13 Creepiest Places to Visit in California (If You Dare)

Nadia Podrabinek Nadia Podrabinek

Written by Nadia Podrabinek

Creepiest Places to Visit in California

California has a rich history, full of stories about pioneers, gold rush seekers, and Hollywood celebrities.

But tales of tragedy, horror, and mystery still haunt some of the state’s most famous landmarks.

Here is the list of creepy places in California that will send shivers down your spine.

What people say on Reddit

Linda Vista Hospital! If I recall correctly, it’s in Los Angeles (in a not so great area).

However, last time I was there it was gated off and there was a security guard that we had to pay $20 to allow us inside for an hour. Honestly, he was probably just some random guy who decided to set up there and take money from people looking to ghost hunt.


I’ve been in there, explored and such. It was great. However, security is now much tighter because the renovations that are assumed to happen soon with (as stated by others) the hospital turning into an Old Folk’s home. It was fantastic and creepy though and if you want to chance exploring it, i’d recommend it.


There’s a section of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco called Stowe Lake. In Stowe Lake there’s a statue of a pilgrim woman that says it’s in commemoration of women’s suffrage. But, there’s an urban legend that surrounds it similar to La Llorona(sp?). The statue is said to change positions(I’ve seen it firsthand). Sometimes she looks pregnant or holding 1 or 2 kids. Sometimes her hands are down. Or one up, one down.

Some say that if you go up to the statue and whisper “I have your baby”, your car windows will crack or something similar.


I swear I heard a cat at the Whaley House and just after I heard it the guide said some people hear the family pets (cat n dog). I asked my spouse n friend if theyd heard it and they had not. Whether or not it was real, it was well worth the ten bucks!


Creepiest Places to Visit in California Map

1. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

TL;DR: The infamous prison full of horror stories.

Would you like to visit a spooky place that could break the spirit of even the most hardened criminals? Then Alcatraz prison would surely horrify you. 

The history behind this site is quite remarkable; in 1933, the US government opened it as a maximum security prison with minimal privileges for some of America’s worst offenders. Alcatraz Island, commonly called “The Rock,” famously housed prisoners such as Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly. The remoteness of this prison eliminated any potential for escape.

The infamous Alcatraz prison had 336 cells, each measuring 43 square feet (4 sq m). Every cell contained a bunk bed, sink, and toilet bowl without a seat; only ice-cold water ran from the faucet. Inmates were granted four basic rights: clothing, food, shelter, and medical care; other privileges, such as visiting the library or going to church, could be earned through labor. 

Those who misbehaved were placed in punishment cells known as “striptease chambers.” They experienced complete darkness with no beds or running water – not even a toilet! It’s unthinkable for most of us to imagine ourselves in this abusive situation which caused many prisoners to lose their minds and die miserably.

Alcatraz 2
Photo by Michelle Oude Maatman

Every cell in this prison has its unique history, with Cell D14 being particularly famous for a mysterious death. Allegedly, some creature with burning eyes strangled the criminal occupying it. Was it Al Capone? The devil himself? 

We can only speculate, or you can take one of the tours and explore this issue yourself! Alcatraz Island Tours depart from Pier 33 in downtown San Francisco; however, parking at the pier is not available – so make sure to look elsewhere beforehand if driving there.

  • Admission fee: $42.15 for adults, $25.80 for children, a family pack (2 adults + 2 kids 5-11 year) $124
  • Tickets & tours can be purchased online
  • Open daily, with various departure times
  • See on the map

2. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose

Winchester Mystery House

TL;DR: The goose bumping mansion with over 160 soul-containing rooms.

Only three minutes away from the headquarters of high-tech companies Cisco and Adobe lies a haunted Winchester Mystery House.

The history of this mansion began in 1881 when William Winchester passed away. His father, Oliver, had created the legendary “gun that conquered the Wild West,” which responded to the spirit of those times and participated in many firefights. The arms business made both father and son millionaires.

Still, even their wealth could not prevent death from entering their family. First, 70-year-old Oliver Winchester died; three months later, tuberculosis also caused his son’s death.

William’s wife, Sarah, inherited a huge fortune totaling around $200 million. After losing her loved ones, she became convinced there was a curse hanging over her family, so she sought help from a medium who gave unusual advice allegedly coming from her late husband: only building a house containing all souls who perished due to shots fired by guns manufactured at Winchester factories would be able to remove the said curse.

So she bought an unfinished farmhouse and began constructing what ultimately turned out to be an unusually long project that lasted nearly 40 years until her passing away.

Winchester Mystery House 2

The history of this mason began in 1881 when William Winchester passed away. His father, Oliver, had created the legendary “gun that conquered the Wild West,” which responded to the spirit of those times and participated in many firefights.

The arms business made both father and son millionaires. Still, even their wealth could not prevent death from entering their family. First, 70-year-old Oliver Winchester died; three months later, tuberculosis also caused his son’s death. 

William’s wife, Sarah, inherited a huge fortune totaling around $200 million. After losing her loved ones, she became convinced there was a curse hanging over her family, so she sought help from a medium who gave unusual advice allegedly coming from her late husband: only building a house containing all souls who perished due to shots fired by guns manufactured at Winchester factories would be able to remove the said curse. 

So she bought an unfinished farmhouse and began constructing what ultimately turned out to be an unusually long project that lasted nearly 40 years until her passing away.

The mansion has 160 interconnected rooms, constructed using rare mahogany and 10,000 glass panels. It took almost 80,000 liters of paint to complete the work. There are numerous dead ends within the building; for instance, a closet door is actually a hidden window in the wall! 

Furthermore, a wide corridor abruptly turns into a narrow passage while one of its main staircases leads nowhere at all – it simply stops at a blank wall.

Winchester Mystery House 3

The unusualness of this mansion is evident from the very structure. Every staircase has 13 steps, a small dining room containing exactly 13 windows, and many stained-glass windows comprising 13 parts. Similarly, motifs of stylized cobwebs can be seen on walls and ceilings across the house.

Mysterious sighs have been heard in corridors at various points while invisible guests’ footsteps echo through halls and doors opening by themselves, adding to its mysticism. 

Rumor has it that the widow communicated with the dead and received instructions about new rooms or extensions to the mansion.

You can now tour these hallways learning about its strange past firsthand.

3. The Queen Mary, Long Beach

TL;DR: Horrifying ship with some terror stories.

After the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the British royal court did not give up on their idea of creating such liners. In 1926, they decided to build three similar vessels – one of them being Queen Mary.

The ship set out for its first transatlantic voyage to New York in 1936. Throughout its track record, numerous events took place, like battles, chases, and espionage. When she eventually reached retirement age, she was moored at Long Beach’s Californian dock, where it became a five-star hotel & museum.

The Queen Mary
November 19, 1967

It wasn’t long before problems began occurring within this new establishment: accidents and various inexplicable phenomena were reported by guests, including unexplained movements from objects around them, strange knocks coming from walls, or even whispers heard through ventilation shafts.

All these things led people to believe that perhaps Queen Mary wanted nothing more than take another journey … maybe even her last one!

The strangest place on the ship is considered to be the engine room, where a seventeen-year-old sailor died in a fire. Often, terrible human screams and knocks are heard in the pipes of the engine compartment, which visitors on a voice recorder even recorded.

So if you think that creepy human screams and knocks won’t scare you, how about seeing a little girl’s silhouette? She died there many years ago, slipping on tiles and breaking her neck. You can try your luck and talk to the ghost of the girl that probably may ask you about her parents.

  • Booking: Temporarily closed

4. The Whaley House, San Diego

TL;DR: One of the “most haunted” places in the US. Actually, not.

Whaley House was constructed during the mid-1800s and has witnessed multiple deaths, including a thief hanged on its grounds.

On the last weekend of each month, the San Diego Ghostbusters host tours at Whaley House Museum, searching for paranormal energy with specialized techniques and tools.

During the tour, visitors can enter several rooms fenced off by ropes. It is clear that this house has become famous due to reported paranormal occurrences here as well as television reports. Guests who wish to visit during evening hours for an extra thrill must pay a higher admission fee.

Would you like to tickle your nerves and visit this place at night? Take a guided tour and learn it yourself. 

5. Hotel Cecil, Los Angeles

TL;DR: A hotel that has been the scene of numerous murders and suicides, one of the scariest places in CA.

In the early 1920s, William Banks Hanner invested $1.5 million in an ambitious plan: to construct a luxurious hotel that wealthy business people and travelers of the highest social status would seek out as their destination. Three years were spent on paperwork, construction, and decoration, eventually resulting in the triumphant invention of The Cecil Hotel in 1924.

Watch Netflix documentary series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

Its first guests admired its marble lobby, ornate grand staircase, and elegant stained-glass windows. Had it not been for unfortunate circumstances such as America’s plunge into The Great Depression, however, The Cecil Hotel may have frozen itself solidly within American history books as one of its most popular hotels ever made. 

Unfortunately, it became more known due to events like rapes, murders, suicides, disappearances, etc., each leaving permanent spots upon what could have otherwise become a timeless landmark.

At least twelve suicides have occurred within the walls of Cecil Hotel. It is also suspected that illegal activity on its grounds has led to multiple deaths. 

This 2-star hotel has since been rebranded as Stay on Main but the hauntings are rumored to continue. 

6. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Rating: 8.2, 2,068 reviews
Location: 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, LA, CA 90028
View on Booking.com

TL;DR: Famous celebrity hotel with some gruesome stories. Search for the cold spot in the ballroom, and the man wearing a white tuxedo on one of the upper levels during late night.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a historic twelve-story building that has hosted many celebrities. Built in 1926 during Los Angeles’ “Golden era of Architecture,” it was named after former United States President Theodore Roosevelt.

The hotel offers 300 rooms and 63 suites. Its signature Spanish Colonial Revival interior features leather sofas, wrought-iron chandeliers, and colorful tiled fountains.

Located next to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame and across the street from TCL Chinese Theatre, this landmark provides an unforgettable experience for all who visit!

Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Montgomery Clift, Frances Farmer, Errol Flynn, and Shirley Temple all had connections to the Cinegrill Hotel.

Marilyn and Arthur are said to have met there; Montgomery stayed for three months while filming a movie; Frances was honored at a party there in 1958; Errol is rumored to have made gin in the barbershop tub; Shirley learned her famous dance number on the hotel stairs; and Linda Goodman wrote several books from her room.

The iconic hotel is also well known for its history of hauntings, with many reports and rumors surrounding the ghosts of the abovementioned celebrities.

Visitors can take a haunted tour to explore these stories while staying at this famous location associated with various stars. Whether or not the tales are true remains a mystery, but it certainly makes for an exciting experience!

7. The Golden Gate Park Cemetery, San Francisco

TL;DR: Native American burial grounds, eerie at night.

The Golden Gate Park is considered one of the fascinating sights in this port city. At over 400 hectares, San Francisco’s largest park stretches from its center to the ocean. 

This 19th-century miracle of landscape design has since become renowned worldwide and attracts around 13 million visitors annually. 

It isn’t just for its beauty, though; Golden Gate Park also holds some mysterious tales within it – such as Native American burial grounds that are said to be haunted by their spirits! 

Some people have reported hearing strange noises or seeing ghostly apparitions while walking through the park at night, leaving many wondering if these are indeed spiritual forces communicating with man through nature’s sounds. 

You can determine for yourself and visit whenever you please!

8. Palace Hotel, Ukiah

TL;DR: Haunted as hell.

The story behind the Palace Hotel in Ukiah being haunted is a combination of rumors, local tales, and supposed eyewitness accounts.

The most common version of the tale revolves around an unsolved murder that was said to have taken place in one of the hotel’s rooms sometime during its early days as a stop for stagecoaches traveling along Highway 101.

According to legend, there were no witnesses or suspects identified following this crime and it remains unsolved until today.

In addition to this mysterious event from long ago, some people claim they have seen ghostly apparitions roaming through various parts of the building at night while others report hearing strange noises coming from within its walls when nobody else is present.

While these stories remain largely unconfirmed by any concrete evidence, they add another layer to this historic establishment’s storied past which continues on into modern day with visitors still reporting possible paranormal activity taking place inside them premises even now

  • The Palace Hotel is currently being renovated after sitting for 20+ years
  • See on the map

9. The Museum of Death, Hollywood

TL;DR: We are all going to die, so why not learn more about death?

If you’re brave enough to face this topic head-on, then feel free to visit this museum! There you can see the many different forms of death: tools for embalming and dissecting corpses, photographs depicting executions and road accidents as well as evidence from serial killers.

The pride of the museum is a preserved severed head belonging to “Blue Beard,” an infamous French killer in the early 20th century and an entire hall dedicated solely to suicides.

Some people find these exhibits too disturbing; they have reported feeling haunted after visiting it.

Visitors should be warned that their experience at this place will likely be graphic and unsettling.

10. The Abandoned Salton Sea, Salton City

TL;DR: The sea is now contaminated and toxic; the abandoned buildings and rusted cars that line the shoreline give off an eerie atmosphere. If you are visiting this place, you should be extra cautious and refrain from coming into contact with the water.

Abandoned Salton Sea
Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

The Salton Sea is a salt lake situated in the inland drainage area of southern California, USA. Its approximate size of 374 square miles (970 km²) varies depending on rainfall levels. The body of water was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River breached irrigation canals near Yuma and filled an otherwise dry desert basin with its flow for two years.

As this water evaporated it left increasing concentrations of salt; currently, salinity stands at 41 parts per million (ppm). Ornithologists love this location as many pelicans and herons come to feed off bountiful fish populations here.

Unfortunately, recently there has been a major problem: fertilizer from farms is polluting the waters leading to abnormal algal blooms that suck oxygen away from other aquatic life once they die – resulting in dead fish which release botulism bacteria and kill birds who attempt to consume them.

For years, seismologists have argued that the famous San Andreas Fault in the United States was long overdue for a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude eight or higher on the Richter scale. However, they recently found an explanation as to why it hasn’t happened yet: there is another fault parallel to San Andreas underneath Salton Sea Lake which may be diverting tectonic plate strain away from it and onto itself.

This discovery has caused seismic hazard assessments for Los Angeles and its surrounding region to be completely reassessed. Though this secondary fault currently serves relief purposes towards San Andreas, it doubles West Coast USA’s risk of destruction should a major disaster occur.

11. Old LA Zoo, Griffith Park

TL;DR: A zoo that’s a little scary to be in late at night.

Unfortunately, due to cramped cages and poor nutrition for the few wolves, lions and bears that were housed there, many of them began dying off. In response to this tragedy it was decided during the 1960s that it would be best to close down the old zoo completely.

During daylight hours this area is an ideal spot for picnicking; however at nightfall a more eerily atmosphere can be found among what used to be enclosures filled with monkeys and other creatures.

There have been reports of some strange occurrences in Griffith Park including sightings of ghostly figures and unexplained noises, as well as stories about a hidden tunnel beneath the zoo that leads to an underground chamber filled with animal bones.

It is also believed by some that these areas may be haunted due to the numerous animals who were sacrificed at Aztec temples nearby many years ago.

12. Mountain View Cemetery

TL;DR: For those who honor history and our predecessors

A place that is sure to give you goosebumps even during the day is Mountain View Cemetery.

Established in 1863 and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, this historic cemetery covers 300 acres and holds the tombs of many prominent figures from California’s founding as well as important people throughout its history.

Among those buried here are “chocolate king” Domingo Ghirardelli, railroad tycoon Charles Crocker, Auckland Mayor Samuel Crocket, Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, Alexander and Josephine Dunsmuir (the unfortunate spouses of Dunsmuir House), Anthony Chabot (founder of Chabot Observatory), and Elizabeth Short – a victim of an unsolved Hollywood murder known famously as “The Black Dahlia.”

Local guards have reported hearing strange sounds more than once; they say it is like a woman crying out – believed to be the ghost of Elizabeth wandering about within the grounds.

13. Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley

Scottys castle from above jpg

TL;DR: “It feels so real that it scares!”

Scotty’s Castle is a ranch located in Death Valley, California, that was not built by any Scotty and does not resemble an actual castle. 

It was constructed by Albert Johnson, an insurance broker from Chicago who had been enticed to the area by Walter Scott – known as “Scotty of Death Valley” – on account of his wife insisting upon favorable climate conditions for her husband’s health. 

The infamous Scott convinced Johnson to invest in what would later be revealed as a nonexistent gold mine. 

As the Roaring Twenties descended upon them, they set about constructing their dream home that included cozy corners and con man hideouts; $1.4 million were spent on this endeavor before financial failures caused its completion to cease abruptly during The Great Depression era. 

Allegedly following death, rumors began circulating about strange noises coming from nearby, hinting toward possible paranormal activity attributed to Walter’s spirit still lingering around today despite never owning the property himself. 

You can explore independently or partake in guided tours, including underground sections, similarly showcasing why this location has become popular.


California and its surrounding areas offer many unique haunted places that will give you goosebumps. From historic hotels to eerie prisons, these locations allow visitors to experience a different side of California’s rich history. 

Be sure to bring your smartphone – who knows what paranormal activity you may encounter during your visit to these spooky spots? 

Happy haunting!

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