Northern California is a vast and diverse place with holiday experiences to suit every taste and lifestyle. This part of the state is also a fun place to spend your Halloween season because there are so many different festivals and activities going on in the region. For example, you can head to a classic haunted house, a local theme park for thrilling scares, a winery for a unique way to celebrate in costume, or a Halloween pub crawl to make new friends with fun drinks. Here’s a sampling of the top ways to celebrate Halloween in Northern California.
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Great America Halloween Haunt, Santa Clara (Nearby Hotels)
On select nights in October, head to Great America for the annual Halloween Haunt. This is a special ticketed event that is best for guests age 13 and up. Come here for an in-your-face scary experience with costumed characters ready to pop out of nowhere and scare you. If you run, you might even be chased by one of them! This is a premier Halloween event in the Bay Area with haunted mazes, scare zones, hundreds of monsters waiting to greet you and live shows. Some of the many attractions to check out onsite include Backwoods, Blood Drums, CornStalkers, Chaos House, and Jester Town. Of course, you can also ride your favorite roller coasters and rides here, including Orbit, Flight Deck, Gold Striker, Patriot, and more.
Castello di Amorosa’s Pagan Ball, Calistoga (Nearby Hotels)
Napa Valley is a fun and unique place to celebrate Halloween, especially if you enjoy drinking wine and dressing up in costume. One of the best events in the area is the Pagan Ball at Castello di Amorosa. The event not only features great wine and food, but also a dungeon of horrors and dancing to DJ Danny Del’s beats in the Great Hall. There’s an underground cave maze, a spooky cigar bar, photo booths, fun games, and even complimentary shuttles offered to some Calistoga hotels. This is the winery’s 10th annual Pagan Ball, so plan your best costume right away. The event takes place on October 26th, 2018 this year from 8pm to midnight, and ticket prices are $140 for wine club members and $170 for guests.
Phantasm: Halloween at the Armory, San Francisco (Nearby Hotels)
If you love music and a good party for Halloween, then consider coming to Phantasm SF at the Armory in San Francisco. This event takes place at a huge haunted castle on October 28th, 2018 and celebrates the best of music, art, and performance. Top-notch performers will be taking the stage, including Hot Since 82, Miss Kittin, and Stanton Warriors. Come here to be in the heart of San Francisco on Halloween weekend and live it up with some of the hottest and kinkiest performers you can imagine. This is a 21+ show, and costumes are strongly encouraged. Just leave behind your costume weapons, SLR cameras, and water bottles because they aren’t allowed inside the venue.
Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy (Nearby Hotels)
A fun and family-friendly way to celebrate Halloween in Northern California is to head to Gilroy Gardens in the city of Gilroy. These beautiful gardens offer a spooky, but not terribly scary, experience to celebrate the season that includes trick-or-treating, rides, and illuminated gardens with festive décor. [email protected] Halloween takes place at Gilroy Gardens from September 21st to October 28th, 2018 on Fridays through Sundays from 5-10pm. A Mysterious Glow is an adventure at the gardens during these time that features rides, specialty foods, craft beers, local wines, and trick-or-treating. The Great Big Boo is the all-new live show that is free with admission. Kids also love riding the Boo Train, which offers 20-minute rides through the park with fun stops along the way. The train runs every half hour between 7-10pm from Coyote Station and costs $5 per ride.
Fright Planet, Sacramento (Nearby Hotels)
One local favorite haunted attraction in Northern California is Fright Planet in Sacramento. There are two main parts to this haunted attraction. The Haunted Hayride puts visitors at the mercy of a creepy tractor driver and out into the unknown fields. The Haunted Corn Maze puts visitors into a pitch-black cornfield with flash lights and challenges them to find their way out. Expect lots of theatrical elements, like fog and strobe lights. Each year, the park is typically open between 7pm and 10-11pm on weekends and even the weekdays leading up to Halloween.
Fantozzi Farms Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, Patterson (Nearby Hotels)
If going to a pumpkin patch is more your style than being scared in a haunted house, make a point to visit Fantozzi Farms in Patterson. Here you’ll find corn mazes that span approximately 25 acres and have about a dozen hidden checkpoints to discover. This year, the pumpkin patch and corn maze are open from September 29th to October 31st. You can also check out the haunted maze here on Friday and Saturday nights in October from 7pm until closing time.
Crawloween: San Francisco Halloween Pub Crawl (Nearby Hotels)
Another fun way to spend Halloween in San Francisco is to go on a pub crawl with your friends and to make new ones. Crawloween is an event of CrawlSF and takes place on October 26th, 27th, and 31st in 2018. It will stop by 23 bars, draw in more than 6,000 attendees, and is the largest Halloween pub crawl in the city. Beers, cocktails, and shots are $3, and there will be costume contests, music, dancing, and rides on the pub crawl shuttle. Tier 1 and Tier 2 tickets cost $12 and $20 respectively.
Candlelight Tours of Winchester Mystery House, San Jose (Nearby Hotels)
Our last recommendation for this Halloween season is to head to the city of San Jose to experience the Winchester Mystery House. This is a seven-story mansion with 160 rooms and a mysterious design that always perplexes visitors. An heiress, Sarah Winchester, turned an unfinished farmhouse into something much grander and stranger, but no one is truly sure why she built this house in the way she did. During the month of October, you can visit the house and take a Halloween Flashlight Tour to explore this mysterious mansion. It’s not a haunted attraction with staged characters, but it’s still definitely a creepy experience worth checking out!