Winchester Mystery House
Known for its unusual layout and many bizarre features, the Winchester Mystery House® in San Jose is said to be haunted. The massive Victorian Mansion, a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark, is the creation of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, and a popular tourist attraction.
Work on the house started in 1884 and continued, supposedly around the clock, until Sarah Winchester’s death in 1922. The 24,000-square-foot (2,230-square-meter) house has four stories, 160 rooms, 40 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, six kitchens, 40 stairs, and 47 fireplaces (though only 17 chimneys). Odd features include stairs that lead nowhere, doors that open onto walls or to long drops, windows on the ground, rooms within rooms, and secret passages, as well as many instances of the number 13. Besides the baffling construction, the house also features beautiful wood floors, exquisite glass windows, and opulent furnishings. To explore the house, you must join one of the daily guided tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Winchester Mystery House is a must for those interested in the paranormal.
The house is family-friendly, though only children 10 and older are allowed on the Explore More Tour.
Photos are allowed during daytime tours only; videotaping and live streaming are not permitted.
There is no air conditioning or heat, so visitors should dress for the weather.
Lockers are available for luggage and valuables.
The house is not wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
The Winchester Mystery House is located close to downtown San Jose. Take Interstate 280 south, and get off at Winchester Boulevard. Free parking is available on-site or across the street.
When to Get There
The Winchester Mystery House is open year-round, except for Christmas. Allot about one hour for the Mansion Tour and about two hours for the Explore More Tour. Book ahead for the special flashlight tours on Halloween and Friday the 13th, as these always sell out fast.
History of the Winchester Mystery House
No one knows why Sarah Winchester built the house. One common theory says that she consulted a medium because she was fearful of the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles. The psychic told her to build a house out West for the spirits, and to keep building, or else she would die.
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Sausalito
- Things to do in Napa & Sonoma
- Things to do in Yosemite National Park
- Things to do in Paso Robles
- Things to do in San Luis Obispo
- Things to do in Pismo Beach
- Things to do in Santa Barbara
- Things to do in Santa Monica
- Things to do in Los Angeles
- Things to do in Long Beach
- Things to do in Anaheim & Buena Park
- Things to do in La Jolla
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in Oregon
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- Anchor Brewing Company
- Mission District
- Oracle Park
- SoMa (South of Market)
- Mission Dolores Park
- Twin Peaks
- Children's Creativity Museum
- Seward Street Slides
- Bay Bridge
- The Castro
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA)
- Yerba Buena Gardens
- California Historical Society