Robert Arends

Spirited Halloween Fun in Coronado!

Kate Morgan - Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado welcomes Halloween guests!

Halloween is creeping ever closer to Coronado. Eerily warm Santa Ana winds are howling and palm trees are swaying with fronds outstretched like willowy skeletal fingers. What’s that I see out of the corner of my eye…an ethereal mist taking ghostly form! Could it be the Hotel del Coronado‘s resident ghost Kate Morgan materializing for some frightfully mischievous fun?

Hotel del Coronado’s Hallo-wine & Spirits Party

Hallo-wine & Spirits party tomorrow at The Del!

I like to think so, as I recently encountered her on an impromptu ghost hunt at the hotel. I’m certain Kate is wandering the resort grounds, waiting to make an appearance at The Del’s 3rd Annual Hallo-wine & Spirits Party this Saturday, October 27!

Starting at 7:00 PM, costumed guests can go grown-up trick or treating and partake in a variety of wine, cheese and gourmet chocolate tastings (courtesy of ENO Wine Bar). The fright fest continues until the witching hour (midnight) with devilishly delicious hors d’oeuvres and dancing to DJ-spun tunes in the Crown Room, plus a costume contest.

Don’t worry if you have a little ghost or goblin (ages 4-12) with you, the Del is throwing them a Halloween Themed Kidtopia party as well.

Date: Saturday, October 27, 2012
Cost: $100 per person (must be 21+), $50 per child for the Kidtopia Party
Reservations: 619.522.8490

Stay at the Hotel del with a “Room with a Boo!” Package

Kate Morgan walking up the stairs of the Hotel del Coronado

The ghost of Kate Morgan haunts The Del!

Interested in staying overnight? Check out the “Room with a Boo!” package. It includes a great low rate and a copy of the book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado.

Hotel del’s Room 3327

Kate Morgan roaming the halls of The Del.

Kate Morgan checked in but never checked out of Room 3327.

For more haunting shenanigans, head up to the third floor (if you dare!) and stroll by Kate’s former room #3327. Perhaps you’ll see her ghostly figure adorned in Victorian attire or feel her icy presence in the form of mysterious cold spots (like I did!).

Happy Halloween!

Robert Arends

Ghost Hunting in San Diego’s Coronado and Old Town!

Kate Morgan roaming the halls of The Del.
Kate Morgan Standing in front of the Hotel Del

“Ghost” of Kate Morgan at the Hotel del Coronado

“I ain’t afraid of no ghost!” No really, I’m not. I’m absolutely thrilled by the possibility of encountering a spirit from the beyond. Two places in particular that put San Diego on the map as a specter-friendly destination: the famous Hotel del Coronado and the Whaley House.

The Hotel del Coronado’s Kate Morgan

Kate Morgan roaming the halls of The Del.

Kate Morgan checked in, but never checked out of Room #3327!

The Hotel del Coronado’s grand Victorian halls and rooms are where the ghost of Kate Morgan purportedly roams, mischievously playing pranks on unsuspecting guests and staff. She checked into #3327 on the third floor…but never checked out!

I had a recent encounter with Ms. Morgan during an impromptu ghost hunt at The Del. The group I was with experienced a spine-tingling cold spot outside her room when we quietly summoned her to join us. At that moment, the word “beside” appeared on the Ghost Radar Legacy app on my iPhone. Coincidence?! I think not…

Soon after, the word “enough” appeared on my Ghost Radar and the lady standing next to me had her camera brusquely slung off her shoulder by an unseen force! It was startling, to say the least, and we quickly dispersed down to the lobby where we encountered another cold spot (Kate’s such a hanger-on! 😉 ).

Hotel del Coronado-Kate Morgan reading

Kate Morgan’s ghost “chillin’ ” in the lobby of The Del.

The Hotel del Coronado embraces and celebrates its well-known haunting each October with an annual “Hallo-wine & Spirits” party and “Room with a Boo” hotel package that includes a copy of their book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado.

The Whaley House Family

My colleague Maren Severtsen took part in an exciting “Past & Presence” haunted tour of Old Town, including the Whaley House, the #1 haunted house in America (The Travel Channel) and one of only two official Haunted Houses designated by the U.S. Commerce Department.

> Read about Maren’s haunted tour here

Even More Haunting in San Diego

For other haunted spots, entities and everything else that “goes bump in the night” in San Diego, the San Diego Ghost & Paranormal Group and Pacific Paranormal Investigations are great local resources.

See you on the other side…Bwah, ha ha ha ha! 🙂


A Midnight Stroll through San Diego’s Old Town

I am in Old Town at midnight. I am not surprised. While it is a place, without question, built for tourists, I balk at the suggestion that ‘locals don’t go there’ and such ‘traps’ should be avoided by those looking for an ‘authentic’ experience.

For me, there is nothing more authentic and alluring than the post-structuralist pastiche of real and pretend. Old Town is a piece of living theater staged on the actual blood, sweat and bones of San Diego’s history. The lines between reality and mythology blur amongst historical landmarks and themed restaurants, dusty graveyards and costumed guides.

Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant

I come for Café Coyote tortillas, Fiesta de Reyes mariachi and the trinkets of Bazaar del Mundo as much as I do for a drink and a some history at the Cosmopolitan Saloon Bar or a private tour of the Whaley House.

The Whaley House

The latter is my mission tonight. The Whaley House is arguably the most famous building in Old Town. Lovingly restored to its 1860’s heyday, Whaley’s mansion once stood as an impressive monolith of mortar and brick- a statement of Eastern structure and civility ready to tame and develop San Diego’s wild Western ways.  But let’s be honest, it’s famous for the ghosts. According to the Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The hanged criminal. The suicidal daughter. Fantastical realities which produce countless legends and leave us all wondering where history ends and histrionics begin. This is the essence of Old Town. And this is why I love it.

After the tour, most everything is closed except for the Old Town Saloon, lively with industry workers who finished the late shift in a little, old town vaneered with tourism. Feeling more meditative, I stroll through the dusty and deserted ‘town’ and find myself taken by the nightscape. Huge cacti, soft lamplight. It all makes for a haunting and happy midnight stroll.


“Boo!” Tours: Take a Ghost Tour of San Diego’s most Haunted Haunts

There is no better time to take a ghost tour of San Diego’s haunted past. All Hallow’s Eve is just around the corner – a time when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and spirits are feeling festive!

Do you dare continue…


Stay in one San Diego’s Haunted Hotels and get a Room with a “Boo!”

Last week, I took you on a video tour of the haunts of Old Town, San Diego, where we visited haunted room 11 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. But the hotel hauntings don’t stop there- San Diego is full of hotel ghosts just waiting for you to pay them a visit. Looking for a real treat (or trick?) this Halloween? Check-in to one of these beautiful, historic and spooky places:

Is that Kate getting ready for her nighttime stroll?

The Hotel Del Coronado

The Grand Dame of San Diego hotels, The Hotel del Coronado, has a strange haunting of her own. Kate Morgan was the beautiful girl who spent 5 days at the hotel in 1892 waiting for a man who never arrived before she was found dead in a staircase with a gunshot wound to the head. For the past 120 years, guests have reported her forlorn beach strolls or caught glimpses of her ghost in hotel windows. This Halloween, look for Kate yourself with the hotel’s A Room with a Boo! package or attend the Hallo-wine & Spirits party on October 29th.

Why yes! It is!

Giving a whole new meaning to the word "veteran."

The Grande Colonial

Of course La Jolla’s oldest original hotel has a few resident ghosts as well. Opened in 1913, over the past century the European-style colonial hotel has been a gathering place for locals, Hollywood stars (Gregory Peck grew up in La Jolla- his father was the pharmacist next door!), and military men. These ghosts of WWII can still be heard traipsing through their old haunt- making particular raucous on certain military anniversaries.


The Ghosts of Haunted Old Town, San Diego say “Boo!” (On Video!)

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“Mr. Whaley, are you here?” I recently asked an empty courtroom at the Whaley House Museum in Old Town Heritage State Park, San Diego. The answer? It didn’t come from the other room, but a swinging silver pendulum I held lightly between my fingers. Vertical swing. Yes. The ghost of Thomas Whaley, one of the most prominent figures of early San Diego life, was there.

And so began my 2 week exploration into the wild realm of paranormal investigation. I have to admit, I went expecting to tell of nothing more than the fascinating – and gruesome – history of Old Town. Like how the young, beautiful and heartsick Violet Whaley shot herself in online casino dgfev the heart with her father”s 32-calibre Smith & Wesson pistol and bled to death in the house. Yikes!

But the more I investigated, whether with San Diego Ghost Hunter gadgetry or  Cosmopolitan Restaurant & Hotel ghost stories and churros (Best. EVER), the more the paranormal found me. Alas, I had to leave the most alarming encounter out of the video. When startled, I have the mouth of a sailor.

During October, the Whaley House offers a wide range of tours and events culminating in the coolest Dia de los Muertos celebration in San Diego on November 1-2. As for the Cosmopolitan, I recommend a vintage cocktail and storytime at the bar once bought by Wyatt Earp!

Special thanks to Victor Santana and the Whaley House team, Miguel Pulido at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant and Maritza and Matt with the San Diego Ghost Hunters for their time. And to Lauren Ross – for her mad video skillz.


5 to Try: Family Halloween Edition

great costume! a crocodile dressed as an alligator

  1. Halloween makes a splash at SeaWorld during  Halloween Spooktacular. Families can enjoy trick-or-treat stations, a Sesame Street-themed Halloween show, special Halloween-themed sea lion shows and Halloween characters along the pathways of the park. The event takes place every weekend in October.
  2. LEGOLAND California joins in the Halloween fun every Saturday in October with its annual Brick-or-Treat celebration, featuring a one-of-a-kind, 4-ft. tall LEGO jack-o-lantern. Children can participate in fun-filled costume contests and trick-or-treat with a souvenir goodie bag along the park’s Brick-or-Treat Trail, a kid-sized cul-de-sac of spooky LEGO homes featuring fun and creepy creatures.
  3. Get in the spirit of Halloween with a Spooky Sleepover at the San Diego Zoo on October 23 and 30. Your camp director, Dr. Zoolittle will introduce you to animals that wear colorful costumes year-round and other slithery friends before taking you on an exclusive bus tour to Camp Timbuktu where you will spend the night. Kids can trick-or-treat, participate in a costume parade, enjoy campfire entertainment and so much more. Reservations are required.  
  4. Enjoy a park-wide Halloween Family Day at Balboa Park on October 30, when over a dozen museums will open their doors free to children ages 17 and younger, per every paying adult.  In addition, a variety of spooky activities, creepy crafts, spine-tingling tours and free treats will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other highlights will include a doggie costume contest at the Spanish Village Art Center, a kiddie costume parade at the Natural History Museum and so much more.
  5. Fiesta De Reyes in Old Town San Diego celebrates Halloween this year with an outdoor movie night on October 29 and 30 and a children’s costume contest on October 30.  Bring lawn chairs, blankets and enjoy a family-friendly spooky movie under the stars.  Then, for the brave few, Old Town State Historic Park will host Séances at the Seeley Stable where you’ll hear scary, funny and tragic stories about the people who once lived in San Diego in the 1800s. Join Madam Stolichnaya as she summons “ghosts” that will tell their stories in a fun and spooky way.  Performances are available on October 22, 23, 29, 30 and 31 at 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Guest Blogger

A New Look At the Old Gaslamp Quarter

Downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter is well known as a nightlife destination as well as home to many of San Diego’s signature restaurants and boutiques, but those 16 square blocks south of Broadway also hold the key to the city’s fascinating history.

Like any Wild West town, the story of San Diego is rich with sensational stories of heroism and infamy – from its origins as “New Town” to its era as the red light district, through its time of decay into its renaissance – and you can relive it all through these unique and entertaining sightseeing tours.

Louis Bank of Commerce building

  • The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation‘s historical walking tour leaves every Saturday at 11:00 A.M. from the William Heath Davis House on 4th & Island Ave.  The house itself is the oldest surviving structure in downtown San Diego – each of its rooms showcasing a unique period in San Diego’s history – and it only gets more interesting from there.  On this tour, you’ll get to see the Gaslamp Quarter with new eyes as you retrace the steps of many colorful residents (including former San Diego “capitalist” Wyatt Earp), visit historic Victorian-style buildings, and walk the streets of the former red light district.
    The tour costs $10.00 for adults, and $8.00 for seniors, students and military.  Kids’ tours and private group tours are also available.


  • Back Alley Tours focuses on the Gaslamp Quarter’s risqué history as our original red light district.  Here you will travel back in time to the more lawless days and nights of the “Stingaree,” as it was known then.  Owner and tour guide Melanie Young prepared this unique and unusual tour by spending a year digging through the archives at the Museum of San Diego History reading periodicals and journals, studying historic photographs and absorbing every bit of historical information she could get her hands on.  The result is a unique and thoroughly entertaining look at old San Diego.
    Back Alley Tours take place in the evenings Wednesdays through Saturdays.  Tickets cost $20 each, or $35 for a pair. Seniors, students and military tickets are $18.
  • Haunted San Diego Ghost Tours and Ghostly Tours In History provide a different kind of thrill after dark.  Hear macabre tales of San Diego’s history, explore its mysteries, and walk in the footsteps of some historical figures who met untimely or unjust demises in the streets of “New Town.”  Yup, they’re still hanging around, waiting for some resolution or perhaps just enjoying the San Diego weather.  Both tours also visit other historic districts of San Diego such as Old Town and Coronado. The tours are billed as “PG-13” but don’t worry – it’s an Edgar Allen Poe spooky, not a Rosemary’s Baby spooky.
    Tour pricing varies by type of tour.  Check out their websites for details.

Will you ever look at downtown San Diego the same way again?  I quote the raven: “Nevermore!”