Best San Francisco Ghost Tours

Do you dare to take a walk around San Francisco and get to know the spookiest stories? Stay and I'll show you the best ghost tours in the city!

Andressa García

Andressa García

11 min read

Best San Francisco Ghost Tours

San Francisco Ghost Tours | ©xnedski

From mysterious unsolved murders to fantastic vampire stories. This type of tour is designed to please the most demanding tastes. I assure you that no matter how brave you are, this ghostly tour of San Francisco will make your hair stand on end.

I recommend you to book this tour if you don't want to miss* one of the best parts of getting to know the city. It is definitely a tour to include among the things to see and do in San Francisco at least once in your life. Come on, fear outside and meet the terror!

The most complete option

San Francisco Ghost Tour

A night tour to get to know the darker side of the city

Gold fever spirits, haunted houses and hotels. A past of gangs and smuggling driven by the effects of Prohibition that left in its wake a myriad of ghostly stories.

The tour takes place at dusk, so you will have the opportunity to know the creepiest stories of San Francisco. The guide is professional and has ghost hunting equipment to make the experience even more incredible.

The meeting point is at Union Square and from there you will start walking through downtown, passing through Chinatown and other interesting sites around downtown San Francisco.

Recommended if... You are a fan of ghost stories.

How to book a ghost tour in San Francisco?

Curran Theater| ©Jeremy Thompson
Curran Theater| ©Jeremy Thompson

To book a ghost tour, I recommend you to look for the most complete option, the one that besides being cheap, has different places to visit and scare you. Once you have found your perfect option, you just have to book the tour online.

To do this kind of tours you have to make a reservation well in advance, taking into account that it requires a minimum participation, but at the same time it is a very demanded activity.

If you do not want to miss your ghostly tour around downtown San Francisco, it is best to make a reservation before traveling. The confirmation process is done at the time of booking, to ensure that the tour will take place and that you have your place on the tour.

On the other hand, another thing to keep in mind is the cancellation policy. Canceling the activity is generally free, but you must do it at least 24 hours in advance, so that you can receive the full amount of your deposit for the experience.

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San Francisco ghost tours duration

At the beginning of the tour| ©Rick
At the beginning of the tour| ©Rick

These tours are not too long, taking into account that it is at night and you don't want to spend 4 hours of the night scaring yourself with ghost stories and fatal deaths. An hour and a half is enough for you to know the most chilling stories of the city.

However, this type of tours can last even a little longer depending on the amount of time you stay in each of the sites to be visited. Sometimes it happens that the stories are so interesting or the contacts are so interesting that it is necessary to stay a little longer.

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What will I see on this type of tour?

On the hunt for the Fantastama| ©Rick
On the hunt for the Fantastama| ©Rick

This is a very interesting tour basically because it offers you the chance to learn about the macabre stories that have been woven in this city since the beginning of its history. The narrator guide who will accompany you on this experience will take you to the most popular haunted sites in San Francisco, some of them included among the most terrifying in the world.

Your guide will not only tell you the typical paranormal stories of famous ghosts, but will also tell you gruesome tales of what life was like in the area during the Gold Rush, when San Francisco was a lawless town where people lost their lives very easily.

You will also see authentic equipment to recognize ghosts and paranormal activity at different sites. Of course, the handling of this device is in charge of the guide who, as it is obvious, is a qualified person to perform this task.

One of the things that you will surely like the most is the night environment during the tour, because during the day there are places that you would never imagine that they are haunted or that they have dark stories to tell.

But this tour is much more than just seeing, the stories are what give life to the places you will visit during the ghost tour. That's why some of the legends you'll hear about are described below.

Stories of haunted cemeteries and forgotten tombs

Iconic sites that were built over ancient cemeteries now give way to the creepiest horror stories in all of San Francisco. For example, City Hall is one such site that was once an active cemetery.

Today City Hall is one of the sites with the most ghost stories in all of San Francisco, along with other sites with similar stories. Presidio, the site of one of San Francisco's best museums, the one dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney, is also in close proximity to a pet cemetery.

Stories of this site center on frequent sightings of animal spirits wandering the area, as if waiting for their owners. Also nearby is a National Cemetery, near which it is rumored to have seen the specters of soldiers going about their official duties.

The latter is considered one of the San Francisco sites with the most paranormal activity. These narratives that remain so interesting even today, you can hear them in the voice of your guide on a nighttime ghost tour.

Tales of the bubonic plague that hit the city in 1900

In 1900 the dreaded Black Death arrived in San Francisco, the first city in the United States to experience the epidemic. Politicians at the time did more to hide the problem than to solve it.

By that time it was already the third outbreak of Black Death in the world, and this time it had started in China and other Asian countries. It is believed that it arrived in San Francisco with the great immigration of Chinese who came to the Bay Area attracted by the gold fever.

Then the bubonic plague settled in the Chinese ghetto and spread throughout the city. Inequality and racism in dealing with the disease were present throughout the outbreak, leaving more than chilling stories in its wake.

Deaths of prolific Hollywood artists

There are several stories of Hollywood actors and actresses who have lost their lives in tragic situations in San Francisco. In some of the cases, the deaths have occurred in famous hotels in the city.

Your tour guide is sure to tell you the most incredible stories of the strange deaths of artists in this city.

Sordid stories about the prohibition era

For 14 years the United States lived through a fierce era of alcohol prohibition also known as the Prohibition era or Prohibition period. The measure was neither successful nor accepted from the beginning, causing corruption to skyrocket throughout the country.

Mafias and corruption took over, driving American society into a maelstrom of unbridled violence. This unrest was strongly experienced in San Francisco, where it found the perfect breeding ground to reign.

This era of rampages and unconscionable actions, left in its wake thousands of murders and other heinous crimes, and with it multiple stories of ghosts and wandering spirits.

There is no specific place to get Prohibition-era spirits, but if you want to visit a location for it, it would definitely be in Chinatown or Jackson Square, sites where the Barbary Coast district formerly operated.

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Tips for a San Francisco Ghost Tour

Ghost Tour| ©Jeremy Thompson
Ghost Tour| ©Jeremy Thompson
  • I recommend you take this tour with friends, family or your significant other, but never take children under the age of 10 on a similar experience. The experience can be really overwhelming for a child of that age.
  • I advise you to dress in layers regardless of the season, as the night in the city is usually really cold.
  • Comfortable, closed-toe shoes are important, as the tour is a walking tour through the center of the city.
  • The tour may be cancelled if the weather is bad, that is why I recommend you to confirm again before going to the meeting point.
  • To get to the meeting point I recommend going by public transportation, to avoid parking problems in case you are traveling in a private vehicle.
  • As the tour is outdoors, I recommend that you bring extra protection such as a raincoat in case it rains during the experience.
  • Do not stop if you or any of the people who will go with you to the experience uses a wheelchair, since the tour is also suitable for these cases.

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How much does a San Francisco ghost tour cost?

Ghost Tour| ©Jeremy Thompson
Ghost Tour| ©Jeremy Thompson

The dark tour of San Francisco can be priced from 35 euros per person and up. The price of this type of tour depends on the number of sites you stop at as well as the duration of the tour.

Please note that tips are not included in the price of the tour. You need to consider optimal tips for the tour guide, since in the United States tipping is more than an act of gratitude, it is almost a mandatory practice for all users.

The cost of transportation is not included in the price, so to start the tour you have to get to the meeting point by your own means. In case you feel like eating something during the tour, you have to carry provisions on your own or money to buy on the way.

What are the must-see places on the San Francisco ghost tour?

Gordon Wrigley| ©Transamerica Pyramid
Gordon Wrigley| ©Transamerica Pyramid

The experience will take you through ghostly and historic places in the city. In most cases history is responsible for keeping dark shells that later become paranormal legends.

That is why in this type of tour, the guide focuses more on the historical area of the city and how it has left some of the most chilling stories that today bring to life the worst fears of many locals and visitors.

Transamerica Pyramid

This place harbors its ghost stories and other darker tales, within the history of the tower's construction itself. From the mid-1800s until the 1950 s, the area where the Transamerica Pyramid stands was occupied by a low-rise commercial building.

Artists, writers, lawyers and other literary professionals met here. Towards the end of the 50's and in the 60's the place was used as a parking lot, until finally in the 70's the construction of the building that is today began.

During the construction work and to begin with the excavations, the workers began to notice that, given its proximity to the dock, the old building was built over buried ships and pieces of ships.

You can imagine all the terrifying stories you will hear about these excavations and why these tales remain true to this day.

Jackson Square

The gold rush of the 1800's changed the landscape of the city of San Francisco, seemingly gave purpose to its inhabitants and brought great economic growth to the region, but it also brought a stain of blood, terror and violence to this city.

Suffice it to tell you that in Jackson Square there are still surviving buildings that belonged to the old central core of San Francisco so you can imagine the number of stories that can come out of there. In fact, this place began to be built in the mid-nineteenth century.

This location was part of the old Barbary Coast red light district, which was known for its many bars, jazz clubs and especially brothels. During those times Jackson Square and all that comprised the red light district was completely anarchic, with an impressive social disorder, violence and prostitution on the order of the day.


Chinatown Ghost Night| ©Viator
Chinatown Ghost Night| ©Viator

What during the day is an excellent place to include among the best gastronomic tours of San Francisco, at night becomes a truly haunted place, full of history and a dark past, but very red, with endless things to see and do in Chinatown.

During the 19th century, Chinatown was also part of the eerie Barbary Coast red-light district. This neighborhood full of brothels and above all so much violence, was the scene of stunning murders, gruesome deaths and exploitation. All of this occurred during the so-called gold rush.

Of course, with such turbulent histories, this side of the city left behind many stories that are now included among the dark legends of San Francisco. Precisely in this part of the old district, there used to appear multiple gang wars that ended up staining the city with blood.

This story was repeated over and over again with multiple criminal groups that settled in this lawless place forgotten by the governments, until finally that dark past was left behind and the neighborhoods known today as Chinatown, Jackson Square and North Beach were formed.

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Why is it advisable to take a ghost tour in San Francisco?

Ghost Tour| ©Jeremy Thompson
Ghost Tour| ©Jeremy Thompson

This tour is highly recommended not only because of the scary stories you will be told along the way, but also because it offers a historical approach to what these places in San Francisco were once like. Thinking about what the first years of the 20th century were like in this place, allows you to think about the great social progress that the nation and especially San Francisco has had.

It is also an activity that I recommend you to include among your options of things to do in San Francisco at night because I think it is an excellent way to start the night, and then go to enjoy the current nightlife, which if you think about it better, has something to do with that San Francisco that is already in the past.

I like to recommend this tour because the extensive knowledge that the guide shares with you is rarely found in other types of tour guides. It is usually an interesting participatory experience, where you not only have to be there listening to the stories he has to tell you, but he is also open to listen to all your concerns and those of the rest of the group.

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What are the advantages of taking a guided ghost tour vs. going on your own?

Chinatown, Ghost| ©Viator
Chinatown, Ghost| ©Viator

I don't recommend going on a ghost tour on your own. Although if you are a ghost tour enthusiast and have done some research on San Francisco and its mysteries, go ahead, it will be a good experience.

But if you don't have any knowledge about this kind of paranormal matters, the ideal is to go on a guided tour, with a person who can also tell you exactly what happens with these places and all the secrets they hide.

Also, since it is an activity to do in San Francisco at night, it is best that you go with people already prepared who know the places at night. Think that by going on a guided tour you will have the possibility to clarify all your doubts that perhaps in a self-guided tour you will not be able to clarify as well.

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