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5 Spooky (and Thrilling) Haunted Houses

For most of the year, the definition of a “scary house” is one you haven’t had time to clean in more than a few days. But this time of year, scary is synonymous with haunted—creepy crawlies, ghosts and goblins, you name it. Your kids may screech with delight at the blinking lights and puppetry of the amusement park variety, but for you, genuine scares can happen in real homes with a wicked past. Here are five local destinations where you can bring the kids for good thrills all around.

The Patterson House in Fremont
The original part of this Ardenwood Farmhouse is more than 150 years old, and the Queen Anne addition that stands today dates well over a century. The weekend before Halloween, the house will be open at night for candlelit tours. But beware—it can get pretty spooky, so much so that young children are allowed, but not recommended. Parents, use your discretion. Also, registration is required at regerec.com.

34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, Fremont
510-791-4196
Online: fremont.gov

Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
If Mom and Dad seek some thrills, this 160-room Victorian mansion is brimming with spine-tingling lore. Sightings of ghosts, including that of Sarah Winchester, who spent half her life building the mansion’s secret passageways and twisting hallways, have been reported here. To the kids, however, it may just be one fun, eccentric maze, and now through November 10, there’s a straw labyrinth on the premises.

525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose
408-247-2101
Online: winchestermysteryhouse.com

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 Road, San Jose
408-287-2290
Online: historysanjose.org

The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz
Strange phenomena were discovered in the dense redwoods of Santa Cruz in 1939. Come by this kid-friendly destination and prepare to question everything you know about gravity and perspective. In addition to walking the surrounding woods, you and the fam will enter a rickety wooden shack to experience the mystery for yourselves. 45-minute tours are offered daily every half hour.

465 Mystery Spot Road, Santa Cruz
831-423-8897
Online: mysteryspot.com

Ghost House in Williams Historical Park, Fremont
A 19th century carriage house becomes the Ghost House during the last two weeks of October, offering family entertainment and the perfect setting for the Halloween ghosts and goblins that will transform the premises. Sponsored by the Candle Lighters, the Ghost House also includes an accompanying midway and country store.

39169 Fremont Boulevard, Fremont
510-796-0595
Online: candlelighters.com

Another Tour Worth the Drive:

Flashlight Tours on the U.S.S. Hornet

Have you checked out any of these spooky Halloween houses with your kids? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

–Renee Macalino Rutledge

Photos courtesy of Patterson House‘s Facebook page, Winchester Mystery House’s Facebook page, HarshLight, and The Mystery Spot‘s Facebook page

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