Sunny Southern California is bustling with life. It’s home to the glam of Hollywood and the solitude of Death Valley Junction. You’ll find many places to head to and explore in this area, many of which you’ll love to come back to year after year. But things are different once the sun goes down. The ghosts and ghouls come out to play…with the living who dare to disturb their resting place out of curiosity.
Throughout Southern California, there are haunted houses, inns, restaurants and much more. Visit them during day and you’ll never discover their darkest secrets or the (sometimes literal) skeletons hidden in their closets. Yet drop by at night and your eyes will open to another world altogether, one you may not want to be in for more than a few seconds depending on who you find there.
Still up for the adventure?
You’ve been forewarned.
Here are 10 of the haunted places in Southern California that you can head to and get the scare of your life. Just make sure to come back safely from these and share your own stories with us later.
The Ten Most Insanely Haunted Places in Southern California
Table of Contents
- 10) Olivas Adobe, Ventura
- 9) Presidio Park, San Diego
- 8) Gaviota Beach, Goleta
- 7) La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, Lompoc
- 6) Morey Mansion, Redlands
- 5) Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Death Valley Junction
- 4) Sinaloa Restaurant, Bakersfield
- 3) Lincoln Heights Jail, Los Angeles
- 2) Mission Inn, Riverside
- 1) Glen Tavern Inn, Santa Paula
- More Haunted Places in Southern California
10) Olivas Adobe, Ventura
One of Ventura County’s few haunted locations, Olivas Adobe is home to three prominent ghosts. The most famous of the three is the Woman in Black, who’s seen wandering the grounds and passing through rooms. Some guests have seen her looking out of the window of the room known as the Children’s Room, which is why they think that the entity is the ghost of Rebecca Olivas, the last member of the Olivas family.
Another Olivas haunting the adobe is Nicolas; he’s known to stare into the Children’s Room… through a window that’s 16 feet above the ground and with no ledge or balcony attached! However, that’s not as scary as the Woman in White. Described as a young woman with black, shoulder-length hair, she has no eyes; only bloody pits.
A séance arranged by Richard Senate uncovered that Maria was a Native American servant girl who was lured by a Yankee visiting the Olivas into the storage room. When she complained, he cut her eyes out. Though her murderer was killed gruesomely, she hasn’t moved on and you may see her at the Olivas Adobe.
9) Presidio Park, San Diego
Founded in 1769, Presidio Park is home to the spirit of Lucy, a white doe that escaped the San Diego zoo (or a private buyer in Mission Hills depending on the story you want to believe in) in 1965. She died of a tranquilizer overdose while being relocated. Since then she’s been making herself known in and around it as well as near Mission Hills and Mission Valley.
Many have spotted her in the former or watched her white tail pop out from the bushes in the early hours or during twilight hours. Some even discovered their garden flowers eaten with deer hooves around.
While Lucy is a sweetheart even after her death, the entities in The Witches Tower atop Presidio Hill are more on the malevolent side. In addition to seeing cloaked figures with sparkling eyes, visitors to the tower experienced feelings of paranoia and possession. The Serra Museum is just as haunted; but even the boy spirit and cloaked monk seen there are nothing compared to the dark entity behind the building. The entity possesses people coming there and may have been responsible for the death of a girl and a prostitute there.
8) Gaviota Beach, Goleta
Part of the Gaviota State Park, Gaviota Beach is the forever home of two young girls. When they aren’t roaming the beach or the campground at night, they’re heard crying loudly. Many believe they’re twins who were drowned in the water by their father after he came home drunk to find their mother with another man.
However, another story claims that they’re friends who made a suicide pact after they were abused by a common family friend. While they won’t hurt anyone, people crossing their paths will experience the pain, hate and betrayal they feel till this day.
Near the beach is a Southern Pacific railroad trestle known as Ghost Bridge. This bridge has survived earthquakes and natural disasters over the course of a century. However, what makes it special is the different ghosts you’ll get to see there.
From Victorian women to modern men, the ghosts of those who died near Gaviota Beach glide over Ghost Bridge. If you dare to attract their attention, they’re likely to possess you as they did hundreds of people before, leaving blank patches in your memories.
7) La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, Lompoc
La Purisima Mission State Historic Park is bustling with ghostly entities, making it one of the excitingly haunted places in Southern California. The most prominent of these is Father Mariano Payeras. In charge of the mission during his life, the old padre is seen near his grave and in the hallways of the building of the mission.
He’s also known for mussing the sheets on the bed in his room in his former quarters. While there’s a monk wandering the gardens during dawn and dusk and a Spanish soldier near the jail and chapel, the most unusual ghouls are Father Payeras’ pampered greyhounds. These can be spotted near the buildings and the hall leading to the wine storage area.
As you walk around the mission, you’re bound to encounter several cold spots in the area. Some visitors to La Purisima Mission State Historic Park have also heard music and male voices conversing in Spanish as well as another language they couldn’t detect. The nearby hills are just as creepy; despite the beauty of the chapels, gardens and fountains, many experience sadness and heaviness while walking around the grounds and buildings.
6) Morey Mansion, Redlands
Morey Mansion is one of the famous haunted houses across the U.S. Built in the 1890s, something was wrong with it from the very start. Sarah Morey died shortly after moving into the house of a sudden, unexplainable illness. Her husband, David, never stepped inside the house again. After nights of getting drunk, he committed suicide at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.
Though it’s now a private residence, it was a bed and breakfast for many years. During that time, guests reported paranormal activity, ranging from the sounds of objects falling to loud bangs in empty rooms. Some were scared by their door knobs rattling suddenly in the middle of the night or the sounds of children playing in the dark.
There are also several reports of apparitions, including a little girl, an old man, and a young boy. Though none of them have attacked anyone, they’re still creepy enough to bring paranormal investigators and enthusiasts to the Morey Mansion.
5) Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Death Valley Junction
Amargosa Opera House and Hotel is another hub of paranormal activity. Room #24 is the forever home of a child who drowned in the bath tub back in 1976, which is why people staying there hear him crying and sobbing. Room #32 is haunted by a miner who was supposedly murdered there during the Borax mining days.
As for Room #9, many think it’s haunted by a child as the entity tends to play pranks on guests there. The door knob would turn by itself and guests would hear a child’s laugh. Aside from these rooms, one area that’s considered very creepy is Spooky Hollow. Formerly used as a morgue and currently closed for visitors, it’s one of the most active areas of the hotel. No one would talk about it though.
The opera house is equally ‘alive’. In addition to strange shadows across the stage, the spirit of a cat has been seen in the theater. It’s been known to disturb the performances taking place there, especially those with the owner Martha Becket. Recently, the cat has been joined by Thomas J. Willett, the former stage manager, MC and actor who died in 2005. Many have spotted him watching shows at the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel.
4) Sinaloa Restaurant, Bakersfield
Before becoming the Sinaloa Mexican Restaurant, the 100-year-old building was known as the Kern County Kids Shelter. The establishment is haunted by the ghosts of the children who lived there and were neglected by the staff. Some of the ghosts of the older children are actually more bitter, which is why they tend to lash out on the patrons and workers at the restaurant. In fact, ask any waiter and they’ll tell you how Sinaloa Restaurant has had trouble retaining a bartender for the bar area upstairs. Some people have also experienced feelings of fear at the ladies’ restroom.
If you seek the entities of Kern County Kids Shelter, you can be sure that they’ll reach out to you. Many investigators have successfully captured them on film and digital EVP recorders. While most of these show the children being curious or laughing, there are times when something/someone else is there to terrify both the living and dead.
3) Lincoln Heights Jail, Los Angeles
Lincoln Heights Jail has been considered as one of the haunted places in Southern California because of the ghosts of the unsavory characters that once resided there. According to the séances held there, the spirits are far from at peace. That’s because they’ve been abused, sometimes till death, in these dark dusty halls.
Some of these aren’t scared of taking it out on the living visiting the jail, which is why many visitors have been pranked, locked, and even physically abused by the entities there.
One of the most notorious killers confined to the jail was William Edward Hickman, the man responsible for “The Most Horrible Crime of the 1920s” according to the LA Times. Hickman abducted 12-year-old Marion Parker, daughter of a prominent banker, and killed her. According to his statement, a supernatural spirit guide called Providence told him to strangle the child.
Considering how Hickman used to speak to himself, chances are that Providence is still lurking around Lincoln Heights Jail, waiting for another possible killer.
2) Mission Inn, Riverside
Mission Inn has been attracting ghost hunters for years now. Built in 1900, the building is haunted by several ghosts, including members of the Miller family who founded the hotel. However, they aren’t as interesting as the other paranormal events and entities across the inn.
Guests in room #215 have reported large blue lights as big as bowling balls inside the room. Those who checked in the 4th floor room in the southeast corner have seen Alice Miller (the former manager), felt her presence, or felt drops in temperature.
The entity in the Bridal/Honeymoon Suite isn’t as friendly. It’s been known to push down people down the spiral stairs. Similarly, the St. Francis Chapel Courtyard and Spanish Patio are haunted by strong presences. The latter has a clock that acts out of the ordinary, scaring those standing nearby late at night or early morning.
1) Glen Tavern Inn, Santa Paula
Step inside the Glen Tavern Inn and you’ll feel a chill down your spine. The inn is covered with cold spots, justifying the reports of paranormal activity there. On the first floor, the apparition of a woman has been seen in the General Manager’s room in 106. On the second floor, many guests have experienced sleep paralysis. Some have even reported the feeling of "something" trying to enter their dreams.
While the third floor overall is bad news due to its history as a brother and gambling hall, room #307 is the most active. This is because a prostitute had been beheaded in the closet there and a cowboy shot in the head.
Room #308 is equally as spooky. Known as The Houdini Suite, it’s one of the best places to communicate with Glen Tavern Inn’s spirits. Just don’t ask about Houdini. The Supernatural Investigation Unit wrote, “The moment we asked if he was here, an orb manifests on our camera phone in the middle of the screen, and shoots up. We do further research in the room that night, and do the water pouring technique to see what would happen. As we turned on the water faucet, while running the recorder, we caught an EVP saying ‘I need milk.’ The EVP is significant, because only one team member knew about Houdini’s Milk Can Escape trick.”
With so many places to explore, Southern California is definitely the place to be to hunt spooks. Just remember to be safe in the process or else you'll be joining them.
More Haunted Places in Southern California
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