Things to do in Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area Halloween Events

Put on your costume and sharpen your sweet tooth. These SF Bay Area Halloween events bring the creepy characters and candy in equal measure.

Winter, spring, and summer bring plenty of things to do in the Bay Area, but there’s something special about fall. As the leaves turn color and the weather gets colder, community calendars fill up with the best and spookiest Bay Area Halloween events.

Join us as we put on costumes and head to the most popular Halloween shindigs around.

San Francisco

In the heart of the city, you’ll find fewer bounce houses and hay bales and more urban takes on haunted spaces and timeless scares.

1. Mayhem Mansion

Next Halloween, turn back the clock to 1886 and celebrate the spooky season at Haas-Lilienthal House.

Every year, this Peter R. Schmidt-designed Victorian home transforms into Mayhem Mansion. Haas-Lilienthal’s twists and turns lend themselves to a scary, mind-bending experience. Jump scares and the existing retro decor work together to get guests’ hearts pumping.

The mansion’s Spookeasy, a no-host bar, makes this event a mainstay on every list of top Bay Area Halloween events for adults. After exploring San Francisco's most authentic haunted house, grab a glass of wine, beer, cocktail, mocktail, and a snack to replenish your system.

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2. The Haunt

Whether you believe in messages from the great beyond or just want a new way to celebrate Halloween in the Bay Area, this tour from The Haunt in San Francisco is just the ticket.

You’ll visit gold rush-era neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and Jackson Square. Listen to the guide’s fascinating stories about reported hauntings and actual documented crimes.

A few accessories, also known as professional ghost-hunting tools, help amp up the energy. Is that a cold breeze on your neck or a specter gliding by? With three departure times nightly and a total tour time of just 1.5 hours, you can mingle with ghosts and still make it to one of our shows.

3. San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour

Halloween events in the Bay Area just got a bit more thrilling. As hazy San Francisco days dip into foggy nights, spirits emerge, creating the perfect backdrop for the San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour.

As you traverse the streets of Pacific Heights, you’ll be treated to a mix of spectacular views and Victorian homes that could easily hide spooky secrets.

Your guide is Christian Cagigal, an actor and magician who's as adept at telling stories as he is with sleight of hand. Are his stories legit or the work of a talented thespian? Only the ghosts know.

4. ZOOtoberfest at San Francisco Zoo

Potbellied pigs and horned owls are more adorable than they are scary, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a Halloween to remember at ZOOtoberfest at San Francisco Zoo. This family-friendly event celebrates fall and our collective love for animals.

Start with a foray through the Harvest Hallow Hay Maze, made with over 500 bales of hay. You'll find playful pit stops situated throughout. Boo at the Zoo is a two-day extravaganza that gets even more into the Halloween theme. There’s a parade, a costume contest, and treats for all.

Finally, the 21-plus crowd can drop by the last two weekends in October to check out the Zoo Brew Haus. It’s an Oktoberfest-inspired get-together replete with German dishes, beer, and live music.

Alameda County

Coastal scenes are a prominent part of Alameda County's draw. But next Halloween, you’ll love the city more for its parks and haunted houses than its beaches and piers.

5. Fear Overload Scream Park

Halloween events in the Bay Area take an adrenaline-boosting turn at Fear Overload Scream Park. The much-ballyhooed annual event encompasses two attractions at one location.

House of Phobia: Rise of Monsters is dedicated to probing your fears. Are you afraid of heights or terrified of the dark? You’ll be tested in rooms where reality is put on hold and fear takes over.

Nearby, the Happy Days Asylum recreates the eerie atmosphere of a long-forgotten mental hospital. Flickering lights and archaic medical instruments set the scene, but it’s the message of resilience that’ll have you strutting out of the asylum with your bravery and courage firmly intact.

If you’re still quaking in your boots after you escape the park, try swapping out screams for laughter. Book a ticket or two to see stand-up comedy in the Bay Area, and giggle away any remaining fear.

6. Pirates of Emerson Haunted Theme Park

There’s a new attraction vying to be the biggest in town, and this themed party is getting some major help from a collection of creepy crew members who would gladly have you walk the plank.

Pirates of Emerson isn’t super strict on the sea motif—actors are dressed in pirate gear but wield chainsaws and knives over cutlasses and cannons. But the presence of oversized skeletons and a ship-like building facade sells the premise.

If pirates aren’t your thing, other attractions are on the same site. Demented Dolls, Halloween Hell, and Seesawz Circus offer other opportunities to scream until you cry. Even better, one ticket includes access to all four haunted houses, and you can purchase an upgrade to skip the line.

Ticket sales help support some of the local organizations chosen by the Pirates of Emerson event organizers. We love to come out, get a good scare, and support a good cause.

7. Berkeley Floating Pumpkin Patch

Anyone who prefers their Halloween festivities to be less scary and more sweet will love the Berkeley Floating Pumpkin Patch. It’s a charming, simple setup. Register to participate, come decked out in proper pool attire, and swim among the oodles of plastic pumpkins.

Everyone who registers gets to take home a pumpkin when it ends. Three sessions are available, so you can bob for pumpkins midmorning, after lunch, or before heading out for dinner and to one of our shows.

Source: City of Berkeley

8. Oakland Boo at the Zoo

Oakland Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo is a daytime event for children and parents who want to appreciate a load of furry, feathered, and scaled friends. A 500-bale hay maze is present, as is a self-guided scavenger hunt that takes intrepid competitors on a race to locate animal X-rays.

The zoo allows costumes, and you can post pics on social media to be eligible to win a prize. (Be sure to tag the zoo’s account.) The contest lasts four weeks, and each week has its own theme. The in-person costume ceremony event takes place on a Friday, with a panel of judges determining which cutie will win the coveted zoo-themed prizes.

9. Halloween Jam at Children's Fairyland

The Halloween Jam at Children’s Fairyland proves cheap events can still be charming and fun. Fairyland is an incredible community resource all year long, with 10 ac. of gardens and storybook sets that allow kids to act out their favorite scenes from The Old Lady in the Shoe, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Rabbit’s Garden.

But in October, event organizers give things a Halloween twist, and the results are just right for pint-sized explorers. For six days, Children’s Fairyland houses a Halloween scavenger hunt. It also has a ghost town and on-theme arts-and-crafts stations for tackling projects, such as making a DIY bat costume.

Kids will also be delighted by the Monster Mash parade that wraps up daily. Every child leaves with a goodie bag full of sweet treats.

Solano County

Solano County sits just north of San Francisco. The land is plentiful, leaving plenty of room for haunted islands and alarming attractions.

10. Halloween’s Nightmare Island

What’s scarier than a haunted house with a few rooms filled with ghosts and goblins? Halloween’s Nightmare Island is setting a new bone-chilling precedent for spooky vibes, and it starts with a whopping 45,000 sq. ft. of space overflowing with frightening features.

From macabre clowns to menacing vampires (and a few zombies for good measure), characters are ready to petrify curious ticket-holders. One of the unique Nightmare Island extras is the event’s Oddities Market. You can shop for jewelry, art, candles, plants, and spell kits and take home a not-so-scary souvenir.

11. Six Flags Fright Fest

Six Flags is a top San Francisco Bay attraction year-round. But this theme park takes on a sinister edge when October rolls around. Fright Fest includes all the rides you love and haunted houses, such as Saw X, The Estate at Wretched Meadows, 13th Order, and Gates of Hell.

Scare zones encourage thrill seekers to walk through a Demon Lair or visit the Underworld. Formal shows are available for anyone who’d rather be in the audience than become part of the action.

Young guests can enjoy scare-free fun at Kids Boo Fest, Six Flags’ all-ages Halloween party, which is less nightmare fuel and more dance party. Treats are available on the aptly named Candy Cane Lane.

Marin County

Marin County’s proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge delivers opportunities for postcard-perfect pics. It also has a parade you don’t want to miss.

13. Sausalito Halloween Parade

Strut your stuff in the Sausalito Halloween Parade and show off your very best costume. Everyone lines up for the parade by the Station 1 Firehouse, sweeping through Sausalito until the finish line on Trick or Treat Lane. After the parade, sponsors hand out candy.

Pet owners love to dress up their pups for the Howl’O’Ween Dog Costume Contest. It's free to enter, and prizes are awarded for the best big dog, best little dog, and best doggy/human duo. Bring your furry friends and give them a chance at local stardom.

We love the movie event, which always promises a spooktacular good time. Bring some popcorn and head to the game room at City Hall.

Sonoma County

Sonoma is practically synonymous with wine but has plenty of pumpkins and corn mazes.

14. Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze

The distinctly fall-themed festivities at the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch offer a marked change from the summer fun—a type of excitement that’s also prevalent at 4th of July events in the Bay Area.

Hot weather and popsicles give way to sustainably grown pumpkins and a corn maze. You can collect a pumpkin to display on your porch at home or carve it into silly and spooky shapes.

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15. Goblin Jamboree at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

At the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the annual Goblin Jamboree brings Halloween fun to tons of local families. You can build Gonling Gliders, make your own glow-in-the-dark slime, or whip up spiderweb prints.

Weekday and weekend tickets are available, with discounted access for museum members. For extra Goblin Jamboree joy, sign up for the sponsor breakfast and fuel up for the festivities while raising much-needed funds.

Santa Clara County

Get away from the crowds and spend your next Halloween in beautiful Santa Clara County.

16. Halloween at Gilroy Gardens

Silliness abounds at Gilroy Gardens' Halloween extravaganza: The Great Big BOO! This event is a fully immersive experience where actors sing and dance as you show off your own moves.

Vinnie the Vampire and Frankie the Lounge Singer are nothing short of hilarious. They’ll help you build up an appetite so you can take advantage of the vendor carts stocked with food and drinks in Boo Alley.

Be sure to leave time for attractions like Cranium’s Mad Lab, where you make potions to break Wendella the Witch’s curse. The venue also has an animated musical light tunnel, and princess lessons are led by the royal Princess Priscilla.

Source: Gilroy Gardens

17. California Great America's Tricks and Treats

Every year in late September, California’s Great America launches its beloved Tricks and Treats event. Organizers cover all the bases with a jam-packed schedule, including a costume contest, a cornucopia of activities, live shows, seasonal snacks, and enough candy to last until at least November.

All the park’s regular attractions remain open, so you can take your chocolate to go and get a different kind of thrill on the Demon coaster or upside down on Flight Deck.

18. Winchester Mystery House

If you’re spending Halloween in the Bay Area and love a good period film, you’ll probably appreciate the vintage majesty of Winchester Mystery House.

The home was once the personal residence of the widowed Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester. Her late husband came from the family responsible for the famous Winchester Repeating Arms fortune. Alas, Sarah and her husband were unlucky, losing a daughter in infancy before William Wirt Winchester succumbed to tuberculosis.

The sprawling 24,000-sq.-ft. mansion welcomes millions of guests each year. Some report feeling strange sensations while touring the home, and others think Sarah still roams the grounds.

The only way to know for sure is to sign up for the Lost in the House Tour, which takes visitors through nearly 100 rooms as they participate in an indoor theatrical paranormal investigative adventure.

Photographer: TPG

Embrace the Spirit of Halloween in the San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Halloween events can be beyond scary or so relaxing and fun that even the most sensitive pets and kiddos feel right at home. Make your stay in the Bay Area even more thrilling with tickets to one of our out-of-this-world performances.

Our acrobats, actors, and magicians showcase what happens when you dare to dream the unimaginable. Here, costumes are a big deal, and every flip and jump is a treat. Get your tickets to one of our shows in the Bay Area, and we'll take you on a wild journey into our fantastical world.