You can’t get much spookier than this.
San Francisco is home to plenty of paranormal sites, but the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose might give it a run for its money! The famous home was owned by Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, who continuously renovated and added onto the mansion for decades. The sprawling building measures 24,000 square feet and is full of bizarre twists and turns, hidden doors, and staircases that lead to nowhere.
Heads up: The Winchester Mystery House is putting on an epic Halloween event through October. All Hallows’ Eve features the Lost in the House tour, a theatrical experience where you can investigate the house’s paranormal activity. There’s also a Jack O’ Lantern trail adorning the house’s gardens as a family-friendly outdoor option!
History of the house
Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester was the widow of William Wirt Winchester, who left her an enormous fortune from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. After both her daughter and husband died within a few days of each other, she left her home in Connecticut and bought a farmhouse in San Jose, which she began to renovate continuously from 1886 until her death in 1922.
It is said that Sarah was haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles, which drove her to create the enormous, sprawling mansion in order to hide from them. That’s why the house has bizarre features including doors to nowhere, windows into other rooms and strange proportions.
After decades of renovations, the house sits at a whopping 24,000 square feet. It has 10,000 windows; 2,000 doors; 160 rooms; 13 bathrooms; 6 kitchens; and 47 stairways and fireplaces. The total cost to build the house was $5 million in 1923, which comes to $71 million in today’s money.
Is it haunted?
The Winchester Mystery House has been investigated by many paranormal experts over the years, including Houdini, Sylvia Brown, and TAPS West Coast. It’s also been featured on Unsolved Mysteries, Ghost Adventures, and multiple lists of haunted places by TIME, The Travel Channel, and more. Many visitors report experiencing bizarre phenomena, or otherwise capture something strange in a photo. You’ll have to visit to see for yourself!
Things to do
- Guided Mansion Tour: A guided tour taking you through 110 of the 160 rooms.
- Explore More Tour: An additional tour taking guests to areas of the house previously closed to the public.
- Sarah Winchester Garden Tour: A tour of the home’s sprawling gardens. Does not include access to the house.
- All Hallow’s Eve: A Halloween event happening through October where you can conduct a paranormal investigation!
- Note: You can save money by bundling multiple tours together.
- Axe Throwing: The home’s stables host axe throwing, where you can compete with friends and family to hit a target!
- Houdini’s Spirited Escape: A Houdini-themed escape room inspired by the magician’s visit to the home in 1924.
Location and hours
Find the Winchester Mystery House at 525 S Winchester Blvd in San Jose. It’s open from 10am to 5pm on weekdays, and 10am to 7pm on weekends. Be sure to grab tickets in advance, and stay on your toes during the visit – you may just catch a ghost!
Featured image: Courtesy of Winchester Mystery House