If October is known for “Haunted Tourism,” then Monterey County is a paranormal party. Early on, the people of this area endured a long and tumultuous history with shoot outs, shipwrecks and sword-wielding Spaniards. Today, visitors can tap into the paranormal energy, since many of the top tourism sites have ghost stories attached.
Just in time for Halloween, suggestions for where to stay, eat and play to ensure that your vacation is accompanied with a couple spooks! Let’s get ghostly!
Eat: Restaurant 1833
Built in 1833, this tile-roofed adobe in Old Monterey in the Historic Spokes Abode was purchased in 1834 by English sailor James Stokes, who jumped ship in Monterey with a stolen medical case and opened up a medical practice. It is said he went on to kill a significant percentage of the population, including then Governor Jose Figueroa. Legend claims Stokes was caught violating his daughter, poisoned himself on site and is said to return at night to rattle the restaurant. A ghost named Hattie Gragg lived in the adobe as well and is regularly reported as an elderly woman in an ankle-length skirt causing flashing lights and slamming doors in the upstairs bedroom where she died in 1948.
This fall, the 164-seat Restaurant 1833 is taking a twist on its past with rare antique lighting fixtures, lounge-friendly furniture and seven dining rooms including Hattie’s Room. It’s also a great place to get a drink, with an entrance bar/lounge taking on an apothecary backdrop of antique lab bottles, white-jacketed bartenders and custom botanicals.
Stay: La Playa Hotel
Designed in 1905, La Playa Hotel in Carmel-by-the-sea was the home of artist Chris Jorgensen and wife Angela Ghirardelli, heiress of the famous chocolate family. One afternoon, their favorite niece Alida never returned from her daily swim in Carmel Bay as she drowned from an unruly undertow. The tragedy led the family to move to San Francisco where one year after her husband’s death, Angela passed in 1936. Today, it is believed Angela and her niece are fixtures at their beloved Carmel home and can be spotted on the terrace or walking the expansive gardens – she in long skirts of the day and the daughter in what appears to be a classic early 1900s swimsuit and wet hair.
Make your visit extra spooky when you stay at this historic landmark with award-winning English gardens and a line-up of guestrooms and hidden cottages overlooking the sea. The Grande Dame of Old Carmel is an escape from reality, backed with soft ocean breezes and top of the line service.
Play: Mission San Antonio de Padua
Two apparitions have been documented in and around this National Register of Historic Places, including a candle-carrying padre who walks the mission grounds and Cleora, the ghost of the Headless Horsewoman. Soldiers stationed at Ft. Hunter Liggett have reported the vision of a headless woman on horseback riding the crest of the hills near the mission. Local Indians claim her husband caught her with another man who was prospecting the area and, in a rage, killed her. To ensure her misery and shame, he buried her body and head separately and her spirit rides the countryside in search of her remains. The best time to spot Cleora is in front of the mission church at sunrise and sunset.
Established in 1771, Mission San Antonio de Padua is the most remote of the 21 Spanish missions.
While the above makes for a perfect haunted getaway, there is also a selection of additional spooky sites you can check out. Discover the haunts while you enjoy a 90-minute tour of the Path of History on board the Ghost Trolley of Monterey, visiting both historical and recent ghost sighting locations, including the local cemetery. Additional paranormal activity hotspots that the trolley checks out includes California’s First Theater, Colton Hall, Royal Presidio Chapel and many more.