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13 BEST Bay Area & San Francisco Haunted Houses [2023 Guide]
Find the Bay Area’s spookiest attractions this Halloween season with my list of San Francisco’s haunted houses!
Haunted houses in San Francisco are some of the best in the state and perhaps even the whole country.
When I say haunted houses, I don’t just mean the Halloween-themed attractions by nationally recognized teams aiming to make you shiver for weeks to come.
San Francisco has some seriously ghostly history lingering in its many century-old houses, buildings, and streets.
If you like real, active ghost hunting, you’re looking in the right place! Abundant paranormal experiences are available in the Bay Area at any time of the year.
Still, around the Halloween season , there’s a particular spook in the air, and the many ghost tours around the city amp it up a notch to ensure your ghostliest experience.
The Bay Area loves ringing in the spooky season with all things haunted and making sure everyone can join the Halloween fun.
I’ve divided this list into two sections based on scare level and age requirements.
Those who want to be left shaking in their boots will get their fearful fix, and those who just want a little “Boo!” without the terror can still get a good night’s sleep.
There are also many haunted houses and haunted attractions in the Bay Area for kids with varying degrees of spook.
So glance at this list of San Francisco haunted attractions, and then get out there to join in the creepy fun!
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
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Table of Contents
Scary San Francisco Bay Area Haunted Houses
Winchester mystery house – unhinged.
When : Select nights through October Where : Winchester Mystery House , 545 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA Cost : starting at $64.99
If you’re looking for a haunted house in San Jose, you don’t want to miss Unhinged at the Winchester Mansion. The historic mansion is perhaps the scariest haunted house in the SF Bay Area!
Claiming to be the Bay Area’s most haunted house, the Winchester Mystery House offers a new annual theme.
The seasonal interactive show brings guests a unique and terrifying experience as they wander the house’s eerie halls.
Afterwards, head to the Spookeasy Bar to unwind with a ghoulish cocktail; they’ve got spirits poured by spirits!
Into the Dark SF: Terror Vault (21+)
When : 2023 dates TBD Where : The San Francisco Mint , 88 5th St, San Francisco, CA Cost : Tickets start at $55
Each Halloween, Into The Dark brings SF a fully immersive, interactive, scary experience with its annual Terror Vault show.
The San Francisco Mint haunted house is one of the Bay Area’s most anticipated Halloween haunts and one of its best haunted houses!
Combining classical and avant-garde horror with elements of theater, immersive storytelling, audiovisual effects, and even a maze, Into The Dark transforms The Mint into your worst nightmares.
The attached Fang Bang Vampire Bar will be open to the public as the show runs into the wee hours of the night.
This haunting bar has no cover charge, so come out and drink with the shadowy figures lurking in the bar’s corners. Just check what’s in their glasses before you join… they’re vampires, after all!
Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Erwin Chin (@erwin_chin_yk)
When : Select dates in October Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds, 2005 Valley Ave Gate 8 , Pleasanton, CA Cost : $40 (timed entry tickets)
**Age requirement: 16+**
The Pirates of Emerson return annually to Alameda County for this Bay Area favorite haunted Halloween tradition.
Perhaps the most intense haunted house in Northern California, it’s sure to shake you to your core.
Expect a sensory adventure with multiple scare zones, attractions, live characters, and practical effects that include fire and water.
This walk-through event uses timed entry to ensure the most immersive experience for each group of brave visitors.
If you’re in for a proper scare, the folks behind this one have been at it for over half a century– they won’t let you down!
Fear Overload Scream Park
When: Select dates in October Where: NewPark Mall , 2086 Newpark Mall Rd, Newark, CA Cost: starting at $19.99
**Age requirement: 12+**
Brave visitors to the multi-attraction haunted experience, Fear Overload Scream Park , are in for exactly what the name suggests: a proper case of fear overload!
There are good reasons why this attraction is one of the scariest haunted houses in Northern California and one of the best haunted houses in San Francisco.
Two different themed scare zones filled with endless creepy characters, ghosts, and scares are waiting to haunt your dreams for the rest of your life!
Haas-Lilienthal House Mayhem Mansion
When: Select dates in October Where: Haas-Lilienthal House , 2007 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA Cost: starting at $15
Mayhem Mansion is the annual haunted house at the historic Haas Lilienthal House. This experience takes the “ghost tour” to a new level!
Guests venture into the nationally celebrated cultural heritage home-turned-ghost tour attraction.
As you wander through the mansion on a guided tour, you never know who–or what – is waiting for you in the hallways. You may not want to venture off alone…did someone say ghost?
Once thoroughly immersed in the paranormal activity throughout the mansion, head down to the Spookeasy Bar (21+) to calm your nerves with some snacks and refreshments.
Alcatraz Night Tour & Other Haunted Places
When: Ongoing with booking Where: Alcatraz Island , San Francisco Bay, CA Cost: Adults: $56, Kids: $33
Determined to visit the scariest places in San Francisco? You must add Alcatraz to your list!
Alcatraz is the city’s favorite and most popular destination for folks seeking real-life ghost hunting and paranormal activity.
This former federal military prison famously held many of the most dangerous civilian prisoners, including notable names like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly.
Now, the prison is open to the public and offers spooky night tours that allow you to peer into the past.
Around Halloween season, Alcatraz Island has a particularly eerie feel in the air.
So, if you want to experience the best of all San Francisco haunted house tours, taking a night tour at one of SF’s most haunted places will be an experience you won’t forget.
Remember that you must take the ferry and plan your trips according to ferry schedules! Transportation information is available on their website.
Grimm’s Hollow Oubliette
When : Select dates in October Where : Easterbrook Discovery School , 4835 Doyle Rd, San Jose, CA Cost : $12
Oubliette is an after-hours, after-dark maze at Grimm’s Hollow.
This attraction is an immersive haunted house that will leave you scared senseless as you search for your way out of the world of the undead.
Don’t worry– you won’t find yourself alone in the maze at this scary version of the Grimm’s Hollow attractions.
Prepare for the spirits and creatures of the afterlife to stand in your way to safety every chance they get. Surviving the maze will be a battle of wits to test your nerves.
Blind Scream in Santa Rosa
When : Select dates in October Where : 98 Santa Rosa Plaza , Santa Rosa, CA Cost : starting at $25
If you dare to venture into the world of Blind Scream , you’re in for an experience to scare you to death.
Be warned, these folks have been terrorizing Northern California for 15 years; they know how to keep themselves on the San Francisco haunted houses map!
They say the devil himself is present in this haunted house of horrors, and you can expect a shadowy figure lurking in every corner as you make your way through the walk-in attraction.
Costumes are also encouraged as long as they don’t include masks. Visit this haunt to test your nerves and your courage.
Family-Friendly San Francisco Bay Area Haunted Houses
Grimm’s hollow labyrinth.
The Labyrinth is the family-friendly version of the haunted mazes at Grimm’s Hollow, and it’s sure to take you on quite a journey. (The scarier version, Oubliette , takes place after hours in the dungeon.)
“Part labyrinth, part choose your own adventure, part escape room, all MAZE,” this attraction is for those who prefer a quest in good fun over creepy things that may come out after dark.
Bring the whole family together to journey through this one; there is only one way out!
Tricks and Treats at Great America, Santa Clara
When : Select dates through September & October Where : California’s Great America , 4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA Cost : starting at $44.99
Head to Santa Clara for the Halloween special at Great America Amusement Park. It’s lots of “spooky, not scary” fun for all ages!
Go on spooky adventures throughout the park, explore the Land Of Tricks and the Land Of Treats, ride your favorite rides, eat lots of candy, meet some friendly Halloween characters, and wear your costume!
The Haunted Garden at Camron-Stanford House
When : 2023 dates TBD Where : The Camron-Stanford House , 1418 Lakeside Dr, Oakland, CA Cost : $5
Over the past couple of years, the annual Halloween event in the garden at the Historic Camron-Stanford House has become a family favorite. They’re returning in 2023 with lots of spooky garden fun for everyone!
You’ll find family-friendly haunted houses (mild scare zones) spread throughout the inside of the museum alongside a Halloween-themed exhibition.
Outside, there are games, music, and arts and crafts. Remember to wear your costumes!
Six Flags Boo Fest
When : Select dates in September & October Where : Six Flags Discovery Kingdom , 1001 Fairgrounds Dr, Vallejo, CA Cost : starting at $40
Boo Fest is Six Flag’s annual Halloween event for kids at the SF Bay Area Sig Flags location. As the theme park offers “BOO by Day, FRIGHTS by Night,” they keep the monsters at bay until later.
The younger ones can come out during the day to ride roller coasters, trick-or-treat, and get lost in the hay maze.
But after dark, the ghosts and characters who haunt the pathways populate the park for Fright Fest , ready to scare!
Other Haunted Places In SF
Are you particularly into ghost tours in real haunted places? Perhaps you’re interested in a haunted hotel or theater known for paranormal activity.
For lots of death, spirits, and the long saga of San Francisco haunted house history, you may be interested in paying these haunted places a visit.
SF haunted places to visit include:
- Whittier Mansion, San Francisco
- Curran Theater, San Francisco
- The Haskell House Fort Mason, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
- The Atherton Mansion, Pacific Heights, San Francisco
- Miss Mary Lake’s School – The Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Taylor is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, yoga instructor and frontline worker who spends most of her time in her van (Vannigan) winding through the coastal and mountain roads of California where she feels most at home. From navigating the realities of van-life to the fluctuations in diverse climates and landscapes, Taylor is excited to bring everything she’s learned about California to fellow wanderers seeking beauty and adventure.
Looking for more San Francisco and fall travel inspiration? Check out these related articles below!
Halloween Events in Sacramento
Halloween Events in Orange County
Los Angeles Haunted Houses
San Diego Haunted Houses
Best Ghost Tours in San Diego
Best Ghost Towns in California
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The most haunted places in the Bay Area
Embrace the spooky season with the scariest, most hair-raising haunted places in the Bay Area to hit up... if you dare
Halloween is finally quickly approaching, and things are getting spooky in the Bay Area. After all, SF herself is known for some scary sightings. The legend goes that SF has been home to paranormal activity and ghost sightings since its inception, but to be honest, we also just know how to celebrate.
So for kid-friendly activities, get yourself to one of the Bay’s spooky corn mazes or pumpkin patches, but for something even more terrifying, why not check out one of its spooky haunted places? From Alcatraz to ghostly theatres, you’ll find everything you need here for a ghostly day or night out. Here are the most haunted places in the Bay Area.
RECOMMENDED: 🌀 The best corn mazes in the Bay Area 🎃 The best pumpkin patches in the Bay Area 👻 The most haunted places in the US 🏘️ The most haunted Airbnbs in the US
Clara Hogan is a California-based Time Out writer and editor . At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines .
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Haunted places in the Bay Area
1. Winchester Mystery House
- Historic buildings and sites
- price 1 of 4
The Bay Area’s most famous haunted home, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, was once the largest private residence in the United States. The bizarro began when the lady of the house, Sarah Winchester, inherited a vast fortune from her father-in-law, Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the famous rifle, and she moved from New Haven, Connecticut to San Jose. Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted and started to build a house to elude the ghosts of all the people who had fallen victim to the Winchester rifle. From 1886 until she died in 1922, the construction never ceased on the strange new mansion, which at its peak included 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces, and 2,000 doors, trap doors, and spy holes. The house is designed to confuse—staircases lead nowhere and end at ceilings; cabinets and doors open onto walls; small rooms are built within big rooms; balconies and windows are inside rather than out; chimneys stop floors short of the ceiling; floors have skylights. The best way to experience the haunted house? With a candlelight tour. There’s safety in numbers.
2. Alcatraz Island
- Things to do
- Walks and tours
- San Francisco
If you feel icy fingers on your shoulders as you stroll the former penitentiary, it may be more than just the fog creeping in. Once a military prison for war criminals and later converted into a federal prison for some of the worst felons in history (like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and Whitey Bulger), the island location is now reportedly one of the most haunted spots in the Bay Area—and for good reason. Plagued by deadly riots, tragic escape attempts, murders, and suicides, Alcatraz is said to be rife with restless spirits, especially in solitary confinement Cell Block D, where people were sometimes left for weeks without light, sound, or human contact. Cell 14D is said to be the most spirit-filled. It’s rumored that one night in the 1940s, a man held there was screaming in terror about seeing a creature with glowing eyes; officers later found the prisoner strangled to death. And to this day, many people claim to feel a strange coldness while walking around the area, and some say they catch glimpses of a spirit roaming.
3. Stow Lake
- Golden Gate Park
During the day, this Golden Gate Park go-to is a great place to boat, walk your dog, or visit the waterfall at Strawberry Hill. When the sun goes down and the fog rolls in, however, Stow Lake becomes a walking ground for the Lady in White. Who the hell is that? The popular ghost tale, dating back more than a century, has two very different beginnings. Some say the White Lady, caught up in conversation, failed to notice that her stroller had rolled away and her baby had fallen into the lake. She spent a day and a night searching the area and asking passersby, “Have you seen my baby?” before disappearing into the lake. Others claim that an unmarried woman decided to hide a pregnancy from her family; once the baby was born, she disposed of it in the lake before also killing herself. But both tales agree that if you decide to walk around Stow Lake after hours, you might see a woman wearing a white dress and asking for her baby. Be careful: If the lady comes up to you and asks if you’ve seen her baby, say yes, and she will continue to haunt you. But if you say no, she will kill you. Um, legend has it.
4. The Curran Theatre
Tales of ghosts at the Curran Theatre on Geary Street date back to 1933 when audiences gathered for a hit performance of Show Boat when longtime ticket teller Hewlett Tarr was shot dead in cold blood. Police eventually found the killer, an electrician-turned-bandit called Eddie Anderson, who had held up five different businesses before he was arrested. Anderson was found guilty and sentenced to be hung at San Quenton. Ever since generations of Curran theatre-goers and staff have reported strange noises and even claims of seeing the image of Tarr in the lobby mirrors. But the theater doesn't mind - its staff thinks of him as a friendly ghost watching over them.
5. The Chapel
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It’s hard to tell now, but Valencia Street in the Mission District was once home to most of San Francisco’s mortuaries. Until 1949, a streetcar ran directly from Mission Street to Colma, the Bay Area cemetery town where the dead outnumbered the living by more than a thousand to one. Bodies were prepared near the Mission Street station, then put straight in a car to the cemetery. The Gantner-Maison-Domergue Funeral Home (which would later become the Chapel) would store bodies in the basement, where the incinerator was, below the embalming room. Workers then used a body crank (still visible in the adjacent restaurant) to raise and lower bodies from one room to the other. Employees have reported numerous paranormal activities over the years—bottles exploding, footsteps echoing through the empty building, faucets that turn on and off, votive candles that fly off the mantel—and several musical guests have reported strange experiences in the green room while waiting to perform. Creepiest is the ghostly figure of a little girl who is said to be seen haunting the venue at night.
Given that the Presidio is home to cemeteries with the graves of Native Americans, U.S. army soldiers, and even pets — it's no wonder people believe it's home to ghosts. The land was home to Native Americans long before Spain and Mexico claimed it, and then for well over 200 years, the area served as a military installation. This included a U.S. Army Hospital serving hundreds of thousands of soldiers suffering from physical and mental trauma. The Park Service has run the land since 1994, and people continue to claim to hear shuffling steps of patients, voices calling out from behind closed doors, lights randomly flashing, sightings of men in Army uniforms, and strange happenings in the Pet Cemetery.
7. Queen Anne Hotel
- Pacific Heights
This well-preserved 1890s Victorian may look like a typical San Francisco boutique hotel, but the Queen Anne began as a girls’ boarding school (and boarding schools are pretty much always haunted). The institution was run by Mary Lake, the mistress of San Francisco silver baron and Nob Hill denizen James Fair. But when the academy closed in 1896, Mary mysteriously disappeared. Modern-day hotel guests swear that her spirit is still present to welcome visitors—particularly on the fourth floor, which was the site of Mary’s office. Hotel clients have claimed to feel cold chills and even see a white figure in Room 410. Even stranger? Mary is known to tuck in lodgers’ feet during the night.
8. The Westin St. Francis
- Union Square
No stranger to scandal, some of early Hollywood’s most notable names haunt Union Square’s St. Francis Hotel. It was where actor and notorious lush John Barrymore found himself sleeping it off when the 1906 earthquake struck. Darker forces were at work in 1921 when a party thrown by silent-movie comedian Fatty Arbuckle in suites 1219–1221 got out of hand, resulting in the rape and murder of starlet Virginia Rappe. Arbuckle was acquitted, but the scandal ruined his career. In a creepy turn of events, entertainer Al Jolson collapsed and died in the same suite during a poker game in 1950. Staffers and ghost hunters swear that Barrymore, Arbuckle, and Jolson haunt the hallways to this day.
9. The Whittier Mansion
The Whittier Mansion (1896) is from the earliest days of San Francisco’s inception and was built for William Franklin Whittier, one of the richest people in the country at the time, who amassed his wealth in the railroad and shipping businesses. The massive 30-room residence has seen several residents over the decades, with many accounts of ghosts and shadowy figures lurking about that they suspect to be Whittier himself, one of his staffers, or his son, Billy. The home has seen many lives since the Whittiers, including — most interestingly — serving as the German consulate during the Nazi regime, later housing the California Historical Society, and then was eventually purchased by private residents in 1991.
10. San Francisco Columbarium
Tucked into an easy-to-miss courtyard, the 1898 neoclassical funeral home houses the ashes of more than 8,000 San Franciscans, including the Folgers family (yes, of coffee fame) and many others whose names emboss street signs throughout the city. Tour the architectural landmark, and you’ll see some quirky urns made out of martini shakers, tree stumps, Johnny Walker bottles, and teapots, as well as memorabilia such as baseball caps, reading glasses, and theater tickets. If you stick around until the place is empty, you may hear footsteps in the rotunda. According to the site’s longtime caretaker, the ghost of a little girl who died in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake supposedly haunts the niche where she’s interred.
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The Most Haunted Places in San Francisco
Looking for the scariest places to visit in the Bay Area? Don’t miss our guide to the most haunted places in San Francisco!
San Francisco is located right in the middle of the beautiful California coast, but when the fog rolls in, it can take on an eery quality. It makes sense that there are a few famous ghost stories making the rounds about this city. Whether you are looking for a way to celebrate Halloween or just want a different side of history, check out our list of the most haunted places in San Francisco and see what you’re able to discover.
Take a Ghost Tour of San Francisco with Let’s Roam
Ready to uncover some of the most haunted places in San Francisco? Our app-led, guided experiences will help you discover the most famous ghosts and haunts in the Bay Area while learning interesting and exciting facts about the city. Whether you’re looking for a night out with friends or a slightly spooky family-friendly activity, a San Francisco ghost hunt won’t disappoint!
This infamous prison is located on Alcatraz Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It housed some well-known inmates and was the site of many different escape attempts including one successful one that turned into a movie. Al Capone is one of the most famous prisoners and he used to play the banjo in the prison. Some visitors still claim to hear banjo-like sounds while touring the hallways.
Cell 14D is one spot to check out while visiting if you want to feel some ghastly presence. There was a prisoner in this cell that died shortly after screaming and claiming a monster was going to kill him. The guards found him strangled on the ground. Some people feel a cold breeze in that area. Maybe the monster isn’t too far away.
Stow Lake at Golden Gate Park
One of the most famous San Francisco ghost stories is the lady of Stow Lake. This mother was walking near the lake with her small and sat down to take a break and chat with another woman. While the ladies were chatting, the stroller rolled into the lake. The woman became frantic looking for her baby everywhere. The last time she was seen was as she was running into the lake screaming. Now, she is known as the White Lady.
There are many different claims of strange things happening near the lake, groups of cars stalling all at one time, and hearing strange things. There are even reports of some people seeing a lady in a white gown near the lake.
The Sutro Baths were built and opened over 100 years ago. It was a large and intricate system of public baths with beautiful architecture. Adolph Sutro was the creator and he stored all kinds of relics from his world travels in the baths. Today, it’s a hot spot of paranormal activity. Many visitors think those relics might have been connected to magic of some kind. Maybe the entire area was cursed. The baths never took off and their popularity was short-lived. Visit in the evenings if you want the chance to see some ghosts wearing swimwear from the early 1900s.
Haskell House at Fort Mason
The Haskell House is known by some as the most haunted house in San Francisco. The strange paranormal activity dates back to 1859 when United States Senator David Broderick was shot and killed in a planned duel. He was shot and died three days later in the house. In the years since, many residents have felt cold spots within the house, seen a dark figure in the windows on the upper levels, or had lights flickering around them. The craziest story was when someone was working on the house and was pushed out the window by an invisible force.
Moss Beach Distillery
The Moss Beach Distillery was a hot spot during prohibition for moving alcohol. It was called Frank’s Place. This speakeasy was one of the only ones on the San Mateo coast that was never raided by federal agents. One of the regular guests at the speakeasy was a beautiful, young woman always dressed in blue who was carrying on an affair with the piano man. One night, she was walking along the beach near the restaurant with her lover and was killed. The man was injured, but he survived. The Blue Lady has even been featured on Unsolved Mysteries and people travel from all over the place to catch a glimpse of this ghost trying to relive through the 1920s. Plus, the ocean views here are breathtaking so it’s a great spot to visit.
San Francisco City Hall
This building was built near Russian Hill and when they expanded the building, it required bodies to be dug up from the Yerba Buena Cemetery. Since the building was completed, there have been many different reports of spooky sightings.
One of the resident ghosts at City Hall is the punctual ghost. People who worked in the building back in 1924 started noticing the same pattern of tapping every day right afternoon. No matter how hard to looked to figure out the source of the noise, they never had any luck. If you are ghost hunting, this one might be one of the easiest because you can narrow down the timing to experience this.
There was also a double murder at City Hall in 1978 of Harvey Milk and Dan White, two city council members, by a fellow politician. There are lots of rumors that the ghosts of these men make this building one of the most haunted locations in San Francisco.
Neptune Society Columbarium
When you think about haunted spots, cemeteries are probably high on the list. This haunted location holds the remains of thousands of San Francisco residents. It has had a bit of a roller coaster during its history but has been recently restored to a beautiful building. It’s now a popular tourist destination thanks to its fascinating history. They say that there’s a young girl that can be seen wandering the halls sometimes. Another spooky story is the phantom touch. A woman was walking through the Columbarium when she felt a presence near her and a hand touch her back. When she turned around, there was no one there, but she did end up with a souvenir: a white handprint left on her dark shirt.
The Donaldina Cameron House
Located in Chinatown, the Cameron House has a dark history. It was built in the 1880s as a house for Chinese women and girls who were not supposed to be coming with the men to work thanks to the Chinese Exclusion Act. The women could stay at the house and be cared for while adjusting to the United States. The house was destroyed by a fire set by locals and since then, it has been a spot for ghost hunters. People report seeing spirits walk around the property often and it’s considered one of the more active sites in the Bay Area.
This historic mansion was built in 1896 and the rumors claim that it housed German spies during World War II. Visitors have noticed strange shadows in many of the rooms of the house as well as a butler figure in the hallways.
Presidio Pet Cemetary
The cemetery is a final resting place for many different animals of families that were stationed at the Presidio. It’s managed by the National Park Service, but there are no new burials anymore. You can visit, but many people get a spook and have seen ghostly figures wandering about within the cemetery.
The Curran Theater
This historic theater is located on Geary Street in downtown San Francisco. The story goes that a murder happened in the lobby within the first few years of the theater being opened. Many people have reported seeing a ticket taker in a large mirror in the lobby that isn’t actually there.
The Winchester Mystery House
Located in nearby San Jose, this home should not be skipped on a spooky tour of the San Francisco area. Sarah Winchester was the widow of a rifle maker named William Winchester. The legend says that the spirits of all the people her late husband had murdered. She brought in a psychic to help her left any curses put upon her and what was suggested was that she build a temple dedicated to those spirits. She worked on it until she died.
Queen Anne Hotel
If you’re brave, book a night in room 410, the Mary Lake Suite. This historic hotel has been many things including Miss Mary Lake’s school for girls and a gentlemen’s club. It became a hotel in the 1980s and guests have reported having their things unpacked and sorted through, especially when staying on the 4th floor. The things that happen here seem to be the work of a ghost that likes tidying up after guests, but it’s still pretty creepy.
This Victorian mansion was built by a silver tycoon named Richard Craig Chambers. When he died, the house went to his nieces which led to a lot of conflicts between them. One niece had a supposed farm incident that left her cut in half in the mansion, but many people didn’t believe that story. There were many rumors about the family practiced dark magic. Claudia’s ghost makes some appearances in the windows of the home still today.
If That Isn’t Enough…
There are plenty of other spots with rumored hauntings. Check out the San Francisco Art Institute or the USS Hornet which both have a few creepy stories. If you need a break from scary and spooky stories, here’s our full list of the best things to do in San Francisco.
Frequently Asked Questions About Haunted Places in San Francisco
There is a great list of spots to explore, but the most haunted include Alcatraz Island, Queen Anne Hotel and the Winchester Mansion.
Book a room at the Queen Anne Hotel which has a history of spooky stories and ghosts haunting the 4th floor.
You can sign up for a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt featuring some of the most haunted places in San Francisco and complete at night time for the full effect.
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- 11 Spookiest Spots And Haunted Places In San Francisco You Shouldn’t Miss!
23 Mar 2023
San Francisco is a hilly city perched at the tip of a peninsula and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and by the San Francisco Bay on the other. San Francisco is a historically rich city and has lots to offer to tourists who are out to explore. Apart from the usual sightseeing spots and touristy things, if you are looking for some unconventional things to do when you are in the region, we have exactly what you need. Here is a list 11 haunted places in San Francisco that you must visit when you are in the area for an out of the world experience.
11 Most Haunted Places in San Francisco
1. golden gate park.
A lot of tourists and locals have had spooky experiences at the Golden Gate Park. People driving through the Golden Gate Park are stopped over by a Police Officer, in spite of no violations. When these unsuspecting people step out to pay their fines, they are startled to see that the officer who is listed on their ticket was dead years back. Even the local police station was and continues to be puzzled about these occurrences. If you find an officer following you in the park, just continue to drive or walk outside of the park, the spirit of the Police Officer will vanish as soon as you leave the park.
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
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2. The Westin St. Francis
It is widely believed that the famous celebrities of Hollywood have been haunting Union Square’s St. Francis Hotel for years. The hotel was the place where the yesteryear actor John Barrymore died in an earthquake that struck San Francisco in the year 1906, as the actor was sleeping in one of the hotel rooms. Another story is about a party that was held in suites 1219 and 1221 by Fatty Arbuckle, a silent-movie comedian. This grand party apparently got out of control, which led to the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe, an American model and silent film actress. Al Jolson, an American singer, comedian, stage and film actor also died in the same suite during a poker game in the year 1950. The hotel staff and hotel guests have reported that they have sensed and felt Barrymore’s, Arbuckle’s and Jolson’s spirits in the hallways of the hotel.
Location: 335 Powell St, San Francisco, California- 94102, USA
3. Queen Anne Hotel
Built in the 1890s, the Queen Anne Hotel is located near the Pacific Heights and the Japantown districts. The hotel was originally a school for young girls and was also the residence of a very passionate teacher Miss Mary Lake who lived in Room no 410 of the school. Since schooling was not easily accessible to girls in the olden days, the school shut down. Due to this, Miss Mary was left heartbroken due to her attachment to the school and died some years later. A lot of visitors have reportedly seen Miss Mary Lake walking about the hallways and have felt her presence in her old room. The school has now been transformed into a hotel where you can book a stay and experience the spook for yourself.
Location: 1590 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 94109, USA
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4. San Francisco Art Institute
Located near the North Beach and Russian Hill, the San Francisco Art Institute was built in the 1900s. The spooky bit is that this Art Institute was built over an old graveyard. The tower of the building is one of the main haunted places of the Institute. A lot of students, professors and visitors have reportedly heard loud screams and thumping footsteps when they are alone in the Institute. A few have also reportedly seen ghost images at times. The construction workers working on the tower inside the Art Institute had also experienced very close encounters with ghosts.
Location: 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, California- 94133, USA
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5. Strawberry Hill and Stow Lake
One of the most spoken about haunted places in San Francisco is the Strawberry Hill and Stow Lake. The Stow Lake is a man-made lake located on the eastern side of Golden Gate Park. The Strawberry Hill is frequently visited by people who come here to hang out and relax or, go boating around the lake. A lot of visitors have reportedly seen a woman in a white dress with long lustrous hair and a glowing face, walking around the area. There are two different stories that explain why this strange woman roams about the Stow Lake. Some locals say that the woman was from the 1930s who became pregnant out of wedlock, and to hide her pregnancy, she disposed off her baby near the Stow Lake and killed herself. Frequent visitors claim that this lady still strolls up and down the road looking for her baby. Another story says that the woman who roams about the street was a mother who was out on a walk with her baby in a stroller but she lost control of the stroller which went tumbling down the road, with the baby in it. The mother entered the lake in a desperate attempt to save her baby but unfortunately, none of the two was found ever again.
Location: Near the centre of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, USA
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6. Winchester Mystery House
The San Jose Winchester Mystery House was built by the widow of late William Winchester who died from tuberculosis. The Winchester Mystery House is said to be the most haunted house in the world, owing to the apparent curses that were bestowed upon the Winchester family by the spirits of those who were murdered by the rifle tycoon, William Winchester. His wife, Sara Winchester took the help of a psychic from the Boston area who told her about the curse and also informed her that she could appease the spirits by building a giant temple in the honour of those spirits. The twist was that the curse could only be kept at bay until the temple was under construction, and the spirits would kill Mrs Winchester as soon as the temple construction was completed. To prevent any mishaps, his wife spent the rest of her life building the temple until she breathed her last. A lot of visitors and locals still report paranormal activities and ghostly sightings at the Winchester Mystery House.
Location: Winchester Mystery House, 525 S Winchester Boulevard, San Jose, California- 95128, USA
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7. Haskell House at Fort Mason
It is said that the spirits of quarrelling politicians haunt the Haskell House at Fort Mason. USA Senator David Broderick was shot dead during a duel with the State Supreme Court Justice, David Terry in the year 1857. On the scheduled day of the duel, the San Francisco sheriff tried to stop the two politicians but the judge ruled out any law being broken which led the duel to be rescheduled for the next morning where Terry and Broderick appeared with their seconds and with over 80 spectators. In the course of the duel, Terry shot Broderick causing instant death of the latter. When Fort Mason was owned by the military, they reported seeing the ghost of Broderick, marching up and down the place.
Location: Haskell House, 3 Franklin Street, San Francisco, California- 94123, USA
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8. Curran Theatre
Curran Theatre has a stunning architectural structure and is a historical building which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a ticket checker. Lots of guests and visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a ticket checker who was murdered in the 1920s. Some others have also reported that the theatre is haunted by a cashier who was killed during a burglary in the year 1933 and also by a young girl who was apparently killed in a car accident in the 1950s.
Location: Curran Theatre, 445 Geary Street, San Francisco, California- 94102, USA
Alcatraz is the most popular prison site of America, seated on a rock in the heart of San Francisco Bay, this prison site is also one of the most haunted places of San Francisco. There are lots of stories about spirits residing in the halls of Alcatraz. People have reportedly heard sounds of screaming and whistling men, clanging metal doors and loud screams that were heard from within the premises of the prison house. One of the most spooky stories is that of a park ranger who reportedly heard banjo music playing from one of the shower rooms but then found nothing when he checked inside. It is believed that Al Capone (a very famous mobster. was the only one who was allowed to play his banjo when he was in the shower and it is his spirit that still plays the banjo in the shower rooms.
Location: Alcatraz, San Francisco, California – 94133, USA
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10. The Chapel
San Francisco’s famous Valencia Street located in the Mission District was once home to San Francisco’s mortuaries. A streetcar was driven directly to the Bay Area from Mission Street and then the bodies of the deceased were prepared by the Mission Street station and then taken to the cemetery. The bodies were stored in the basement of the Gantner Maison Domergue Funeral Home (now, The Chapel. where even the incinerators were kept, under the embalming room. Employees working in the area have often spoken about paranormal activities where they experienced exploding bottles and echoing footsteps from the empty building. Some workers even reported that they saw faucets being turned on and off with flying votive candles. One of the creepiest things is the ghostly figure of a small girl child that haunts the venue at night.
Location: 777 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California- 94110, USA
11. Ocean Beach Sutro Bath
The Sutro Bath is a huge swimming pool complex that was opened to the public after it was constructed in 1896. These baths were often frequented by the wealthy locals over weekend holidays. Unfortunately, these baths burned down in the 1960s, creating severe damage which made them dysfunctional. The tunnel of the Sutro Baths is said to be haunted as many human sacrifices had taken place at the tunnel. It is said that if you visit the tunnel area at night and light a candle, a silhouette appears to take the candle away from you to blow off the flame and then throws it in the water.
Location: 1004 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, California- 94121, USA
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If you are not sure about visiting these places all by yourself, we suggest you look up the ghost tours that are organized by tour companies of San Francisco. There are lots of ghost tours in the city that walk you through some of most haunted spots where the spooky stories of mysterious deaths, crimes, murders and spirits haunting famous places, only send chills down your spine. San Francisco is not only a typical travel destination but also has lots of opportunities to engage travellers in bizarre but intriguing horror stories. Book a ticket to USA now to visit these places if you dare.
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16 Terrifying Haunted Houses And Ghost Tours In The Bay Area
Spooky season is about to take over the Bay Area! Here are the best haunted houses and ghost tours to check out in and around SF.
Autumn is finally here! There are plenty of fun seasonal activities to enjoy during this time, from apple picking to pumpkin carving. But if you’re looking for something a bit more spooky, you’re in the right place. We’ve rounded up some of the best haunted houses in the Bay (in no particular order), plus some ghost tours for those wanting a tamer experience. Read on to start planning your Halloween season!
1. SF Ghost Hunt Walking Tour
The SF Ghost Hunt is an essential ghost tour experience in San Francisco. Learn about the haunted Victorian homes of Pacific Heights and the neighborhood spirits. You’ll see the haunted trees of abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, learn about the Chambers Mansion poltergeists, and more. This special Halloween version led by Christian Cagigal will take you looking for ghosts yourself!
- Price : $30 for standard tour, $100 for special Halloween tour with VIP experience on Oct. 28, 29, 30, and 31, 2023
- Dates : Now through Halloween
- Location : Meet in front of Healing Arts center, 1801 Bush St, San Francisco
2. Fear Overload Scream Park
Find two excellent haunted houses at this award-winning Newark location. “Happy Days Asylum” will take you through a twisted asylum from the point of view of a patient surrounded by hair-raising whispers. The other experience is “House of Phobia: Rise of Monsters,” in which you’ll enter the sinister house where guests entered and never returned. Get ready to scream, because these are widely considered to be the best haunted houses in the Bay!
- Price : $19.99-32.99
- Dates : Sept. 23 – Nov. 5, 2023
- Location : 2086 Newpark Mall, Newark
3. The Haunt Ghost Tour
This family-friendly ghost tour takes you through the mysterious streets of SF’s Chinatown armed with ghost-hunting tools like EMF meters and dowsing rods. The tour includes breathtaking spooky tales about hidden graves, buried ships, and a closing ceremony to honor the local spirits you encounter.
- Price : Starting at $49
- Dates : Daily
- Location : Meet near Transamerica Pyramid
4. Piedmont Pumpkin Patch
This popular spot in Oakland has 2 haunted house options. You can do the “less scary” version for kids and scaredy-cat adults, where they’ll turn on the lights and shut off the creatures. Or you can try the scary version, in which something dark lurks around every corner…
- Price : $8 per person
- Location: 4414 Piedmont Ave, Oakland
5. Unhinged: Housewarming at the Winchester Mystery House
The famous Winchester Mystery House is stepping it up a notch for the fall season! Unhinged: Housewarming brings a new chapter to their seasonal haunted house. Guests can wander the halls of the mansion for an immersive and spine-chilling haunted experience, brave the outdoor scare zone, and then decompress at the Lavish Garden Party with fun themed cocktails and food.
- Price : $65-70
- Dates : Sept. 22 – Oct. 31, 2023
- Location : 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose
6. Blind Scream
This blood-curdling house is haunted by 3 terrible witches, who have cursed all who dare cross the threshold. The experience is not for the faint of heart, so come prepared for a terrifying time!
- Price : $25-35
- Dates : Oct.13-31, 2023
- Location : 98 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa
7. Tricks and Treats at Great America
A family-friendly Halloween event with two themed sides: Tricks and Treats. The Land of Tricks is filled with all things slimy, creepy, and spooky, including a zombie cover band and a silent disco. The Land of Treats capitalizes on the coziness of fall and Halloween nostalgia, with pumpkin decorating, a candy witch, seasonal craft beers and cocktails, and endless fall-themed food. Tricks and Treats is the perfect option for those who aren’t up for a haunted house but still want to lean into their spooky side.
- Price : Starting at $39.99
- Dates : Sept. 22 – Oct. 28, 2023
- Location : 4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara
8. Pirates of Emerson
This walk-through haunted theme park has four different haunted houses across six acres of the Pleasanton Fairgrounds. The immersive themed sets are designed to place you in the center of the action, with a spooky pirate theme and lots of practical effects including fire. Make sure to buy timed-entry tickets in advance because they sell out quickly!
- Price : $40-80
- Dates : Sept. 29 – Oct. 31, 2023
- Location : Eastern end of Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton
9. Grimm’s Hollow
This haunted house in San Jose is part labyrinth, part haunted house, and part escape room. Take your friends on a wild family-friendly journey through twists and turns of a haunted maze, where you can either get stuck in a dead end or unlock a secret path. The bravest among you can take a stab at the much scarier Oubliette dungeon after-hours, where you’ll have to find your way out of a locked space while angry spirits wreak havoc around you.
- Dates : Oct. 13-31, 2023
- Location: Easterbrook Discovery School, 4835 Doyle Road, San Jose
10. Lemos Farm
Make a day of it at this family-friendly farm with a pumpkin patch, pony rides, train rides, a petting zoo, and this year-round haunted house. There’s a non-scary version for younger kids and a scary version for older kids.
- Price : $12-30 (includes access to other attractions)
- Dates : Year-round, Wednesday-Saturday
- Location: 12320 San Mateo Rd, Half Moon Bay
11. Mayhem Mansion at the Haas-Lilienthal house
San Francisco’s Haas-Lilienthal mansion in Pac Heights will be transformed into the ultimate haunted mansion in this guided tour experience. Learn all about the famous building in a special Halloween-themed tour, but be wary of what lurks around each corner! Guests can then enjoy the 21+ Spookeasy in the house’s Ballroom saloon.
- Price : TBA, tickets on sale October 1
- Dates : TBA
- Location : 2007 Franklin St, San Francisco
12. Fright Fest at Six Flags
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is gearing up for Fright Fest, a special park experience where guests can enjoy haunted rides and attractions, scare zones, spooky shows and performances, and ghoulish themed food and drinks.
- Price : starting at $70, general admission park tickets sold separately
- Dates: Select dates, September 23-October 29
- Location : Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, 1001 Fairgrounds Dr, Vallejo
13. NightMARE Island
Test your bravery in this 45,000 square foot warehouse with enormous lofted ceilings and roll-up doors for an open-air haunted house feeling. There’s a less-scary version with no animatronics or scare actors from 5-6pm, but starting at 6:30pm the scares are in full effect. There’s also a Halloween market with local vendors selling all your spooky necessities.
- Price : $20-30
- Dates : Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in October, plus Monday, Oct. 31, 2023
- Location : 1080 Nimitz Ave, Vallejo
14. Into the Dark: The Initiation at the SF Mint
The San Francisco Mint is one of the city’s oldest buildings, and every year it transforms into the ultimate immersive haunted show. This year’s theme is “INsight,” in which a paranormal cult opens your eyes to “true consciousness,” showing the horrors lurking in our dark world. They’re also bringing back the ’80s Fang Bang Vampire Bar, which serves Halloween-themed cocktails and snacks.
- Dates : Sept 29-Oct 31, 2023
- Price : $55-75
- Location : 88 5th St, San Francisco
15. Dead Time Dreams
San Jose’s popular haunted house presents NIGHTMARES , an open-air scare zone with plenty of room to run from monsters. They’re also stepping up the scares in the “Midway of Terror,” which presents a detailed pre-show to keep you on your toes while you’re waiting your turn.
- Dates : Oct 6-31, 2023
- Location : 2501 Tully Rd. at East Capitol Expressway, San Jose
16. Scotts Valley Haunted House
This beloved haunted house in Scotts Valley has been bringing the frights for 20 years. This year’s theme and details are still TBA, but you can bet on a spine-chilling outdoor walking tour along with a more lighthearted entertainment zone.
- Location : 555 Glenwood Drive, Scotts Valley
Featured image: Fear Overload
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Seasonal & Holidays
Haunted houses 2023: sf bay guide to halloween's bone-chilling best, attention, san francisco bay area fear-seekers. this list is for you ....
Susan C. Schena , Patch Staff
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CA — Fall is officially here, and it's time to start prepping for Halloween.
Part of the seasonal fun for many in the San Francisco Bay Area is braving the region's haunted houses. Use our annual guide to find the most scream-worthy near you. (We've included some tamer options, too, for the faint of heart.)
And have a Happy Haunted Halloween, from Patch!
Find out what's happening in Newark with free, real-time updates from Patch.
Always double-check with organizers to confirm events are proceeding as planned.
OCT. 27: Ship of Spirits: Spaghetti & Spirits Paranormal Dinner & Tour: USS Hornet . Be brave & bring a flashlight.
OCT. 27-29: Annual Teen Haunted House . "Completely created & proudly presented by Alameda teens!"
OCT. 31: Family Fun, Halloween Haunted House . "Spooktacular time" for families. ----------
THROUGH OCT. 31: Haunted Hike . "This hike gets creepier as you go!"
SEPT. 29-OCT. 28: Corbett’s House Of Horror 'FEAR FARM' - This is what happens when a family farm takes a turn for the creepy ...
OCT. 20-21: 'Ghosts Of Dublin' Cemetery Flashlight Tours . This popular event always sells out, so move fast on reservations.
OCT. 13-28: Police Activities League 'Skreamz' Halloween Haunted House . Enjoy being terrorized while also raising funds for PAL College, Leadership & Career Preparation program.
OCT. 13-30: Candle Lighters Ghost House . Terrifying folks since 1969.
OCT. 20-29: Halloween 'Haunted Train': Ardenwood Historic Farm . This "spooky (not scary) ride through the haunted forest" is back after three-year hiatus.
HALF MOON BAY:
THROUGH OCT. 31: Arata’s Pumpkin Farm, Labyrinth Hay Maze & Haunted Barn . Enjoy pumpkin-patch fun. Then conquer the labyrinth & try the spooky barn, if you dare.
THROUGH OCT. 31: Pumpkin Patch, Petting Zoo & Haunted House: Lemos Farm . Train & pony rides, too!
SEPT. 23: Explore The Paranormal At McConaghy House . Find out if McConaghy family still calls their house "home." (We'll wait in the car.)
OCT. 20-21 & 27-28: 'Beyond The Veil' Ghostly Tours: Meek Mansion & McConaghy House . Tales, traditions, ghosts, ghouls & more ... on guided tours.
NOV. 4: Explore The Paranormal At Meek Mansion . Keep the ghostly season going ...
OCT. 6-31: Halloween 'Trail Of Lights & Frights': Swank Farms . More spooktacular than spooky, so good for all ages.
OCT. 21 & 28: G&M Farms Haunted Corn Maze . Two nights of terror offered. It's up to you ...
OCT. 28: 'Mom's Haunted House' Halloween Walk-Thru . "You're gonna be in soooo much trouble!"
OCT. 28-31: 'Evil Vines Cemetery' Halloween Yard Haunt . With trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
SEPT. 23-NOV. 5: 'Fear Overload Scream Park' Halloween Haunted House: Newpark Mall . One location, two walk-thru attractions: House of Phobia & Happy Days Asylum. Be brave! ------------
SEPT. 29-OCT. 31: 'Pirates Of Emerson' Halloween Haunt: Alameda Co. Fairgrounds . Online ticket sales only, so don't miss out!
OCT. 13-14 & 20-21: 'Museum On Main Ghost Walk': Downtown . "You never know what spirits you might encounter along the way."
SEPT. 29-OCT. 31: Into The Dark's 'Terror Vault: The Initiation' Halloween Haunt: SF Mint . Is it scary? Well, the tagline is "Warning: Few survive The Initiation," so you decide.
SEPT. 22-OCT. 31: 'Unhinged: Housewarming' Winchester Mystery House Halloween Haunt . Fun begins at a Roaring '20s garden party before taking a dark turn ...
OCT. 6-31: 'Dead Time Dreams' Walk-Thru Halloween Haunt . The good news ... "an open-air walkway with plenty of room to run."
OCT. 13-31: 'Grimm's Hollow: Maze Of Madness' Haunt . Two versions: family-friendly & super scary.
OCT. 13-31: 'Blind Scream' Haunted House . "Venture forth, if you dare, and experience the terror that has made Doc Hunter's House of Horror a legend"
OCT. 26-28: 21st Annual Scotts Valley Haunted House . This year, you'll tour "The Schmetterling Institute of the Mind," where the terror is "all in your head." -------
OCT. 20-29: 'Haunted Carhouse' Paranormal Halloween Tours: Western Railway Museum . Stick close to guides as tour described as "not for faint of heart."
SEPT. 23-OCT. 29: 'Fright Fest': Six Flags Discovery Kingdom . Featuring haunted attractions, scare zones & more.
THROUGH OCT. 31: Halloween 'Hospital Of Horror' & 'Manor Of Escape': Diablo Escapes . "The room is virtual, but the fear is very real!"
SEPT. 23-OCT. 31: 'Haunted Forest' Outdoor, 30-Acre Halloween Experience . Creatures & spirits take over forest near Green River Brewing & Taproom.
DON'T MISS: SF Bay Area Halloween Events 2023: Pumpkin Patches & Trick-Or-Treats
For statewide haunts: haunted houses 2023: california guide to halloween bone-chilling best.
ALSO SEE: Oktoberfest 2023: SF Bay Area Guide To The Best Of Bavarian Fests
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Newark Halloween Events 2023: Trick-Or-Treats & Pumpkin Patches
San Francisco Haunted Houses
Sacramento Scream Park
Located in Sacramento 530-794-8511--> Next open 10/9/23
Winchester Mystery House - Unhinged: Nightshade's Curse
Located in San Jose 408-247-2101--> Next open 10/13/23
Ranch of Horror
Located in chowchilla 209-947-8999--> Next open 10/13/23
Fear Overload Scream Park
Located in Newark 510-730-2221--> Next open 10/9/23
Categories: Haunted Houses | Halloween Parties & Nightlife | Scream Parks | Other Events
Categories: Haunted Houses | Halloween Festivals & Parades | Ghost Tours
Categories: Haunted Houses | Haunted Trails | Theaters & Plays | Ghost Tours | Gothic History Tours | Halloween Parties & Nightlife | Escape Games | Safe Trick or Treating
Categories: Haunted Houses | Haunted Hay Rides | Zombie Hunts & Shootouts | Haunted Mazes / Haunted Corn Mazes | Haunted Trails | Halloween Parties & Nightlife | Scream Parks | Mazes / Corn Mazes (Kid Friendly)
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Winchester Mystery House Celebrates 100th Anniversary With Whimsically Spooky ‘Unhinged: Housewarming’
As the Winchester Mystery House turns 100 years old, it brings a proper Halloween haunted house experience to the Bay Area’s favorite supposedly haunted house with Unhinged: Housewarming , a two-hour parade of installations and sight gags that are an absolute scream.
The Bay Area is proudly home to the “ creepiest mansion in the U.S. ” San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House became the Winchester Mystery House 100 years ago this year, when firearms industry heiress Sarah Winchester passed away, and the place was turned into a tourist attraction for its famed stairs to nowhere, hidden rooms, and doors that open into walls. It is said that Sarah Winchester had these curious features added to escape the ghosts of people killed by rifles that were haunting her, though an excellent new KQED podcast pretty much debunks all of that .
But who cares if it’s a crock? It’s still a fun story, and it’s part of the Bay Area’s historical DNA. And Winchester Mystery House continues its 100th anniversary celebrations with the new haunted house attraction Unhinged: Housewarming . The Winchester Mystery House has actually been running autumn haunted house events for years , but this one’s all-new. And if you’ve never been to the Winchester Mystery House before, there is perhaps no location on earth more suitable for a haunted house.
The above trailer gives you the impression that there’s a 1920s-themed storyline here. And you’ll certainly get that in the initial front courtyard experience, an immersive-theater strolling character array written and directed by Barron Scott Levkoff , whose design work you may have seen at Poesia Cafe and the SoMa arcade Thriller Social Club . Arrive early for that, for there is much in that courtyard to take in any day, and this experience creates a 1920s party with creepy card tricks, haunting hosts, and Jeffrey Weissman ’s terrific Charlie Chaplin routine.
But once you’re inside the Winchester Mystery House, that plot line pretty much goes out the Victorian windows. It’s not so much a storyline as it is a rapid-fire parade of about 80 scary-fun gags, installations, and set pieces. The interior of the place is already spooky, but this haunted house jazzes it up with graveyards populated with interactive characters, hayloft monsters, apparitions, projection mapping, and things that jump out at you.
And Unhinged: Housewarming really takes you into the depths of the Winchester Mystery House, to areas not usually open to the public. One particularly hilarious segment takes you into the basement and requires you to put on a hard hat, as you will absolutely, positively knock your head against things. (That said, this experience is not well-suited for people with mobility issues, as there’s a lot of crouching and squeezing through small spaces involved. People, that’s just how the Winchester Mystery House is.)
Yes, there are cocktails served in blood bags, and jello shots served in syringes. And we would definitely recommend upgrading to VIP (they call it “RIP”) for an extra $25: you get a free cocktail, a sweet Winchester Mystery House t-shirt, and you get to take two separate tours. The tours are about 80% the same, but your second trip through will be less crowded, so you can spend more time marveling at the meticulously crafted scary ephemera.
Unhinged: Housewarming is a very different haunted house experience than Peaches Christ’s Terror Vault: The Initiation at SF’s Old Mint. This Winchester Mystery House attraction does not stick to any kind of story arc, it just throws a kitchen sink of spine-tingling sets and wild visuals at you. It’s more laughs than scares, but throws a modern pop-art specter over the old black magic for which the Winchester Mystery House is known.
Unhinged: Housewarming runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (and Thursdays starting October 19) through October 31, at the Winchester Mystery House, 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose. Prices vary by date, Tickets here
Related: Video: Winchester Mystery House Opens Spooky, New Previously Off-Limits Rooms [SFist]
Top Image: Winchester Mystery House via Facebook
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The 24 Most Haunted Places in San Francisco
Visit the spookiest spots in the city...or not.
San Francisco has had a rather dark and sordid history, which lends itself to ghost stories.
The Gold Rush brought rampant crime and violence to the city, and Old Chinatown was a setting for much tragedy and misery.
Sad tales emerged from the Victorian mansions and the city saw a lot of death and destruction during the 1906 earthquake, which took over 3000 lives.
In any case, ghost hunters believe that it makes for a lot of unhappy spirits in the rather small geographical footprint of San Francisco!
I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through some of the affiliate links on this page, at no extra cost to you. See disclosure policy . This helps me provide all the free information on the site. Thank you!
Want to have a tour guide take you around to some of the haunted places, and tell you the ghost stories?
Here are a couple of highly rated SF ghost tours:
San Francisco Ghost Tour: The Haunt .
Hunt for ghosts in the old alleys of the Barbary Coast and Chinatown. EMF detectors!
5/5 stars. 1.5 hours.
The San Francisco Ghost & Ghouls Tour
Takes you to all the haunted places on historic Nob Hill.
4.5/5 stars. 1.5 hours, some walking up SF hills.
Here are 24 haunted places in San Francisco to explore.
Visit some of the ghosts of San Francisco!
Creepy old mansions, eerie graveyards, haunted hotels, and more. Most of them are open to the public.
- Golden Gate Park
- Portals of the Past
- The Montandon House (Lombard Street)
- The Curran Theater
- The Queen Anne Hotel
- 450 Sutter Street
- The Sutro Baths
- The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge
- Alcatraz Prison
- The Palace Hotel
- St. Francis Hotel
- Pacific Union Club
- The Neptune Society Columbarium
- Haskell House, Fort Mason
- San Francisco City Hall
- The Chambers Mansion
- The Presidio
- The San Francisco Art Institute
- Mission Dolores cemetery
- The Whittier Mansion
And the Winchester Mystery House , one of my favorites.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge has been the scene of many deaths over the years, making it a prime spot for unhappy spirits.
Suicides. The bridge was built in 1937 and has sadly been a very popular place for suicides. At least 1600 people have been known to jump from the bridge and only 34 survived the fall.
An average of two people a week jump from the bridge.
People on the bridge after dark have reported seeing a figure, often a woman, standing on the edge who says "help me!" then jumps, but disappears.
Worker deaths. During the construction of the bridge, in spite of a novel safety net used on the bridge that saved 19 men (who called their group of survivors the Halfway to Hell Club), 11 men died working on the bridge.
There is an urban myth that the men fell into the fresh cement and died there, and that their bodies are supposedly still there, but 10 died from falling into the water and one from being crushed by a steel girder.
Workers are sometimes seen on the bridge after dark when no one scheduled to work there.
The Golden Gate Bridge has also witnessed many shipwrecks at or near the bridge.
There have been many reports of ghostly, old sailing ships gliding under the bridge on dark and foggy nights.
One ghost ship was seen by the crew of another ship; they identified it as the SS Tennessee , that went down north of the bridge in 1853.
There have been other deaths on the bridge, mostly car accidents.
But a famous murder took place on the bridge in 2000.
The brother of the current San Francisco mayor was fleeing the scene of an armed robbery in the city in the early morning hours in June of 2000.
He was heading north on the Golden Gate Bridge when he (allegedly) pushed the getaway driver, his girlfriend, out of the car and she was hit and killed by another motorist.
He is still in prison serving his sentence for robbery and murder. See SF Standard article on the crime.
- Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
- History of the Golden Gate Bridge
2. Golden Gate Park
This beautiful park was created out of the sand dunes in 1870.
The Golden Gate Park is another prime spot for ghostly appearances.
The ghostly policeman. This apparition has been reported by a number of people. He apparently pulls drivers over and gives them a traffic ticket. When they try to pay the ticket, they're told there is no record of it.
The rest of the story is that the policeman who supposedly issued the ticket has been dead for years. (They must have been quite the detectives to get that information from the DMV!). But how does a ghost handle a piece of paper? Hmm.
Visit Golden Gate Park .
3. Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park
The White Lady of Stow Lake. This spectral sighting is one of the best known San Francisco ghost stories.
Stow Lake is a man-made lake in the middle of Golden Gate Park, very popular for its paddle boats and walking trails.
After dark, visitors to the lake have reported seeing a woman in a long, white dress who asks people where her baby is.
One story is that her child was in a baby buggy which rolled into the lake while the mother was distracted. The baby drowned, and she is still searching for it.
The White Lady has apparently been haunting Stow Lake for over 100 years.
Is there any historical basis to this story?
An SF Gate article goes over some possible origins. Apparently Golden Gate Park was the site of so many suicides around the end of the 19th century, the local paper published a lengthy article on it.
In 1908, a group of friends were driving through the park and reported seeing a ghostly, barefoot woman in a white gown who tried to stop their car. A police officer went back to the spot to investigate, but there was no one there.
And in 1906, two children living in the park in the aftermath of the earthquake reported a baby floating in Lloyd Lake (also haunted), not far from Stow Lake, but the police never found anything.
More on visiting Stow Lake.
4. Portals of the Past, Golden Gate Park
The Portals of the Past. At Lloyd Lake, another man-made lake in the park.
A Nob Hill mansion was decorated with the entry portal.
The house was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and the entry portal was set up next to the lake.
The lake is Lloyd Lake, on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park.
The arch is called Portals of the Past and it became known as a haunted location back in the early 1900's.
People reported seeing glowing balls of light floating on the lake and in the nearby woods.
Its fame spread to England, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, heard about it.
He was interested in spiritualism and actually traveled to Golden Gate Park in 1923 to check it out for himself.
The Portals are also mentioned in Hitchcock's film, Vertigo .
See more photos of the Portals and the original house .
If you are considering visiting the park for a little ghost hunting, be aware that the park hours are 5 am to midnight, and that the park is not all that safe to be wandering around in late at night, ghosts aside!
In the daytime, it is a safe area of the city (except for car break-ins).
More on San Francisco crime - in 2023, not in the bad old days of the Gold Rush period
5. The Montandon House on Lombard Street
This house has an extensive history of being haunted.
The Montandon House sits right at the bottom of the crooked block of Lombard Street, right above all the visitors driving and walking down the hairpin turns.
It's completely hidden by trees on Lombard Street, but around the corner on Leavenworth Street you can get a good look at it.
It's actually an apartment building where Pat Montandon lived on the second floor in the 60's.
She was a local socialite and gossip columnist (married to attorney Melvin Belli at one point) who became famous for her partying lifestyle and TV appearances.
In 1967, she organized a party at her house with an occult theme, with various palm readers and psychics to entertain the guests.
But everything went wrong when a tarot card reader got angry with her (she says because she forgot to bring him his drink) and announced he was putting a curse on her and the house.
After that night, strange and unpleasant things started happening. Chilling temperatures, frantic barking by her dog every night at 2 am, songs playing, and eerie laughter convinced her that there was an evil presence in the house.
She was the victim of break-ins, attacks by strangers, and illnesses. She finally moved out, but her roommate stayed.
A week later, the roommate died in a mysterious fire at the house. But no cause of death could be determined.
After moving out, her life returned to normal and she became very active in various charitable causes, even meeting with the Pope and Mother Teresa.
For more details on these unfortunate events, see the SF Gate article .
Check out the book Pat Montandon wrote about her supernatural experiences, The Intruders , on Amazon.
See my article on visiting Lombard Street .
The house is located at 1000 Lombard Street (hidden behind trees).
6. The Curran Theater
The Curran Theater was built in 1922 by Homer Curran and has been the venue for countless plays and Broadway shows since its opening.
This is quite a haunted spot. The ghost of ticket taker Hewlett Tarr hangs out here. He was shot and killed in a robbery in 1933, and his attacker was later hanged at San Quentin.
The thief was trying to steal two theater tickets for himself and a girlfriend. Tarr sometimes appears in a mirror at the entrance.
Also, a ghost named Arthur is busy backstage, moving props and turning lights on and off. He was a stage hand who was killed in an accident at the theater in the 1940's.
And you might see the wispy form of an actress who performed here long ago.
445 Geary Street. See what's on at the Curran.
7. The Queen Anne Hotel
This charming hotel in the Pacific Heights neighborhood is rumored to be haunted by a woman named Mary Lake, who was the headmistress of a school that originally occupied the building.
Miss Mary Lake's School for Young Ladies was a finishing school for girls, built for Mary by her lover (?) Senator James Fair in 1889. The school was her great dream, but it had to close in 1896 because of financial woes.
Apparently, Miss Lake can't stay away from her beloved school. Guests have reported seeing her apparition and hearing unexplained noises.
Fortunately, she's a friendly ghost. She has been known to unpack guest's suitcases, and neaten up their belongings. Imagine finding someone has tucked in your bedding while you sleep!
The building has been the Queen Anne Hotel since 1980. If you're interested in a stay at this highly-rated, Victorian hotel, check out the hotel details .
Especially Room 410, her former office, where she is often spotted.
1590 Sutter Street.
8. 450 Sutter Street
The 26 story office building at 450 Sutter was built in 1926 on land previously occupied by a synagogue. It currently houses medical offices (and my dentist of 20 years!).
The lobby is a gorgeous example of art deco design, with an ornate, Mayan theme.
Are the Mayan symbols somehow related to the creepy black figures who torment the unfortunate security guards at night? Who knows.
It's just a couple of blocks from Union Square, near the Sutter/Stockton parking garage.
If you're nearby, pop in and take a look at the lobby. Pretty spectacular.
During my many trips to the dentist over the years, I never noticed anything unusual. But I tried hard not to think of earthquakes on the ride up to the 21st floor!
450 Sutter Street, Medical Building.
9. The Sutro Baths
The ruins of the Sutro Baths have a pleasantly haunting appearance even in the daytime.
In 1890, Adolph Sutro built an amazing public bath complex, with enormous, indoor swimming pools, museums, restaurants and entertainment, on the outer edge of San Francisco.
Once a very popular place for San Franciscans to spend the day, it eventually fell into financial troubles and closed. The abandoned building burned down in 1966 under suspicious circumstances.
There have been reports from visitors there late at night who hear the sounds of people laughing, the clinking of glasses and splashing water, sounds from the heyday of the Baths when this was a popular entertainment venue.
A former lifeguard at the baths named Theodosius reportedly drowned trying to save someone in the ocean. His shadow is said to haunt the baths, appearing as a misty form on the beach next to the Baths.
Another ghost has been seen swimming in the pools at night. He apparently died of a heart attack while swimming at the Baths and now appears as a shimmery figure under the water in the ruins.
Also, the tunnel through the cliffside next to the ruins has been a focal spot for ghostly phenomena. The story goes, if you light a candle at the end of the tunnel, something will blow it out or throw it into the water, depending on which version you hear.
If that's not enough, Adolf Sutro, creator of the Sutro Baths, kept a large collection of mummies among his exotic specimens on display at the baths. Plenty of reasons for unhappy spirits to be hanging around!
The Cliff House, also Sutro's, burned down twice and was blown up once by a ship full of dynamite, and the Sutro Baths burned down as well. Bad luck?
And there's more. These rocky cliffs at Lands End stood at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, guarding the treacherous approach towards the bridge, and the scene of numerous shipwrecks where many perished (see more on the Lands End shipwrecks ).
There have also been rumors of human sacrifices in the tunnel, but that sounds a bit far-fetched, even for ghost stories!
The Sutro Baths are at the western edge of San Francisco, near the Cliff House and Lands End .
More on the history of the Sutro Baths and tips for visiting .
10. The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge
Another bridge with restless spirits. Many deaths have occurred on the bridge from accidents, and one from the 1989 earthquake.
People have experienced tapping on their car windows, and the spookiest sight, a headless man who runs along next to their cars at high speed!
11. Alcatraz Prison
Alcatraz Island was home to many prisoners over the years, often housed in grim conditions. Initially, starting in 1912, military prisoners were held there, and later Confederate prisoners of war were housed at Alcatraz.
In 1934, it became Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary , a maximum security federal prison for some of the most dangerous criminals in the country. The prison closed in 1963 and it is now one of San Francisco's most popular tourist attractions.
You can visit the prison and experience the dank atmosphere for yourself, either on the day tour or the night tour .
The prison was the scene of shootouts and murders, and the walls no doubt witnessed a lot of misery.
Alcatraz has been a popular place for ghost hunting and has been the focus of various TV programs about paranormal investigations of the prison.
Spookiest Areas. The dungeon area under Cell Block C has reportedly been the source of sounds of screams and crying over the years. The Park Service actually had psychic Sylvia Brown explore this phenomenon and she claimed she made contact with a hit man who had been murdered down there, nickname "Butcher".
On one of my visits to Alcatraz, we got to go down into the "Dungeon" below the cell block on the Behind the Scenes Tour , but normally visitors aren't allowed in Cell Block C or underneath it. See my article on the Behind the Scenes Tour .
The solitary confinement cells in Cell Block D are open to visitors on the tours. Cell #14-D supposedly has a frigidly cold area in one corner that gives people the creeps.
A convicted murderer named Rufe McCain spent three years in solitary confinement in this cell, and stabbed another inmate to death right after he was released.
Many of the ghostly visitations of figures and noises have been reported by the security guards at night, after the visitors are gone.
Spectral sounds heard at night: rattling chains, moans, and gunshots, plus the sounds of steel doors opening and shutting.
If you're lucky, you might hear banjo music coming from the shower area, like some of the guards have (Al Capone practiced the banjo there).
The night tour is eerier than the day tour, and you can roam the halls pretty much on your own, after most of the people have finished exploring the cell block and moved outside.
For more details, see my experience on the night tour .
12. The Palace Hotel
The Palace Hotel is a prime spot for poltergeists. It's one of the city's most haunted hotels.
It's San Francisco's oldest hotel and a very beautiful one.
President Warren Harding died here in 1923, under supposedly mysterious circumstances. People have reported seeing someone resembling him walking the halls at night and looking out of the windows.
The ghosts and shadowy figures that show up in the hotel are a varied bunch: there's one who locks himself in the hotel dining rooms and then bangs on the walls, a French girl in an old-fashioned dress in the kitchen who asks for soup, and a lady in red who glides down the halls at night, and visits businessmen travelers in their rooms after dark.
There are numerous reports of people feeling they are being touched, cold spots, and sensations of someone watching them.
In spite of the ghosts, this is a great hotel to stay in. Centrally located, luxurious, and it even has an indoor swimming pool.
See Palace Hotel for rates and booking...if you dare!
There's also a ghost in the Pied Piper Ba r in the Palace Hotel who likes to tap people on the shoulder.
The Pied Piper mural above the bar was painted by Maxfield Parrish in 1909.
2 New Montgomery Street.
13. Angel Island
Angel Island is a beautiful island floating in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It's a great day trip from the city; pretty views and good hiking. See my article on things to do on Angel Island and how to get there.
Angel Island was the location of the Immigration Station that processed immigrants coming to the West Coast. It was known as the "Ellis Island of the West".
Many Chinese immigrants were held here during the Gold Rush period and later, while their applications were screened.
Due to a great deal of fraud in immigration documents (the "paper sons"), and the general resistance to Chinese immigration at the time, many would-be immigrants were held for questioning for long periods in the barracks on Angel Island. About 20% sent back to China.
This was the setting for a sad event that led to the reports of haunting at the facility. A young Chinese woman who was traveling to San Francisco to meet her husband-to-be was rejected for immigration.
When she was told she would have to return to China, she went back to dormitory, put on her wedding dress and hanged herself in the shower room.
Following this incident, many reports surfaced of ghostly activity, often an oppressive feeling of a presence, especially in the shower room. Residents used the shower in pairs or groups because of the fear.
One young woman had a scary experience. Lying in bed one night, she felt a weight pressing down on her chest so she could hardly breathe, though nothing was visible. Finally, after minutes of pleading, the weight disappeared.
Visit the museum. The building that housed the Immigration Station is now an interesting museum open to the public. The dormitories and common rooms of the former residents have been recreated as they were at the time.
It's one of the stops on the tram tour of Angel Island, and walking distance from the dock.
See my article on visiting Angel Island and photos of the Immigration Museum.
14. Westin St. Francis Hotel
This classic San Francisco Hotel is reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of jazz singer Al Jolson, who died there during a poker game in 1950, and Fatty Arbuckle, silent film star.
Room 1219 is the haunted room in the hotel. That's where Al Jolson died, and also the location of an incident involving Fatty Arbuckle. Known for his wild parties, the party in Suite 1219-1221 reached a new low on the night of September 5, 1921.
Arbuckle was accused of dragging a woman into room 1219 and raping her; the woman died of her injuries the next day. Arbuckle was tried and eventually acquitted, but the circumstances sounded very suspicious. To read the disturbing details, see the SF Gate article .
The entire 12th floor of the hotel is said to be haunted, in part by the friendly ghost of a woman who lived at the hotel, and died there.
The St. Francis Hotel is on Union Square.
Check rates & more info.
15. Nob Hill
California Street, on Nob Hill , where the nobs lived before the 1906 earthquake, is the favored spot of one of the better-known, San Francisco ghosts.
Flora Sommerton. In 1876, the Sommerton family lived in a mansion on Nob Hill. They had arranged a marriage for their teenage daughter, Flora, to a much older man.
The family expected to benefit socially from the match, but Flora had other ideas.
The night of her engagement party, Flora took off, wearing her party dress, and ran down California Street and disappeared. For many years, no one knew what had happened to her.
The family offered a reward, but her disappearance was a mystery until 1926, when she was found dead in a boarding house in Butte, Montana.
Apparently, Flora has returned to San Francisco. In spirit, anyway.
She reappeared on California Street on the night she died, in 1926.
A number of people have had encounters with a ghostly young woman in a fancy dress, running down the sidewalk on California Street between Powell Street, where the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins Hotels are (see above photo) and Jones Street, across from Grace Cathedral.
If you happen to be up there at night to visit the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel, or Top of the Mark bar at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, keep an eye out for Flora.
Or even stay up on Nob Hill at one of San Francisco's grand luxury hotels.
See the Fairmont Hotel or the Mark Hopkins Hotel for rates and more info.
16. Pacific Union Club
The Pacific Union Club was once a private residence, the Flood Mansion, and now houses an exclusive men's club (still male members only, ladies as guests allowed in limited areas) with a long waiting list.
This house, and the Fairmont Hotel nearby, were the only buildings on Nob Hill not completely destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. The inside of the Flood Mansion was gutted by fire, but the walls were still standing.
The club bought the damaged building for their new location. The members are sworn to secrecy about anything related to the club, so very little is known about it. But they do have an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the basement.
The club has a resident ghost, possibly the Mr. Flood himself.
1000 California Street.
17. The Neptune Society Columbarium
The San Francisco Columbarium is the final resting place of over 8,500 deceased persons; their ashes are stored in urns in niches in the building.
It's an impressive, domed building and an attractive place to visit, with beautiful stained glass windows.
This spot used to be the Odd Fellows Cemetery, but starting in 1929, San Francisco removed most of the bodies in city graveyards to the cemetery in Colma, south of SF.
Apparently they didn't get all the bodies out; there are still some underneath the Columbarium, including the body of a two-year-old girl found in 2016, who had died in 1876, still holding a rose in her hand.
Viola Van Staden. Various people have reported seeing a little girl in old-fashioned clothing who comes up and stands next to you, or walks around the upper levels of the Columbarium. Some hear footsteps and giggling.
In 1997, the caretaker, Emmitt Watson, heard a child talking and saw a little girl standing in front of one of the niches; the girl then disappeared. She was in front of the Van Staden family niche, and he later identified her as Viola Van Staden from her family's photographs.
Viola died at the age of 7 in 1907 after drinking contaminated well water (a problem after the 1906 earthquake) and her ashes are in the Van Staden niche.
One person visiting the Columbarium said she felt a cold hand on her back when no one else was there. She later discovered a white hand print on her shirt.
Some people whose ashes are here: Harvey Milk, Carlos Santana's father, and family members of the Haights, the Stanfords, the Magnins, and the Folgers.
The building is currently owned and managed by the Neptune Society.
1 Lorraine Court, in the Richmond District.
18. Haskell House, Fort Mason
This house at Fort Mason (between Fisherman's Wharf and the SF Marina), now called Quarters 3, was the residence of Leonidas Haskell in the mid-1800's.
Haskell's friend, U. S. Senator David Broderick , was shot in a duel with a former California Supreme Court Justice, David Terry, in 1859. Broderick died in the house three days later.
A number of military families have lived in the house since then, and there have been many reports of supernatural activities in the house.
Over the years, many residents of the house have reported the feeling of someone following them and watching them.
Also, lights would go on by themselves, toilets would flush when no one else was there, and many pictures fell off the walls for no apparent reason.
A figure in a dark coat and top hat has been seen pacing the rooms.
Once a man was working on the house, painting a window, and said he was pushed out of the window by something invisible.
Haskell House is Quarters #3 at Fort Mason.
19. San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall is a beautiful building, built in 1915, but it was built over an abandoned cemetery. The building was also the scene of a double murder in 1978, when Dan White shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
People have reported seeing ghostly figures in period costumes and hearing footsteps in empty corridors, as well as lights going on and off and cold sensations in certain areas.
George Moscone's ghost has allegedly appeared, as well. Also, the spirit of a security guard who died of a heart attack in the building, still patrols it.
The best known apparition is the Lady of the Stairs, a woman in a ball gown sometimes seen descending the grand staircase.
So City Hall is particularly well-populated by ghosts!
1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Place, Civic Center.
20. The Chambers Mansion
The Chambers mansion is located in Pacific Heights and was built in 1887 for a wealthy businessman, Robert Chambers. It's been used as a residence, a convent for nuns, and a bed-and-breakfast.
In 2000, the Victorian mansion was converted into two units and is now a private residence.
This elegant house has been a hotbed for paranormal activity, apparently.
The Lady in Black is the best known apparition; a woman in a black dress has often been seen roaming the hallways.
There are also many reports by staff and guests of objects moving of their own accord, and sudden drops in temperature. Is it Claudia Chambers, who allegedly met a gruesome end (see below), or is it Eudora, Robert's deranged wife?
Residents have heard someone playing the piano in the middle of the night when no one was there, and visitors report the feeling of being watched or followed by an unseen presence.
This is another location that has been investigated by the Office of Paranormal Investigations of JFK University and psychic Sylvia Brown. The lobby hosts a collection of photos and documents about past ghostly encounters.
The legend: R.C. Chambers owned the house, and when he died, his property went to his two nieces. The nieces couldn't stand each other, so another house was built next door, so they could live separately. One of the nieces, Claudia, died under suspicious circumstances; not clear how, but somehow her body was cut in half! Her family claimed it was a farming accident. Claudia's ghost now haunts the premises.
The facts: Robert C. Chambers built the house, and had two nieces living with him and his wife (neither was named Claudia). When he died, the property went to other relatives, who lived in the house. The two nieces sued the estate for what they believe they had been promised by Robert Chambers, but lost the suit. Robert's wife Eudora was a very odd character, however, and there were some strange events involving her while she was alive.
See SF Chronicle story for more details.
2220 Sacramento Street.
21. The Presidio
The Presidio was formerly a military post and has a number of haunted spots.
A row of Civil War era houses on Funston Avenue, called Officers Row , were originally officers' quarters, but are currently being used by various non-profits.
Ghostly figures of uniformed men and women in long dresses have been reported on the porches and walking along the sidewalks after dark in this area.
The grounds of the old Letterman Hospita l (which had a reputation for being haunted after it was abandoned and sat derelict for years) is now the location of Lucasfilms and Industrial Light and Magic.
The San Francisco National Cemetery is nearby, where ghostly apparitions of soldiers and former hospital patients can appear.
But Yoda's statue is also there, so you should be okay ;)
The Presidio Officers' Club is apparently haunted, as well. The TV show Ghost Hunters did an episode about it and filmed the shadowy image of a woman dressed in black walking there.
Also, the Presidio Pet Cemetery is a spooky place at night, where people have seen the forms of animals roaming the graveyard. Too creepy (and sad) for me!
Crissy Field , on the edge of the Presidio, has had reports of strange sensations felt by people walking there. They describe a sudden feeling of great heaviness, as though they were being pulled into the earth.
Crissy Field is now a wide expanse of beach with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
During World War I, it was an airfield that trained pilots being sent over to France, many of whom never returned. A number of pilots were also killed in training accidents there.
22. San Francisco Art Institute
The San Francisco Art Institute (closed in 2022) has been the source of ghostly stories for over 50 years.
The history. The SF Art Institute was founded in 1871 and was one of the oldest art schools in the country. The campus built in 1906 is now up for sale under Chapter 7 liquidation due to financial difficulties.
Many famous artists taught at the school: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Mark Rothko, Gutzon Borglum (creator of Mt. Rushmore sculpture), Annie Leibovitz, and Richard Diebenkorn.
A music department was added and some of the students included Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Dave Getz, drummer for Big Brother and the Holding Company and Country Joe and the Fish, and Courtney Love. Angela Davis also taught at the school.
The building houses a Diego Rivera fresco , "The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City", from 1930.
The hauntings. The tower seems to be the most haunted spot; students and caretakers have reported footsteps and doors opening, as well as the feeling of an evil presence.
Students have heard someone climbing the stairs, floor by floor, but no one was there when they got to the top. Others have witnessed lights going on again after they were turned off.
One teacher working late at night heard all the power tools go on in the sculpture studio. A student working late at the library heard chairs being smashed behind him, but looked and saw nothing.
In 1968, the benign ghost of footsteps and doorknobs was joined by something less pleasant. A major renovation project was begun involving the tower and there was a series of tragic events affecting the night construction crew: bad traffic accidents, polio, and some other near-deadly accidents.
After all these events, a seance was held in the tower and photographs taken that showed scenes that exhibited earlier room arrangements, such as doors where they used to be, and people present at the seance who were moving when they weren't.
There's also a story about a woman student who committed suicide by jumping from the tower in the 1930's who sometimes appears on the edge of the tower, ready to jump, then disappears.
And a former janitor who died of a heart attack in the building is sometimes is seen still doing his work at night and jingling his keys.
The Institute was built next to an old graveyard that was severely damaged in the 1906 earthquake, more candidates for ghostly visits.
800 Chestnut Street.
23. Mission Dolores Cemetery
The Mission Dolores, aka the Mission San Francisco de Asis, was built in 1776, and was one of the series of missions built by the Spanish fathers up and down colonial California.
The current building was built in 1791.
The mission has a rather small cemetery on the grounds which was the burial place of some of the earliest European residents of San Francisco, like Don Francisco de Haro, the first mayor, or alcalde, of San Francisco, and Don Luis Arguello, first Mexican governor of Upper California.
It's also the resting place of a notorious San Francisco couple from the Gold Rush era.
Belle Cora was the madam of an upscale brothel in Chinatown, and her husband Charles was a gambler who was charged with shooting a U.S. Marshall in 1855.
Apparently, the Marshall's wife insulted Belle at the theater, which later led to the altercation between the two men. Cora was tried for murder in 1856 and there was a hung jury.
The Committee for Vigilance, the "Vigilantes", took him from the jail, staged a second trial, convicted him, and hanged him at what is now Portsmouth Square in Chinatown.
This was the origin of the word "vigilante". The Vigilantes were a reaction to the rampant city crime and corruption during the Gold Rush.
More on Belle Cora and Chinatown brothels.
The bodies of many others who had been buried in the graveyard were disinterred and moved to graves outside of the city when San Francisco ended the practice of allowing burials within the city limits.
Approximately 5,000 Indians from the mission days had been buried there, but were also moved. The disruption of the graves is blamed for the haunting of this area.
A lot of paranormal activity has been reported in the old cemetery.
The Mission is at 3321 16th Street.
24. The Whittier Mansion
This historic mansion in the Pacific Heights district is said to be haunted by its original owner, William Franklin Whittier .
The 30-room house was built in 1896 but survived the 1906 earthquake. The building is currently a private residence.
William Whittier lived in the building until his death in 1917. He created a paint and glass business which still survives as Fuller O'Brien Paints.
His daughter inherited the mansion, and when she died, it was sold to the German Reich in 1941.
It was the German consulate during WW2, and was later purchased by the California Historical society in 1956 (now in offices on Mission Street).
Some claim to have seen a ghostly figure in the basement, and others report feeling a "presence" and cold spots in the house.
Some think it's the ghost of the owner, William Whittier, while others think it's more likely the unquiet spirit of his son, Billy, a n'er-do-well, hard-drinking bounder. Or possibly German spies from the war.
2090 Jackson Street.
The Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester House is in San Jose, an hour's drive from San Francisco, but is such a great "haunted" house it needs to be included!
This house is definitely worth a trip, if you have the time.
They have tours of the house, plus a small museum of firearms and a cool, vintage shooting gallery (lasers).
The history of the Winchester House:
Sarah Winchester was the wife of William Wirt Winchester, owner of the Winchester Repeating Arms company.
The legend says she was so affected by the grief of losing her infant daughter, followed by her husband, that she consulted a medium.
Supposedly, she was told that the angry spirits of the people killed by the "Gun That Won the West" needed to be appeased by an unusual construction project. She left Connecticut and bought a farm house near San Jose, and started building.
Construction on the house continued for 38 years. Presumably she based the odd elements of the building on suggestions received during seances held in a room at the house built for that purpose.
There are stairways that go nowhere, doors that open onto empty space, and other doors that open onto solid walls. Plus secret passages, and sealed rooms.
The house eventually had 160 rooms, 47 stairways, and 2,000 doors. This was supposed to baffle the malevolent ghosts.
Visitors and staff have reported hearing footsteps, seeing door handles turn, and felt cold spots. Faces appear in high windows where there is nowhere to stand.
The Winchester House tours:
I went on one of the tours a few years ago; enjoyably creepy!
We got to explore a lot of the rooms and passageways, and the tour guide had some great stories.
For example, when we were down in the basement, the guide told us one the staff members was on a break down there recently and saw a man doing some work on the furnace boiler.
She mentioned it to other staff later and they said no one had been called to work down there. But a man who used to work there 50 years ago (long deceased) occasionally appears there.
They give you Winchester rifles to pose with. We couldn't resist.
525 South Winchester Blvd, San Jose. Open daily.
See the Winchester Mystery House website for more info.
Sources of some of the ghostly material...
Books (on Amazon) :
Haunted San Francisco , by Rand Richards.
Ghost Hunter's Guide to the SF Bay Area , by Jeff Dwyer.
Check out San Francisco's top attractions .
Best things to do in San Francisco
Top San Francisco Attractions
Get the latest tips on visiting San Francisco.
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This Bliss Life
The Most Popular Haunted Houses in San Jose California
With Halloween just around the corner, many families and thrill-seekers in San Jose are looking for ways to get into the spooky spirit. One popular Halloween activity is visiting haunted houses, which provide a fun and safe environment for people of all ages to be frightened and entertained. Though San Jose has plenty of family-friendly pumpkin patches and corn mazes this time of year, the city is also home to several haunted houses that can provide a more thrilling experience.
In particular, the proliferation of haunted houses in San Jose highlights the importance of having safe yet scary venues for teenagers to visit. Since many haunted houses don’t permit young children, they can be an ideal place for teens to bond over their love of horror and the paranormal. With proper supervision and reasonable safety precautions, haunted houses allow young people to face their fears without being exposed to genuine danger. At the same time, San Jose makes sure to offer plenty of family-friendly daytime pumpkin carving events and costume parades. By promoting both frightening haunted houses and playful community events, San Jose finds a good balance to make Halloween an engaging holiday for all ages.
Dead Time Dreams Haunted Attractions
Dead Time Dreams Haunted Attractions in San Jose , California, is a well-known Halloween destination that offers an array of spine-tingling experiences for thrill-seekers and Halloween enthusiasts. Each year, the attraction transforms itself with elaborately designed haunted houses, mazes, scare zones, and interactive experiences, creating an immersive and terrifying environment for visitors.
The attraction is distinguished by its dedication to crafting intricate and ever-changing themes, ranging from classic horror settings to imaginative and unique concepts. With a commitment to high-quality production values, including impressive set design, professional actors in detailed costumes and makeup, and special effects, Dead Time Dreams ensures that guests are fully immersed in a world of horror.
Typically operating during the Halloween season, the attraction offers various ticket options, including VIP passes for shorter lines and special events like “lights-out” nights or behind-the-scenes tours. Safety measures are in place to guarantee the well-being of visitors, and the attraction often plays a role in the local community by creating jobs, supporting charities, and engaging with fans through social media to build anticipation for the Halloween season.
Tickets to Dead Time Dreams Haunted Attractions in San Jose are $20 for general and $30 for VIP.
Located at Eastridge Mall
Address: 2501 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122
The Winchester Mystery House
Our haunted adventure begins with the infamous Winchester Mystery House, an architectural marvel shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Located in the heart of San Jose, this sprawling mansion was once the residence of Sarah Winchester, widow of the Winchester rifle magnate. Legend has it that Sarah was haunted by the spirits of those killed by her husband’s invention, and she embarked on a never-ending construction project to appease them.
The eerie architecture of the Winchester Mystery House features staircases leading to nowhere, doors that open into walls, and secret passages that baffle all who visit. Visitors often report strange sounds, ghostly apparitions, and unexplained occurrences, making it one of the most famous haunted houses in the United States.
During the Halloween season, The Winchester Mystery House Unhinged event takes place. Guests can take part in a spooky housewarming party in which a couple moves into the house but strange things start to happen. Winchester Mystery House also hosts a haunted maze with more than one angry spirit and a Halloween museum.
Address: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
The Bernal Scream
South San Jose hosts the return of The Bernal Scream haunted house walk-through. This year it’s located next to the closed Marie Calendar’s restaurant on Blossom Hill Road. this family-owned and run haunted house features realistic scare actors. We like that the Bernal Scream only allows small groups at a time, which means there is plenty of room to move throughout the house. This also means it can take quite a bit of time to get through the line to enter the house, especially on Halloween night.
Overall we recommend checking out this family-run haunted house which is a great option for those who want to stay in the South Bay area for Halloween.
Tickets cost $25 for general admissions and $40 for VIP
Address: 620 Blossom Hill Rd San Jose, CA 95123
Great America Tricks and Treats Events
The Great America Tricks and Treats is a popular Bay Area attraction that operates annually at California’s Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California. The park is decorated with pumpkins, zombies, ghosts, and other spooky themes. Some of the haunted attractions utilize indoor and outdoor sets and special effects to create an immersive, frightening experience. With multiple scare zones and mazes that range from family-friendly to extremely intense, the Great America Tricks & Treats offers thrills and chills for visitors of all ages.
Most of the popular roller coaster rides are operating during this special event. The lines for the trick-or-treating can get long but lots of kids and their families have plenty of other things to explore. You see many families with their young children up to teens enjoying the park. We love the addition of the bonfires with seats around which is a great addition to the park on chilly evenings.
This frightful event typically runs on select nights from late September through October. Ticket prices start at around $30 for basic entry on weeknights, ranging up to $90 for a VIP experience on peak nights. Parking costs an additional $20-25 per car. Guests can expect live shows, Halloween-themed treats and meals, and hundreds of creepy characters lurking around every corner.
Address: 4701 Great America Pkwy Santa Clara, CA 95052
Boo Crew on Church Drive
The Boo Crew is a popular haunted house attraction in San Jose, California. It is located on Church Drive. The Boo Crew has been a tradition in San Jose for over 22 years. Every year, the crew builds an entirely new, multi-story structure from scratch to reflect a new theme. The haunted house is known for its elaborate and spooky displays, attracting many visitors during the Halloween season.
In the past, the Boo Crew has created haunted houses with themes such as a cursed carnival with a nearly full-scale roller coaster, a spectral riff on San Jose’s Hotel “Dead Anza,” a pirate ship, and an Indiana Jones tribute with a boulder latched to a garage-door opener.
The Boo Crew on Church doesn’t have actors jumping out at you but the walk-through is still a fun experience and you get to admire the hard work of the community. There are additional decorations, stalls selling snacks and drinks, and various actors walking up and down the street to entertain and take pictures with those in line.
Address: 1441 Church Drive San Jose, CA 95118
The post The Most Popular Haunted Houses in San Jose California appeared first on This Bliss Life .