San Francisco is a wild place filled with creative people. On any given day you might see folks in costume on the street for a festival, event or party. This fun-loving celebration of imagination peaks on Halloween. Whether you want to go to a family-friendly event during the day, enjoy a spooky walking tour in the evening or get all dolled up for a romantic costumed affair at night, San Francisco will have something that’s perfect for your Halloween.
San Francisco is a city that is rich with dramatic history. Many people believe that the area is haunted. All throughout the year, you can take tours of hotels and neighborhoods where ghosts have been reported. What better time of year to do that, though, than during the spooky week of Halloween?
Here are some of the best haunted tours in San Francisco:
- San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour. This one starts at the haunted Queen Anne Hotel and takes you through three hours of spooky history.
- San Francisco Chinatown Ghost Tours. There are some sad and scary stories in the historical areas of Chinatown and you can learn them on this tour.
- Haunted Haight Walking Tour. Learn about the history of this iconic neighborhood while exploring its creepier side. Book your tickets early if you want to go on Halloween day!
- Vampire Tour of San Francisco. This unique walking tour will introduce you to vampires and gothic history. Note: this tour is ending after December 2011 so this Halloween is the year to go!
San Francisco is definitely a risqué city with many activities that are designed for adults but it can also be a super kid-friendly place especially on great holidays like Halloween. Museums, hotels and other hot spots have great all ages events to enjoy. Here are some of the top things to do with kids for Halloween in San Francisco:
- SuperNatural Halloween Party at California Academy of Sciences. This awesome science museum is hosting special creepy events throughout Halloween weekend with an all-ages party on October 29th. The party will include a costume contest, a pumpkin carving contest and the ickiest animals in the Academy’s collection.
- Halloween Haunts and Happenings at The Exploratorium. The city’s other major science museum is also featuring Halloween-themed events with an October 30th event. Activities range from tarantula demos to decorating sugar skulls.
- Dog Costume Fashion Show. Kids will get a kick out of seeing dogs dressed up in Halloween costumes at this free outdoor event. It’s located in the courtyard next to the Argonaut Hotel and donations are accepted to benefits the SF SPCA.
- Boo at the Zoo. The San Francisco Zoo hosts a popular annual event with special events and animal demos. Kids are welcome to come in costume although rubber masks are prohibited. Trick-or-treating is a key feature of this event.
- Alcatraz. A trip to Alcatraz is always a little bit spooky. Visitors who don’t have time to fit in a lot of different activities can kill two birds with one stone by enjoying this popular but creepy tourist attraction.
- 32nd Annual Spiral Dance. Do you believe in the spiritual power of Halloween and want to share that with your kids through ritual? The Reclaiming Community’s ritual dance at Kezar Pavilion in Golden Gate Park is filled with music, art, poetry and dance.
Where the Adults Play on Halloween
One of the things that many people love about San Francisco is that there are lots of opportunities for creative, artistic, imaginative adults to play. Halloween is no exception. Here are some top choice activities for adults this Halloween season:
- Zombie NightLife at California Academy of Sciences. The science center is open late on the Thursday before Halloween for a 21+ party that’s all zombie. Zombie costumes, the science of zombies and a zombie prom are key features.
- Shocktoberfest. Looking for an activity that is entertaining but doesn’t require you to dress up yourself? Go check out this great theater performance put on by the Thrillpeddlers, an edgy, out-of-the-box freak show performance for adults only.
- Live 105’s 3rd Annual Subsonic Halloween Ball at The Regency. If you’re looking for a great costumed dance party on Halloween night then this is one of the top selections in the city.
- Ghost Ship IV: The Afterlife. You’ll have to trek over to Treasure Island for this big event but it should be worth the drive if you’re interested in the creative and imaginative aspect of Halloween. Think Burning Man meets food truck festival with a Halloween twist.
These are your top choices for Halloween events in San Francisco. However, it should be noted that a majority of clubs, museums and galleries in the city host some type of special event on Halloween or in the days leading up to Halloween. If there is a particular spot you want to visit, check to see if they’re offering something special for Halloween.
Some Transportation Tips for Halloween
It’s important to have a great time for Halloween weekend, but it’s also important to be safe and prepared. Know what you’re going to do for transportation before you leave for the night. Some tips:
- Free taxi cab rides from Luxor Cab. Berg Injury Lawyers has a program called Safe and Sober that helps people in San Francisco get free cab rides home on Halloween. From 10 pm on Monday until 4 am on Tuesday, just call the cab company and let them know that Berg will pay the bill. Rides must be in San Francisco only.
- BART and MUNI. Check with the public transit agency that you’ll be using to find out if they’re altering their schedules. Typically MUNI does not have any schedule changes for Halloween. BART has been known to stop running early but also to run through the night.
Another smart option is to plan your Halloween weekend in advance and then book a reservation at a San Francisco hotel near your event. Then you can just walk back to your room when you’re done with your Halloween adventures.