Did you like telling ghost stories as a kid? Do you enjoy a good scary movie? Do you like it when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? California is full of ghost tours and other paranormal-focused activities that are just for you.
The City of Angels is inhabited by more demons and ghosts than its name might lead you to believe. And although it's known for stories told on film and stage, the city's most sensational stories may be gruesome tales of murder, mystery and of course, your occasional ghost. Get a taste of the city's frightening side during these tours:
- Dearly Departed Tours: Visit the twisted underbelly of Hollywood, sites of grisly murders and other creepy crimes that inspire many tales of terror.
- Ghost Tours of Catalina: Starts with the most historic haunting and ends at a site with the most active current paranormal activity. Be aware, and you may spot a ghoulish hideaway on this island.
- Queen Mary: The Queen Mary could be one of California's most haunted places, with more than a dozen reported apparitions and sightings. Learn about them on the daily Ghosts and Legends Tour and special dinner tours with a paranormal specialist. They also have extra tours and activities around Halloween. What better way to see ghosts from the past than on an old ship?
- Haunted Hollywood Tours: A tour of the sites of death and scandal. Know where the most notorious killings took place and where their ghosts may now reside.
- LA Ghosts Tour: This walking tour takes you through about a dozen sites in the Hollywood Boulevard area.
Often the backdrop for murder mystery novels and vampire tales, San Francisco has an air of mystery of its own. Head to S.F. to go ghost hunting and maybe even learn how to catch one.
- San Francisco Ghost Hunt: They don't guarantee you'll see a ghost, but they do say you'll have fun trying. Pack your imagination and get to hunting!
- Ghost Walk at City Hall: Offered only in October by San Francisco City Guides. It will undoubtedly lend a new atmosphere to your Halloween celebrations.
- Haunted Haight: Led by a ghost hunter and long-time area resident. Hear tales of wonder and maybe even learn how to catch a ghost from the pro himself.
- Haunted San Francisco Ghost Tour: A macabre and murderous walking tour through the hotels and streets of downtown San Francisco.
- San Francisco Ghosts Tour: Explore Nob Hill and Union Square while getting your fill of the ghostly atmosphere of the city’s most haunted locations.
San Diego is a good place for a ghost sighting: Imagine gaslamps flickering as you walk onto a foggy road as daylight turns to dusk. You can actually live this spooky scene and be spooked by some ghosts all at once during these tours:
- Haunted San Diego Tour: A ghost tour that will leave you "dying" for more (their joke, not mine).
- Old Town Ghost Tour and Ghost Hunt: Led by a paranormal researcher. Get all of your other-worldly questions answered during this hunt.
- Whaley House: Some say it's one of the most haunted places in the U.S. Join the tour group to find out for yourself.
- Ghosts of the Gaslamp: Visit hotels, saloons, brothels and a long-ago funeral parlor, and go inside the Gaslamp’s most haunted house.
- Ghosts and Gravestones: Walk through El Campo Santo Cemetery and Pioneer Park and find out about the notorious past of a city that was once full of gunslingers, gamblers, and ladies of the night.
Haunted Hotel Near Yosemite
The Groveland Hotel near Yosemite has a resident ghost, or so the story goes. In the early 1900s, a prospector named Lyle Lyle died peacefully in his sleep, and it was several days before anyone realized he was gone. Nevertheless, he must have had some unfinished business because his spirit seems to have stayed behind.
Groveland Hotel guests report all kinds of odd happenings in "Lyle's Room" (which is also the hotel's most popular room). Lyle is said to be a tall, thin man with a beard who wears a straw hat. He doesn't like ladies' cosmetics on his dresser and will either knock them to the floor or carry them to the bathroom. Lyle is also known to turn the water on and off, an event owner Peggy Mosley and her husband once experienced when they were the only people in the building.
Recent investigations have revealed that Lyle has company. Paranormal investigators found at least two more ghosts at the Groveland Hotel. One of them a man who may have died during a violent event following a card game. He is often seen in the dining room and a young woman in a wedding dress who wanders the courtyard looking for her groom.
If you decide to stay at the Groveland hoping to meet Lyle, you should know that he's a traveler, too. Staff members say he sometimes goes away for extended periods, perhaps to visit his girlfriend at the Charlotte Hotel across the street.
Other Parts of California
California is complete with spooky cities and homes that'll take you back in time. Explore these haunted areas:
- Ghost Tours of Old Monterey: A 90-minute trolley tour of the capital of Mexican California.
- Ghost Tours at the Sacramento History Museum: Held every October, this ghost tour offers tales of creepy gold miners, murder victims and other eerie characters from the Gold Rush.
- Richard Senate, Ghost Hunter: Besides writing books and doing paranormal research, Senate also offers ghost tours of Southern California locations.
- Winchester Mystery House, San Jose: Sarah Winchester once met with the spirits nightly in her rambling house. Now the attraction hosts flashlight tours every Friday the thirteenth and at Halloween. This mystery house just got a little more mysterious.
More Ghosts and Haunted Places
California ghost tours come and go faster than the apparitions they're chasing, which makes it essential to check the websites linked above before you go.
Another way to pay your respects to the dearly departed is by taking a California cemetery tour.