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Unique Day Trips Around San Francisco: A Day at the Winchester Mystery House and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Updated on October 7, 2015

My husband and I love exploring and finding fun and unique day outings. We enjoy coming up with full day plans, including finding tasty local eateries and attractions. Our latest adventure was a day at the Winchester Mystery House, followed by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf. I had been wanting to visit the Mystery House, but because it was a bit of a drive from where we were, I was looking for another activity nearby for afterward. These two attractions ended up being a perfect pairing, and I highly recommend visiting them both if you are looking for something exciting to do!

Winchester Mystery House
Winchester Mystery House | Source

Winchester Mystery House

If you love history, architecture, or the paranormal, this tour is for you! Sarah Winchester, whose husband was the second president of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, went through some traumatic life experiences, which led to her move to California and the building of this bizarre house. While nobody is quite certain of her exact reasons for building such a strange place or for some of the odd things she did, the tour teaches you about a few of the mystifying theories.

Once the tour gets underway, it would be easy to get lost in this maze-like home. The house has everything from a seance room to a door that opens to a two story plummet to stairways that lead to nowhere. Each room you enter is interesting, whether for it's impressive details or an intriguing story. For example, you are shown the bedroom that Mrs. Winchester was sleeping in during the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and no repairs have been made to that room since. It was like stepping back in time to the horror of that night.

One of the many riddles of the house is why it was constantly under construction for thirty eight years until Mrs.Winchester's death in 1922. You will learn about theories for that, as well as other odd stories the neighbors spoke of, about the house and Mrs. Winchester herself. The Winchester Mystery House is most definitely filled with mystery as well as history.

The Winchester Mystery House is located in San Jose, about an hour south of San Francisco. The tour guides are entertaining and informative, making for an engaging and enjoyable experience. There are different tours offered including the two and a half hour Grand Estate Tour, which takes you through the house, other buildings on the property, and the basement, and the hour and five minute long mansion tour. At certain times of the year they also offer special tours, such as the Flashlight Tour and the Spirit of Christmas Tour. Don't forget to purchase your tickets online, as they are usually a few dollars cheaper.

Visit the Winchester Mystery House

The Mysterious Door to Nowhere
The Mysterious Door to Nowhere | Source

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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | Source

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

It doesn't get better than a year round fair, at a beach with stunning California views! We enjoyed it so much, that we definitely plan on visiting again. If you did want to stay in this area for more than a day, there would be plenty to do because the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and surrounding area has so much to offer! The rides are fun for children and adults alike, as are some of the attractions such as mini golf, the fright walk, laser tag, and bowling. In addition to a sprawling beach, there is also a pool and arcade, so the Boardwalk truly holds something for everyone!

The Beach Boardwalk has your typical fair style food, but for actual restaurants with some amazing fare, walk over to the Santa Cruz Wharf. There you will find gift shops and a variety of restaurants. There are different options for seafood, such as the Firefish Grill, and if you don't feel like seafood Olitas Cantina and Grill has some delicious Mexican cuisine. The Santa Cruz Wharf is a perfect way to end your day with a filling dinner and a sunset over the water.

Located in Santa Cruz, California, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is thirty miles away from the Winchester Mystery House. There are a variety of ticket options. The season pass is $74.95 and it includes one coupon book as well as one free all day ride wristband for a friend. The rides and attractions combo is $40.95 and the all day ride wristband is $32.95. You can also just buy points for rides.

Visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

A markerSanta Cruz Beach Boardwalk -
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
get directions

Some of the rides and the beach area
Some of the rides and the beach area | Source
View of the beach from the sky glider
View of the beach from the sky glider | Source
On the Santa Cruz Wharf
On the Santa Cruz Wharf | Source

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    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 23 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Planning a trip to SF in December. I think a side trip to San Jose will be nice to experience the Flashlight Tour and the Spirit of Christmas Tour. Awesome photos.

      Welcome to HP!

    • profile image

      jennifer choleva 23 months ago

      These articles by Leanna Lowe are very interesting as well as informative, and her pics. are also very good!