If you’re an experienced ghost hunter ready to take your ghost hunting to the next level or you’ve just got a keen interest in all things haunted, read on below to find all about the most haunted places in San Francisco…
(Last updated) Nov 20, 2020 @ 6:26 am
The San Francisco Bay Area is a fantastic place to go if you’re in search of some truly haunted locations. The entire area is full of reportedly haunted buildings, landmarks, and historical sites. In fact, the city of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is considered one of the most haunted areas in the country!
Let’s dive right into the most haunted places in San Francisco!
The Castello di Amorosa in Napa is well known for its Wine Club and the annual Pagan Ball held in the faux-medieval castle. However, you may not know that it is actually one of the most haunted sites in Northern California.
The castle is only about ten years old, but the materials used in its construction are said to date back several centuries, having been reclaimed from much older structures. It is believed that the spirits who haunt the towers, caves, and cellars of the castle may have been brought there attached to the materials, many of which were imported from Europe.
Among the most well-documented hauntings, a plague victim lurks in the tunnels, a Spanish lady in the South Tower and a young stable boy roams the castle!
Haunted Places in East Bay
2. USS Hornet, Alameda
Location:707 W Hornet Ave, Alameda, CA 94501
The USS Hornet – Once a crucial part of World War II, serving in the Pacific, the now decommissioned ship is a museum that houses several retired aircraft from the same period and some exhibits from the Nasa Apollo Moon missions!
Volunteers also run regular tours of the vessel, where you can hear all of the ghost stories linked to it!
These include stories of the various sailors’ spirits that visitors have reported seeing around the ship. In 27 years of active service, there were 300 deaths on board due to a combination of dangerous working conditions and the highest suicide rate in the US Navy!
Aside from the various apparitions that have been seen, visitors and crew alike have also reported other phenomena such as objects moving, disembodied voices, cold spots, phantom footsteps, and other paranormal activity.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, the museum offers a nighttime mystery tour, where you can learn about the more chilling history as you tour the ship after hours.
3. Black Diamond Mines, Antioch
Location:5175 Somersville Rd, Antioch, CA 94509
It is only to be expected that an old abandoned mine would have some ghosts, which is certainly the case with the Black Diamond Mines in Antioch.
There are several ghosts in the mines, but one of the most notable is known as ‘The Wailing Witch.’ It is said that she was a nanny who lost her job after it was discovered that she had been practicing witchcraft.
She later turned up dead in the Black Diamond Mines under suspicious circumstances, although nobody was ever charged with the crime. It is said that her troubled spirit is now trapped there, still seeking justice. She is often heard wailing in the depths of the mine.
90-minute mine tours are offered at Noon and 3pm on weekends from March through November for a fee of $5/person.
Haunted Places in San Francisco
4. Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay
Location:San Francisco, CA 94133
Alcatraz has a long, storied history. It was first used by the military as a prison as far back as 1850. Being an island in the San Francisco Bay, the cold and unforgiving waters were a deterrent for those interested in escaping.
Alcatraz made a move from a military prison to a federal prison in 1934. It remained a federal prison until 1963. While in operation, Alcatraz housed many notorious and violent criminals. The “Birdman of Alcatraz,” murderer Robert Stroud, Al “Scarface” Capone, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly were only three of those famous inmates.
There were an estimated 14 escape attempts from Alcatraz. Of those that attempted to escape, the majority were captured or shot and killed. Five of the prisoners were never seen again, believed to have succumbed to the perilous conditions.
Today Alcatraz is a popular tourist spot with thousands visiting the island every week. People can take tours of the former prison during the day or at night, and even night time ghost tours! Because many deaths occurred during prison fights and the like, it is no surprise to hear Alcatraz is a hotbed of paranormal activity.
It is not uncommon to feel cold spots, hear footsteps or voices. Reports of cell doors opening and slamming shut by unseen forces.
If you want to experience the real thing, you can book one of the many tour options with the official tour provider, they even include nighttime tours!
On the fateful evening of November 28th, 1933, a young box office attendant named Hewlett Tarr was shot dead in an attempted robbery during a busy screening of the latest screen hit at Show Boat. To add to this tragedy, Tarr was due to wed his fiance a few weeks later and was supposed to be meeting her for dinner after his shift. It’s his ghost that many staff and patrons have witnessed in the lobby mirrors, his apparition described as “wearing 1930’s clothes”, perhaps all dressed up for a wedding to his sweetheart that will never happen.
6. Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco
Location:1590 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109
The exquisite Queen Anne Hotel was a school for girls after it was built back in the 1890s. The school had several teachers for the girls, but none had as much passion for education as Miss Mary Lake, the headmistress.
In 1980, after many different owners, the former school for girls became what is now the Queen Anne Hotel. Guests to the hotel have reported countless sightings of the one beloved teacher wandering about the hotel’s hallways. People have also spotted her in her former home, room 410.
Guests have reported the feeling of something playing with their hair, shadowy figures, unusual sounds, disembodied voices, and the sensation of being touched.
Location:1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
Sutro Baths were the world’s largest indoor swimming pool when it opened in 1896. They had one freshwater pool and six saltwater pools. There were swinging rings, a springboard, and waterslides. There were also dressing rooms, an amphitheater, and club rooms for families and individuals to enjoy.
The Baths saw a considerable amount of popularity until the Great Depression, with that and other factors keeping people away. Between a company that started demolishing the impressive facility to replace with apartments and a fire in 1966, nothing was left of the once-great destination but ruins. People that make their way to the area now say there is a ghostly presence in the Sutro Baths tunnels. People who have visited the Baths state if you light a candle at night, it will be taken out of your hand and thrown in the water.
Whilst the Sutro Baths are accessible at any time to the public, we urge you to be careful. It’s easy to lose your footing among the ruins, and there’s no telling what’s hiding in the dark tunnels below…
8. City Hall, San Francisco
Originally completed in 1899 on the site of Yerba Buena Cemetery, San Francisco’s City Hall was tragically reduced to rubble in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It was rebuilt and completed in 1915, and since then it has seen a surprising number of paranormal occurrences.
Back in 1924, city hall employees were complaining of several strange occurrences that left them scared of going to work. One of those occurrences was every day just after noon, there were 5 strange rapping sounds coming from the walls, a pause, then another 3 rapping sounds. Nobody could work out just where this was coming from or why, but it happened day after day, at exactly the same time.
In 1978 two men on the city council got into an argument (Dan White, and Harvey Milk). White resigned but immediately regretted the decision and asked Major Macone to be reinstated. The Major refused, and White left City Hall, only to return shortly after with a 0.38 revolver and bent on revenge. He murdered both Major Macone and Harvey Milk in cold blood. These three men are behind most of the hauntings to this day. Since then, security officers have heard strange noises and seen paranormal activity when the Hall appears empty.
Haunted Places in South Bay
9. Moss Beach Distillery, Moss Beach
Location:140 Beach Way, Moss Beach, CA 94038
The Moss Beach Distillery was built back in 1927, and it’s known to have been a popular haunt of bootleggers, crooked politicians, and silent movie stars. The property was originally known as Frank’s Place, and it was renowned for having a clientele that was made up of a broad range of characters.
One such customer is ‘The Blue Lady.’ This woman was apparently a regular in the 1940s or 1950s when she met another customer described as a very dangerous man’. Even though she was already married, she apparently fell in love with the man and visited Frank’s Place frequently to see him.
The pair were walking on the beach one evening when they were attacked, resulting in the woman’s death. Ever since her death, the Distillery has been receiving strange phantom phone calls. People have seen doors lock on their own and small objects levitating.
The strangest occurrence that the Blue Lady is held responsible for is that several female patrons will lose one earring only for them all to show up days later in a neat pile somewhere!
10. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose
Location:525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
Of all the reportedly haunted buildings in San Jose, the most famous one is, without question is the notorious Winchester Mystery House! The house was something of a pet project for Sarah Winchester, the somewhat eccentric heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune. Sarah somehow became certain that the spirit of every single person who had ever been killed using a Winchester firearm had come to haunt her.
To make things more difficult for what she believed to be vengeful spirits, she continuously remodeled the house to confuse the ghosts. This has resulted in a strange and often maze-like home where there are twists, turns, dead ends, and of course, staircases that lead to nowhere. The renovations were a constant pet project for Sarah, and they continued until she died in 1922.
These days the property is said to be very haunted. Could it be that Sarah was right about the building work keeping the spirits at bay, and now that Sarah is gone and tools have been set down, they are beginning to claim the building as their own? There are even reports from some visitors that some of the workmen are still there toiling away, perhaps unaware that the job is over, or perhaps taking on the responsibility of driving the other spirits out! And could some of the hauntings be down to Sarah, still trying to keep the spirits at bay in her belief that she’s still very much alive?
Anyone who has lived in San Jose for any length of time knows the legend of Hicks Road. It’s an old and dark myth, but it is certainly a good one! There is all manner of creepy tales associated with Hicks Road ranging from urban legends to paranormal occurrences.
The main story that you will hear about Hicks Road is about the albinos! Apparently, there is a small group or family of Albinos who live in small huts just off Hicks Road, and they are not at all happy to get visitors! There have been many reports of people being chased by these strange pale figures, which many people feel are not albinos at all, but spirits.
Others have claimed to be chased by men in high-speed trucks who attempt to run them off the road. So much so that most locals will prefer to find an alternative route even if it takes them a little bit out of their way. The Albino clan is not the only thing that frightens them. Hicks Road is also said to be haunted by a witch, and there are rumors of satanic rituals in the area leading to claims that demonic entities are lingering.
So popular is the urban legend of Hicks Road, there was a movie made of the same name which came out in 2009.
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Haunted Hotels in San Francisco
If you’re looking to take your thrill-seeking levels higher than your local haunted house or haunted maze, then spending the night in one of San Francisco’s most haunted hotels is a must. If you’re feeling brave, be sure to request the most haunted room when you book!