Spirits, ghosts, phantoms—whatever you call them, we know where to find them. Orange County has long been a hotbed of paranormal activity. (Fun Fact: It was the setting of the movie Poltergeist.) Brave souls can visit some of the oldest and most hair-raising locations on ghost tours throughout Orange County. These frightening outings are perfect for bone-chilling Halloween celebrations or year-round hauntings. If you’re looking for some spooky fun, don’t miss these top haunted walking tours.
San Juan Capistrano
Home to the gorgeous San Juan Capistrano Mission where swallows flock and koi fish swim in the elegant fountain, San Juan Capistrano is a postcard-worthy destination for California history. But the town also bears the title of one of the most haunted places in the world. Take a Haunted OC Ghost Walk through the Los Rios district with buildings dating back to the 1700s. Hear of the dozens of lives lost in the great stone church during the 1812 earthquake, and perhaps witness an apparition (or hear the bells when no one is tolling them). Or, join the annual Ghost & Legends Tour led by the SJC Historical Society for a truly unforgettable evening.
Explore the antiques of lives past on a haunted walking tour in Old Town Orange, which was originally built in the 1870s. Start at the Royer Mansion and explore what was once the Orange Undertaker’s Parlor. From majestic homes to the macabre, you never know what’s lurking in Orange.
Natural disasters, murder, renegade justice all led to the ghosts of Santa Ana. Explore the historic city on a ghost walk amongst the undead in this darker history of the town. The tour begins outside the restored Howe-Waffle Mansion and Medical Museum, the 1889 home of the first female doctor in Orange County. Some people claim to have seen a little boy who runs and plays upstairs. Others have spotted a gentleman in the house’s parlors. You may even see one of the bells ring or an invisible hand write on the chalkboard.
Black Star Canyon
Under the night sky, ghost hunters trek through Black Star Canyon in between Anaheim and Irvine, deep in the Santa Ana Mountains. Outdoor enthusiasts use the trails for hiking and biking by day. At night, the area is said to be haunted by those killed in the 1831 Tongva massacre. This multi-hour hike guides you through what should be the quiet of nature, but instead turns out to be eerie with strange phenomena. Or, try this tour which has the option for a private tour to make it extra spooky.
A ship capturing the spirit of a bygone era, the docked 1930s ocean liner is now a hotel and historical landmark. Voted one of the “Top 10 Most Haunted Places in America" by Time readers, it’s also a hot spot for reported paranormal activity, drawing daring ghost hunters year round. Explore the depths of the Queen Mary in a two-hour Haunted Encounters tour. You may even catch a glimpse of the “lady in white” or the ghost of the engineer who died in the ship’s engine room.