Almost every city in the world has their own version of haunted houses, cemeteries, hospitals, streets. So on our latest trip to the US, we decided to check out a few of America’s “most” haunted. Starting in San Francisco, here is our road trip ….. A journey through Haunted California.

Journey through haunted California

1. ALCATRAZ

 

What better place to hit the road on our Ghostly adventure than San Francisco’s infamous Alcatraz. Alcatraz Island and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary have been named as one of the most haunted places in America. Now this is a little hard to believe when you board the ferry from pier 33, with 500 other eager tourists who have each paid their $33 for the thrill, only to follow each other through the spooky corridors and tiny cells wearing headphones listening to the running commentary…. we decided to take the night tour for that little added extra spook.

Alcatraz from San Francisco

Ferry to Alcatraz

The moment we stepped off the Alcatraz ferry it felt eerie. Looking up the steep winding path, dark gloomy windows awaited us, accompanied by the almost deafening sounds of the 5000 nesting birds that hold residence on the island, and the overpowering pungent smell from the birds. We felt like we were on a movie set, it was hard to imagine that for some 30 years it housed some Americas most notorious criminals including Al “Scarface” Capone and Robert “Birdman” Stroud.

Al Capone Alcatraz

Alcatraz spooky windows

Alcatraz view of San Francisco

We gathered our headsets, and began our self guided tour through Alcatraz penitentiary. Its a fascinating place full of history, but we were more interested in the tales of those that still lurk in the shadows of the cold hallways. Alcatraz has often be called a “portal” to another dimension. Now if you allowed yourself to believe this, then it would be easy to assume that every cold breeze you felt on your back was the energy of one of the souls that came to this place and never left.

Alcatraz yard

The further we ventured into the prison the greater the sense of evil became (remember I am completely giving into it). The native Indians who first inhabited the island believed that evil was present, and as punishment some would be left alone to fight off the evil spirits sending them mad.

Alcatraz guard block

Many prison guards and some tourists have reported sightings of a women screaming and moaning in the hallways, or a man in a suit that would appear, followed by the smell of smoke.

Alcatraz cell

As we headed towards the notorious Alcatraz D Block, the most haunted area of the prison, I started to have visions of performing an exorcism on Ron to rid him of ancient Indian spirits picked up while on the tour. D Block was the isolation wing, and the place where most inmates met there often gruesome end. It was as promised, a cold, ugly, spooky place.

Alcatraz Cell Block

We spent about 2 hours exploring Alcatraz Island. My advice is firstly take the night tour, and secondly, completely give into it, the anxiety you build inside adds to the overall experience. Our rating on the spook-a-meter…. 6 out of 10.

 

2. WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE

Winchester house

Next stop Winchester House, San Jose California. Born in 1840, Sarah Winchester was the wife of William Winchester, owner of the famous Winchester Rifle company. Sarah Winchester was plagued by death, her child in 1866 and her husband in 1881 from Tuberculosis. After a deep depression Sarah consulted a physic who told her that her family and fortune was haunted by the spirits of all those killed by Winchester rifles. The physic said that she needed to move to California, build the spirits a grand house, and as long as construction never ceased, she would have eternal life. And so it began. The Winchester mansion started out as an 8 room house in the Santa Clara Valley and become the 161 acre, 8 story, 160 rooms, 2000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms and 6 kitchens that it is today.

Winchester house ariel view

I am text blAfter Sarah’s death the house opened to the public in 1923, and various stories have since emerged of the resident ghosts that reside in the house. On walking through Winchester Mystery House as it is now known, it soon becomes evident that Sarah Winchester truly believed the house she was building did house all victims of the Winchester Riffle. Apparently she built the house with the intent to confuse the ghosts. She would never sleep in the same bed twice in a row, there are stairways that lead to nowhere, secret hidden doors and rooms, trick windows,and secret passageways hidden behind walls.ock. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Winchester House stairs to nowhere

There have been many spirit sightings, lights turning themselves on, and the often smell of chicken soup that comes from one of the kitchens that has not been visited for years.

So did we see or feel a spirit… the honest answer is no, but what a fascinating place to visit, just the sheer magnitude of Winchester House is enough to kick your imagination into gear. A great place to visit, not sure if I would like to spend a night, but so worth a visit. We took the Grand Estate Tour at $44, which also included access to the basement and many of the outer buildings.
Our rating on the spook-a-meter…. 4 out of 10

3. CREEK ROAD OJAI

 

Ill start by saying that this part of our road trip really lived up to its haunted past. Our rating on the spook-a-meter peaked at 10 out of 10. So what happened….

Ojai Valley California

We arrived at a notoriously spooky area of Creek Road Ojai at around 2pm, we drove up and down a little to take in the beautiful valley scenery before heading off to find accommodation for the night. When we checked into the motel in downtown Ojai, and asked about the legends of Creek Road, John our host, recommended that we stay away, or at least pay for our accommodation up front in case we did not return…great start.

Ghostly legends of Creek Road range from a fiery Char-Man, European Vampire, Bloodied Bride and a bus load of children that crashed under the bridge. Sightings are regular and each person we spoke to had a different story of personal experience.

Creek Road Ojai haunted bridge

We were told of a particular spot on the bridge that had the most sightings, so after dinner at 9.25pm, with much trepidation on my behalf, we headed straight back to Creek Road. On arrival we pulled over just before the bridge. We watched as a couple of cars slowly drove by, and a tourist bus that hovered around for a few minutes, then we were on our own.

Legend has it that Char Man becomes pissed off if a car parks on the bridge at night and challenges him, so that’s just what we did. Parked just before the bridge, I stayed in the car (chicken) and Ron got out and walked to the middle of the bridge guided only by the headlights from the car and sat down. As a joke I thought it would be funny to turn the headlights off, well……. I think I scared myself half to death, it was pitch black dark, and all I heard was Ron yelling….. what had I done. When my shaking fingers got the headlights back on (felt like forever), Ron was running at top speed towards the car and jumped in yelling a few choice words. I vaguely recall myself begin to yell, “hurry hurry start the car go go go”…. and off we went, all limbs in place.

Ron said that when I turned the lights off he felt a very cold shiver run down his back. Now that’s probably just what it was, a cold breeze, but add it to all the other elements going on at that time, along with the many crazy stories we heard that night and our Creek Road experience definitely tops as our most ghostly.

4. THE QUEEN MARY , LONG BEACH

Queen Mary Long Beach California

Number 4 on our haunted list was the retired ocean liner permanently docked at Long Beach, The Queen Mary. Now I’m not sure if we were just more spooked now due to our experience on Creek Road, but I truly believe that the Queen Mary is without a doubt a haunted ship, where the dead may not always rest in peace. The Queen Mary is now a restored hotel with several restaurants and a ship museum. She made her maiden voyage in 1936, and had 31 years to gather the hoard of spooks that many say roam the hallways, the first class swimming pool and inhabit room B340. To get us in the mood prior to boarding for our 2 night stay, we watched the following video….. probably not such a good idea.

Now as Im sure you can imagine, that video freaked me out. I spent much of the two days asking staff members and other passengers if they had had any encounters, but I got most of my answers during our ghost tour on the second evening.

The Queen Mary has a lot of recorded history as far as death goes. In total there are 49 recorded deaths (16 crew and 31 passengers) and that does not include 331 sailors that perished in 1942 when she collided with the Curacoa, causing it to sink and taking the sailors to there watery grave.

It is widely believed that the ghosts of the dead cannot escape the Queen Mary as they are enclosed by so much steel that it keeps them trapped inside. There are a few areas of the ship that have been reported as “most haunted”.

Queen Mary at night

The Bow area is the part of the ship that struck the doomed “Curacoa”. It has been reported that engineers aboard have heard noises that sound like the hull being ripped apart followed by the sounds of men screaming.

Watertight Door 13, where a man was locked in by a bunch of sailors and was crushed to death, is said to be haunted by the said man who paces the hallway just outside the door.

Queen Mary long hall

Cabin B340, where a lady was murdered. Prior to the cabin being closed, passengers reported being woken during the night by a voice saying “get out”, or the bed sheet being torn from the bed. The cabin has since been reopened, but only for the purpose of visiting during the ghost tours.

Cabin B340 Queen Mary

The First class swimming pool. Two drownings occurred here, one a young child named Jackie and another women. Jackie can often be heard singing and giggling and apparently will often perform for visiting guests. During this part of the tour unfortunately Jackie must have been sleeping, nether the less, the whole area creeped me out.

The Changing rooms. This is one of the most haunted areas in the ship, and from personal experience, gains a 9/10 on our spook a meter. Having already watched the You Tube video of the girl hiding in one of the rooms, we were not surprised to hear that a young women, Sara, was brutally murdered here. The hairs on the back on my neck stood on end, and I really could not wait to get out of there. The lady that was conducting the tour said that she had witnessed shadows crossing the halls, and faint crying from inside the change rooms. It was dark, it was creepy and I was scared.

Queen Mary

Overall our experience on board the ship was amazing and I am glad that we did it. A bunch of tourist did get stuck in the lift for 2 hours while we were there, and many joked that the spirits were playing games….. who knows. As I mentioned before, our experience on board the Queen Mary definitely gains a solid 9/10 on our spook-a-meter.

 

5. HOTEL DEL CORONADO

 

Firstly I would like to comment that this landmark hotel, this beach and this area of the Californian coast, truly is a magical place. As you step onto the beach the first thing you notice is that the beach sparkles….. literally. Due to the tiny flecks of pyrite that have been washed down the Tijuana River from the neighbouring Mexican mountains, the sands is ablaze with millions of tiny glitter flecks that love to stick to your skin. For this reason Coronado beach has been voted as Americas most beautiful beach. So far not so spooky, but we had yet to check into our very expensive hotel, Hotel Del Coronado.

Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado was built in 1888 and was considered an architectural masterpiece. With a guest list including Marilyn Monroe ….. It was and still is frequented by the worlds rich and famous, and if you have a few hundred spare dollars, you to can stay at The Del, starting at around $350 per night, it certainly is a special occasion place, but one that we were keen to visit.

On arrival we quizzed the reception staff about its so called resident Ghost “Kate Morgan”.  We were told that she is most definitely real and has been seen, heard and felt by many of the hotel guests and staff. The most haunted part of the hotel is a section on the third floor, and house keeping now work in pairs when cleaning that are of The Del. With a slight smirk on her face, the receptionist informed us that room 3327, Kate Morgans room, was actually vacant that night, we could book if we liked but could not swap once we took it. Well unfortunately my nerves got the better of me and we decided that at $420 for the night, we would not to stay in room 3327.  Later that evening we went for a walk to that area of the hotel and meet a young couple who obviously had better nerves than we did as they had booked the room, after a few laughs we arranged to meet them for breakfast the following morning to discuss their experience.

Room 3327 Hotel Del Coronado

At breakfast Adam and Lola told us their evening was basically uneventful. They did however have someone knock at the door of their room at around 3am and found no one to be on the other side. This happened twice and apparently they were told by security that they cannot control when Kate comes a knocking….

So apart from the history and spectacular beauty of this hotel, it did not rate on our spook-a-meter.  Perhaps it will on yours.

At the end of our self guided ghostly tour of California, I can honestly say that although we had an amazing journey, and the road trip itself was as exciting as the 5 locations visited, I am not sure that I am anymore the believer of ghosts than I was at the beginning of the trip. It was however an unbelievable road trip and one that you must take, you never know you may just have a story to tell yourself.