Spooked at the haunted Whaley House in San Diego
spooky items are for sale in the gift shop of the Haunted Whaley House in San Diego's Old Town

San Diego’s Haunted Whaley House is Perfect Halloween Visit

The haunted Whaley House in San Diego’s Old Town is widely recognized as one of the best examples in the world of proven ghost activity. Since Halloween is coming right up, it’s the perfect time for a visit to this spookiest of locations.

When our kids were little, the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was more their speed. It’s fun and spooky at the same time, with a large dose of humor thrown in to reduce the scariest moments. Now that they are older, Sophia and Ava have that weird fascination where they are a little scared of ghosts and demons, but strangely drawn to their stories.  Scary movies attract them in some sort of curious can’t-look-away kind of attraction.

So every Halloween time, we visit the Haunted Whaley House in San Diego for a little thrill.

The Whaley House in Old Town San Diego
The Whaley House is noted as one of the most haunted houses in the US.


The Haunted Whaley House in San Diego

The Haunted Whaley House is situated smack dab in the middle of tourist traps, great Mexican restaurants and many historic buildings dating back to San Diego’s founding. Local lore tells us this is a classic haunted house, and the folks that run the house give a great tour full of stories that support the claims. (The House has actually been featured in several books and TV specials, including Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel).

entrance to haunted Whaley House in San Diego, CA
The Whaley House entrance is not where you buy tickets. Best to reserve them in advance!

The Haunted Whaley House has ruled over Old Town San Diego since 1857, and then things started to go awry. It seems Old Man Whaley was an opportunist back in the day. He saw a good deal in buying the land where San Diego officials used to hang bad guys. The gallows were built pretty much where the Whaley House stands now. Now let’s see, what would be your first clue there was a reason that land was so cheap? Hmmmm.

tour group inside The Whaley House in San Diego
Maybe the red lights help the ghosts come out to visit?

Ghosts on the Haunt

The ghost of Yankee Jim Robinson was the first dude to haunt the place, and the Whaley family reacted poorly. People started dropping like flies, including several children. Some seven or eight people died in the house, not counting the people they hung on these grounds beforehand. On top of all that (literally) the house is built near a graveyard, which still exists in part.

That’s a lot of ghosts to wander around, and naturally people are going to see some.

The Whaley House haunted tour is definitely spooky, like this hideous living room decor for example
The Whaley House haunted tour is definitely spooky, like this hideous living room decor for example.


Witness a Ghost Sighting?

Not us. Despite the spooky house – which is more like a museum than anything – we saw no apparitions. We experienced no sudden gusts of cold air, heard no creepy little lady calling “Carol Anne, Carol Anne, go into the light!” We did listen to some great stories about the Whaley Family. The tour covers the history of San Diego in its early years, and what life was like in the olden days.

On a related note, I almost died and joined the Whaley ghosts going up and down that staircase inside the house. That thing is steep and spindly, so watch your step.

staircase at Haunted Whaley House in San Diego
You could easily become a ghost at The Whaley House by trying to navigate this rickety staircase


Visiting The Whaley House

Tickets during regular day hours are $10 for adults and $6 for kids 6-12. In the evenings after 5 pm all tickets are $14. You can check the Whaley House website for more information on hours and ticket prices.  Evening tickets might be worth it since it’s said those ghouls usually show up later at night.

Overall, the Whaley House hosts a super interesting tour – definitely creepy – and maybe the kids were a little freaked. A little. The girls did great, racking up another notch on their Rights of Passage markers. Definitely worth the $14 ticket.

If the Haunted Whaley House is not enough for you, there is also a Ghost Tour of Old Town San Diego that meets in the central plaza there each night. We’ll have to try that one next!

girls with ghost tours sign in Old Town, San DIego
If the Whaley House isn’t enough, there is always the nearby Ghost Tours to join.

I kinda miss the days when the girls got scared and ran into my legs, wrapping their arms around me. They would bury their faces, holding on for dear life. Yeah, that doesn’t happen any more. More like the other way around!

group of mummy skeletons at Halloween
When the girls were little, they would not even go near these mummy skeletons at a local restaurant.

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