San Francisco’s tumultuous history has led to a long legacy of haunted tales drawing from the Gold Rush and Barbary Coast days, as well as the 1906 earthquake and fire. Halloween season gives us a unique opportunity to explore some of the most haunted places in San Francisco on specialty ghost tours and pub crawls. We’ve cranked up our ghost gear to the highest frequency to locate these unique, informative, and absolutely fascinating San Francisco ghost tours.
1. The Haunt: San Francisco Ghost and True Crime Tour
This family-friendly ghost tour takes you through the mysterious streets of SF’s Chinatown armed with ghost-hunting tools like EMF meters and dowsing rods. The tour includes breathtaking spooky tales about hidden graves, buried ships, and a closing ceremony to honor the local spirits you encounter. Guests will meet near the Transamerica Pyramid for the 1.5-hour tour covering less than a mile walking.
San Francisco Ghosts leads several fun and engaging tours through San Francisco’s Union Square and Nob Hill neighborhoods. Your local ghost guide will take you through some of the most macabre and mysterious parts of the city.
- San Francisco Ghost Tour (Gold and Ghouls Tour) – The standard version of this tour covers 8 stops over the course of an hour including the 450 Sutter Building and the Pacific Union Club. You can extend your tour another 30 minutes with four additional stops around Union Square.
- Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl – This 2-hour tour also takes you through some of the most haunted places in the city, but this time with a little liquid courage. Drink prices not included.
- Gold, Greed, and Gunslingers: Forging San Francisco – Hear ruthless stories about the most notorious fortune-hunters in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush.
Alcatraz has long been considered one of the most haunted places in the country. Over the years, the rocky island has served as a fort, a military prison, a federal penitentiary, and now a museum. The island’s eerie history truly comes to life after the sun comes down, and although not technically a ghost tour, the Alcatraz Night Tour is one of the most exciting and underrated tour options in the city.
Embark on a personally-narrated boat tour around the island followed by a guided tour from the dock to the cellhouse, at which point you can begin an audio guide tour of the grounds. You may be able to catch some special programs and presentations only offered at night.
Heads up: Cell 14D is said to be the most haunted part of the prison, as an inmate died there after screaming about a creature coming to attack him. People now report a bizarre coldness when they walk in.
The SF Ghost Hunt takes you through a a 1.5-hour experience covering about a mile in Pacific Heights. You’ll see the haunted trees of abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, learn about the Chambers Mansion poltergeists, and more.
This special Halloween version led by Christian Cagigal will take you looking for ghosts yourself, but it’s only available through the end of October. Step up your tour with the VIP Magic Experience, which comes with a complimentary drink and a close-up magic show.
Take yourself on an app-led haunted scavenger hunt via Let’s Roam, where you’ll have the chance to answer trivia questions and solve challenges throughout the city. Each player chooses an interactive role to race with a team or compete against them. Stops include the Orpheum Theatre, the Abraham Lincoln Monument, United Nations Plaza, Saint Boniface Catholic Church, and the Powell & Market Cable Car Turnaround.
Kitty Burns-Nasarow takes guests through a spine-chilling tour of Nob Hill on this “Vampire Tour of San Francisco.” The two-hour guided tour takes guests to Grace Cathedral, the Nob Hill Cafe, Huntington Park, the Pacific-Union Club, the Fairmont Hotel, and the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Kitty’s tour script is about 85% true history with a fun mix of vampire lore and humor to keep guests on their toes.
The Vampire Tour takes place on the first Saturday of the month from May through October, as well as on Halloween night. You can also inquire about booking a private tour during the rest of the year if you have a group of 10+ people — price is $30 per person for both options.
Haunted Haight is led by seasoned ghost investigators from the SF Ghost Society with 20+ years of experience in the paranormal field. Their tours feature carefully-researched stories with the added excitement of using custom-built, high-tech ghost gear during the route.
- Haunted Haight Ghost Hunting Tour: A 2-hour Haight-Ashbury tour with a multimedia presentation via tablet, ghost-hunting gear, and the chance to win fun and spooky prizes.
- Haunted Haight Pub Crawl: A 2-hour haunted Haight-Ashbury ghost tour with stops at some of the neighborhood’s most haunted watering holes.
Mick’s Bootique Tours leads this fun and lively pub crawl through historic Gold Rush-era landmarks along the former Barbary Coast. The route includes stops at four haunted locations including the Old Ship Saloon, a historic bar dating back to 1851 with paranormal activity reported in its cellar. Other stops include Jackson Square, the southern part of North Beach known as “The Devil’s Acre,” and Chinatown. The small-group, 2.5-hour tour is available on select Fridays and Saturdays throughout October and part of November.
Fort Point National Historic Site offers candlelight tours on the weekends from November through February, so members of the public can truly immerse themselves in this famous SF landmark. Although not technically a ghost tour, the after-dark element is a thrilling way to explore one of SF’s most historic locations, especially because all light is provided through hand-held lanterns.
Fort Point was created as one of California’s most formidable defenses against foreign attack, and although it never saw combat, the fort was instrumental in deterring Confederate aggression during the Civil War. Haunted tales have lingered throughout the Fort’s tumultuous history, and ghost hunters have claimed to see uniformed servicemen lingering on the premises, waiting for a battle that never came.