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

Touring New Orleans Cemeteries

New Orleans Lafayette Cemetery #1

New Orleans is one of the few cities in the United States where you can tell a stranger that your travel plans include visiting several cemeteries and no one will bat an eye. In fact, the city’s many cemeteries are some of its most popular tourist attractions. It’s both in spite of and because of this popularity that it can be hard to figure out which cemeteries you can visit and which you can’t.

Websites and social media are chock full of photos for just about every cemetery in New Orleans, but don’t take this as a sign that you can easily pop into Odd Fellows Rest to stage your own photo shoot. Because of crime and vandalism, some of the city’s cemeteries are actually off limits these days. A few are only accessible to tour groups. The guides for these groups actually have to register with the city, and guards monitor who comes in and out with each group. The tours usually require reservations, too, so spontaneity won’t do you much good.

With all these restrictions, planning my tour of Nola’s cemeteries required a lot more legwork than I expected. Save yourself the headache and start your planning by visiting Save Our Cemeteries, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries. Of all the sites I visited, this one has the most up-to-date information on which cemeteries are currently open to the public, what their open hours are, and whether or not a tour guide is required to access them.

Lafayette Cemetery #1

New Orleans Lafayette Cemetery #1
Lafayette Cemetery #1

Located in the heart of the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery #1 is one of the easiest to access. Of the three cemeteries that I visited, this one felt the most European. Surrounded on nearly all sides by trees, the grounds are quite green and somewhat overgrown with weeds. Ferns spring forth from cracks in damaged tombs down every aisle.

New Orleans Lafayette Cemetery #1
A tomb in disrepair

Save our Cemeteries works to preserve these aging tombs, and families are expected to care for their loved ones’ and ancestors’ tombs, but the crumbling facades in various stages of repair and disrepair do offer a glimpse into how the tombs were constructed, how the dead were preserved, and what goes into keeping these monuments intact.

St. Louis Cemetery #1

St. Louis #1 is probably the most famous of the city’s many cemeteries, likely due to its notable residents like Homer Plessy (and one very out-of-place and not-yet-used tomb belonging to the actor Nicolas Cage). Because of vandalism, this one of the cemeteries that you can only visit as part of a supervised tour with a registered tour guide. There are plenty of companies that offer tours, ranging from historic to campy. While the vampire and voodoo stories of New Orleans fascinate me, I prefer to hear the history behind the lore rather than indulge in sensationalism. The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau recommended Historic New Orleans Tours, and as the name promised, our guide was knowledgeable on history and quick to dispel myths and misconceptions, particularly when it came to Voodoo.

New Orleans St Louis Cemetery #1
Our tour guide from Historic New Orleans Tours

New Orleans St Louis Cemetery #1

Marie Laveau‘s tomb is a big draw for tourists. I didn’t really know much about the legend of Marie Laveau, known as the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans,” assuming that 99 percent of what I’d read on the internet would be more fiction than truth.

New Orleans St Louis Cemetery #1
Offerings left at Marie Laveau’s tomb

As you can see, lots of visitors like to leave offerings at her tomb (many think that it brings luck), but our guide insisted that this was actually a little disrespectful. He pointed out that a true Voodoo offering should reflect the person to whom it is offered. The hairbands could be seen as true offerings, since Marie Laveau worked for many years as a hair dresser, but the rest (like the Mardi Gras beads) were essentially like leaving trash in front of her tomb. Our guide went on to talk a lot about Voodoo and its connection to both Catholicism and the city’s history. If you’re at all interested in the truths behind this practice in New Orleans, rather than the superstitions and myths, this is a great tour to take.

St. Roch Cemetery

While Lafayette #1 teemed with green and Old World vibes, St. Louis #1 was something of a densely packed city within a city. St. Roch Cemetery was altogether different from both. Most of the tombs are much lower to the ground, and a good number of tombstones line the surrounding walls. Many guide books are quick to point out that visiting cemeteries in New Orleans isn’t always super safe. Some advise caution around cemeteries near “high crime” neighborhoods. More than a few sources point out the St. Louis #1 is near a housing project, so tourists should be cautious walking to and from it. Personally, I felt quite safe on the way to and from St. Louis #1, but we were walking with a tour guide who knew the streets well. My visit to St. Roch did give me the slightest unease though. While it’s not far from the Bywater, a gentrifying neighborhood, St. Roch cemetery is certainly on the outskirts of any areas that tourists frequent. Along the way, I passed several houses that still bore the “X-code” marks of Katrina. Once there, you do feel quite isolated. I’d advise not going alone and visiting during daylight hours.

St Roch Cemetery New Orleans

St Roch Cemetery New Orleans

One of the biggest draws at St. Roch is the chapel. In the 14th century, St. Roch ministered to victims of the plague. Because of the legend surrounding his healing powers, visitors to the chapel over the centuries have left a variety of oddities as offerings (everything from glass eyes to prosthetic limbs), hoping their offerings would lead St. Roch to heal their ailments.

St Roch Cemetery New Orleans
Offerings in the chapel to St. Roch

Having only 3 full days in New Orleans, I only visited 3 cemeteries, but each one was remarkable different. And there are many, many more left to see…something to bring me back for a future visit.

Do you have a favorite New Orleans cemetery, or tips for visiting? Share it in the comments below!

Pioneer Park – San Diego, California

Pioneer Park in San Diego

Tucked into a residential pocket of San Diego’s upscale Mission Hills neighborhood, there’s a sunny neighborhood park that’s home to an unexpectedly spooky surprise. Once a cemetery, Pioneer Park today is a prime spot for families to gather for a barbecue or for residents to play a game a fetch with their dogs, but look beyond the playground equipment in the southeast corner of the park to see what really makes this park unique: dozens of historic tombstones and grave markers.


In the later half of the 19th century, this modest plot of land served as a Catholic cemetery and remained so for a century. Hundreds of San Diegans were laid to rest here (estimates range from 800 to more than 4,000 people were buried here), including members of several of the city’s most notable families. But by the 1970s, the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and the city moved to turn the land into a community park. The bodies were left in their graves beneath the ground, but the majority of the tombstones were cleared out, save for a few beautiful rows at the park’s edge, which remained as a memorial.


With arching pepper trees and eucalyptus encircling the park, the corner with these remaining tombstones makes for a lovely picnic spot. If you go late at night, you might find local teens hanging out, imbibing in illegal substances, but on a sunny afternoon, it’s the perfect respite from San Diego’s bustling beaches.