During a recent sojourn to San Jose, we stumbled upon several spooky reasons why the Capital of Silicon Valley is the place to celebrate Halloween this year.
The house that ghosts built
The Winchester Mystery House (525 S Winchester Blvd.) is rumored to be the most haunted house in the Bay Area. This sprawling Victorian home was the project of Sarah Winchester, the wealthy and eccentric widow of William Wirt Winchester.
After her husband's death, Sarah became convinced that she was being haunted by victims of the famed Winchester rifle her husband's family manufactured. She fled to California and started work on a home to trick and evade these evil spirits, calling, purportedly, on the help of friendly spirits from her seance room. The result is nothing short of extraordinary, a massive mansion with secret passages, trick doors and spine-tingling surprises.
In addition to standard tours, guests are invited to celebrate the house's spooky side through fun and frightening special events. Flashlight tours are offered every Friday the 13th, and throughout the month of October "Fright Nights" transform the mansion into a giant house of horror. After the tour, if you find fear has turned to hunger, head to one of the food trucks often parked outside, be it Grilled Cheese Bandits, MoGo BBQ or JO' on the GO!
Directions: Take Caltrain to Santa Clara and then the VTA bus 60 to the Winchester Transit Center.
From ghosts to mummies
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium (1660 Park Ave.) offers a ghoulish experience of ancient Egypt. Here you can learn about the daily lives of Egyptians, from the lowest commoners to the highest kings and queens.
The museum offers in-depth information about Egyptian religion and gods, and explains ancient practices with the help of a life-size burial vault. Best of all, the museum itself is shaped like an Egyptian temple and has a beautiful back garden, making it one of San Jose's most unique architectural treasures.
And to add to the quirkiness, it was created by the Rosicrucian society, which originated as a European Freemason-esque secret society.
Directions: From the Winchester Mystery House, take VTA bus 61 to Naglee and Alameda, a 10-minute walk from the museum.
Feed your growling stomach
Stop by San Pedro Square Market (87 North San Pedro St.), San Jose's answer to SF's Ferry Building. The large, modern outdoor space offers live concerts as well as sundry sustainable dining options, including pizza, falafel, seafood, tacos, noodles and cupcakes.
Directions: From the museum, take the VTA 522 or 22 bus to Santa Clara and Almaden Boulevard.
Bring back some of the mystery
Pick up some reading material at Hijinx Comics (2050 Lincoln Ave.). It's the oldest comic book shop in San Jose, and although it may be small, it's stocked with comics old and new and staffed with knowledgeable comic lovers excited to help you find your next favorite series.
Directions from SF to SJ: Take Caltrain to the San Jose Caltrain Station.
Photos: Winchester Mystery House, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum