Tricking out your own house for Halloween is a tradition, but if the fake spiderwebs and talking-candy bowl just aren’t satisfying the kids’ scare-fix, it’s time to get them out to a haunted house! With little pumpkins in mind, we’ve rounded up a list of six spots that are just a little bit scary (more Scooby Doo than Psycho), including local historic homes with architecture to die for.
Photo credit: Amber Guetebier
Winchester Mystery House
In spite of its eerie reputation, a tour of the Winchester Mystery House can prove surprisingly kid-friendly. They’ll laugh at the odd angled steps and doors that open to the wall. More marvel than monsterish, the kids may not take in all the info on the tour, but they will certainly enjoy the trek. The popular October flashlight tours may be a bit creepier for the 5 and under crowd (but then again, a babe in arms might not know the difference so…) but scarier still is how fast the tickets sell out. Book now. The flashlight tours include a souvenir flashlight, and an array of entertainment on the grounds including balloon artists, magicians and caricaturists (varies per evening).
Good to know: Wear comfortable shoes because the house is pretty expansive. Do not, under any circumstances, bring a stroller.
525 South Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, Ca
Cost: $33/adults (13 and up); $25/children 6-12; children 5 and under are free. Flashlight tours are $49/person. Prices are for the mansion tour. Children 5 and under are not allowed on the Grand Estate or Behind-the-Scenes tour.
Photo credit: John D. via Yelp
History Park in San Jose
On October 26, you can bring the kiddos for trick-or-treating, mummy wrapping, and a costume parade among the landmarks of San Jose’s storied past. Located in San Jose’s Kelley Park, History Park is a 14-acre site with paved streets, a running trolley, and original homes and businesses of times gone by. Check out the old buildings which, after years of being unused, have taken on a sort of eerie vibe.
1650 Senter Rd.
San Jose, Ca
Cost: $5/child; members and children 2 and under are free; adults are free with paid child admission. $6/city parking.
Ghost House in Williams Historical Park, Fremont
For the last two weeks of October, the 19th century Chadbourne Carriage House in Williams Historical Park becomes the Ghost House. A perfect spot for your little boos, it’s just the right amount of kooky and spooky. Sponsored by the Candle Lighters, the Ghost House also includes an accompanying midway and country store. On October 25th show up in costume and join in the kiddie parade.
Good to know: Dates are Oct. 11 & 12; 15-19; 22-30. Start times vary, so check here for exact hours on the day you’d like to visit. 39169 Fremont Blvd.
39169 Fremont Blvd.
Photo courtesy: Fremont.gov
The Patterson House in Fremont
Located in the historic estate of Ardenwood Farms, the 100 year old Patterson House is said to have a few ghosts rattling around in its attic. This year they offer two different spooky tours. Curiosities of the Attic on Oct. 17 & 18 at 7, 7:30, 8, and 8:30 p.m., is a nighttime tour allowing you to check out just what is hiding up there; and Dearly Departed, Oct. 24 & 25 at 7, 7:30, 8, and 8:30 p.m., which takes you through the 16-room house exposing the oddities behind the Victorian fascination with death. Both tours are recommended for ages 9 and up, though younger kids are allowed at parents discretion. For younger kids, you can still try a regular house tour during the day, Thurs.–Sun. from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. You can explore the spooky grounds, and ride the Haunted Halloween Train. Rides geared toward the 12 and under crowd are on Oct. 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, and 26 from 7–9:30 p.m.
34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Cost: General admission to the farm is $6/adult; $4/child which includes the house tour.
Night tours are $7/advance; $8/door.
Train rides are: $6/adults; $4/child 3-12; children 2 and under are free
Photo courtesy: Miramar Events
Johnston Haunted Barn at the HMB Pumpkin Festival
Yes, there are pumpkins. Big ones, small ones, glass ones, fried ones…but the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Art and Pumpkin Festival also features the Johnston Haunted Barn. Appropriate for kids 5 and up (all ages are allowed and kids 3 and under are free) it’s open during the festival, Oct. 18 & 19, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and features actors from the Coastside Young Actors Workshop. Lots of fun effects, lights, and sounds, this year the barn is infested with pirates. It’s scary, but not traumatizing. The first 100 visitors on Saturday will get a free pirate hat, and the on Sunday a free glow bracelet.
505 Johnston St.
Half Moon Bay, Ca
Photo credit: Morguefile
Kids of all ages will scream with delight over this just-for-them haunted glen. Costumed characters, elaborate Halloween displays, lots of skeleton and pumpkins and plenty of snacks for sale. Fri., Sat., & Sundays from Oct. 3–31st, 7–10 p.m. On Oct. 25 there will be balloon twisters and Patrick the Magician, and a Frankie’s Feast—a dinner spread available at extra cost.
Oak Meadow Park
233 Blossom Hill Rd.
Los Gatos, Ca
Cost: $12; children 2 and under are free
Know of a good spooky spot to take the little pumpkins? Let us know in the comments below!
–Renee Macalino Rutledge & Amber Guetebier