The forlorn spirit of a lovely young woman, a headless friar, a bevy of prehistoric phantoms: frightful sightings abound in these paranormal hotspots across California. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, a visit to these 10 spooky spots is sure to deliver a thrill. Listed from north to south, here are a handful of reportedly haunted houses, hotels, ocean liners, and more.
Fort Humboldt State Historic Park
Overlooking a rugged bluff in Humboldt Bay, this former fort’s remote location in Humboldt County lends an eerie air. The real draw, however, is the supposed ghost of a deceased commander who succumbed to malaria in 1897 and now stares out hospital windows as hikers stroll past.
The castle’s foreboding facade looks straight out of a horror film. Once a reform school for unruly youth and abandoned children, the structure’s sinister history includes corporal punishment, toxic dunking baths, and a housekeeper’s murder. Open for tours year-round, the castle turns into a full-fledged haunted house come October.
Spanning 500 acres in Mono County, about 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, Bodie is a Gold Rush–era ghost town frozen in time. More than 100 structures remain, as do the supposed spirits of prospectors. While dishware shards and nails can be found on the streets, anyone who takes home a souvenir risks the curse of Bodie (and it’s also against park rules).
Named for the wailing sound air once made passing through the cave (prior to its eventual widening), this Calaveras County wonder is also a site for some of America’s most ancient remains. Bones up to 12,000 years old have been discovered here, and many believe that the cavern is home to prehistoric paranormal activity.
A door that leads to nowhere and a staircase that dead ends into the ceiling? It’s said that widow Sarah Winchester designed the house this peculiar way to confuse the ghosts: men killed by her late husband’s creation, the Winchester rifle.
This picturesque lighthouse has been illuminating the waters off the coast of Big Sur since 1889. Perhaps it’s the original keeper who some believe still visits the site in his original uniform. Moonlight tours are available for the brave and the curious.
Stay at this swanky hotel for a chance to glimpse one of the most glamorous ghosts of all time. It’s said that Marilyn Monroe herself still haunts the halls. Guests have also reported mysterious trumpet music believed to be the spirit of Montgomery Clift who liked to practice in suite 928.
Once known as the “Grey Ghost,” the Queen Mary serves up chills in the form of screams from a decapitated sailor in the boiler room and visions of a lady in white roaming the halls. Visitors can choose from a handful of haunted tours, or book a stay in Stateroom B340 for overnight thrills.
Go for the chips and guacamole; stay for the headless friar sometimes seen at the restaurant’s door! This Mexican eatery sits atop the town’s old jail. A spirit of a former prisoner reportedly haunts the wine cellar, converted from a cell.
In 1892, 24-year-old Kate Morgan checked into this luxurious waterfront resort alone and then ended her life on the hotel’s staircase. Many guests have experienced strange breezes, flickering lights, and phantom footsteps believed to be evidence of the young woman’s unrest.