5 of the Best San Diego Ghost and Haunted Tours

by Bridgette Redman  |  Published July 25, 2023

Explore the supernatural side of San Diego by taking a ghost or haunted tour.

Photo: Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour in San Diego / Courtesy

Stories of the supernatural and visits to haunted homes appeal to many San Diego visitors. Deep in the Wild West, San Diego has a storied history of notorious characters, mysterious occurrences and spectral presences. The city is shrouded in tales of the paranormal and haunted history, adding an eerie allure to this picturesque coastal city. The next time you visit, take one of these haunted tours where you can visit such places as the Whaley House, touted as one of the most haunted places in America, or traverse the eerie corridors of the Hotel del Coronado. We explore some of the top-ranked tours that share with visitors the city’s supernatural narrative, one that has captured the imagination of both tourists and locals.

Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour

Historic Tours of America’s Ghosts and Gravestones trolley is an evening ride that drives guests through the dark side of San Diego’s past. The costumed guides retell stories and legends of history and mystery as they drive by the Whaley House, through Old Town and into two cemeteries. The fun and informative guided tour invites participants to travel back in time and meet the spirits of notorious characters who lived and died in San Diego. The tour starts in the Mission Hills neighborhood and Pioneer Park before continuing on to Old Town and walking through the El Campo Santo Cemetery. There visitors hear stories about gunslingers, gamblers, ladies of the night and other unsavory characters. The tour concludes with a tour of the grounds and exterior of the Whaley House and the Old Town Cemetery. The 90-minute tour is not appropriate for children and does involve walking across grass, sidewalks and burial grounds, so the operators encourage guests to wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately. From $41 per person.

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Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Walking Tour

No one should have to face ghosts on an empty stomach. It’s why So Diego, Inc. ‘s 2.5 hour tour includes tacos and a chance to fortify yourself with spirits of the alcoholic kind before facing the supernatural ones. You’ll sample food and drink from local restaurants, including tacos at the Cafe Coyote, which has been voted “Best Mexican Restaurant” every year since 2005. Walk the streets of San Diego while your guide tells you what it looked like from the 1820s to the 1870s. They’ll share the history of the “Birthplace of California.” They’ll point out original buildings built with the area’s natural resources and tell stories of bull fights, horse races, pistol shooting matches, dances and politics. They’ll distinguish between the Mexican period and the American Gold Rush and the importance of both to the city that embraces the dual cultures. The tour includes visits to the oldest cemetery in San Diego and the Whaley House where participants will hear eerie ghost stories and tales of legendary hauntings. From $76 per person.

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Gaslamp Quarter Ghost Walking Tour

Photo: Gaslamp Ghost Tour in San Diego / Courtesy

Murder n’ Mayhem invites San Diego tourists to go hunting for ghosts in the Gaslamp Quarter on this 90-minute walking tour. The tour leads participants through the Gaslamp Quarter’s local haunted sites while a guide shares stories of sinister spirits, disease, gruesome deaths, espionage and murder. It’s a chance to learn about the ghostly history of San Diego by hearing the thrilling stories of downtown San Diego’s infamous ghosts. This tour passes out ghost hunting equipment, giving participants a chance to experiment with the latest in paranormal investigation tools. The tour heads to a historic hotel where the ghost of a brutally murdered man is said to still haunt. The guide will explain why sinister spirits linger in the city long after their deaths and share some of the latest ghost-busting trends. While children of any age can participate with the permission of their parents, the operators recommend the experience for people only ages 13 and older. All investigations take outdoors as the tour does not enter any buildings. From $30 per person.

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Embarcadero Waterfront Ghost Walking Tour

Photo; Waterfront Ghost Tour / Courtesy

This is another tour by Murder n’ Mayhem, but this night-time walking tour guides guests through the Embarcadero waterfront. Again, participants get a chance to use paranormal and ghost investigation equipment that uses electromagnetic fields to find spooky anomalies. It’s a chance to learn the stories of spooky ships and the most popular waterfront locations. The guide will share tales of ghosts, spirits, disease, death, suicide and espionage. Participants will take in the thrilling stories of notable hauntings while getting the opportunity to do their own ghost hunting. The tour will go by such landmarks as Dead Man’s Point, the USS Midway, the Headquarters and the Maritime Museum, though participants will not enter any of these buildings. The tour lasts for one hour, is rated PG-13 and is wheelchair accessible. The operators also welcome people to bring their own ghost-hunting equipment–and to wear comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. From $21.99 per person.

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Haunted Historic Whaley House Self-Guided Tour

Photo: Haunted Whaley House / Courtesy

Even before it was built in 1857, the Whaley House was already the site of a violent death that some believe still haunts the building to this day. Additional deaths, including the suicide of an 18-year-old woman, contribute to its reputation as the most haunted house in America. Over the years, visitors and staff have reported paranormal encounters and unexplained phenomena at the Whaley House–apparitions, mysterious footsteps, cold spots and strange sounds. If you capture a picture of an apparition during your tour, the museum encourages you to submit your paranormal photos and they will publish them. Take a self-guided tour of the home’s museum to see its historic furnishings and learn its history. Filled with San Diego heritage, it is recognized as the oldest two-story brick structure south of Monterey, California, an example of Greek Revival architecture. Through the centuries, the building has served many purposes in addition to being a family home. It was San Diego’s first commercial theater and second county courthouse. The last entry of the day for tours is at 4:30 p.m. From $14 per person.