Live in the Los Angeles area? Michael Imlay—LA writer, historian and Reigning King of Spooky—very kindly posted this hauntingly good list of bone-chilling places to take your kids aged 9-14. Tweens love this stuff and, like a phantom, a little local history lesson will creep up on them without warning. Here is what he wrote:
My fascination with Angeleno ghostlore is no secret. For the past several years, I’ve spent every spare moment I can “collecting” spooky legends, researching their roots, interviewing witnesses, and joining professional ghost hunters in their explorations of our region’s most historic haunts.
Recently, fellow blogger Rebecca Lacko asked me to recommend some “family friendly” locales with a reputation for ghosts.
The following are five popular sites I’ve personally checked out where kids and parents alike can relive history while watching for the supernatural. (Click on the headers for official info…)
1. OLVERA STREET, Los Angeles: The spirits of early L.A. live on, thanks to nightly Day of the Dead processions, Oct. 25 – Nov. 2, in which kids and adults don death faces to honor their ancestors (inset). Ask the right insiders, though, and you’ll learn that the really gruesome wraiths take in the sights after the tourists go home. Alleged hotspots include the Plaza Fire Station, Avila Adobe and Pelanconi House, now La Golondrina Restaurant, where prankish ghosts have irritated staff and repair crews. (Of course, during business hours, La Golondrina’s most popular spirits are its frothy Margaritas.)
2. LEONIS ADOBE, Calabasas: While the current management prefers to downplay any talk of hauntings, this adobe’s ghostlore is well documented. In fact, a few years ago, I tagged along with a team led by ghost hunter Robert Wlodarsky that encountered some very odd phenomena in an upstairs bedroom. The place once belonged to Miguel Leonis, an ill-tempered ranchero killed in a suspicious 1889 wagon accident. The most active phantasm, however, is his long-suffering wife, Espiritu, whose sobs still occasionally unnerve visitors.
3. RMS QUEEN MARY, Long Beach: Personally, I’m somewhat dubious about most of the claims surrounding “America’s Most Haunted Ship.” After all, from a marketing perspective, what better way to keep a languishing attraction afloat than an ever-growing tally of ghostly manifestations? (More than 600 to date!) Still, the 1934 White Star Liner remains a favorite of paranormal experts, so who knows? You may see something. Of course, those willing to shell out big bucks are practically guaranteed chills and thrills with the ship’s Haunted Encounters Passport Tour.
4. DRUM BARRACKS, Wilmington: A Civil War fort right here in Southern California? Strange, but true. Originally established at the urging of Phineas Banning (left), the Union garrison once guarded L.A.’s fledgling harbor against would-be Confederate marauders. Apparently, however, some of the troops remain at their posts even today. Disembodied footsteps and voices, along with the odor of cigars and ladies’ perfume, supposedly permeate the old officers’ quarters. Meanwhile, outside, the sounds of phantom horses and military drills have been heard by neighbors. (Incidentally, the spirit of Banning himself is said to haunt his own former estate, which is also in the vicinity.)
5. STAGECOACH INN, Newbury Park: Built in 1876, the Grand Union Hotel was a stagecoach stop halfway along the route from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. In the 1970s, the structure burned to the ground in a mysterious fire. According to legend, during its reconstruction, lights inexplicably flickered from a corner room. Psychic investigation “revealed” that the spirit in question is Pierre, a Basque shepherd murdered in a card game. While no historical evidence has been found to confirm this, the hotel is worth visiting for its impressive collection of Victorian furnishings, as well as its peaceful grounds and nature trail.