Santa Paula, California is known as the “citrus capital of the world.” It may well be but it is also one of the most haunted towns in the state. The reason for the hauntings dates back to March 12, 1928 when the St Francis Dam collapsed and sent 12 billion gallons of water crashing into the town. With a large loss of life the town needed somewhere to temporarily store the bodies and the Santa Paula Inn seemed the perfect place for this. Which is exactly why we made reservations to stay there on our trip.
As my partner and I were giving a lecture the following day we made our way to the inn on Friday evening. We had booked a room with two beds, as usual but found that getting this room was going to be a challenge in and of itself. We arrived shortly before 6pm and found the front desk locked up tight, we called the number on the sign and were told, “we are off property” and were asked to wait 15 minutes for them to arrive. It took them more than half an hour and then we were told that they didn’t have a room with two beds. We argued with them and were finally given the suite for that evening but we would have to switch rooms the next day and that one of us would have to sleep on the floor. They offered to reduce the rate by ten dollars. We did have a bit of paranormal activity in our suite; my partner could hear heavy footsteps walking back and forth across the floor for some time during the night.
The next day we switched rooms and when we saw where we were being asked to stay our first thought was, “Well, if one of us sleeps on the floor how do we get to the bathroom?” My partner called the office to express our displeasure and even though our hosts were apologetic they were also unmoved; that is until they found out I write a travel blog. Once this tidbit was made known they seemed to scramble to appease us, right down to finally comping our stay.
Later that day my partner received a text from the owners of the Santa Paula Inn to tell us that a couple had graciously switched rooms with us because they didn’t need two beds; we thanked them for the text and were relieved that neither of us were sleeping on the floor. That is until we met two very nice ladies who were also attending the same convention as us and we discovered that they had been forced, yes, forced out of their two-bed room because the hoteliers were scared I would write a bad review.
The Santa Paula Inn is billed as a Bed & Breakfast; it even has an award for Excellence from Trip Advisor for 2014. Breakfast here consists of plastic containers of cheap cereal, cinnamon toast, English muffins, bagels and mini-buns, basically the same fare that can be found at most cheap motels. The fact that we killed a cockroach in our room leads me to recommend a nearby restaurant. The award from Trip Advisor also makes me wonder what else they may be getting wrong with their award system of inspections.
With an un-staffed front desk, shoddy (at best) reservation agreement, cockroaches in the room, sub-par (for a B&B) breakfast and owners who have no compunction in lying to their guests I could not in good conscience recommend this “Inn” to anyone.
The flip side to the Santa Paula Inn is the Glen Tavern Inn only two blocks east. This historic Inn built in 1911 is a must stay for anyone going to Santa Paula for a paranormal adventure. The staff goes out of its way to make guests feel welcome and the atmosphere and ambiance takes one back to the turn of the 20thcentury in an almost magical way. The rooms, built at a time without modern amenities are small but clean and make you feel like you have gone back in time. Did I mention that the Glen Tavern Inn is one of the most haunted places you will find?
The second floor is well known for its ghost, Pearl. This child has been known to walk into rooms on the second floor scaring many unsuspecting guests and the sound of children’s laughter has been known to echo through the second floor hallway as well. On the third floor, room 307 seems to be haunted by at least two spirits, Calvin is a cowboy who may have been shot here during the third floors iteration as a gambling hall. The other ghost in this room is a young, headless prostitute who worked here during the Inns days as a brothel. Most, if not all of the rooms at this marvelously quaint inn have had reports of activity.
The Glenn Tavern Inn is one of those rare places that have the perfect mix of old world charm and just enough modern amenities to make it comfortable and homey. The staff, as I said above is marvelous and the ghosts plentiful, with this in mind The Glenn Tavern Inn is highly recommended as your home away from home while in Santa Paula.
For those looking for eats there are a couple options. The hungry lunch crowd will find Garman’s Restaurant and Irish Pub the perfect place to relax and sip a Guinness while enjoying fish and chips, Shepard’s Pie, or a plate of corned beef and cabbage. One of their specialties are Black and Tan onion rings and corned beef tacos with cabbage.
If Mexican food is your want then the place to go is Familia Diaz. This family owned restaurant serves traditional fare and is a cut above all the other Mexican restaurants in the area. Please keep away from Tia Babes, this so called Mexican eatery serves out of a box food that’s barely edible while charging $3 for chips and salsa straight from the grocery store discount aisle.
For those craving Italian food the only place to be is Enzo’s at the Glen Tavern. The food here is, simply put, wonderful. From plain old spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and cannelloni to seafood and pancetta you can’t go wrong here. The menu is a bit pricy for those on a budget but the romantic atmosphere and good food make this restaurant stand above the rest in Santa Paula.
For those looking for things to do other than ghost hunting, there is the Fillmore & Western Railroad which still stops at the original 1887 depot for those looking for a scenic ride. There is the California Oil Museum and on the first Friday of every month Main Street gets closed off for the Santa Paula Classic Car Rally. Rancho Camulos, one of the most historic haunts no one has heard of is a short distance away and a must see for its historic beauty and haunted Adobe structures.
Santa Paula is one of those places that is perfect for a weekend getaway of ghost hunting and history. Just a short drive north west of Los Angeles you can’t go wrong with this little town in Ventura County. When you go, tell Pearl hello from the Paratraveler and have a hauntingly great time.