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The towers of a suspension bridge, surrounded by eerie bluish fog at night. Shutterstock

The 50 most haunted spots in the Bay Area

Check out the hotels, roads, parks, bridges, and graveyards that local ghosts and goblins prefer

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If your idea of Halloween fun is experiencing paranormal activity in person, check out our roundup of 50 of the most haunted places in the Bay Area, from the North Bay down to the south (including half a dozen new spook spots for 2019).

We've got haunted playgrounds, cursed lakes, tragic fires, urban legends, true crime, and potentially hundreds of happy and not-so happy haunts.

The history is all real—but we make no guarantees for the ghosts.

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1. Castello di Amorosa

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4045 St Helena Hwy
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 967-6272
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This faux castle in Napa is only about a decade old, but the materials used to build it are much older and may have come with some hitchiking ghosts.

That’s what the guides on the Castello’s seasonal ghost tour say anyway, confessing to creepy experiences after hours at the winery--or maybe ghost stories are just good for scaring up some extra Halloween season business?

2. Rockville Park

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2149 Rockville Rd
Fairfield, CA 94534

Chief Solano, namesake of Solano County (although his actual name was Sem-Yeto), appears beneath the buckeye tree marking his grave in Rockville Park to warn the careless away from trampling the graves of those massacred by the Spanish. That's the story, anyway.

3. The Greenwood Mansion

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2030 Airport Rd
Napa, CA 94558

Is the Napa Airport haunted? No. But their nearby administrative offices could be; this was once the home of sea captain John Greenwood, and it's here that burglars murdered his wife in 1896.

The crime resulted in California's last public hanging, and the old sea captain spent the rest of his life in mourning. Legend has it that he mourns here to this very day.

4. Black Diamond Mines

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5175 Somersville Rd
Antioch, CA 94509

Of course, an abandoned mine would host not one but several ghosts, most notably the so-called Wailing Witch, an itinerant nanny expelled from the mining town in the 1870s for practicing witchcraft.
The story goes that she turned up dead in the mines under suspicious circumstances, and her troubled spirit never left.

The exterior of Black Diamond Mines in California. There are multiple houses in front of a large hill. In the foreground is grass. Photo by Sanfranman59/Wikicommons

5. Sweeney's Grill And Bar

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301 Oak St
Brentwood, CA 94513
(925) 634-5192
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Brentwood’s resident spook is a considerate one: Ever since this bar’s original owner was murdered in a poker game over the sum of 11 cents, subsequent owners and employees claim to have seen him lurking around after hours, and sometimes leaving 11 cents on the bar after closing. At least he’s a ghost who remembers to tip.

6. Gravity Hill

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Hundreds of towns have a variation of this Brentwood legend: The ghosts of kids killed in a bus accident in the '50s will push stalled cars out of danger at one particular intersection.

It's true that cars will behave strangely at spots like this and seem to roll uphill, but this is a natural phenomena known as a gravity hill, rather than the work of ghostly schoolchildren. Or so we’re told.

A street in Gravity Hill in Brentwood, California. There is a sign over the street that reads: Downtown Brentwood. Photo by LPS.1/Wikicommons

7. Benjamin and Hilarita Lyford House

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376 Greenwood Beach Rd
Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920

Maybe every Victorian house of sufficient age in the Bay Area needs its own ghost story. This historic landmark circa 1876 bears the name of army doctor Benjamin Lyford, but the supposed ghost in residence, Rosie Verrall, was, confusingly, the mistress of Lyford’s father-in-law John Reed.

However she came to be part of the house, overnight guests over the years sometimes attested to suddenly waking in the night to find her still there.

8. Angel Island

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Angel Island
Tiburon, CA 94920

The Ellis Island of the west has its own tragic history and of course its own ghost stories. One particularly poignant tale for modern visitors concerns a woman denied entry from China who, in despair, hanged herself in the bathroom of the immigration station.

Nobody ever reports actually seeing a ghost in the bathrooms, but strange lights and eerie feelings are common.

9. Claremont Hotel

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Claremont Hotel & Spa
Berkeley, CA 94705

The original building on this site burned down in 1901 and the Claremont Hotel went up over a decade later.

There’s nothing strange about that—except maybe for the mysterious smell of smoke that some guests report in the middle of the night. The ghost of a little girl supposedly haunts the fourth floor too, particularly room 422. 

10. Alcatraz Island

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(415) 561-4900
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There are more stories about ghosts, unexplained apparitions, and frightening experiences from visitors to Alcatraz than there ever were prisoners at the infamous island lock up. Tourists reported rattling chains, cold chills, and phantom gunshots over the decades. 

11. Golden Gate Bridge

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Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, CA
(415) 921-5858
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Naturally the Golden Gate Bridge has ghost stories, but probably not in the way you think. The most famous of all the span’s specters is the SS Tennessee, a steamer ship that sank in the strait in 1853.

A long-retold urban myth holds that in 1942 the USS Kennison’s crew saw the ghost ship sail past them in the night while making way through the very same waters. Of course, since the supposed ghost is older than the bridge, this is more of a bay haunting than a bridge one.

12. Joaquin Miller Park

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Joaquin Miller Park
Oakland, CA

It's the classic American ghost story: A woman dies in a tragic roadside accident, and on foggy nights she still wanders the nearby woods.

Urban legend holds that once upon a time the city built a little hut in the park to serve as her home, but good luck figuring out where it supposedly is.

13. Haskell House

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3 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(559) 907-7668

The supposed ghost of the historic Haskell House—a man in a top hat seen pacing the rooms from time to time—may be Major Leonidas Haskell himself, or it may be Senator David Brock, who died here after being fatally shot in a duel by former California Supreme Court Justice David Terry near Lake Merced in 1859.

Or it could be nothing at all.

14. 1000 Lombard

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1000 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94109

Even high society has its unexpected specters. When social columnist Pat Montandon held a zodiac themed party at her house in the 1960s, the tarot card reader she hired got angry and cursed the house with freezing spells, bloodstains on the ceilings, and disembodied scream—or that was the gossip at least.

15. The Bay Bridge

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San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge
San Francisco, CA

Although it seems like the Golden Gate Bridge would be the natural spook spot, apparently the grim grinning ghosts prefer a neighboring span.

Nighttime commuters have sometimes reported a phantom Highway Patrol officer during late crossings, who vanishes after pulling cars over. Please do note that this is not an excuse to decline to pull over on Halloween night.

16. Presidio Officers' Club

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50 Moraga Ave
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 561-4323
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Of course the Presidio would be full of ghosts, or at least ghost stories. Here’s one you can actually see, as the show Ghost Hunters recorded video of a mysterious woman in black walking through the Officers’ Club during its third season.

Or at least, that’s what some viewers say it was. Really it just looked like a shadow.

17. Grant Avenue

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Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA

Perhaps no neighborhood in San Francisco is more rife with ghost stories than Chinatown. Cynthia Yee, founder of Chinatown Ghost Tours, relates the tale of how her grandfather spotted a spectral cow wandering up Grant one day in 1905, and then saw it again one year later—on the day of the 1906 earthquake.

18. Whittier Mansion

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2090 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94109

The historic Whittier Mansion was built in 1896 by William Franklin Whittier, head of what now is PG&E. His heirs sold the property in 1938 to the Deutsche Reich, and it became the German Consulate. Now a private residence, the bulk of unexplained activity happens in the basement and wine cellar, with shadowy figures and hot and cold running chills.

19. Haas-Lilienthal House

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2007 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 441-3000
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This beautifully preserved Victorian home turned museum might have preserved more than it intended, as manager (and longtime resident) Heather Kraft tells Curbed SF that the house has longtime been the site of stories about restless spirits.

Kraft says she’s never seen a ghost herself, but sometimes odd noises or strange things do happen around the home, and ghost hunters have reported some weird electrical phenomena in certain rooms.

20. Nob Hill Inn

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1000 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-6080
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Originally built as a townhouse after the 1906 earthquake and fire, what's now the Nob Hill Inn had many different owners throughout the years. Apparently the hotel is packed with at least 22 very friendly ghosts who like to play tricks on the guests, often moving their items around the room and playing with the locks.  

21. Chambers Mansion

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2220 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94115

This grand Victorian in Pacific Heights was built in 1887 by silver tycoon Richard Craig Chambers, who later left it to his two nieces.

Claudia Chambers mysteriously died in the house because of an alleged farm implement accident (she was found cut in half!), and psychics have since claimed Claudia's ghost roams around the place, while pedestrians report strange flashing lights from an upstairs window.  

22. Atherton Mansion

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1990 California St
San Francisco, CA 94109

The historic Atherton Mansion is irregularly haunted by three aggressive lady ghosts. There's also a male ghost who's believed to be George Atherton, who died halfway through a voyage to Chile and was shipped back home in a barrel of rum, to the surprise of the servant who opened the unmarked barrel upon arrival.

23. Hotel Emblem

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562 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 433-4434
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Until this year, the Hotel Emblem was known as the Hotel Rex; the current owners changed the name after a renovation, but you can’t be rid of history that easily.

The blog Haunted Rooms relates stories about guests spotting a ghost described as “a Chinese man” wandering the upper floor halls--with a meat cleaver in hand, alarmingly enough.

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Staying at a Great hotel in the city.

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24. Public Hospital

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1801 Wedemeyer St
San Francisco, CA 94129

Before its rehab and conversion into luxury apartments in 2010, the 1931 Presidio Public Health Service Hospital had sat vacant since 1988.

Even though it was closed up, ghost hunters used to break in and reported hearing footsteps, seeing reflections of light, and feeling a cold draft. Not surprisingly, there haven't been many ghost reports since the renovation.

25. Palace Hotel

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2 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 512-1111
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The Palace Hotel has by far the city's most prestigious ghost, haunted by no less than a former President of the United States.

Granted, President Warren Harding, who died an oddball death here in 1923, is usually reckoned one of our all-time worst presidents, but hey. Now and then, guests still report running into Harding in the halls.

26. St. Francis Hotel

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335 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-7000
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Not every San Francisco hotel claims to be haunted, but it does seem to be a hotelier’s trademark.

At the Westin St. Francis, famed jazz vocalist Al Jolson (star of the 1927 movie The Jazz Singer, the world's first talkie) died in the middle of a poker game in 1950, declaring with his dying breath, "Boys, I'm going."

Jolson supposedly haunts suite 1219, along with fellow film star Fatty Arbuckle, whose career was ruined by a scandal in the same room.

27. Queen Anne Hotel

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1590 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 441-2828
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The Queen Anne Hotel opened in 1890 as Miss Mary Lake's School for Girls. Rumor has it that Miss Mary Lake haunts the hotel, roaming the halls and in particular her old office, the Mary Lake Suite, room 410, where she sometimes even tucks guests in at night.

28. Curran Theater

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445 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 358-1220
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In the 1920s, a ticket booth worker was murdered in a robbery attempt at the Curran. People claim to see him as an apparition in the lobby mirror now and then. No word on whether he’s stuck around since the theater’s big renovation and reopening a few years back.

The interior of the Curran Theater in San Francisco. There are multiple rows of red seats, balconies, and a large colorful mural on the ceiling. Photo by Little Fang Photography

29. Flood Building

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Flood Building
San Francisco, CA 94102

Before the Flood Building (not to be confused with the Flood Mansion) existed, a hotel stood on this same spot, destroyed in a fire in 1898.

The longtime head of security told the San Francisco Chronicle years ago that at night the screams of the panicked fire victims can still be heard. Which poses the question of why he's kept working there so long?

30. Mills College

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Mills College
Oakland, CA

Mills has more ghosts than humanities majors, and we'd be here all day enumerating its many learned specters. Our favorite is the phantom carriage supposedly sighted on the hill between the Mary Morse and Ethel Moore residence halls.

31. Market Street Cinema

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1077 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Once a historic movie palace, Market Street Cinema eventually became a gentleman's club of particularly ill repute. Supposedly the ghost of a dead janitor haunts the lower levels, and dancers reported seeing a mysterious woman backstage, often retreating through the curtain ahead of them.

There was even a horror movie shot here: The G-String Horror. Classy. The club closed a few years ago and has since been demolished for housing

32. San Francisco Columbarium and Funeral Home

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1 Loraine Ct
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 771-0717
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The Columbarium is one of the most beautiful buildings in San Francisco, so you could be stuck haunting worse places. The Haunted SF blog relates an anonymous story of a visitor who felt an unseen hand grab her during a tour, supposedly leaving a mysterious handprint afterwards.

33. Sutro Baths

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1004 Point Lobos Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 426-5240
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No one died in the fire that destroyed the Sutro Baths, but the area is so remote, atmospheric, and potentially hazardous that it can't help but attract urban myths.

Rumor holds that if you're brave enough to leave a lit candle at the end of the nearby natural tunnel at night, it will disappear by the time you’ve gotten back to the entrance. We can confirm this doesn't work, but that's never stopped the story from spreading.

34. Fox Plaza

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Fox Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94102

Most people would say nothing haunts Fox Plaza except poor design, but SF Weekly reported a strange urban myth that Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey (real name: Howard Levey) cursed the place in retaliation for this demolition of the onetime Fox Theater on this spot.

This sounds even more specious than most of the rest of LaVey’s alleged biography, but that doesn’t stop people from worrying.

35. USS Hornet

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707 W Hornet Ave
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 521-8448
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Many sailors died aboard the now decommissioned aircraft carrier, which in fact holds a record for onboard suicides.

Supposedly, some are still toiling away in the long, dark corridors below deck, and employees of the haunted house attraction stationed there a few years ago told stories of extra—ahem—cast members hanging around.

The USS Hornet in San Francisco. The aircraft carrier is grey. Photo by Adam L. Brinklow

36. Stow Lake

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Stow Lake
San Francisco, CA 94118

One of San Francisco's most persistent ghost myths tells of an unfortunate mother who drowned herself trying to rescue her newborn from Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, cursing her to wander the lake shore forever in grief.

Despite how unlikely it all sounds, the San Francisco Chronicle contends a real tragedy inspired this story when some kids reported a drowned infant in the lake in 1906.

Stow Lake in San Francisco. There are ducks swimming in the lake. The sun is shining through the trees that surround the lake. Photo by Brocken Inaglory

37. The Chapel

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777 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 551-5157
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This Mission music hall was once a mortuary, and a few years ago employees became firmly convinced it was haunted by a little girl. This is another local ghost caught on camera, and you can even see the security recording on YouTube.

Unlike most so-called ghost footage, this one isn’t just a shadow or something blurry at the edge of the frame; no doubt about it, that does indeed look exactly like a little girl running around the place. It seems more likely this is a prank than a haunting—but we’d be lying if we said this clip didn’t creep us right out.

38. Clarke Mansion

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250 Douglass St
San Francisco, CA 94114

These days this classic 19th century Victorian is all apartments, but once upon a time it was the Clarke Mansion, named for one Alfred E. Clarke, who complained of poltergeist activity there.

When intrepid ghost hunters spend the night in the house in 1874, the Daily Alta Californian featured the following account:

“Your reporter has received the following statement from two of these gentlemen: While standing on the sidewalk a loud crash inside the house startled them. The door soon after opened and they were invited in to see the cause. A heavy marble-top bureau at the top of the stairs had fallen forward, and deeply indented the balusters, without showing a scratch on itself, and without breaking the mirrors.

“Ten minutes later a heavy chair came whizzing down stairs, breaking a leg in the fall. Half an hour later a light paper box whirled down. At midnight they saw a heavy trunk fall with a startling crash, rebounding from the wall to the baluster, deeply indenting both, and striking the floor with such force as to break its iron straps and wrench its top from the hinges. [...] One of the gentlemen closes his statement as follows: ‘What I have seen and heard to-night is the work either of devilish spirits, or of equally devilish man.’”

39. Redwood Road

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Redwood Rd
Castro Valley, CA

Some kids never want to leave the playground, but what if you were stuck playing forever?

Urban legend says the ghosts of murdered children in Castro Valley frequent the swings at the local preschool, which often appear to swing back and forth of their own accord. 

A swingset surrounded by trees. There is heavy fog hanging over the area.
Note: Stock image. This is not the Castro Valley playground.
Photo by Five Buck Photos

40. Arroyo del Valle Sanitarium

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An abandoned TB clinic can’t help but admit a few ghost stories, including tales of screams in the night and a sinister groundskeeper who haunts around.

Nothing but the foundations and a few stray bits of the buildings exist anymore, but maybe the patients are still there?

An aerial view of the Arroyo del Valle Sanitarium. There are multiple houses surrounded by grass and fields. Image by desu

41. Lone Tree Cemetery

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24591 Fairview Ave
Hayward, CA 94542
(510) 582-1274
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You can't call a place Lone Tree Cemetery without attracting a few ghost stories. The fact that there are several more trees these days notwithstanding.

The cemetery's founding legend holds that once upon a time, an eloping couple's furious parents killed them on the spot where the graveyard now stands. Are they the source of the strange lights and sounds reported after hours? Probably not, but you still won't catch us there after dark. 

The Lone Tree Cemetery in California. There are multiple grave sites. The tombstone in the foreground reads: Hayward. Photo by Mercurywoodrose

42. The Secret Sidewalk

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Niles Canyon
Fremont, CA 94536

The Secret Sidewalk in Niles Canyon (now no more, sadly) was actually the exposed top of a long disused aqueduct. This is also where the Bay Area's version of the classic Woman in White ghost story manifests in the form of a woman supposedly killed in a carriage accident almost 100 years ago. 

43. Moss Beach Distillery

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140 Beach Way
Moss Beach, CA 94038
(650) 728-5595
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According to legend, a well-to-do married woman fell in love with the piano player at the distillery restaurant in the '40s. But in the midst of their affair she died under mysterious circumstances, and supposedly the Blue Lady (our anonymous woman always wore blue dresses to her secret rendezvous) haunts the hotel today, searching for her lost lover. 

A white building on a hill. Photo by Lupislune

44. Water Dog Lake Park

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2400 Lyall Way
Belmont, CA 94002
(650) 595-7441
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Supposedly the Water Dog of Water Dog Lake is an antagonistic spirit who occasionally drowns children. Contrary myths hold that there is no Water Dog, and that a highwayman was behind the supposed child murders, which isn’t really an improvement. 

Of course, cautionary myths about drowning ghosts are common with just about any body of water, and in all likelihood no murders every really took place here at all.

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Fun even without a dog

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45. Great America

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Amusement parks are another perennial magnet for ghost stories. Employees have circulated rumors of a ghostly boy wandering Great America after dark for years—and in fact four boys ages four to 13 have indeed died in the park since its 1976 opening, the most recent in 2007.

46. Agnews Hospital

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1250 Hope Dr
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Originally known as the State Hospital for the Chronic Insane, Agnews served a variety of psychiatric roles since 1888 but still carries some of the stigma of the tortuous therapy methods—including whipping and supposedly medicinal bloodletting—inflicted on patients here in the 19th century.

Naturally former employees circulate stories of unseen visitors in remote areas of the building; how could they not?

The exterior of Agnews Hospital in California. The facade is white with red decorative detail. Photo by EugeneZelenko

47. Sunnyvale Toys R Us

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130 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Even retail chain stores can attract ghosts apparently, this one a popular preoccupation with local ghost hunters attracted by employee's stories of a harmless but unsettling poltergeist who starts trouble after closing.

Snopes says teenagers sometimes sneak in to set up shop with an Ouija Board (which the store presumably has in stock). Now that Toys R Us is itself a ghost, will the hauntings continue?

48. Winchester Mystery House

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525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95117

The Winchester Mystery House was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, widow of gun magnate William Winchester. Supposedly, from 1884 to Winchester's death in 1922, construction proceeded 24 hours a day on the monstrous home, at an expense of $5.5 million.

As a result, the house once climbed seven stories and had over 500 rooms—all to make space for the many ghosts Winchester believed haunted her out of anger that her husband’s guns killed them.

The 2018 horror film Winchester shot on location was a letdown but did gross more than ten times its budget, so future Hollywood hauntings here may be in the works.

The exterior of the Winchester Mystery House. The house has multiple levels and a tan facade with a red roof. There is a fountain and lawn in the foreground.

49. Hicks Road

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Hicks Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95032

Now this one is just plain weird. Locals claim that this rural road near San Jose is haunted not by ghosts but by the menacing figures of hostile "albinos” who may accost incautious travelers.

This one is even harder to take seriously than usual, but it gets bonus points for being one of the few Bay Area ghost stories to inspire a feature film, 2009's Hicks Road.

An aerial view of Hicks Road in California. Google

50. Highway 152

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CA-152
Dos Palos, CA 93620

Highways have their ghost stories too. People who stop along CA-152 at night report the sounds of horses and carriage wheels rolling along.

Actual horses are presumably a more plausible explanation than ghosts, but it’s probably easier to say that when you’re not hearing the sound for yourself.

A highway lined with trees in California. Google.

1. Castello di Amorosa

4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515

This faux castle in Napa is only about a decade old, but the materials used to build it are much older and may have come with some hitchiking ghosts.

That’s what the guides on the Castello’s seasonal ghost tour say anyway, confessing to creepy experiences after hours at the winery--or maybe ghost stories are just good for scaring up some extra Halloween season business?

4045 St Helena Hwy
Calistoga, CA 94515

2. Rockville Park

2149 Rockville Rd, Fairfield, CA 94534

Chief Solano, namesake of Solano County (although his actual name was Sem-Yeto), appears beneath the buckeye tree marking his grave in Rockville Park to warn the careless away from trampling the graves of those massacred by the Spanish. That's the story, anyway.

2149 Rockville Rd
Fairfield, CA 94534

3. The Greenwood Mansion

2030 Airport Rd, Napa, CA 94558

Is the Napa Airport haunted? No. But their nearby administrative offices could be; this was once the home of sea captain John Greenwood, and it's here that burglars murdered his wife in 1896.

The crime resulted in California's last public hanging, and the old sea captain spent the rest of his life in mourning. Legend has it that he mourns here to this very day.

2030 Airport Rd
Napa, CA 94558

4. Black Diamond Mines

5175 Somersville Rd, Antioch, CA 94509
The exterior of Black Diamond Mines in California. There are multiple houses in front of a large hill. In the foreground is grass. Photo by Sanfranman59/Wikicommons

Of course, an abandoned mine would host not one but several ghosts, most notably the so-called Wailing Witch, an itinerant nanny expelled from the mining town in the 1870s for practicing witchcraft.
The story goes that she turned up dead in the mines under suspicious circumstances, and her troubled spirit never left.

5175 Somersville Rd
Antioch, CA 94509

5. Sweeney's Grill And Bar

301 Oak St, Brentwood, CA 94513

Brentwood’s resident spook is a considerate one: Ever since this bar’s original owner was murdered in a poker game over the sum of 11 cents, subsequent owners and employees claim to have seen him lurking around after hours, and sometimes leaving 11 cents on the bar after closing. At least he’s a ghost who remembers to tip.

301 Oak St
Brentwood, CA 94513

6. Gravity Hill

Brentwood, CA 94513
A street in Gravity Hill in Brentwood, California. There is a sign over the street that reads: Downtown Brentwood. Photo by LPS.1/Wikicommons

Hundreds of towns have a variation of this Brentwood legend: The ghosts of kids killed in a bus accident in the '50s will push stalled cars out of danger at one particular intersection.

It's true that cars will behave strangely at spots like this and seem to roll uphill, but this is a natural phenomena known as a gravity hill, rather than the work of ghostly schoolchildren. Or so we’re told.

7. Benjamin and Hilarita Lyford House

376 Greenwood Beach Rd, Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920

Maybe every Victorian house of sufficient age in the Bay Area needs its own ghost story. This historic landmark circa 1876 bears the name of army doctor Benjamin Lyford, but the supposed ghost in residence, Rosie Verrall, was, confusingly, the mistress of Lyford’s father-in-law John Reed.

However she came to be part of the house, overnight guests over the years sometimes attested to suddenly waking in the night to find her still there.

376 Greenwood Beach Rd
Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920

8. Angel Island

Angel Island, Tiburon, CA 94920

The Ellis Island of the west has its own tragic history and of course its own ghost stories. One particularly poignant tale for modern visitors concerns a woman denied entry from China who, in despair, hanged herself in the bathroom of the immigration station.

Nobody ever reports actually seeing a ghost in the bathrooms, but strange lights and eerie feelings are common.

Angel Island
Tiburon, CA 94920

9. Claremont Hotel

Claremont Hotel & Spa, Berkeley, CA 94705

The original building on this site burned down in 1901 and the Claremont Hotel went up over a decade later.

There’s nothing strange about that—except maybe for the mysterious smell of smoke that some guests report in the middle of the night. The ghost of a little girl supposedly haunts the fourth floor too, particularly room 422. 

Claremont Hotel & Spa
Berkeley, CA 94705

10. Alcatraz Island

San Francisco, CA 94133

There are more stories about ghosts, unexplained apparitions, and frightening experiences from visitors to Alcatraz than there ever were prisoners at the infamous island lock up. Tourists reported rattling chains, cold chills, and phantom gunshots over the decades. 

11. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

Naturally the Golden Gate Bridge has ghost stories, but probably not in the way you think. The most famous of all the span’s specters is the SS Tennessee, a steamer ship that sank in the strait in 1853.

A long-retold urban myth holds that in 1942 the USS Kennison’s crew saw the ghost ship sail past them in the night while making way through the very same waters. Of course, since the supposed ghost is older than the bridge, this is more of a bay haunting than a bridge one.

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, CA

12. Joaquin Miller Park

Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland, CA

It's the classic American ghost story: A woman dies in a tragic roadside accident, and on foggy nights she still wanders the nearby woods.

Urban legend holds that once upon a time the city built a little hut in the park to serve as her home, but good luck figuring out where it supposedly is.

Joaquin Miller Park
Oakland, CA

13. Haskell House

3 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94123

The supposed ghost of the historic Haskell House—a man in a top hat seen pacing the rooms from time to time—may be Major Leonidas Haskell himself, or it may be Senator David Brock, who died here after being fatally shot in a duel by former California Supreme Court Justice David Terry near Lake Merced in 1859.

Or it could be nothing at all.

3 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94123

14. 1000 Lombard

1000 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Even high society has its unexpected specters. When social columnist Pat Montandon held a zodiac themed party at her house in the 1960s, the tarot card reader she hired got angry and cursed the house with freezing spells, bloodstains on the ceilings, and disembodied scream—or that was the gossip at least.

1000 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94109

15. The Bay Bridge

San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco, CA

Although it seems like the Golden Gate Bridge would be the natural spook spot, apparently the grim grinning ghosts prefer a neighboring span.

Nighttime commuters have sometimes reported a phantom Highway Patrol officer during late crossings, who vanishes after pulling cars over. Please do note that this is not an excuse to decline to pull over on Halloween night.

San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge
San Francisco, CA

16. Presidio Officers' Club

50 Moraga Ave, San Francisco, CA 94129

Of course the Presidio would be full of ghosts, or at least ghost stories. Here’s one you can actually see, as the show Ghost Hunters recorded video of a mysterious woman in black walking through the Officers’ Club during its third season.

Or at least, that’s what some viewers say it was. Really it just looked like a shadow.

50 Moraga Ave
San Francisco, CA 94129

17. Grant Avenue

Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA

Perhaps no neighborhood in San Francisco is more rife with ghost stories than Chinatown. Cynthia Yee, founder of Chinatown Ghost Tours, relates the tale of how her grandfather spotted a spectral cow wandering up Grant one day in 1905, and then saw it again one year later—on the day of the 1906 earthquake.

Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA

18. Whittier Mansion

2090 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94109

The historic Whittier Mansion was built in 1896 by William Franklin Whittier, head of what now is PG&E. His heirs sold the property in 1938 to the Deutsche Reich, and it became the German Consulate. Now a private residence, the bulk of unexplained activity happens in the basement and wine cellar, with shadowy figures and hot and cold running chills.

2090 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94109

19. Haas-Lilienthal House

2007 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This beautifully preserved Victorian home turned museum might have preserved more than it intended, as manager (and longtime resident) Heather Kraft tells Curbed SF that the house has longtime been the site of stories about restless spirits.

Kraft says she’s never seen a ghost herself, but sometimes odd noises or strange things do happen around the home, and ghost hunters have reported some weird electrical phenomena in certain rooms.

2007 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94109

20. Nob Hill Inn

1000 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Originally built as a townhouse after the 1906 earthquake and fire, what's now the Nob Hill Inn had many different owners throughout the years. Apparently the hotel is packed with at least 22 very friendly ghosts who like to play tricks on the guests, often moving their items around the room and playing with the locks.  

1000 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94109

21. Chambers Mansion

2220 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94115

This grand Victorian in Pacific Heights was built in 1887 by silver tycoon Richard Craig Chambers, who later left it to his two nieces.

Claudia Chambers mysteriously died in the house because of an alleged farm implement accident (she was found cut in half!), and psychics have since claimed Claudia's ghost roams around the place, while pedestrians report strange flashing lights from an upstairs window.  

2220 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94115

22. Atherton Mansion

1990 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109

The historic Atherton Mansion is irregularly haunted by three aggressive lady ghosts. There's also a male ghost who's believed to be George Atherton, who died halfway through a voyage to Chile and was shipped back home in a barrel of rum, to the surprise of the servant who opened the unmarked barrel upon arrival.

1990 California St
San Francisco, CA 94109

23. Hotel Emblem

562 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Until this year, the Hotel Emblem was known as the Hotel Rex; the current owners changed the name after a renovation, but you can’t be rid of history that easily.

The blog Haunted Rooms relates stories about guests spotting a ghost described as “a Chinese man” wandering the upper floor halls--with a meat cleaver in hand, alarmingly enough.

562 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102

24. Public Hospital

1801 Wedemeyer St, San Francisco, CA 94129

Before its rehab and conversion into luxury apartments in 2010, the 1931 Presidio Public Health Service Hospital had sat vacant since 1988.

Even though it was closed up, ghost hunters used to break in and reported hearing footsteps, seeing reflections of light, and feeling a cold draft. Not surprisingly, there haven't been many ghost reports since the renovation.

1801 Wedemeyer St
San Francisco, CA 94129

25. Palace Hotel

2 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

The Palace Hotel has by far the city's most prestigious ghost, haunted by no less than a former President of the United States.

Granted, President Warren Harding, who died an oddball death here in 1923, is usually reckoned one of our all-time worst presidents, but hey. Now and then, guests still report running into Harding in the halls.

2 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105

26. St. Francis Hotel

335 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Not every San Francisco hotel claims to be haunted, but it does seem to be a hotelier’s trademark.

At the Westin St. Francis, famed jazz vocalist Al Jolson (star of the 1927 movie The Jazz Singer, the world's first talkie) died in the middle of a poker game in 1950, declaring with his dying breath, "Boys, I'm going."

Jolson supposedly haunts suite 1219, along with fellow film star Fatty Arbuckle, whose career was ruined by a scandal in the same room.

335 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

27. Queen Anne Hotel

1590 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

The Queen Anne Hotel opened in 1890 as Miss Mary Lake's School for Girls. Rumor has it that Miss Mary Lake haunts the hotel, roaming the halls and in particular her old office, the Mary Lake Suite, room 410, where she sometimes even tucks guests in at night.

1590 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109

28. Curran Theater

445 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102
The interior of the Curran Theater in San Francisco. There are multiple rows of red seats, balconies, and a large colorful mural on the ceiling. Photo by Little Fang Photography

In the 1920s, a ticket booth worker was murdered in a robbery attempt at the Curran. People claim to see him as an apparition in the lobby mirror now and then. No word on whether he’s stuck around since the theater’s big renovation and reopening a few years back.

445 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102

29. Flood Building

Flood Building, San Francisco, CA 94102

Before the Flood Building (not to be confused with the Flood Mansion) existed, a hotel stood on this same spot, destroyed in a fire in 1898.

The longtime head of security told the San Francisco Chronicle years ago that at night the screams of the panicked fire victims can still be heard. Which poses the question of why he's kept working there so long?

Flood Building
San Francisco, CA 94102

30. Mills College

Mills College, Oakland, CA

Mills has more ghosts than humanities majors, and we'd be here all day enumerating its many learned specters. Our favorite is the phantom carriage supposedly sighted on the hill between the Mary Morse and Ethel Moore residence halls.

Mills College
Oakland, CA

31. Market Street Cinema

1077 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Once a historic movie palace, Market Street Cinema eventually became a gentleman's club of particularly ill repute. Supposedly the ghost of a dead janitor haunts the lower levels, and dancers reported seeing a mysterious woman backstage, often retreating through the curtain ahead of them.

There was even a horror movie shot here: The G-String Horror. Classy. The club closed a few years ago and has since been demolished for housing

1077 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103

32. San Francisco Columbarium and Funeral Home

1 Loraine Ct, San Francisco, CA 94118

The Columbarium is one of the most beautiful buildings in San Francisco, so you could be stuck haunting worse places. The Haunted SF blog relates an anonymous story of a visitor who felt an unseen hand grab her during a tour, supposedly leaving a mysterious handprint afterwards.

1 Loraine Ct
San Francisco, CA 94118

33. Sutro Baths

1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

No one died in the fire that destroyed the Sutro Baths, but the area is so remote, atmospheric, and potentially hazardous that it can't help but attract urban myths.

Rumor holds that if you're brave enough to leave a lit candle at the end of the nearby natural tunnel at night, it will disappear by the time you’ve gotten back to the entrance. We can confirm this doesn't work, but that's never stopped the story from spreading.

1004 Point Lobos Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121

34. Fox Plaza

Fox Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94102

Most people would say nothing haunts Fox Plaza except poor design, but SF Weekly reported a strange urban myth that Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey (real name: Howard Levey) cursed the place in retaliation for this demolition of the onetime Fox Theater on this spot.

This sounds even more specious than most of the rest of LaVey’s alleged biography, but that doesn’t stop people from worrying.

Fox Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94102

35. USS Hornet

707 W Hornet Ave, Alameda, CA 94501
The USS Hornet in San Francisco. The aircraft carrier is grey. Photo by Adam L. Brinklow

Many sailors died aboard the now decommissioned aircraft carrier, which in fact holds a record for onboard suicides.

Supposedly, some are still toiling away in the long, dark corridors below deck, and employees of the haunted house attraction stationed there a few years ago told stories of extra—ahem—cast members hanging around.

707 W Hornet Ave
Alameda, CA 94501

36. Stow Lake

Stow Lake, San Francisco, CA 94118
Stow Lake in San Francisco. There are ducks swimming in the lake. The sun is shining through the trees that surround the lake. Photo by Brocken Inaglory

One of San Francisco's most persistent ghost myths tells of an unfortunate mother who drowned herself trying to rescue her newborn from Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, cursing her to wander the lake shore forever in grief.

Despite how unlikely it all sounds, the San Francisco Chronicle contends a real tragedy inspired this story when some kids reported a drowned infant in the lake in 1906.

Stow Lake
San Francisco, CA 94118

37. The Chapel

777 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

This Mission music hall was once a mortuary, and a few years ago employees became firmly convinced it was haunted by a little girl. This is another local ghost caught on camera, and you can even see the security recording on YouTube.

Unlike most so-called ghost footage, this one isn’t just a shadow or something blurry at the edge of the frame; no doubt about it, that does indeed look exactly like a little girl running around the place. It seems more likely this is a prank than a haunting—but we’d be lying if we said this clip didn’t creep us right out.

777 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

38. Clarke Mansion

250 Douglass St, San Francisco, CA 94114

These days this classic 19th century Victorian is all apartments, but once upon a time it was the Clarke Mansion, named for one Alfred E. Clarke, who complained of poltergeist activity there.

When intrepid ghost hunters spend the night in the house in 1874, the Daily Alta Californian featured the following account:

“Your reporter has received the following statement from two of these gentlemen: While standing on the sidewalk a loud crash inside the house startled them. The door soon after opened and they were invited in to see the cause. A heavy marble-top bureau at the top of the stairs had fallen forward, and deeply indented the balusters, without showing a scratch on itself, and without breaking the mirrors.

“Ten minutes later a heavy chair came whizzing down stairs, breaking a leg in the fall. Half an hour later a light paper box whirled down. At midnight they saw a heavy trunk fall with a startling crash, rebounding from the wall to the baluster, deeply indenting both, and striking the floor with such force as to break its iron straps and wrench its top from the hinges. [...] One of the gentlemen closes his statement as follows: ‘What I have seen and heard to-night is the work either of devilish spirits, or of equally devilish man.’”

250 Douglass St
San Francisco, CA 94114

39. Redwood Road

Redwood Rd, Castro Valley, CA
A swingset surrounded by trees. There is heavy fog hanging over the area.
Note: Stock image. This is not the Castro Valley playground.
Photo by Five Buck Photos

Some kids never want to leave the playground, but what if you were stuck playing forever?

Urban legend says the ghosts of murdered children in Castro Valley frequent the swings at the local preschool, which often appear to swing back and forth of their own accord. 

Redwood Rd
Castro Valley, CA

40. Arroyo del Valle Sanitarium

Livermore, CA
An aerial view of the Arroyo del Valle Sanitarium. There are multiple houses surrounded by grass and fields. Image by desu

An abandoned TB clinic can’t help but admit a few ghost stories, including tales of screams in the night and a sinister groundskeeper who haunts around.

Nothing but the foundations and a few stray bits of the buildings exist anymore, but maybe the patients are still there?

41. Lone Tree Cemetery

24591 Fairview Ave, Hayward, CA 94542
The Lone Tree Cemetery in California. There are multiple grave sites. The tombstone in the foreground reads: Hayward. Photo by Mercurywoodrose

You can't call a place Lone Tree Cemetery without attracting a few ghost stories. The fact that there are several more trees these days notwithstanding.

The cemetery's founding legend holds that once upon a time, an eloping couple's furious parents killed them on the spot where the graveyard now stands. Are they the source of the strange lights and sounds reported after hours? Probably not, but you still won't catch us there after dark. 

24591 Fairview Ave
Hayward, CA 94542

42. The Secret Sidewalk

Niles Canyon, Fremont, CA 94536

The Secret Sidewalk in Niles Canyon (now no more, sadly) was actually the exposed top of a long disused aqueduct. This is also where the Bay Area's version of the classic Woman in White ghost story manifests in the form of a woman supposedly killed in a carriage accident almost 100 years ago. 

Niles Canyon
Fremont, CA 94536

43. Moss Beach Distillery

140 Beach Way, Moss Beach, CA 94038
A white building on a hill. Photo by Lupislune

According to legend, a well-to-do married woman fell in love with the piano player at the distillery restaurant in the '40s. But in the midst of their affair she died under mysterious circumstances, and supposedly the Blue Lady (our anonymous woman always wore blue dresses to her secret rendezvous) haunts the hotel today, searching for her lost lover. 

140 Beach Way
Moss Beach, CA 94038

44. Water Dog Lake Park

2400 Lyall Way, Belmont, CA 94002

Supposedly the Water Dog of Water Dog Lake is an antagonistic spirit who occasionally drowns children. Contrary myths hold that there is no Water Dog, and that a highwayman was behind the supposed child murders, which isn’t really an improvement. 

Of course, cautionary myths about drowning ghosts are common with just about any body of water, and in all likelihood no murders every really took place here at all.

2400 Lyall Way
Belmont, CA 94002

45. Great America

Santa Clara, CA 95054

Amusement parks are another perennial magnet for ghost stories. Employees have circulated rumors of a ghostly boy wandering Great America after dark for years—and in fact four boys ages four to 13 have indeed died in the park since its 1976 opening, the most recent in 2007.

46. Agnews Hospital

1250 Hope Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054
The exterior of Agnews Hospital in California. The facade is white with red decorative detail. Photo by EugeneZelenko

Originally known as the State Hospital for the Chronic Insane, Agnews served a variety of psychiatric roles since 1888 but still carries some of the stigma of the tortuous therapy methods—including whipping and supposedly medicinal bloodletting—inflicted on patients here in the 19th century.

Naturally former employees circulate stories of unseen visitors in remote areas of the building; how could they not?

1250 Hope Dr
Santa Clara, CA 95054

47. Sunnyvale Toys R Us

130 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Even retail chain stores can attract ghosts apparently, this one a popular preoccupation with local ghost hunters attracted by employee's stories of a harmless but unsettling poltergeist who starts trouble after closing.

Snopes says teenagers sometimes sneak in to set up shop with an Ouija Board (which the store presumably has in stock). Now that Toys R Us is itself a ghost, will the hauntings continue?

130 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087

48. Winchester Mystery House

525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95117
The exterior of the Winchester Mystery House. The house has multiple levels and a tan facade with a red roof. There is a fountain and lawn in the foreground.

The Winchester Mystery House was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, widow of gun magnate William Winchester. Supposedly, from 1884 to Winchester's death in 1922, construction proceeded 24 hours a day on the monstrous home, at an expense of $5.5 million.

As a result, the house once climbed seven stories and had over 500 rooms—all to make space for the many ghosts Winchester believed haunted her out of anger that her husband’s guns killed them.

The 2018 horror film Winchester shot on location was a letdown but did gross more than ten times its budget, so future Hollywood hauntings here may be in the works.

525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95117

49. Hicks Road

Hicks Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032
An aerial view of Hicks Road in California. Google

Now this one is just plain weird. Locals claim that this rural road near San Jose is haunted not by ghosts but by the menacing figures of hostile "albinos” who may accost incautious travelers.

This one is even harder to take seriously than usual, but it gets bonus points for being one of the few Bay Area ghost stories to inspire a feature film, 2009's Hicks Road.

Hicks Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95032

50. Highway 152

CA-152, Dos Palos, CA 93620
A highway lined with trees in California. Google.

Highways have their ghost stories too. People who stop along CA-152 at night report the sounds of horses and carriage wheels rolling along.

Actual horses are presumably a more plausible explanation than ghosts, but it’s probably easier to say that when you’re not hearing the sound for yourself.

CA-152
Dos Palos, CA 93620