The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California has always fascinated me! The more I hear about it the more I wish I could step back in time and talk to Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester. She was the heiress to a large part of the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune (so quite wealthy!)! A special thanks to the Winchester Mystery House who provided me a ticket to visit and learn more about this story in person!
Sarah’s story is truly heartbreaking. Her infant daughter died and just a few short years later her husband passed as well. I can’t even imagine! Legend has it she sought guidance from a medium to deal with the grief and guilt, but no one really knows. What started as an eight room farmhouse quickly grew into a monstrosity of curiosities. Stairs leading to nowhere. Hidden doors. Sometimes……with a deadly result.
Notice anything odd about this photo above that I took standing outside of the house? That is the famous “Door to Nowhere”. You would not want to accidentally walk out that door! This is just one of many unusual things about this house.
How many doors and windows are in the Winchester Mystery House?
Visiting the Winchester Mystery House is so much more incredible than I could possibly imagined. I just couldn’t wrap my head around a house with 24,000 square feet including 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 52 skylights, 17 chimneys, 47 stairways and fireplaces, 160 rooms, 13 bathrooms and 6 kitchens! Just let some of those numbers sink in a bit. Check out some of the gorgeous stained glass windows below!
If walls could talk, right? Maybe they can at the Winchester Mystery House. Why did Sarah continue this strange obsession of building staircases that end into walls? No one really knows. My boys are pretty obsessed with conspiracy theories, aliens, ghosts, etc. After watching an episode of Ghost Adventures of the Winchester Mystery House I was rather nervous about visiting to be honest!
Can you stay at the Winchester Mystery House?
Unfortunately (or fortunately?!) there are no overnight accommodations at the Winchester Mystery House. Although if you’re lucky enough you might be in town when they offer a night time tour. *shivers*
How much does the Winchester Mystery House cost?
There are actually a variety of tours and tickets offered to visit the Winchester Mystery House and it changes throughout the year! The more tickets you bundle together the more you save! A basic adult mansion tour ticket price runs about $39 ($20 for kids 6-12).
How do I buy tickets for the Winchester Mystery House?
Is the Winchester Mystery House haunted?
I suppose that depends if you believe in ghosts right? I’m not sure but I was pretty creeped out after searching online for ghostly experiences there. (Check out this Ghost Adventures episode!) Although visiting the location in person was far less spooky then I’d expected, it was really a beautiful house even with it’s oddities. I loved realizing that there was so much to explore on the grounds.
Highlights of the Mansion Tour at Winchester Mystery House:
Since I had my 4 year old with me we could only attend the Mansion Tour, not the Explore More Tour (there is an age limit). I was thrilled with how much of the house we were able to go through and felt like we covered a LOT of ground. Our tour guide was surprisingly HILARIOUS and really brought life to the tour and stories. It felt like he was there with Sarah during her lifetime.
Sarah Winchester’s bedroom, of course, was a much anticipated stop on the trip I was not prepared for how beautiful and spacious this room was! I guess after hearing the story, in my mind, I was expecting a tiny hole in the wall to match the eccentric behavior of its occupant. As you can see it’s stunning and grand!
Perhaps one of my personal favorite rooms is the fabulous conservatory area that Sarah Winchester had built into her house. Look at all that natural lighting! I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful this old house really was. All you hear about and think about is how strange the story is, but it’s really a well cared for meticulous location. You can tell they’ve taken immaculate care of the grounds.
Check out this video tour overview of our visit:
What else can you do at the Winchester Mystery House property?
Above you see the fruit drying shed but there are actually quite a few old buildings to see around the property after you’ve completed your tour. At your own leisure you can also tour the Foreman’s House, Tank House, Aviary, Gas Lighting Shop, Greenhouse, Gardener’s Tool Shed, Pump House, Garage and various fountains and courtyards. You’ll also find on site various Victorian Gardens, vintage arcade games and shooting gallery, various mini museums on site, gift shop, a cafe, and of course there are restrooms to use!
Whether you’re a history lover or ghost chaser I definitely recommend adding Winchester Mystery House to your itinerary. I definitely want to go on their Explore More tour if I make it back to the San Jose area!