It’s no wonder that Fall (or Autumn, if you prefer) is many people’s favorite time of year. Shorts and flip-flops are tucked away in favor of comfy sweaters and boots, pumpkin laced everything takes over, and there’s a magical essence in the colorful, changing leaves and chilly air. In my hometown of San Diego, Autumn (eventually) ushers in a welcome reprieve from the suffocating Summer heat, and hordes of tourist traffic. But, let’s be honest; the main reason Autumn is the most rad season is because of Halloween! I’m obsessed with Halloween and all the history and folklore that goes with it so for me, this is the most wonderful time of the year!
Since we lack the abundance of fall foliage, and rainy, chilly temperatures, to get into the spirit of Halloween in San Diego you have to dig a little bit deeper than the annual booze cruises and monster bash. After all, an essential tradition of observing Halloween is feeling connected with the dead! Thanks to our cultural Mexican heritage, San Diego holds many authentic Dia de Los Muertos celebrations throughout the city. The best being, in my opinion, the birthplace of California: Old Town San Diego.
But if you want to feel Halloween-y as soon as Autumn comes around, Old Town is also home to the Whaley House, one of America’s Most Haunted homes. Built by Thomas Whaley in the mid-1800s, it was the first two-story brick building in San Diego. Before Mr. Whaley built his house, the grounds were used as a gallows site where people were hung; The most famous person being “Yankee” Jim Robinson. Mr. Whaley was even present during this hanging, so one must ask what possessed him into thinking the grounds were a perfect spot for which to build his family home. It indeed was one of the grandest homes in San Diego during that time, but the years the Whaley family spent there were not untouched by numerous family tragedies and stories of spirits haunting the house.
Today the Whaley House is a museum and one of San Diego’s most popular tourist attractions. The museum hosts tours throughout the year, but during the month of October they host a few special events that will definitely get you into the spirit of Halloween. San Diego’s first commercial theater is located in the Whaley House (I mean how much money did this guy have, anyway??) and this year I got to attend a movie showing in that theater! It’s no trick that watching House on Haunted Hill (1959 with Vincent Price) in a real haunted house was definitely a treat (haha I slay myself)! Make sure to check out the haunting events at one of San Diego’s most haunted locations this year!
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