Yet San Francisco has some truly unique Halloween-themed events, enough to make a separate foray for some unusual fun. Where else can you go ghost-hunting everywhere from Victorian manses to a historic mint?
Read on for The Standard’s curated guide to the best local Halloween events, starting from the end of September and going throughout October.
The New Farm, a San Francisco community space in Bavview-Hunters Point, is worth a visit any time of year with its demonstration garden, 25 heirloom chickens and roosters and free environmental education. But its Haunted Halloween Kickoff gives you even more reasons to visit, with bands including the Cramp-ons (a Cramps tribute band) and the Jean Genies (a David Bowie tribute band). Yes, please!
The San Francisco Ghost Haunt is a guided, lantern-lit stroll through Pacific Heights, now in its 25th year. Expect a walking tour full of magic and humor—and lots of spooky lore. If you love local history, this is the Halloween event for you.
🗓️ Oct. 1-31
🔗 Visit website
Grown-ups and kids alike can enjoy the Halloween installment of Sundown Cinema, a free outdoor screening of Ghostbusters in McClaren Park. Pack your blankets, lawn chairs and picnics to head over to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater on Oct. 20 for the one-night-only event.
Add a side dish of history to your Halloween fun at Mayhem Mansion. This haunted tour takes place in the historic Haas-Lilienthal House, where a guide will inform you about the home’s storied past—alongside numerous ghosts, of course. You can calm your nerves in the manse’s “spookeasy” saloon ballroom, where alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are served alongside cauldrons of candy. Tickets go on sale for the event Oct. 1 on Eventbrite, and they always sell out.
The one-night Japantown Halloween Carnival includes plenty of family fun: Halloween crafts, community performances, bounce house, haunted hallway and costume parade. This is an ideal spot to take tikes in tow for a night of wholesome entertainment.
🗓️ Oct. 27
📍 1840 Sutter St.
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Maybe you’ve been to San Francisco’s most famous prison before, but seeing it at night is a completely different experience. You can almost feel the ghosts swirling around “the Rock” when you take the ferry to the island in the darkness, especially in what used to be the medical ward—where hospital instruments are backlit with an eerie effect.
A fully theatrical, immersive haunted house, Terror Vault productions at the San Francisco Mint Building allow you to become part of the spooking—and on deck for this year is an interactive experience called "The Initiation." The empty vaults, narrow stairways and historic past of this place allow for a truly terrifying fright. If you need to take the edge off, check out Fang Bang, a vampire-themed new wave/Goth bar that offers Halloween-themed cocktails.
Julie Zigoris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org