‘Tis the season to be spooky! San Diego is ready for you with haunted houses, both historical and seasonal, to pack into your schedule. Whether it be ghostly, horror stories, ghost adventures, or letting out a good blood-curdling scream, there’s something for everyone.
The Whaley House Museum
Centrally located in Historic Old Town of San Diego, the world-famous Whaley House Museum is one of San Diego’s most iconic attractions. The San Diego Whaley House is also one of the most haunted houses in America. A visit to this haunted place is one of the most memorable fall activities in San Diego. It sees over 100,000 visitors a year, drawn to its unfortunate past and haunted present. Built on the land for the gallows and an old cemetery, Thomas Whaley had this brick dream home made for his family of eight in 1857. While the Whaley family was living there, they reportedly were haunted by the ghost of James “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was publicly hanged for stealing a boat three years prior to the Whaley House construction.
Additionally, many members of the Whaley family who have lived and died there still roam the halls, including Anna Whaley. People have reported smelling her signature perfume in the hallways and stairwells. Cold spots within the house are reminders of the home’s chilling history as the former tenants haunt us with their unfortunate and tragic past. From hearing the pitter-patter of toddler’s feet from little 18-mo old Thomas Jr. or seeing the ghostly silhouette of poor Violet, who took her own life at the age of 22, there are plenty of ghostly happenings on this historic site. Plan a 30- to 40-minute evening tour of the historic Whaley House and the surrounding grounds and get your chance to experience the paranormal activity while hearing more about the history of the home and its many inhabitants. San Diego’s Whaley House in Old Town San Diego is a must-see this season and all year round thanks to Francis Whaley, Thomas’ son, undertaking the restoration of the building to become a tourism site. The Save Our Heritage Organization and Head Docent Victor Santana have ensured the haunted Whaley House continues that legacy. Doors are open from 10 am until 9 pm daily but are closed for lunch from 4:30 pm-5 pm, so plan accordingly.
Courtesy of The Whaley House Museum
El Campo Santo Cemetery
Located only a couple minutes’ walk down the street from the Whaley House is the El Campo Santo Cemetery, home to several of San Diego’s earliest residents. Take a stroll through the site and read the grave plaques. After all, what spooky season is complete without a walk through a graveyard? Reserve a spot on the Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones tour for a more in-depth look into Old Town San Diego’s rich history. Just remember to watch where you step, as there are grave site markers on the public walkways. It truly is an experience you won’t want to miss!
Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Make plans to partake in a limited-occasion Candlelight Tour of the Davis-Horton House for $12-15 this October. You’ll be guided by candlelight through the museum while listening to tales about former residents and supernatural occurrences that frequent the Victorian-era home. Looking for something a bit spookier? How does a horror movie night in a haunted house sound? Movies at the Museum allow visitors to settle in and enjoy ‘haunting nights of silver screen frights’ with classic horror movies showing Thursday nights in October for $10 a body. The admission fee gets you a movie viewing, a drink (soda or water), and an exclusive after-hours candle-lit self-guided haunted stories tour in one of San Diego’s scariest haunted houses.
Courtesy of Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation
Villa Montezuma Museum
Promoted as a haunted historical building, the Villa Montezuma is rich in ghostly history within the walls of this Queen Anne, gothic-style mansion. Located in San Diego’s Sherman Heights Historic District, Friends of the Villa Montezuma invite you to join their free “Permanent Victorians” Walking Tour of Mount Hope Cemetery and a viewing of their beautiful Dia de los Muertos altars. Additionally, you won’t want to miss out on PoeFest! During the month of October, the non-profit Write Out Loud presents this ghostly, literary delight of performances featuring The Weird Sisters, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Raven, and an audience with Mary Shelley. Tickets for these evening performances are $30 with complimentary parking. So, if you’re in the mood for a combination of historic haunts and classic horror literature, head over to the Villa Montezuma for a delightfully foreboding performance.
Courtesy of The San Diego Union-Tribune
Looking for a more modern haunted house? There are several pop-up experiences in the San Diego area each spooky season. From indoor to outdoor venues and even breweries, we’ve got you covered with the following most terrifying haunts.
The Haunted Hotel – Disturbance
Previously located downtown, this year, you can find the Haunted Hotel in Westfield Mission Valley Center right off the I-8 freeway. Named one of the top 10 Best Haunted House Attractions by CNN, The Haunted Hotel specializes in staged haunts with talented actors to terrify you as you pass from one scene to the next in this walk-through experience. Admission starts at $27.99 and allows you entrance into three attractions, including The Haunted Hotel, Stars of the Silver SCREAM, and 3-D Freak-Fest. Hours vary through October, however, they are mainly Wednesday through Sunday from 7 pm-10 pm. Buy your tickets online to secure a truly terrifying night!
Courtesy of the Haunted Hotel
The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
Don’t forget, Balboa Park has one of San Diego’s scariest haunted houses! Balboa Park is the home to the popular Haunted Trail and The eXperiment Maze and is brought to you by the folks who created The Haunted Hotel. For this outdoor event, make sure you come prepared with appropriate footwear. The Haunted Trail, named one of the Top 5 Best Haunted Attractions in America by CNN, is a mile-long walk with staged haunts and petrifying actors, twisting and turning in the fog under the canopy of pine and oak trees. The Experiment Maze—a 3,500-square-foot maze through an upside-down world—is not suitable for children under 10 or the faint of heart. Hours and days vary for tickets, so check them out online to reserve your next scare at San Diego’s scariest haunted house.
Courtesy of The New York Times
Fright Nights at AleSmith
Located in the heart of the Miramar craft brewery area, AleSmith hosts a haunted brewery experience on Friday nights in October. As one of their events, Fright Nights is their spooktacular Halloween experience that pairs fear with every beer. Try the AleSmith Evil Dead Red, their Halloween specialty brew, to get in the spirit of the season. The faint of heart can wait for their companions in the festively decorated tasting room, but those who are brave enough will need to purchase tickets ahead of time to reserve a space for the haunted brewery tour. This is a fun, frightening event for adults, so check out their website to get your tickets now.
Courtesy of AleSmith
This Halloween, San Diego has everything you’re looking for to get you in the spooky spirit. From the ghosts and poltergeists in The Whaley House to the horrifying talents of the haunt crew at the Haunted Hotel and Haunted Trail, you’re sure to have a spooktacular evening. Pick your poison!
This blog was written by Aleezah Davenport. Aleezah is a native San Diegan, and a second-generation PLNU alumna. She enjoys exploring the city and taking her girls out for dinner on the cliffs at Sunset Cliffs. Writing about San Diego provides her the opportunity to learn more about the local scene, and share her newfound knowledge about her hometown – two of the things she loves most. She enjoys sharing her passions with readers, and is excited to be writing for a platform that provides fun information to a large audience.