Goth Guide to San Diego

When a city is best known for having year-round sunny weather, most people will be forgiven for thinking that San Diego isn’t a goth-friendly destination. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true! Sure, it’s not teeming with old cemeteries and occult shops like New Orleans, but if you know where to look, you can find some very cool spots to hang out and enjoy dark aesthetics.



Pioneer Park in San Diego
Pioneer Park: part park, part cemetery


It’s on the small side, but the El Campo Cemetery in Old Town is worth a visit. Dating back to the mid-1800s, the humble site is home to many who played a role in the city’s early days. The mostly wooden and stone graves are a stark contrast to the elaborate tombs you’d find in a place like New Orleans and definitely inspire a more contemplative mood when visiting.


While not immediately recognizable as a cemetery, one of my favorite spots in the city is Pioneer Park in Mission Hills. At first glance, it just seems like your average neighborhood park, but tucked into the southeast corner are the remaining monuments of the cemetery underneath. Grab a picnic and set up on the grass nearby.



With two locations, Love & Aesthetics offers quirky homewares, jewelry and other odds and ends with a dark vibe. The Little Italy location is a bit bigger, and I rarely leave empty handed. Jeffrey Parish in South Park offers a little bit of everything, including a house line of women’s fashion.


Dining and Drinking



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The speakeasy trend may be overdone, but Noble Experiment has been in the game for years and remains one of the best cocktail bars in San Diego. Their drinks are fantastic, and their decor is modern gilded meets Haunted Mansion. Make reservations and get there early if you want to avoid the hoi polloi.


When it comes to restaurants, Kindred in South Park cannot be topped. It’s all vegan and everything inside is inspired by metal aesthetics, from the menu to the artwork. Expect to hear doom metal playing in the bathrooms and wait staff wearing Converge shirts. (And the food and drinks are both outstanding.)


Where to Stay

Britt Scripps Inn Gothic Room
Decor goals: the Gothic Room at the Britt Scripps Inn


You could check into one of the many San Diego area hotels that claim to be haunted, like the Hotel Del Coronado, but I recommend the Britt Scripps Inn. The classic Victorian manor has gorgeous rooms and is central to a lot of San Diego neighborhoods.




San Diego has been experiencing a resurgence of goth events lately. As with events, it’s best to check out social media to make sure these are still happening, but here’s a snapshot of where you’ll find fellow black-clad heathens:


  • Club Sabbat – one of San Diego’s longest running goth and industrial nights
  • Hemlock – a monthly night of deathrock
  • The Manhattan – in San Diego’s South Bay, the bar hosts a couple of goth and post-punks nights each month
  • Goth Swap Meet – a place to find oddities, fashion, records and more
  • Witchy Wednesday – a newer event held on the third Wednesday of the month at the Til Two Club featuring vendors

World’s Creepiest Bars: The Last Tuesday Society

the Last Tuesday Society and Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

To call the Last Tuesday Society a bar doesn’t do it justice, because it’s a lot more than that. Located on London’s Hackney neighborhood, this creepy bar is also home to the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, and spoiler alert: this place is heaven.

Viktor Wynd Museum table with skeletons
The ultimate dining table

The place is fairly small, but they pack a lot in. When you first walk in, you enter at the bar level. The bartender will greet you and give you the lay of the land. For a few pounds, you can pay admission to the museum, which is located on the lower lever down a precarious spiral staircase. You’re allowed to take beer or wine with you down into the gallery (cocktails are only allowed upstairs in the bar area, however). The admission price includes a little souvenir book, so my advice is to hit the gallery first, then pull up a table in the cocktail lounge and read all about the weirdness you just saw, like the gold-plated hippo skull that was owned by Pablo Escobar, Fiji mermaid or a taxidermied goat with wings.

Taxidermy lion and bone chandelier
I could never pick a favorite item at the Viktor Wynd Museum, because they are all perfect.


The museum/bar hosts a lot of unique events, from literary readings to taxidermy classes, so make sure to check the calendar if you’re planning a visit. When I visited recently, they were hosting a temporary exhibition of witchcraft art and artifacts on loan from Cornwall’s Museum of Witchcraft. (Note to self: plan a future trip to Cornwall.)

Cocktail at Last Tuesday Society
A delicious whiskey cocktail and a souvenir book are the perfect afternoon pairing.

World’s Creepiest Bars: Muriel’s Seance Lounge

Muriel's Seance Lounge creepy bar in New Orleans

On a recent trip to London, I lamented that there simply aren’t enough cool, creepy bars out there in the world. There are a lot of gimmicky goth bars. There are a lot of bars that claim to be haunted or have some sort of ominous past. And there are a lot of stylish, elegantly designed bars. But elegant, dark and just a bit twisted? That’s hard to find in the right balance. Thus, I have a new life’s mission: find all the best cool, creepy bars in the world and document them!

When you first hear about Muriel’s Seance Lounge in New Orleans, it might sound like it could skew a bit on the gimmicky side. Tucked away in an upstairs corner of Muriel’s restaurant in Jackson Square, this is where Muriel’s resident ghost, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, is said to spend most of his haunting hours. Whether or not Pierre does call this place home, from the moment I stepped in, I wanted to settle down in Muriel’s Seance Room and never leave.

Muriel's Seance Lounge creepy bar New Orleans
No, that’s not Pierre, that’s just my drinking companion.

There aren’t many instructions for visitors on how to access the room; we had to sit down at the bar and ask the bartender. On the south side of Muriel’s main dining room is a door that looks like it could be an emergency exit, but open it and follow the candle-lined hallway and you’ll find a delightfully spooky surprise. At the base of a stairwell sits a table set with bread and wine for Pierre, should he happen to stop by. Head upstairs, and suddenly the chaos of the French Quarter feels a world away. The floor-to-ceiling red decor is complemented by ethereal music, both suggestive of a haunted house. Again, this could come of super cheesy, but the space manages to walk just the right line to provide atmosphere that’s quirky but not phony. Plenty of plush sofas, banquettes and arm chairs make the space very comfortable, and the eclectic artwork ranges from Rococo-style paintings to Egyptian sarcophagi.

Muriel's Seance Lounge creepy bar in New Orleans

I visited on a Tuesday night in November, and was delighted to have the place to myself for most of the night.  I’m not sure if this is typical, or if on busier nights they might send wait staff upstairs to check on guests, but there’s no bar upstairs so getting refills on cocktails required going back down to the main bar. That didn’t deter me from spending a few hours there knocking back a few Saint 75 cocktails, a delicious arrangement of gin, St. Germain, lemon juice and sparkling wine..

I never did see Pierre’s ghost…perhaps I’ll have to make another visit.