Do you believe in ghosts? If so, there are a number of places across the Bay Area you may wish to steer clear of this Halloween season. Indeed, there’s a staggering surplus of spooky rabbit holes to jump down for those who dare to learn more about our region’s spooky side!
These local tales of haunted abodes, lingering spirits, and other eerie happenings run the gamut from historic lore to modern-day frights.They include a haunted Toys “R” Us in Sunnyvale, a ghost that calls San Francisco’s smallest park home, and the legend of Captain Alfred Easkoot, the former owner of the appropriately-named Easkoot House on Stinson Beach.
As the story goes, if you stroll past the property around 2am, you may spot the ghost of Capt. Easkoot roaming the shore in search of his “lost golden hook.”
Even the stuff we think we already know, like the infamous legend of San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House, is being given a fresh coat of terror this year in the form of an interactive haunted house/seance dubbed “Unhinged: Nightshades Curse.”
Running on 16 select dates, “Unhinged” is a reminder that celebrating Halloween has long since transitioned from a single night to a month-long affair. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered for every fun-sized day between now and All Hallow’s Eve.
From legitimately terrifying haunted houses to kid-friendly attractions, read on for local highlights from this year’s packed calendar of Bay Area Halloween offerings!
Featured Photo: Mark Duffel
Terror Vault: The Summoning
Oct. 7 — Nov. 5
Timed entry; $55-$90; Ages 21+
The Mint, 88 5th St., San Francisco
Make no mistake: this is a combination haunted house/drag show/gore extravaganza conceived by beloved SF drag queen Peaches Christ. Returning for another run at San Francisco’s iconic (and, allegedly, haunted) The Mint, prepare for a cast of 78 to blow your mind in more ways than one. Both funny and frightening, there’s no haunted house like Terror Vault anywhere else in the Bay Area. Stick around to visit the vampire-themed Fang Bang bar for a post-scare beverage!
More info: intothedarksf.com
Oct. 21–22, 27–29
Timed entry; $17-$30; Ages 8+
Haas-Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin St., San Francisco
Is there just something inherently creepy about historic homes? See for yourself when San Francisco’s Haas-Lilienthal House transforms into Mayhem Mansion this October. Reimagining the Queen Anne style home — which is both a designated S.F. landmark and a National Trust for Historic Preservation designated National Treasure — into the setting for a “thrill-filled, guide-led, evening tour” complete with a Spookeasy saloon to ease any frayed nerves.
More info: haas-lilienthalhouse.org
Point Richmond Haunted Halloween History Hike
Saturday, Oct. 29
5pm to 7pm; $20-$25 (under 12 free)
Indian Statue Park, 111 Washington Ave., Point Richmond
If you really want to make the most of the local Halloween season, enjoy some gorgeous October weather with a haunted history hike through Pt. Richmond. Led by Karen Buchanan, this edition will mark the sixth annual installment of a “living history” hike through Point Richmond and surrounding neighborhoods. Both kid and dog-friendly, costumes are encouraged. Expect to hear ghost stories about local landmarks like Abbott Hospital and the Cauldron House!
More info: eventbrite.com
Oct. 22–23, 26– 30
Various times; $25
Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito
Discover an all-ages solution to Halloween fever with a trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Goblin Jamboree. Special activities available to enjoy include a hay maze, a web weaving workshop, spooky science lessons, and something called a “slime banquet.” Plus, if you stop by during the weekend, there is also a pop-up Bug Museum presented by Beetle Lady to explore.
More info: bayareadiscoverymuseum.org
Oct. 21–23, 28–30
10am to 4pm; $18
Children's Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland
There’s never a bad time to pay a visit to Children’s Fairyland but you won’t want to miss what they’ve got planned for Halloween this year. Famed as one of the places Walt Disney visited while plotting out Disneyland, Children’s Fairyland is cranking up “Monster Mash” with a pair of Halloween Jam weekends. Highlights include specially decorated sets and rides, a “creepy crawly” scavenger hunt, a DIY bat costume craft station, and plenty more.
More info: fairyland.org
Monday, Oct. 31
Robin Sweeny Park, Sausalito
Marin County is home to a number of wonderful Halloween traditions, including lots of local parades and trick-or-treat events. Spent Oct. 31 in Sausalito for a taste of both, although this event’s headliner is arguably the Howl’O’Ween Dog Costume Contest scheduled to kick off at Robin Sweeny Park at 6:30pm. Dress your canine for a chance to win prizes in two weight classes as well as the all-important Best Couples Costume between human and dog.
More info: sausalito.gov
SF Symphony Present: "Hocus Pocus"
Tuesday, Oct. 25
Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
Did you hear? There’s a new sequel to this Disney classic starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a trio of witches summoned back to modern-day Salem. But before you stream “Hocus Pocus 2,” why not take in the original in spectacular fashion as the SF Symphony provides a live score to film? Performing works by John Debney, the symphony’s accompaniment to a screening of 1993’s “Hocus Pocus” will be led by conductor Sarah Hicks.
More info: sfsymphony.org
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Monday, Oct. 31
Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco
Sometimes the setting is as important as the product on the screen. How fitting then that such a perfect marriage of venue and film should arrive in time for Halloween? On Oct. 31, San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral will play host to a special SFJAZZ screening of the 1923 silent film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Regarded today as a masterpiece, the Lon Chaney classic will be accompanied by a live score performed on Grace Cathedral’s 1934 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ by organist-composer Dorothy Papadakos.
More info: gracecathedral.org
Get Out / Us
Saturday, Oct. 29
7pm; $17 (one person in car); $30 (two or more people in car)
Lark Drive-In at the Village in Corte Madera, 1557 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera
The pandemic has yielded few bright spots, but one is the return of drive-in movies to our daily lives. Charming, comfortable, and communal, in some ways drive-ins feel tailor-made for the experience of watching a scary movie. See for yourself when the Lark Drive-In at the Village in Corte Madera hosts a double-feature from modern horror master Jordan Peele. Beginning with Peele’s 2017 debut, “Get Out,” the program will continue with his second feature, 2019’s “Us.” Need more? Peele’s third feature film, “Nope,” is now available on-demand too!
More info: prod1.agileticketing.net
ONLY IN THE BAY AREA
D’Arcy Drollinger Presents: ‘Sqream’
Oct. 14–15, 20–22, 27–29, 31, Nov. 3–5
6:30 PM; $30-$60
Oasis, 298 11th St., San Francisco
If the idea of watching a musical parody of slasher films starring some of San Francisco’s top drag and queer performers sounds like you’re type of Halloween, Oasis nightclub owner D’Arcy Drollinger has a show for you! Running for twelve shows over the next three weeks, “Sqream” is billed as an “all-new drag horror parody and sing-along includes hit songs of the 1990s realized as an immersive, super-queer whodunit musical theater installation.” Freddy Krueger could never!
More info: eventbrite.com
USS Hornet Monster Bash
Saturday, Oct. 15
USS Hornet, 707 W. Hornet Ave., Alameda
Few people appreciate the historical importance of Alameda’s USS Hornet. Beyond it’s pivotal role in several WWII battles, the ship was also called upon to pick up the crew of Apollo 11 following their splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Sufficie to say, there are plenty of reasons for the Hornet to be haunted — enough that MTV’s Fear once shot an episode there. Things will be less intense when the ship hosts a Monster Bash on Oct. 15 with live music from the Cocktail Monkeys. But beware, as “frightful fun” awaits below deck in the form of a Haunted Sick Bay installation.
More info: uss-hornet.org
Ft. Mason Pumpkin Patch
Open Oct. 13–23
Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco
Urban pumpkin patches are here, and they don’t get much better than Ft. Mason’s scenic offering. Featuring daily themed pumpkin patch events, craft cocktails, bites, Halloween movie screenings, and plenty of themed decorations, Ft. Mason’s Pumpkin Patch has something for everyone. The selfies will be incredible.
More info: pumpkinpatch.guardsmen.org
Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch
Open September 24–October 31
5300 Nicasio Valley Road, Nicasio
Looking for a pumpkin patch experience that offers more than gourds? Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch has you covered with a veritable autumn amusement park’s worth of fun stuff to do. Visit on the weekend to enjoy their full slate of attractions, including hay mazes, BBQ, hay rides, face painting, and a petting zoo. Admission is free, and even better, if you come in costume, you may just win a free pumpkin.
More info: nicasiovalleypumpkinpatch.net
Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch
Open Sept. 23 – Nov. 1
$5 (Adults), $15 (Kids), Free (Under 2)
2453 Hancock St, Alameda
Pushing the definition of what a pumpkin patch can be, Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch has slides, jump houses, a mini train, a petting zoo, and, naturally, giant human hamster balls. Thankfully, the space also includes an “adult chill area.” A popular destination during October, be sure you snag reservations ahead of time to avoid any sad little ghouls or ghosts.
More info: speerfamilyfarms.ticketsauce.com