By Pati Navalta
Halloween may not be the same this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stir up some spirits.
For nearly 100 years, the fascinatingly bizarre Winchester Mystery House has attracted more than 13 million ghost enthusiasts from across the globe since tours began in 1923. Now guests can experience one of the country’s most popular haunted mansions from another perspective: outside.
The Walk with Spirits Tour, available Wednesdays through Sundays beginning at 8pm, allows guests to tour the grounds while hearing stories about Sarah Pardee Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune, whose fear of spirits inspired the whimsical and intriguing construction of the mansion (think: stairs that lead to nowhere and doors that open up to walls!).
“Once we received word that we would need to temporarily pause our indoor mansion tours, we quickly pivoted to design a new experience for our guests that shares some of the most famous—and infamous—stories surrounding the mysterious estate,” said Walter Magnuson, Winchester Mystery House General Manager.
Tour sizes are restricted to those in a visitor’s immediate household and capacity will be reduced for social distancing. All guests and employees will be required to wear face masks. Additional precautions include hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the property and enhanced cleaning of the estate.
For the more faint of heart, Winchester is also offering self-guided garden tours of the estate’s expansive Victorian gardens Thursdays through Sundays, as well as an immersive virtual tour online that allows guests to roam each level of the 24,000 square-foot mansion.
“Sarah Winchester was ahead of her time in many ways. She was a woman of independence, drive, and courage, and the mansion she built is world-renowned for its many design curiosities and innovations,” said Magnuson. “Today, we are striving to follow in her footsteps by offering an innovative way for guests to explore the mansion unlike ever before. We are asking the community to help us maintain this important historical landmark until we can once again welcome guests in person.”
525 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose. winchestermysteryhouse.com
Photo credit: Winchester Mystery Museum