SAN FRANCISCO, October 9, 2014 – Halloween is nearly upon us; the frightfully fun holiday that allows people to tap into their inner freak and put it on display for everyone to witness without judgment. These gems add up to some downright creepy places that are rumored to be haunted and open for business.
Where can a Halloween-loving, fright-seeker find places and events to whet their appetite, and perhaps even their pants? Follow this ghoulish top-13 list for the very best of the Bay Area’s frights.
Prepare to be scared stiff at the Winchester Mystery House this Halloween. Begin with a flashlight self-guided tour through the mysterious house that Sarah built. This bizarre 160-room house is the product of crazed Sarah Winchester, who built the house to appease the ghosts of those that her late husband William Winchester’s gun company’s weapons killed over the years. Sarah herself died in this house in her bed on September 5, 1922, and is still rumored to walk the halls of her unfinished maze of a house. Actors expertly portray ghastly scenes of the undead, and frighten you out of your skin as you wind through this maze of horror, making you want to run for your life. Flashlight tours are available Thursday – Sunday nights from 10/17 through 10/31. Location: 525 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, 408.247.2101.
Alcatraz Night Tour – San Francisco
This historic prison and San Francisco icon is famous for being haunted by spirits of past prisoners and would-be escapees. Ghostly hotspots include the solitary confinement cells (supposedly the most haunted), and the utility passageway of Cell Block C, where a bloody uprising took place in 1946. Step into the solitary confinement cells and see if you have the nerve to close the door to total blackness and be alone with the deviant ghosts that reside there. How long will you last before you are screaming to be let out? The night tour really elevates the spooky feeling, as well as the hair on the back of your neck. Book well in advance, these tours “cell” out. Tickets start at $30 for adults and $18 for kids.
Concannon dares you to join them for a frightful evening of sips, sweets and spirits. Tour their historic grounds, drink the blood of the vine, and listen as the ghosts of vintages past tell their haunting tales. The spook-tacular adventure includes special wine and a Halloween candy pairing at each of your shadowy encounters. Flashlights are encouraged for anyone afraid of the dark. Costumes are highly encouraged! October 23rd – 25th, after sunset at the Concannon Tasting Room. Tickets are $25 per person, 21+ only. Advance tickets are required. Location: 4590 Tesla Road, Livermore, 800.258.9866.
Scare Grove – Stern Grove, San Francisco
For those of you that have been to Stern Grove, the hair is probably already standing on the back of your neck. The very idea of a haunted house at the bottom of Stern Grove is downright frightening. Add in the element of total darkness, and you’ve got yourself a good ole fashioned scare-fest. The nice folks at Stern Grove say this is family friendly, with carnival rides, hay rights, slides, etc. But only the brave dare enter their ghoulish haunted house! October 24th from 3:00 – 9:00pm. Tickets are $8 per person; kids under 2 are free. Location: 19th Avenue & Sloat Blvd, San Francisco.
Pagan Ball – Castillo di Amorosa Winery, Napa
Visit “The Castle” in Napa Valley that was 20 years in the making, and you will be transported back to medieval Italy. The castle hosts an event called The Pagan Ball, housed in the 121,000 square foot, 107 room, 5-level castle, and even has its own underground torture chamber with an authentic “iron maiden” torture device. October 26th, 8pm – midnight. Tickets start at $125; advance tickets required. Location/Details: Castillo di Amorosa, Calistoga, Napa Valley.
Come aboard for Hornblower’s 8th annual KISS Screamin’ Halloween Cruise. Get creative with your costumes and come prepared to dance well into the witching hours. Eerie fog rolls in, the music is thumping, it’s dark, and lurking around the next corner is a devilish-looking monster that you’re not quite sure if it is real or costume. Munch on light bites, and take in gorgeous views of San Francisco Bay. The cruise includes a three hour tour of the Bay, and beer, wine and other cocktails are available to purchase. Must be 21+. Tickets are $45 per person, inclusive. Saturday, October 25th, boarding time 7:30pm. Location: leaves from SF Pier 3 on the Embarcadero @ Washington St.
Dr. Evil’s House of Horrors – Guerneville, Sonoma
Dr. Evil’s is a throwback to what haunted houses were like in the 1970s and 1980s: a little rough around the edges, with a feeling like you just might get hurt a little bit while being scared stiff. No need to worry about being hurt, but you will be absolutely frightened as you creep through their maze of horror. See for yourself in their creepy videos. Every Friday and Saturday in October, sundown to 10pm, 12 and older only. VIP tickets are $25 and you can skip the line; regular tickets are $15. Location/details: 16101 Neeley Rd, Guerneville, CA;
Bowlloween 2014 – Lucky Strike, San Francisco
It doesn’t’ matter that you’ve never thought about bowling on Halloween before, the good folks at Lucky Strike thought of that for you. Who wouldn’t want costumes, drinks, the dancing dead, and bowling at wrapped up into one event? It sounds sinister, count us in! On Halloween night, Lucky Strike will transform their hipster bowling alley into a sin-sational bewitching event. Don your favorite costume, ready your dancing shoes, and stretch out those bowling hamstrings and wrists, it is time to get weird. Tickets start at $15 per person. Location/details: 200 King Street, San Francisco.
Mommy & Me (& Daddies Too) Halloween Family Fun Fest – Santana Row, San Jose
Not everything in this Halloween round up is for adults wanting to act like children. This event is for both parents and kids alike. No tricks, just treats at Santana Row for their annual Mommy & Me Family Fun Fest. Just wear your Halloween best and come trick-or-treat the Row. There will also be pumpkin decorating, ghoulish Halloween pics, arts, crafts, face painting, some clown with a balloon, story time, and oh my, the list keeps going. Location: Santana Row, meet in Park Valencia in front of Maggiano’s on Tuesday, October 28th 10am – noon. For more info call 408.551.4611.
Skulls Exhibit – Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
Sounds super creepy, right? According to the Academy of Sciences (and others), every skull tells a story, revealing how vertebrate animals live and die. This exhibit is down right bone chilling. Before your very eyes, thousands of flesh-eating beetle larvae will strip a skull clean. Want to see more? Check out the two deer skulls that are locked together, their entwined antlers attesting to one final, deadly battle. In total, 4,000 square feet, and 640 skulls will help tell the stories of the lives, deaths and evolution of vertebrates. Why not try this out during the Academy’s NightLife events? Every Thursday night a new adventure will unfold. October 9th, 16th and 23rd from 6-10pm, 21+. Skulls sure will be a bit creepier with a few drinks in you. #CASNightLife. Location: Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
Halloween Drinkin’ & Dancin’ Parties – All Around SF
- Halloween International Ball Volume I – W Hotel San Francisco
- San Francisco Halloween Masquerade at Rouge Night Club
- San Francisco Halloween Pub Crawl – Marina
- Halloween International Ball, Volume II – Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Safari West: Boos & Bones Walking Tour with the Dead – Santa Rosa
Visit the Sonoma Serengeti with an adventurous walking adventure this Halloween. Safari West is always putting together fun holiday-themed events, and this time they’ve whipped together a Halloween celebration that is sure to wake the dead. Safari West will be spending El Dia de los Muertos weekend trick or treating through their new skeletal exhibit. This will be a thrilling trick or treating location. Safari West even issues candy that is Palm Oil free in order to support animal conservation. Friday night, 4pm – 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets starting at $10 for treat trail, $35 for dinner package, $280 for complete lodging package for 2 adults. Location/Details: 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, 707.579.2551.
Ghost Tours in San Francisco
San Francisco Tourism Tips has put together a heart-pounding list of creepy ghost tours around town. The Vampire Tour, SF Ghost Hunt and Haunted Haight Walking Tours look particularly ghoulish. See the full list here.
Columnist Sherrie Perkovich offers an insider’s perspective of the very best San Francisco has to offer. Join her to experience the best the City by the Bay has to offer – from parties to parks and everything in between. If it’s happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sherrie is in on it. Follow her column, for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco treats.
Read more of Sherrie’s work at Out And About San Francisco and Wine Country Weekly. Follow Out and About on Twitter and on Facebook for even more inside scoop. Follow her on Pinterest to follow the visual story.
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