Paranormal Stories: Exploring California’s Most Haunted Places


Author Evie Ybarra has always loved to track down paranormal sites. In her new book California’s Haunted Central Coast, she recounts some of the best hauntings in The Golden State. Read on to see some of her favorites stories, and explore a bar that she wished could have made it into her new book!

When I was asked to write about my recent book, California’s Haunted Central Coastmy immediate thoughts reverted to my favorite stories. Many of us are captivated by our heroes in sports, the music industry, as well as the great actors of our day. And still many more can remember “the good old days” of times past, or grew up with parents and grandparents who shared these stories with us. We recognize the names of people like Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Norma Shearer, and Bette Davis because of these stories. My mother herself often spoke of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh.

Of all those stories I heard as a child, however, the ones revolving around the lavish soirees William Randolph “W.R.” Hearst and Marion Davies hosted for their many famous guests are perhaps the most fascinating, because many of these movies stars and intellectuals have been seen far past their time at Hearst Castle and at W.R.’s guest house in Santa Monica, California.

A view of Hearst Castle on the “Enchanted Hill.” Reprinted from California’s Haunted Central Coast by Evie Ybarra courtesy of Laura Dickinson (pg. 27, The History Press, 2018).

There are several credible witnesses who have seen unexplained events within the walls of the main house at Hearst Castle, but getting to the castle itself was an endeavor. Back in the 1930’s, W.R. had a driver who met the guests at the Santa Maria Inn, who were then chauffeured to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Many guests were movie stars and intellectuals. These guests would stay for the extravagant parties the couple threw, and often returned several times.

Today, the great mansion serves as a tourist attraction, with many of the guest houses and outdoor pool still intact. Estate caretakers claim to have heard footsteps, music, and laughter, as if there was still a party happening in the house. This is not surprising: the paranormal will show themselves when they see an opportunity as they draw energy from the living. Sometimes a ghost frequents a location or a house because it was their very favorite place to spend their time when they were alive.

Ventura City Hall.
Ventura City Hall. Reprinted from California’s Haunted Central Coast by Evie Ybarra courtesy of Laura Dickinson (pg. 101, Arcadia Publishing, 2018).

Another favorite story is the tale of the haunted top floor of City Hall, in Ventura, California.  The City of San Buenaventura has a regal history, and City Hall, which sits on Poli Street overlooking downtown and the vast Pacific Ocean, is not only a beautiful building, but is also quite haunted. The women’s jail was housed on the top floor of this majestic building and today, workers continue reporting how unexplained noises are heard, and lights come on and off when the building is empty.

A story which did not make it into the book, but is nevertheless interesting, features the VinTura Wine Tasting Room and Wine Rack. This Ventura business sits at 14 S. California Street, just a block from Ventura City Hall, and is said to also house unexplained apparitions and paranormal activity after hours. The building itself is 109 years old, according to the landlord. The ambiance of the shop is happy and very positive. Once inside, you relax and enjoy the warmth and very festive atmosphere.

The happy spirits at VinTura move glasses, and lights turn on and off by themselves here at closing time and into the early morning hours. Kristen Shubert, Owner and Sommelier of VinTura is aware of the many stories about the haunted bar: she mentions that glasses will flip off a rack into upright positions, untraceable shadows will appear, and music will pulse loudly in the building, without any physical way of turning it down.

When writing California’s Haunted Central Coast, I hoped to bring alive some of my favorite stories, and the spirits that live in them. Join me through a tour of haunted California.

About the Author

Evie Ybarra is the mother of two—a daughter and a son. She considers her two children her greatest accomplishments. Her husband and confidant, Robert, is her greatest supporter. Evie now has four beautiful grandchildren to whom she has told many stories. After having taught creative writing and history for thirty years, she now enjoys writing as a second career. Evie and her family reside in Southern California in a coastal community filled with many legends and stories.