In the mood for a truly authentic Halloween experience? You might want to look beyond the haunted hayrides and mind-bending mazes and back to L.A.’s storied past. From a Los Feliz “murder house” to the iconic Hollywood sign, these five Los Angeles locales are as rich in history as they are hauntings and are sure to offer up their fair share of paranormal activity—sans entrance fee.
The Hollywood Sign→ Hollywood is known to harbor a handful of haunted landmarks, but its iconic namesake sign might just be the ghostliest site of all. In 1932, Golden-era film starlet Peggy Entwistle, distraught over her struggles to make it in Tinseltown, leapt 45 feet to her death from the Hollywood sign’s “H”—which at the time still read “Hollywoodland.” Over the years, numerous hikers and park rangers have caught a glimpse of Entwistle’s ghost, and many even claim to have picked up the scent of her gardenia perfume. Want to see for yourself? The Griffith Park trails are open to the public daily until 10:30 p.m.—just don’t forget a flashlight.
Hotel Cecil→ The site of numerous suicides and at least three murders since its construction in 1924, Downtown L.A.’s Hotel Cecil—which currently operates under the name Stay On Main—certainly doesn’t have the most savory of reputations. Originally built as an affordable lodging option for traveling businessmen, it has since gained notoriety for its connections to deaths and murders, and perhaps most famously as the home of serial murderer Richard Ramirez—the Night Stalker—in the mid-eighties. More recently, it made headlines in 2013 after a 21-year-old Canadian woman was found dead on the rooftop three days after checking in. In spite of its sordid past, the historic Beaux Arts-style hotel, designed by esteemed architect Loy L. Smith, is currently under consideration for landmark status by The Cultural Heritage Commission.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles→ Where there’s history, there’s hauntings. Once the site of the town gallows and public hangings—many of which occurred in front of City Hall—L.A.’s original town square has been known to harbor ghosts. Security cameras will occasionally pick up an image of someone roaming the locked offices after dark, but when guards go to survey the scene, they find nothing. The spirits of more than 100 former occupants of the original adobes, whose remains were improperly excavated from the Pueblo’s original cemetery and relocated to a site adjacent to La Placita Church, are said to make their presence known in hair-raising ways throughout the area.
Los Feliz Murder House→ In 1959, this Spanish-style mansion at 2475 Glendower Place was home to one of L.A.’s most horrific—and mysterious—murders. With no clear motive, Physician Harold Perelson bludgeoned his wife Lillian to death in her sleep with a ball-peen hammer before attempting to slay his daughter, who managed to escape. Afterward, Perelson took a lethal cocktail of Nembutal and tranquilizers and committed suicide. Over the years, the stories surrounding the house and the events that took place there have become the stuff of legend, with numerous illicit visitors claiming to have spotted still-wrapped Christmas presents and a 1950s-era TV through its windows. Earlier this year, the house was listed for sale for the first time in 50 years and purchased in July. We certainly hope the new owners don’t scare easily.