- Juliet Bennett Rylah
Los Angeles might seem like a place full of sunny days, pool parties, and palm trees, but it’s also full of ghost stories, legends, and lore. Numerous tour companies are more than happy to usher curious guests to supposedly haunted hotels, true crime locations, and famous graves. Here are six tours that are sure to leave you feeling a little chilly.
The Queen Mary
The Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner, now moored in Long Beach. It functions as a hotel, restaurant, and bar, but some say that many spirits walk its decks. The Queen Mary is not one to shy away from these rumors, and in fact, it offers a variety of “paranormal” tours for the curious. The Paranormal Ship Walk ($44) takes guests through the paranormal “hot spots” on select dates after dark, while the more adventurous might enjoy a paranormal investigation of said hot spots with ParaXplorer Project founder Matthew Schulz ($79). Of course, the best time for horror fans to check out the Queen Mary’s sinister side would be during their annual Halloween event, Dark Harbor. The spectacle features multiple mazes—some on the ship and some on land—performances, rides, and more.
The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA, USA, +1 877 342 0738
Dearly Departed Tours
Dearly Departed offers several tours, each one of them dabbling in Los Angeles’ darker histories and legends. Their Tragical History Tour—their signature route, if you will—grimly explores celebrity culture. Each tour stop is the location of a different celebrity death or notable crime. The Helter Skelter Tour focuses on the crimes of the Manson family, which rocked Los Angeles in the late 1960s. In October, you can book a tour of horror movie filming locations.
Dearly Departed Tours, 5901 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 466 3696
Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles
GHOULA, unlike the other organizations on this list, is more of a club. In their own words: “We are a social club dedicated to the preservation of greater L.A.’s rich haunted history, and the promotion and celebration of this local lore through ghostly gatherings, events, and publications.” They occasionally offer tours, conducted by bus, subway, or on foot. Their Haunted Red Line Tour, for instance, explores L.A. using that specific rail line. They’ve even collaborated with the Institute of Art and Olfaction (IAO) on an aromatic ghost tour, recreating the scents that purportedly divulge the location of some of Los Angeles’ most notorious spirits. Follow their activities online to see what eerie things they’re getting into next.
Local historians Kim Cooper and Richard Schave offer so many fascinating tours that it’s hard to choose among them. However, if it’s horror you’re after, we’d suggest one of their true crime tours. Echo Park Book of the Dead visits the grisly tales of L.A.’s seemingly bucolic “streetcar suburbs,” while Hotel Horrors and Main Street Vice delves into the true crime mysteries of downtown L.A.’s many old hotels, plus the former debauchery and shenanigans of Los Angeles’ Main Street.
This famous cemetery lies right in Hollywood and is the final resting place of many celebrities, including Cecil B. DeMille, Judy Garland, and Mickey Rooney. It’s a popular spot for film screenings and concerts, but walking tours are also available on select weekend dates for a mere $15 per person. Each tour is about two hours long, full of history and visits to celebrity graves. Those who wish to go on self-guided tours may do so between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. daily, with maps available for $5.
Hollywood Forever, 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 469 1181
Downtown LA Walking Tours
Downtown LA Walking Tours gives you the opportunity to explore Los Angeles’ history, architecture, and lore on foot. Their Haunted Tales Tour highlights true crime and ghost stories, with tour stops including the site of the infamous L.A. Times bombing and Los Angeles’ earliest cemeteries. Tours generally last about two hours and are quite affordable at about $17 for adults (children 12 and under free).