Haunted SF: The 6 Spookiest Spots in San Francisco

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From grisly suicides to human sacrifices, the tales behind these haunted spots are sure to send a chill down your spine, whether you believe in ghosts or not. 


1. Alcatraz: The Ghost of Cell 14D

What was once a military prison for war criminals, and later converted into a federal prison for some of the worst criminals in history (think Al Capone, Machine-Gun Kelly, and Whitey Bulger), is now one of the most haunted spots in the Bay Area— and for good reason. Convicted felons were not sent to Alcatraz to become better citizens. They went there to suffer.

Cell 14D is said to be the most haunted cell in the prison, and many people have claimed to feel a strange coldness while walking around the area or even caught a glimpse of a spirit roaming around the premises. It is believed that one night in the 1940s, a prisoner of the cell was screaming in terror about seeing a creature with glowing eyes. The next day, officers found the prisoner strangled to death in his cell. The ghost of that prisoner now roams the area, seeking revenge. Want to see for yourself? Visitors can tour the prison for $30 or take an eerie night tour to see a much darker side of the island.

2. Queen Anne Hotel: The Ghost of Mary Lake

From the outside, the Queen Anne Hotel looks like your typical Victorian B&B, but it's what's on the inside that's a bit irregular, particularly Room 410. Before the Queen Anne became a hotel, it was a boarding school for girls ran by a woman named Mary Lake, and legend has it that Mary Lake's ghost still haunts the place. Hotel guests have claimed to feel cold chills and even see a white figure in Room 410. Even more strange? This is one benevolent ghost—Mary has reportedly been responsible for tucking in guests' feet during the night. In fact, guests frequently request Room 410 in hopes to catch a glance of the kind Mary Lake. 

3. Sutro Forest Suicides

Today, Sutro Forest is a beautiful, green woodland perfect for urban hikes, but it never used to be so inviting. In 1904, the forest was a dark and sinister place utilized for one thing: suicides. Sutro Forest was so secluded that people would often go there to take their own lives. Eventually, however, hikers came across a gruesome scene in the woods: multiple, decomposed bodied were seen hanging from the trees. Some say that the forest is indeed haunted, and locals have claimed to hear the moaning of the dead or see something moving through the trees that they can't explain. 

4. Sutro Baths Human Sacrifices

You've probably already heard the rumor that Sutro Baths was once used for human sacrifices. The story goes, if you walk toward the very end of the cave and light a candle, you will summon the spirits of the sacrificed and they will pick up the candle to toss it into the water below you. Who wants to give it a try? 

5. Stow Lake: The Lady in White

During the day, Golden Gate Park's Stow Lake is a great place for a boat ride, walking your dog, or visiting the waterfall at Strawberry Hill. When the sun goes down and the fog rolls in, however, Stow Lake becomes a walking ground for the Lady in White. Legend has it that somewhere around the 1930s, an unmarried pregnant woman decided to hid the pregnancy from her family. Once the baby was born, she disposed of it before killing herself in the lake. Now, if you decide to walk around Stow Lake at night, you might see a woman wearing a white dress asking for her baby. Be careful, though: if the lady comes up to you and asks if you've seen her baby, say yes, she will only continue to haunt you. But if you say no, she will kill you. We've also been told that if you chant, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby,” three times, you might just summon the spirit of the woman out of the lake.

6. Donaldina Cameron House

Remember in The Pursuit of Happyness, when Will Smith's character provides his son with some memorable words of wisdom on the basketball court? What you probably didn't know, was that the basketball court is actually part of the Donaldina Cameron House, a modern day Chinese family center. Back in the 1880s, the building served as a safe house for female Chinese immigrants. At the turn of the century, only Chinese men were allowed to come to America to obtain jobs, and Chinese women were forced to sneak over. It was the Donaldina Cameron house that took these women in, to house and care for them in their vunerbale situations. Disaster struck, though, when locals set fire to the home. The house was eventually rebuilt, but since then, people have reported seeing many spirits walk around the facility. The Donaldina Cameron House is perhaps the most active haunted house in the city, and has a reputation for scaring the living daylight out of its guests and staff members alike. 

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