Top 10 ways to spend Halloween around San Francisco

San Francisco is full of creepy places that are rumored to be haunted. Here’s your top 10 list of ways to spend Halloween around San Francisco. Photo: SF Haunted House of Horrors

SAN FRANCISCO, October 24, 2013 – 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.  San Francisco is full of downright creepy places that are rumored to be haunted and open for business. 

So where can Halloween-loving celebrants find places and events that will whet their appetite for fright?  Follow this ghoulish top 10 list for the scariest places to go in the Bay Area for Halloween.

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San Francisco Old Mint Building. Image: SF Mint.


1. Haunted House of Horrors, SF Mint– San Francisco

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The San Francisco Mint is a dark, cobweb-ridden, creepy and dank building that sits dormant, other than for the occasional event. What a perfect location for a weeklong haunted house. This isn’t just any haunted house; you are the star of this terrifying, near-death, interactive “in the horror movie” experience.

At this house of horrors, scream if you can while your blood pumps faster and harder through your veins as you sheepishly wander through your worst waking nightmares in the mazes that lie within the belly of the Old Mint. Feel the hair standing on the back of your neck as hundreds of ghoulish zombies, monsters and un-dead lurk in the dark shadows as you creep through the vaults and hallways. There will be a full bar, DJ and bites to eat so you can dance, drink and scream the night away. Buy tickets in advance, sell outs are expected nightly. The frights begin October 26th and run daily 12pm – 12am through October 31st. Tickets begin at $35. Not recommended for anyone under the age of 13. Location: The Old Mint, 88 5th St, San Francisco.


Winchester Mystery House, San Jose. Image: Winchester

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2. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose

Prepare to be scared stiff at the Winchester Mystery House this Halloween. They’ve turned an already haunted house into a most terrifying experience. 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 who were once victims of her late husband William Winchester’s guns.

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 home. The flashlight audio tour is fascinating, factual, and sheds light on ghostly sightings over the years. Zombies, ghosts and other assorted spirits of the night are also in the house, often hiding around the next corner. Tickets begin at $48. Get your tickets in advance.  Location: 525 Winchester Blvd., San Jose.


San Francisco - Alcatraz Island at Sunset

3. Alcatraz

It is well known that spirits of past prisoners, guards and would-be escapees haunt this historic prison and San Francisco icon. 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. Be sure to step inside one of the solitary cells and close the door to be alone with the deviant ghosts that reside there. The night tour is most recommended for stoking the fear factor. Book well in advance: these tours “cell” out. Tickets start at $30. Absolutely get your tickets well in advance.


4. Night Terrors at Foreign Cinema, San Francisco

Foreign Cinema continues its newly launched midnight movie series with a screening of The Beyond. Foreign Cinema will be showing Lucio Fulci’s classic Italian horror film, The Beyond, on October 30th, also known as “Hell Night.” The film will be screened in its original 35mm print in Foreign Cinema’s courtyard. Throughout the evening, guests can order cocktails from a special cocktail menu. Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 11:30pm at Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission Street at 22nd Street, San Francisco, 415.648.7600. Entrance is free.


CA Great America - Haunt. Image: Great America.


5. California’s Great America – Halloween Haunt, Santa Clara

Every October this theme park gets overrun by spirits of the night. This mind-bending haunt features more than 500 ghouls, seven spine-tingling mazes, three official scare zones, live stages, and of course the rides. The experience is not recommended for anyone under 13 years old. Darkness falls and evil rises every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night through October. Tickets begin at $31. For a weekend of it, Hyatt Regency Santa Clara features the “Great America Halloween Haunt” Package for guests that really want to get their thrill on. The package is available through October 27, 2013 and is based on availability. For details and bookings call (408) 200-1234 or visit and click on  “Special Offers.” 


Bocanova, Oakland. Image: Bocanova.


6. Bocanova First Annual Halloween Costume Party, Oakland

Bocanova in Jack London’s Square in Oakland has a Halloween Party dinner on October 31 at 7 pm. The evening includes a four-course, family-style dinner, costume contest with prizes, and a complimentary glass of sparkling wine.  The four-course dinner will be served highlighting the holiday’s staple fruit, the pumpkin. Each dish will incorporate a pumpkin component, such as Pumpkin Soup with duck liver crostini, Pumpkin Risotto, Scallops a la Plancha with pumpkin sauce, and a pumpkin-inspired dessert. Prizes will be awarded to guests with the best and most innovative costumes. Price is $28 per person. Location: 55 Webster Street, Oakland, (510) 444-1233.


7. Santana Row: Mommy & Me & Daddies, Too: “Happy Halloween”, San Jose

Wear your costume and trick-or-treat on The Row. Santana Row is hosting a Halloween Family Fest on October 29th. Families will be given a passport for all the participating shops and restaurants that will be handing out treats. Enjoy pumpkin decorating, Halloween photos, craft projects and a live musical performance. Santana Row will provide a FREE trick-or-treat bag for kids. October 29th, 10am to noon, starting at Park Valencia. For more information, call (408) 551.4611 or visit


Concannon Vineyard Ghosts. Image: Concannon.


8. 130 Years of Concannon Ghosts Twilight Tour, Livermore

Concannon Vineyard and Winery dares you to join them for a frightfully delightful evening where they revisit 130 Years of Concannon Ghosts! Accompany them on a twilight ghost tour of the historical Concannon property to experience the other-worldly events that may have once occurred. This event takes place in near absolute darkness. If you are a wee bit afraid of the dark, then they encourage you to bring your own flashlight to light your way (or phone app). Enjoy a special selection of wine at each of your shadowy encounters. Delight in ghoulish goodies, your favorite Halloween music, and some very spooky sangria, available through the Underdog Wine Bar. Friday, October 25, 6:30pm at Concannon Vineyard Tasting Room, 4590 Tesla Road, Livermore. Tickets start at $20.
Must be 21+ to participate. (925) 456.2505.


9. 11th Annual Haunted Hostel Halloween, Half Moon Bay

Spend the evening with ghosts, goblins and ghouls as the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel hosts the 11th Annual Haunted Hostel Halloween on October 26th. This spooky event is full of fun games, crafts and live entertainment, and offers the perfect opportunity to bring the whole family along for a night of fun. Take part in Halloween themed crafts and activities, while checking out the creative costumes. Location: Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, 16th Street & Highway 1, Montara, (650) 728-7177. 


Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Image: HMB.


10. Harvest Ale & Menu at HMB Brewing Co., Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, known for their handcrafted beer and sustainable coastal cuisine, celebrates the arrival of the fall season with their Pumpkin Harvest Ale and fall menu offerings through November 30. The handcrafted ale is made with more than 120 pounds of local, roasted sugar pie pumpkins, and has a subtle pumpkin pie flavor balanced by a biscuit maltiness. Through October 31, find the “Pumpkin Menu” with decadent Dungeness Crab, pumpkin bisque and desserts, including homemade pumpkin pie and gingersnap crust pumpkin cheesecake. Location: 390 Capistrano Rd. (650) 728-2739, Half Moon Bay,


Read more of Sherrie’s work at Out And About San Francisco in the Communities at the Washington Times.  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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Sherrie Perkovich

Sherrie is a perky, music and wine-loving, Northern California local that seeks out and spreads the word about San Francisco experiences as well as unforgettable wine-related travel experiences.  She is CMO of The Grape Hunter USA, where they focus on helping artisan wineries and developing unique wine travel for consumers. Follow her on Twitter @BigNoseWino

Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all.  If it’s happening near SF, Sherrie is in on it.  Follow her columns,  for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco ~ San Jose treats and Wine Country Weekly.  


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