The Best Haunted Graveyards In San Francisco

October 27, 2012 11:00 AM
Halloween is fast approaching and Bay Area residents are seeking fun activities to celebrate the occasion. While San Francisco still enjoys its lively Halloween block party down in the Castro District, there are other less crowded activities to enjoy such as visiting a haunted graveyard. The following are five of the best locations that San Francisco has to offer in terms of history and notoriety. Not all locations are existing gravesites or even in the city, but each has a long history of ghost sightings.

alcatraz The Best Haunted Graveyards In San Francisco

Alcatraz Island (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

Alcatraz Island
c/o Alcatraz Island Cruises, Pier 33
1988 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 981-7625

True believers say that Alcatraz Island is the most haunted prison in America. While most of the graves have been relocated to other cemeteries, such as on nearby Angel Island, there are more ghost stories about Alcatraz than any other location in the city. Some of the most famous criminals of the era inhabited the dark and gloomy cells within the penitentiary including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Prison Cell 14D is believed to be the most haunted location on Alcatraz and thought to be frequented by spirits of those prisoners who died on the island commonly referred to as “The Rock.” Visitors to Alcatraz must take a ferry from Pier 33 where there are plenty of great food choices at the nearby Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 such as the Sea Lion Café and Chowders.

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Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery
1500 Mission Road
Colma, CA 94014
(650) 756-2060

The town of Colma is not in San Francisco, but the dead outnumber the living by nearly a thousand to one. Because many 19th-century San Francisco graveyards were removed after the devastating 1906 earthquake, most of the graves were transferred to nearby Colma where new facilities were built. The oldest is Holy Cross Cemetery with a number of famous people interred there such as baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, Governor Edmund Brown, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Abigail Folger, who was brutally murdered by the infamous Charles Manson. Wyatt Earp and Randolph Hearst are also buried in cemeteries in Colma. There are plenty of food choices along El Camino Real with Café Colma among the most popular.

Stowe Lake, Golden Gate Park
50 Stow Lake Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 831-2700

According to legend, the largest manmade lake in Golden Gate Park was built over a 19th-century cemetery. Today, Stowe Lake is one of the most haunted destinations in San Francisco. One of the most famous ghosts in the city is the White Lady whose baby daughter drowned in the lake. A weeping ghost is known to appear at night in a drastic attempt to find her baby daughter, whose body was never recovered. There are a couple of popular choices for food in Golden Gate Park including the historic Japanese Tea House and eateries at the California Academy of Sciences, along with public restrooms throughout the park.

Neptune Society Columbarium
1 Lorraine Court
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 771-0717

The Columbarium of San Francisco is a repository for human ashes and is the only remaining part of a 19th-century cemetery. The spirit of a young girl whose ashes are preserved there has allegedly been spotted upon occasion. One of the most famous people interred here is gay-rights activist and local politician Harvey Milk who was murdered along with Mayor George Moscone at City Hall in 1978. The Columbarium is close to Geary Street with obviously a lot of food choices such as the nearby Roadside BBQ.

San Francisco National Cemetery
1 Lincoln Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94129
(650) 589-7737

Walking through the National Cemetery at night can be a challenge for many thrill seekers who wish to venture through a sea of 30,000 white grave markers on nearly 30 acres. Established in the late 19th century, the cemetery is the final resting place for many American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Also on the Presidio of San Francisco’s sprawling property is the former Letterman Army Hospital that has an eerie reputation for apparitions of American soldiers who died there. One of the closest places to have a bite to eat at the Presidio is at the small café inside the Walt Disney Family Museum. The bowling alley on the former military base is also a great option for both food and restrooms.

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on

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