime paranormal investigation tour.

Contact Information

Address: 900 Palm Drive Ione, CA 95640

Phone: 1-209-256-3623

Whittier Mansion

Shot of the exterior  of the Whittier Mansion, San Francisco, CA

Passersby claim to see shadowy figures in the windows of the Whittier Mansion.

©Andrew Heller, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Whittier Mansion, located in San Francisco, is a luxury home with unique architecture built in 1896. The home is made out of sandstone and heavy metal beams. William Franklin Whittier built this majestic mansion with over 30 rooms for his beloved wife, but she never got to see it completed, as least alive. She passed away in an accident and William lived in the home until his passing. Billy, his son, also lived there and threw loud and lavish parties with his father’s money. It was later sold to the German Reich.

At one point, Fritz Wiedmann purchased the home. He was a top advisor to Adolf Hitler, but he fled with his family when the U.S government seized the home. Many people in the area who walk next to the mansion claim to see shadowy figures in the windows and doors. It is believed that the figure belongs to the first owner, William Whittier, who is waiting for his wife unable to move on. You can take a local ghost tour near the mansion, but it’s unlikely you will be unable to step inside. That doesn’t mean you won’t discover something creepy that goes bump in the night.

Contact Information

Address: 2090 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Spiel, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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