By far, one of the strangest places I have written about on the blog is the Winchester Mystery House, built by the Winchester Rifle fortune. The house is full of mazes, corridors, doors, windows that lead to full brick walls and even a door in a second-story room that drops entirely to the ground outside of the house. The house is thought to be haunted, there is a seance room, and while she was alive, Sarah Winchester never allowed the building of the house to stop. This is one of those strange California places that needs to be experienced to be believed. Today you can tour the property on one of a few different tours. I just did the main tour again in 2022 and here is all the information.
- Cost: Adults – $42, Kids – $20 (as of 2022)
- You can take photos on the tours now
- Book the tour in advance as it can sell out on the weekends
- Location: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
From their website:
We may never know for sure if Mrs. Winchester built her house to accommodate the spirits, but over the years, the story has come down that she believed her life was unavoidably affected by departed souls. Presumably, she wanted to be friendly with the “good” spirits and avoid the “bad” spirits – and the way to be familiar with the “good” spirit, it seemed, was to build them a beautiful place to visit. In any case, for nearly thirty-eight years, the round-the-clock sawing, sanding, and hammering at the Winchester Mystery House never ceased – not even on weekends or holidays. It was never a rush job. Mrs. Winchester had all the time in the world – at least, all the time needed to maintain a steady pace. With her financial freedom, she was content to honor whatever whims came from her imagination and from the spirits she believed were guiding her.”
The Winchester Mystery House Tour
When you arrive at the house, you are immediately struck by the size of this building; there are many different stories, gardens, fountains, and doors, and that is just from the outside. The cost to tour it when we were there was $42, and we took the tour that just included the house and not the gardens (you can see these yourself after the main tour).
The tour takes you through all of the main rooms, including the dining room, seance room, and even the room with a door that leads to a fifteen-foot fall. Throughout this strange house, some staircases go down and then up again, some stairs lead directly to a ceiling and there are even windows that open to brick walls.
The tour doesn’t ever drag on as there is so much to see and many new things that greet you in every room you enter. She also had a fascination with the number 13, which went into a lot of the work done on the house and is explained below.
“Whether or not one believes in Mrs. Winchester’s superstitions about spirits, it’s harder to dismiss occurrences of the number 13 throughout the house. Many windows have 13 panes, and there are 13 bathrooms, with 13 windows in the 13th Bathroom. There are also 13 wall panels in the room before the 13th Bathroom, and 13 steps leading to that bathroom. The Carriage Entrance Hall floor is divided into 13 cement sections. There are even 13 hooks in the Séance Room, which supposedly held the different colored robes Mrs. Winchester wore while communing with the spirits. “
One of the oddest things I heard on the tour was that she believed she would die if she ever stopped building. This is why there are so many random additions to the house because she thought that her life depended on the work never stopping.
When I visited again in 2022, the tour was faster than it previously was but it was still full of information and a lot of fun. One of the highlights being that you got to go into her main bedroom.
The tour visited 110 of the 160 rooms in the house and along the way you got to see bedrooms, bathrooms, multiple kitchens and a few different wings of the house.
The tour traveled over a half mile as you were walking through the house. This is truly a unique place to visit and even though the tickets can be expensive it is pretty fun to see.
There is also a museum with many different Winchester Rifles from various points in its history that you can check out when the tour completes, and that is free to visit. I am not sure if this is still available to see so you will have to check when you go.
The gardens are free to tour when you finish the paid tour as well. You can grab a map from the gift shop and set out to see what you can find.
I explored the outside area for about 45 minutes, just walking around and taking it all in.
You don’t want to miss seeing the door that drops from the second story from the outside.
If you haven’t done the tour, I would recommend this to anyone looking to see something new on a road trip or even if they have lived in the area their whole life and not done it. Let me know what you think in the comments.