A list of the top 5 haunted houses in the SF Bay Area to visit this Halloween season in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As you can imagine, we are pretty excited for Halloween this year! As the fall leaves begin to change, the chills set in, and the Halloween decorations start, we’re feeling that spooky vibe even more than usual. Haunted houses, paranormal activity, witches, legends and lore leave us wanting more!
Over the years we’ve been able to visit some fantastic places during spooky season and we’re definitely excited to recommend a few of our favorite Halloween attractions to our fellow Halloween enthusiasts.
Here’s our top 10 haunted locations to visit this Halloween season.
Unhinged: Nightshades Curse at Winchester Mystery House | San Jose, CA
Inspiring everything from Disney’s Haunted Mansion to Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, the eccentric and mysterious Winchester Mystery House is located in San Jose California. Daytime tours offer guests the opportunity to hear the real life story of Sarah Winchester and the legend and lore that surrounded her during her lifetime. During the Halloween season the ghosts get to have a bit more fun with the living when the lights go out for a fully immersive, self guided haunted tour. Yes, you read that right –a Halloween haunt INSIDE a really haunted mansion?? What could be scarier than that? Visit this fall for the return of Unhinged – the scariest haunted experience Winchester Mystery House has ever produced. This year’s theme, Unhinged Nightshade’s curse follows the story of Madame Nightshade, an enigmatic figure shrouded in mystery. An evening at a traveling carnival where food, drinks and roaming sideshow entertainment await.. but is all what it seems? Guests will be drawn into the haunted house of mystery, into rooms and the maze-like halls with scares and thrills around every corner. Madame Nightshade’s Spirit Carnival and Outdoor Performance will kick off the evening. Don’t miss it – it’s sure to be a real scream!
Looking for other haunted fun in the San Francisco Bay Area? Book a trip to Alcatraz for a day of wandering the haunted prison or take a day trip to the USS Hornet in Alameda (also supposedly home to some lost souls).
Haunted Happenings | Salem, MA
Known of course for Salem Witch Trials, Salem is a must visit any time of year. During October Salem’s Haunted Happenings the city and businesses offer parties, parades, vendor fairs, walking tours, museums, attractions, and special events. Don’t miss the multiple haunted houses as well. Our favorite is the Haunted Witch village, located in Salem Wax museum. https://salemwaxmuseum.com/collections/october-tickets. Stop into the Halloween Museum, recreate a scene from Hocus Pocus and collect a few souvenir witches hats and brooms.
Blaze | Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow, NY
See the Legend of Sleepy Hollow come alive in the Historic city where Washington Irving’s 1820 tale of a headless horseman and protagonist Ichabod Crane is set. Halloween in Sleepy Hollow has something for everyone: haunted hayrides, Gothic mansions, blazing pumpkins, farmers markets, live music, street fairs, Halloween parade, and of course, the Headless Horseman! Don’t miss BLAZE, an event featuring a nightly display of more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’ lanterns. It’s definitely a fun evening for all ages, with a very low scare factor.
Eastern State Penitentiary | Philadelphia, PA
What’s so scary about the city of Brotherly Love? It just so happens to be home to our favorite Halloween Haunt (with the exception of ours of course). Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary will scare the heck out of you. Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious lawbreakers, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone. During the Halloween season the reportedly haunted prison is host to Halloween Nights, an immersive experience featuring FIVE thrilling haunted houses, historic tours, themed bars and lounges and live entertainment.
The Stanley Hotel | Estes Park, CO
Estes Park is home to one of the most famous haunted locations in the world…The Stanley Hotel. The Stanley Hotel is best known for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s bestselling novel The Shining and the subsequent film starring Jack Nicholson. Check in for the night and take your chances with the spirits. Throughout the hotel’s history, guests and staff tell tales of disembodied voices, being touched by something or someone they can’t see, and all manner of other strange and unexplainable occurrences. They offer ghost tours and special events through the fall season.
Hey, why don’t you go to Hell?? Yea, why not? Hell, Michigan is a small tourism enclave with a history that dates back to the 1830s. Legend has it, the town originally cropped up around a sawmill owned by George Reeves and one theory speculates that the town’s name is due to Reeves paying his workers in whiskey. It’s a fun stop for tourists these days, be sure to get a photo of yourself “in Hell”. You can even become the Mayor of Hell for the day. A full-day term in office includes souvenirs, property ownership in Hell and more. Stop by Screams Ice Cream or Hell Saloon or purchase your own spot in Hell by becoming a member of the exclusive Hell Landowner’s Society.
Krewe of Boo! | New Orleans, LA
Nothing is quite like the haunted streets of NOLA on Halloween. This city has a parade for just about every occasion and Halloween is no exception. Krewe of BOO! is an annual Halloween parade in New Orleans—the official one. Visitors can also book one of the ghostly tours and cemetery tours and stay in haunted hotels like The Bourbon Orleans (said to be the most haunted in the city). Any ghost tour in New Orleans is sure to stop by the LaLaurie mansion, home to Madame Delphine LaLaurie. The crimes carried out in the backroom of her elegant mansion have been featured in American Horror Story. The LaLaurie Mansion is now home to countless ghosts who supposedly met their end at the hands of the alleged socialite serial killer.
Queen Mary | Long Beach, CA
Home to Queen Mary, RMS Queen Mary is a retired British ocean liner that sailed primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. The ship had many lives, as a luxury ocean liner similar to the ill fated Titanic, a war ship during World War II and finally a floating museum and hotel in Long Beach, CA. It’s also by far the most haunted place we’ve ever tried to sleep ( and we work at the Winchester Mystery House!). There is something inherently creepy about the dark lonely hallways of the ship – so it’s no surprise that it comes chock full of creepy stories about ghostly encounters. Pre-Covid the ship hosted Dark Harbor, a scare fest with a nautical theme. Sadly, the ship has been closed since 2020, but the dock is hosting a Halloween party, trick or treat and haunt hosted by none other than Shaq! Tickets are available for Shaqtober Fest now!
The gold rush brought hundreds of thousands of people to California in the late 1800s. At times it could be a pretty violent place, and death came quick to many that came to seek fortune. As quick as these small mining towns cropped up, a few years later they would be abandoned. So is the case with Bodie, California. It’s a ghost town – for real. Most of the town is in the state of arrested decay with tables still set for dinners that were never eaten and shops filled with goods that would never be purchased. There’s lots of reports of paranormal activity here – including music playing from shuttered saloons and plenty of ghost sightings. Visit but beware – legend says that anyone that takes anything from the town will be cursed.
Lizzie Borden House | Fall River, MA
One of the most famous and gruesome murders in the US History took place in this sleepy town in Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden was famously accused of murdering her father Andrew and stepmother Abby with an axe. So it’s no surprise that the home where the murder took place would make our list. The Lizzie Borden House is now a bed and breakfast and the new owners hope to do more than just let you rest your head in Lizzie’s room. They now offer tours and events throughout the year. Feeling brave? Guests of the Lizzie Borden House report hearing screams, sinister laughs and seeing Lizzie’s ghost at the top of the stairs.
One of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions, the Valley of Heart’s Delight, or the Santa Clara Valley.