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October 21, 2016

31 Spooky Things to Do For Halloween in San Francisco

Coming to San Francisco? We’ve got 31 frightful favorites for you to enjoy this Halloween, Oct. 31, 2016.

Be sure to also stop in at one of our official Visitor Information Centers either on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. or on the Cellar level of Macy's Union Square for more suggestions on fall fun.

Madame Tussauds
Just in time for the haunting season Madame Tussauds has unveiled the newly-styled figure of Emmy Award-nominated actress Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter from the remake of the cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” on FOX. Now wearing an authentic costume from the film, the wax replica of Cox represents the first transgender figure ever created in the more than 200-year history of Madame Tussauds.  

Tactile Dome
This beats the bowl of peeled grapes to simulate eyeballs. At the Exploratorium’s legendary Tactile Dome, visitors are never quite sure what's there as they feel their way through twisting passageways, chutes and rooms, guided only by their sense of touch.

“Modern Cinema” at SFMOMA
Co-presented by SFMOMA and the San Francisco Film Society, “Modern Cinema” is a new film series which launched on Oct. 7 with a weekend of films that, in the spirit of the season, have haunted the creative world since they were first screened. The final weekend of the first series, Oct. 21-23 will celebrate films that haunt us all – ghost stories and studies in fantasy from around the world.

San Francisco Dungeon
 “Escape Alcatraz,” a thrilling new drop ride and show, debuts on Oct. 28, 2016 at The San Francisco Dungeon. The finale to the 60-minute Dungeon experience, “Escape Alcatraz” is a heart-pounding ride simulating a jump from the infamous island prison into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. More than $1 million was spent to carve out this experience in a staggeringly large underground space.

Winchester Mystery House
As autumn winds swirl, full moons rise, and black cats come out to play, it's time to book a visit to the legendary Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. One of America’s most legendary haunted mansions, it introduces Halloween Candlelight Tours. In a chilling and Gothic atmosphere, guests to this all-new immersive experience have just themselves, flickering candlelight and their imagination to guide them through the storied 160-room Victorian mansion noted for its “activity.” Or is it 161 rooms? Dubbed “Sarah’s Attic,” after heiress Sarah Winchester, the attic space had been boarded up since she died in 1922 and was recently opened by the home’s preservation staff.

San Francisco City Guides
Throughout the month of October, City Guides San Francisco offers their free (donations welcomed) Ghost Walk at City Hall. Disinterred remains, assassinations and other ghostly lore form the focus of this tour, plus little-known facts such as the cemetery that once covered Civic Center.

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
It’s officially fall, and San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is celebrating with a new signature event, “ZOOtoberFest”, with entertainment for all ages.  Every weekend in October, kids can explore San Francisco’s largest hay maze, play outdoor games and jump in the bounce house at the new “Harvest Hallow” attraction. Meanwhile, the young-at-heart can spend the afternoon at the “Zoo Brew Haus,” with German beers, food and live music. 

Charles M. Schulz Museum
Throughout the month of October, the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa will be marking the 50th anniversary of “Peanuts” animated special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” To honor the occasion a small exhibition has been mounted at the museum. Throughout the month, the museum will also show the beloved animated special daily.

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater!
Don’t know your Marina di Chioggia from a Rouge Vif d’Etampes, check out this helpful guide from CUESA, operators of the thrice-weekly Ferry Plaza Farmers Market at the Ferry Building, which will be brimming with fall produce and locally made products for the holidays. 

Haunted SF Ghost Tour
Offered by Wild SF Walking Tours this macabre, 1.5-hour tour through the hotels and streets of downtown San Francisco includes a visit to the Westin St. Francis, the Curran Theater, Glide Memorial and the Tenderloin. Get spooked by after-dark tales of mysterious deaths, famed ghosts, ruthless villains and more. Not recommended for children.

Spooked at The Strand
“Spooked at The Strand,” A.C.T.’s Halloween Costume Party on Oct. 27, 2016 will feature special performances by A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts students. Proceeds from the evening event, 6-11 p.m., will help support A.C.T.’s actor training and community programs. The bewitching soirée begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. At 8 p.m. guests will make their way into the Toni Rembe Theater, where they will be treated to special cabaret performances by A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts studentsAt 9 p.m., guests will return to the lobby of The Strand Theater for an after-party featuring cocktails, a dessert bar and dancing. Guests are encouraged to come in costume. 

Another Hole in the Head Horror/Sci Fi Film Fest
A film festival celebrating horror, sci-fi, fantasy and a broad spectrum of related cinema from around the world, the Another Hole in the Head opens on Oct. 27, 2016 with “Homegrown Horrors,” a collection of scary short films produced by Bay Area filmmakers. The cinematic mayhem continues through Nov. 9, 2016 at the New People Cinema in Japantown.

California Academy of Sciences
On Oct. 28, 2016 head for the California Academy of Sciences for an evening of Halloween fun. Tickets sell out quickly for “Creatures of Nightlife,” a Halloween science spectacular during the Bay Area Science Festival. Ages 21-plus and ID required for entry to event.

De Young Halloween Dance Party
Costumes are encouraged for the Oct.28, 2016 Friday Nights at the de Young, 5-8:45 p.m. These popular after-hours happenings include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities and exhibition tours.

Anchor Beer Garden at The Yard!
On Friday, Oct. 28, 2016 the monthly Firkin Friday at the Anchor Beer Garden at The Yard near AT& T Park will include the release of “Peaches ‘n Screams,” a sour beer with a pale malt base that's fermented with a proprietary compound culture and finished with ripe peaches. In true Halloween spirit, they'll be showing scary movies, have Halloween games, and sweet treats for all. Wear a costume a receive prizes, plus Happy Hour all night! The fun starts at 5:30 p.m.

BATS Improv Halloween
Both shows on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29, 2016 will be Halloween-themed and between the cast taking inspiration from the audience and the nimble minds of the BATS crew, it promises to be a night of ghoulish merriment.

Presidio Officers’ Club
Celebrate the ghostliest night of the year in the haunted splendor of the Presidio Officers’ Club on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Sway to the spellbinding swing of Steve Lucky at the Halloween Dance: The Masquerade Macabre, as well as the Rhumba Bums featuring Miss Carmen Getit and others. Diabolical specialty spirits will be whipped up by the resident pros at Arguello restaurant. For ages 18 and over. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. 

Grace Cathedral
On Oct. 29, 2016 Grace Cathedral will be transformed into a grand movie palace for special Halloween screenings of the chilling 1922 silent horror classic “Nosferatu” with thrilling accompaniment by virtuoso organist Dorothy Papadakos. Showings are at 7 and 9 p.m.

Freaky Tiki at the Tonga Room
Liam Meyclem and Tony Kutulas co-host an evening of festive frights and freaky fun at the Fairmont Hotel’s Tonga Room on Oct. 29, 2016. A Sonoma getaway awaits the winner of best costume. Famed chef Hubert Keller will be among the guest DJs who also include Frenchy Le Freak and DJ Scody.

Hornblower Halloween Cruises
This year Hornblower Cruises offers two Halloween cruises on Oct. 29, 2016: Wild 94.9 “Scream on the Bay” with host Gabby Diaz and DJ Magic Matt and iHeart 80’s “Totally Rad” evening with DJ Scotty Fox and host Morris Knight.

Fillmore Halloween Dance Party
The “Cool Black Ball” on Oct. 29, 2016, 9-1:30 a.m. at the Fillmore Heritage Center, 1310 Fillmore St. (formerly Yoshi’s SF) encourages dancers to come in vintage 1920-‘70s apparel and enjoy music by Top Shelf, an old school R&B band, and Michael Jackson impersonator, Chavail Gans.

Ready to do the zombie Macarena? PianoFight is getting its gore together for their fully-interactive-90s-themed-haunted-theater-photobooth-experience, or as those in the know say “X-Fearience” on Oct. 29. San Francisco based, 90s Rock/Alt tribute band, Fire Peach will literally take you “back to the future 3,” as they play some of the most gruesome and horrific songs from the most frightening decade of the 20th century. They will also be screening some of the best horror films of the 90s. For some more bone-chilling moments, check out the horror-theatre double-feature, “Terror-Rama 2” on select nights.

Monster Ball and Haunted Hornet Tour
This Halloween have a hauntingly good time aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum - during its annual Monsters Ball beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3. Alameda. In addition to music by Lee Presson, DJ Terrifying Tom and Flock of Seagirls, there will be a $500 costume contest.  Combo tickets are also available for ScareCo’s Haunted Hornet, a professional theatrical attraction aboard the ghost-inhabited ship. Cash bar, food, dancing and free parking; event is geared towards adults.

Boo at the Zoo
Leave the rubber masks at home so as not to frighten the animals on Oct. 29-30 at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. Come dressed up in a Halloween costume and trick-or-treat around the Zoo. Take a trip through the Haunted Nature Trail to celebrate, have a creepy crawly critter adventure at the Insect Zoo and check out the popular Pumpkin Stomp & Chomp where the animals get some tasty pumpkin treats from their keepers. 

The Walt Disney Family Museum
It’s “HallowScreen” at The Walt Disney Family Museum, Oct. 29 (4 p.m.), Oct. 30 (3 p.m.) and Oct. 31 (3 p.m.). A special selection of Disney’s spooky cartoon shorts will be shown at the museum; shorts include works created from 1929 to 1952 and feature breakthrough animation techniques and some of Disney’s most beloved characters including Pluto, Mickey and Mr. Toad.

The Costume Dash 5K/10K
Coming to Golden Gate Park on Oct. 30, 2016, the inaugural San Francisco Costume Dash 5K/10K will be a great prelude to Halloween. Starting at 8:30 am. the race takes place entirely in Golden Gate Park. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes and top finishers at a post-race awards ceremony. The fun will continue with an after-party at some of the city's best bars for runners 21 and over. Registration is $45 until Oct. 26. 

Yerba Buena Gardens
The 16th annual Halloween Hoopla at Yerba Buena Gardens on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 from noon-2 p.m. will feature interactive performances and games for kids under 10 and their adults. The Yerba Buena pumpkin patch will return and the program will culminate in a Halloween costume parade. Entertainment includes Unique Derique, the Venezuelan Music Project, and crafts at the Children’s Creativity Museum.

SF Opera Lab at Oasis
On Halloween eve, Oct. 30, 2016 the SF Opera Lab pops up at Oasis for a night of opera, drag and debauchery hosted by legendary drag artists Heklina for “Drag Queen of the Opera.” Soprano Julie Adams, mezzo-soprano Renee Rapier, Tenor Breton Ryan and others will join Heklina for an evening of operatic revelry. Come in costume or delve into the costume booth offered by the San Francisco Opera Costume Shop. Costume optional but bring your dancing shoes for live DJ following performance. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Six Flags Fright Fest
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s annual Fright Fest features the new Rage of the Gargoyles - the ultimate interactive virtual reality coaster experience where terrified riders battle with demonic creatures!  Haunted attractions include the new Dark Oaks Asylum, Carnevil, scare zones with zombies and more!  Additional fee required for some haunted attractions. And beware, this not for the faint of heart. There are NO rides that will not scare you.

California’s Great America Pumpkin Fest
The Great Pumpkin Fest at California’s Great America runs Saturdays and Sundays through Oct 30, 2016 (closed Oct. 23). The Great Pumpkin Fest is fun for the entire family and has become a Bay Area tradition for the extended Halloween season. From noon to 4 p.m. during The Great Pumpkin Fest, guests 12-and-younger can race through a hay maze, decorate mini pumpkins, color Peanuts™ pictures, dance in a foam pit and see a 1,000 lb. pumpkin. They will also enjoy wearing their costumes and Trick-or-Treating with the Peanuts™ gang.

Halloween Haunt at Great America
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 30, 2016 Great America takes scares to a new level of interactivity for guests 13 and older. Five new shocking Skeleton Key experiences (available with Fright Lane Plus) include Hoarder House, Vanity, Dominated, Sorority Slaughter and Bone Crusher. Haunted mazes and live shows add to the fright factor; Halloween Haunt opens at 7 p.m.

Photo by torbakhopper / CC

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