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Best Haunted Places In The South Bay

(credit: Thinkstock)

October is the month for spooky happenings. Whether you're looking for an old-fashioned haunting or some family Halloween fun, these five spots in the South Bay will send a chill up your spine.

winchester mystery house

Winchester Mystery House
525 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 247-2101

There are many legends and rumors about this San Jose historic landmark. What is known is that it was built by Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester, who made his fortune making and selling guns. After Mr. Winchester's death in 1881, Mrs. Winchester moved from the East Coast to the Bay Area. According to some accounts, Mrs. Winchester felt she was haunted by the spirits of those people who had been killed by the Winchester rifle, and believed that was why her husband and her daughter had died. She came to believe that if she constructed a house that was never finished, the spirits would be confused and stop haunting her. The Winchester Mystery House is now a tourist destination, with daily tours available as well as special tours for events like Friday the 13ths and a Halloween-season mystery maze, open daily.

2015 Oz Design(credit:
Albertson Halloween House
497 N. 16th St.
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 275-9841

The Albertson Halloween House may not be officially haunted, but it's still a spooky good time. This fall tradition has been held in downtown San Jose on Halloween night every year since 2002. Most of the year, the Albertson house is a normal family home, but at Halloween time, the owners and a group of community volunteers transform it into a magical place for the visiting trick-or-treaters. The 2016 theme is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, made famous by J.K. Rowling's popular Harry Potter books and movies. The Albertson Halloween House is also part of the City of San Jose's Safe from the Start program that aims to make trick-or-treating safe for all kids.

Toys R Us Store
Toys R Us Store (AP)

Toys R Us
130 E. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 732-0331

This location, now home to an innocuous Toys R Us store, was once a ranch, years before the Valley of Heart's Delight turned into the Silicon Valley. Depending on which version of the legend you believe, a rancher either committed suicide or lost his life in a wood-chopping accident on this spot. It's said that a ghost still haunts the aisles of the store and can sometimes be heard making noise or moving merchandise.

Agnews Insane Asylum (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Agnews Developmental Center
Lafayette St. and Agnew Road
Santa Clara, CA 95050

Agnews Developmental Center, in Santa Clara, closed in 2011. For generations, the site has provided health services, first for the mentally ill and then for people with developmental disabilities. Its original name, when first opened in 1885, was the Agnews Insane Asylum. During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Agnews campus was one of the worst hit locations in the Santa Clara Valley. One of the buildings on the campus collapsed, killing over one hundred patients and staff. By 1911, the campus had been rebuilt in the Mission Revival and reopened as Agnews State Mental Hospital. By the 2000s, the services were moved elsewhere; some of the original post-quake buildings, now on the National Register of Historic Places, have been restored and are available for use for public and community events. The Agnews cemetery, containing the graves of some of those killed at Agnews in the 1906 earthquake, is not open to the public, but other victims are interred at Mission City Cemetery in Santa Clara. A memorial plaque there marks the resting place of some who are buried in unmarked graves nearby.

California's Great America
Halloween Haunt

4701 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 988-1776

Great America, the theme and water park, has been open in the South Bay since 1976. Overall, the park has had a good safety record, but it is also rumored to be haunted by the spirit of those who have died or been injured on its rides. Each Halloween season, the park opens on weekends for its "Halloween Haunt" event, 7:00pm-midnight Fridays through Sundays September 23rd - October 8th. "Halloween Haunt" extends to 7:00pm-1:00am Fridays and Saturdays October 14th - October 29th.

Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade.


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