5 Most Haunted Places in California
When you think about California, what is the first thing that pops into your head? Hollywood? Movie stars? Beaches? Sun? Fun? All of those are fine, but let’s get into the darker side of the Golden State. Let’s get into the 5 most haunted places in California.
1. Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles
The Cecil Hotel in the Skid Row district of downtown Los Angeles is arguably the most haunted hotel in Los Angeles. The Cecil’s haunted legacy goes all the way back to The Great Depression. Opening in 1924, it was only a few years before the Depression filled the hotel with transients, and suicides on the regular.
The Black Dahlia was rumored to have had her last drink at the hotel bar. She turned up dead just a few miles away. Richard Ramirez, better know as “The Night Stalker”, convicted of a laundry list of heinous crimes, lived at the Cecil in 1985 during his spree.
The most recent head scratcher at the Cecil was the mysterious case of Elisa Lam. The Guardian explains: “An inspection of the cistern on the hotel’s roof, the naked body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam, a Chinese-Canadian tourist who had been decomposing for roughly 19 days. Elevator security footage shows Lam, who suffered from bipolar disorder, acting erratically, alternately hiding in the corner of the elevator and dashing in and out. At one point, she gesticulates as if addressing an unseen figure. Police ruled her death an accidental drowning.” Accident? Or another victim of the Cecil Hotel? Currently the Cecil is currently being renovated and redeveloped into a mix of hotel rooms and residential units.
Check out the Ghost Town podcast episode about the Cecil Hotel.
2. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose
Construction on the Winchester Mystery house began in 1884 and it never stopped until the owner, Sarah Winchester died in 1922.
It is believed that she spent around $5 million on construction. Sarah was convinced that her home was haunted by all of the victims killed by Winchester rifles. There are an estimated 160 rooms. With stairs that lead nowhere and doors that open to nothing, it’s the perfect backdrop to the haunted.
Mental Floss reports “a Winchester House tour guide confirmed that the house’s third floor—only a portion of which is accessible during house tours—is definitely the spookiest part of the house, “because that's where the servants lived, so there's been a lot of reported activity there. Also, when you are on that floor you can never really hear any of the other tours, so you feel pretty isolated.” The Winchester Mystery House is open for business as a tourist attraction. Good luck!
3. The Knickerbocker Hotel, Hollywood
The Knickerbocker Hotel was the subject of one of the episodes of Ghost Town. This Hollywood Hotel was the “it” place in Hollywood for quite sometime. Now however the aforementioned “it” leaned heavy on the tragic and somewhat dramatic. In 1936 Harry Houdini's widow held her tenth séance to contact the magician on the roof of the hotel in a very publicized event. Marylin Monroe and Joe DiMaggio met for drinks at the hotel bar. Elvis stayed there for some time. In 1962, Hollywood costume designer Irene Lentz, believed to be distraught over Gary Cooper's death, committed suicide by jumping from her 11th floor room window.
By the late 1960s, the neighborhood had gone downhill, and the hotel became a home primarily for drug addicts and prostitutes. In 1970, a renovation project converted the hotel into housing for senior citizens. Might be worth checking out, especially if you have an active imagination.
4. The Haunted Forest, Altadena
I was at the Haunted Forest in Altadena a few years ago…during the day. The hike takes you to the allegedly haunted Cobb Estate.
Charles Cobb built the estate in 1918, and lived on the property until 1939. No supernatural or haunted reporting up to that point. Well, not until the Marx Brothers came into the picture. Accord to Atlas Obscura “It was when the Marx Brothers bought the estate in 1956 that the rumors of strange noises and eerie lights at the now vacant home began to circulate amongst the townsfolk. Whether or not that had to do with the squatters and teenagers who used the house for various nocturnal activities is an open question. Finally, the Brothers Marx had the dilapidated home torn down in 1959 and the land sat unused until 1971.”
It’s a very popular hiking trail for those who love to both hike and seek out some scares.
5. Alcatraz, San Fransisco
Alcatraz has all the ingredients for a good haunting: it’s on an island, and it was formerly a prison. I went on the standard tourist tour they give, and loved every minute of it. You can FEEL the years of what must have gone down in that place.
Alcatraz earned it’s a rep as one of the most brutal and inhumane prisons in the country. Inexplicable events like the sound of someone playing the banjo scared prison guards and visitors alike. Many believe this to be the spirit of Al Capone, who spent his last days at the prison playing the banjo in the shower room to avoid being killed in the yard. Reports of the smell of smoke, the sounds of cell doors slamming, and disembodied voices moaning and screams have all been reported. Did I mentioned it’s on an island? It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the US. Find out for yourself why!
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