Ghost Tours and Spooky Sites Around San Francisco

Are you looking for a different kind of unforgettable tour that will surely boost your adrenaline? If you’re feeling adventurous while visiting San Francisco, why not do ghost and spooky tour sites? This is a unique experience far from the normal touristy spots flocked with people. San Francisco is also a city with dark, eerie, and mysterious spots. You can either ask some locals to tell you some places to visit or you might want to check some of the recommended places we’ve collated below. 

Alcatraz Island 

The best time to visit Alcatraz island is during the night. There’s a different energy in the atmosphere when you do the night tour. You can visit the haunted cells under the darkness of the night. This island is known for having a dark past. The place was a plethora of trauma, pain, desperation, and violence. Visitors are reporting that during their visits they’ve experienced some paranormal things. Some people were hearing cries and odd voices. Others heard footsteps but no one was around. There was clanging of the prison cells and other unexplainable apparitions around. The island is about 14 miles away from San Francisco airport. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll be arriving at Pier 33 with your Hertz Rental Car, the departure point for ferries to Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island 
Aerial view of United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, shows a historic maximum-security prison on a small island off San Francisco. Built in 1910-12, it operated from 1934 to 1963 and is now a major tourist attraction.

To visit Alcatraz Island, you’ll need to plan and purchase tickets in advance as it is a popular tourist destination. Here are the steps to get to Alcatraz Island:

1. Purchase Tickets

  • Official Ticket Vendor: Alcatraz City Cruises is the official ferry provider to Alcatraz Island. You can purchase tickets directly from their website Alcatraz City Cruises.
  • Book in Advance: Tickets often sell out weeks in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, so it’s advisable to book as early as possible.

2. Travel to the Ferry Terminal

  • Location: The ferries to Alcatraz depart from Pier 33 in San Francisco as mentioned above. This is located on the Embarcadero, near Fisherman’s Wharf.

3. Parking or Public Transport

If you are driving to the port, there are several parking lots nearby, but parking can be expensive and scarce. Alternatively, you can take Muni buses, streetcars, or BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to get to the Ferry Terminal from downtown San Francisco.

4. Board the Ferry

  • Arrive Early: Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure to allow time for security checks and boarding.
  • Duration: The ferry ride to Alcatraz Island takes about 15 minutes.

4. Enjoy the Tour

  • Self-Guided Tours: Upon arrival, you can take a self-guided tour with the help of audio guides available in multiple languages.
  • Explore: You can explore the various parts of the island, including the prison cells, the exercise yard, and the warden’s house. There are also guided tours available for more in-depth exploration.

5. Return Trip

  • Ferry Schedule: Return ferries operate regularly throughout the day. Check the schedule to ensure you plan your return trip accordingly.

Additional Tips

  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: There is a lot of walking involved, and some paths can be steep and uneven.
  • Weather: The weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and bring a jacket.
  • Food and Drink: There are no food or drink services on the island, so plan accordingly. Eating and drinking are only allowed in designated areas.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Alcatraz Island.

Interior view of Alcatraz Island Prison in San Francisco California
Interior view of Alcatraz Island Prison in San Francisco California

The Queen Anne Hotel 

Queen Anne Hotel is located at 1590 Sutter St, San Francisco. It will take you around 20-30 minutes to drive to this location from the airport. While some people are afraid of visiting haunted places in fear of vengeful spirits, others are saying that this hotel is home to friendly ones. The hotel is about 134 years old and was built in 1890. Originally built as a boarding school exclusively for girls, it was transformed into a hotel. No one knows for sure who’s haunting the place. But locals say that it could be the former school headmistress, Mary Lake. There are reports from guests stating that they’ve encountered strange reflections on the mirrors. Others say that it felt very cold in some particular spots inside the hotel. 

The Queen Anne Hotel primarily caters to overnight guests who book accommodations to experience its historic charm and potentially encounter its ghostly tales. While the hotel does not offer public tours or access for non-guests to explore its interior and ghostly legends firsthand, you can still admire its Victorian architecture from the exterior and learn about its history through various sources, including local tours and historical accounts. For those fascinated by its haunted reputation, staying overnight at the Queen Anne Hotel provides the best opportunity to immerse yourself in its ambiance and possibly encounter paranormal experiences.

The Haunted Presidio 

Within 30 minutes of driving your cheap car rentals SFO from the San Francisco airport, you’ll reach The Presidio. This historic national park is rumoured to be haunted by wandering souls of those who were massacred there. Visitors have reported hearing the cries of soldiers and eerie voices from unseen sources. The old army hospital and the pet cemetery are particularly noted for their paranormal activity, with reports of sightings of unknown entities. The Presidio, with its history of outbreaks and tragedies, offers a unique blend of historical adventure and ghostly encounters. If you’re seeking both history and paranormal experiences, The Presidio should be on your list.

Some useful information about The Presidio:

Location

The Presidio is located at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Operating Hours

The Presidio is open 24 hours a day, but specific attractions and facilities within the park have varying hours.

Transportation

  • By Car: It’s easily accessible by car, with several parking lots available throughout the park. Be prepared for parking fees, which vary depending on the location.
  • Public Transit: Muni buses, including lines 28, 29, 41, 43, 45, and 76X, service The Presidio. The PresidiGo Shuttle offers free transit around the park and to key locations in downtown San Francisco.
  • Biking and Walking: The Presidio has numerous bike trails and pedestrian pathways, making it easy to explore on foot or by bike.
the presidio in San Francisco

The Ruins of Sutro Baths

The Ruins of Sutro Baths was a grand public bathhouse built around the 19th century. Over the years, the place has crumbled and became known as a spot for ghost haunting. Coming from the airport, you’ll have to spend about 30 minutes driving before arriving at this place. Reports are saying that they’ve felt strange things going inside the 130-year-old tunnel at the Sutro Bath. Some urban explorers and ghost hunters would visit the tunnel in the middle of the night to test if the place was haunted. The Cliff House is also reported as a haunted place. Locals say that the whole land is cursed as it houses old artifacts such as mummies in the past. 

The Ruins of Sutro Baths are open daily from sunrise to sunset, allowing visitors to explore the site at their leisure throughout the day. Admission to the ruins is free, making it an accessible and cost-effective destination for all. The expansive opening hours provide ample opportunity to take in the historical remnants and the scenic beauty of the surrounding Lands End area, whether you prefer a morning hike or a sunset stroll.

The Ruins of Sutro Baths San Francisco

Ghost Hunting at San Francisco Art Institute 

San Francisco Art Institute is 30 minutes away from San Francisco airport. This is just a few minutes away from the Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach. This is also considered one of the oldest art schools in the city. There are reports from visitors stating that they’ve heard an eerie sound around the place. There were also phantom footsteps that could be heard from some rooms. There are also spots in the art center which are strangely colder as compared to the other rooms. According to locals, one famous ghost in this place is that of Diego Rivera, a famous muralist. There are also reports from construction workers saying that they’ve heard screams and other odd noises. Some say that the place is haunted as it was built on top of a former burial place. 

Chinatown’s Haunted Tour

Local tours are offering a 90-minute trip around Chinatown’s haunted locations. This includes chilling stories of the past that will make your hair stand. Some people do not want to share their stories for fear that tourists won’t be visiting Chinatown anymore.  There are accounts of allegedly seeing a phantom cow roaming around the area. There are also stories of seeing two boys who have already drowned in a swimming pool. 

Another interesting story is that of a former starlet who dies in her dressing room. The audience reported seeing the same girl joining the cast during the curtain call. There are also accounts of strange things happening inside a hotel. A guest woke up and thought that there was a person inside the room fanning him, but the guest was alone. 

china town San Francisco

The Winchester Mystery House 

The Winchester Mystery House is 40 minutes away from the airport at 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose, California.

This spot is still open for real estate tours. The mansion holds secret passageways, columns that are upside down, and sealed doors. According to the legend, Sarah Winchester’s death was the onset of ghost stories inside the mansion. There are incidents where people would hear footsteps inside her room. Some accounts say that door rooms would suddenly fling open. The place has peculiar staircases leading to a 15-foot drop. The mansion looks magnificent on the outside but has a chilling environment once you step in. 

The Winchester Mystery House 

Operating Hours

The house is open daily, with tour times varying. Check the official website for the most up-to-date schedule.

Tours

  • Mansion Tour: A guided tour through the maze-like house, showcasing 110 of the 160 rooms.
  • Explore More Tour: A more in-depth tour that takes visitors through rooms and areas not covered in the standard mansion tour.
  • Walk with Spirits Tour: A special tour focusing on the haunted history and paranormal stories associated with the house.
  • Flashlight Tours: These are offered on select evenings, providing a unique way to experience the house in a more spooky atmosphere.

Ticket Prices

Ticket prices vary based on the type of tour and time of year. Discounts are often available for children, seniors, and military personnel. It’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance through the official website to ensure availability.

Conclusion

So, there you have it! A glimpse into the ghostly side of San Francisco, a city steeped in history and mystery. Remember, these are just a few of the many spooky sites that San Francisco has to offer. Please leave a comment to discover more places.

Happy haunting!

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