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Winchester Mystery House picture in San Jose
Courtesy Winchester Mystery House

Key Info

Details

  • Historic Homes/Mansions, Parks and Gardens, Tours Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
2.9
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    3.0
  • Facilities
    2.5
  • Atmosphere
    3.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

Across the street from hip Santana Row, the Winchester Mystery House is both a piece of San Jose history and, according to some, a tourist trap. The incredibly superstitious Sarah Winchester  heiress to the firearm fortune  built this monstrous structure in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The estate boasts 161 rooms and a bevy of mind-boggling designs, such as a staircase to nowhere, secret passageways, a séance room and the Hall of Fires, which is equipped with four fireplaces and three hot air registers. While some visitors appreciate the architectural oddities, others quickly grow bored of the furniture-less rooms. Still, you might consider a visit: The house is one of San Jose's oldest homes, and some people won't believe you've truly seen the city if you don't make a quick stop here. What's more, it's a California Historical Landmark. Reviewers who visited with tweens and teens said it proved an entertaining activity for the whole family.

Just a short drive west of downtown, the Winchester Mystery House offers Behind-the-Scenes, Mansion and Grand Estate tours (prices vary by tour type, ranging from $25 to $44 per person). The estate maintains a complicated schedule of operating hours, so check the website before your trip.

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
  • Hotel
TownePlace Suites San Jose Cupertino

TownePlace Suites San Jose Cupertino ...

  • 1.2 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
The Row Hotel

The Row Hotel ...

  • 0.9 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
Hotel Valencia Santana Row

Hotel Valencia Santana Row ...

  • 0.2 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
See all hotels in San Jose »

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#1 Santana Row Where do Silicon Valley tycoons go to spend their money? To Santana Row, a chic shopping development just a short drive west of downtown San Jose. Here you'll find ... Read more » MasaoTaira / Getty Images

#2 Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph Architecture buffs will want to set aside some time to see the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, a large Roman Catholic church located in downtown San Jose. This structure is ... Read more » Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images

#3 Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum hosts the largest collection of ancient Egyptian finds on the West Coast, boasting more than 4,000 artifacts. Along with a tomb replica, the museum's ... Read more » joncallas / Flickr

#4 Tech Museum of Innovation The Tech Museum of Innovation is right at home in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. This blue-domed facility in downtown brings in school children by the busload  literally ... Read more » HarshLight / Flickr

#5 San Jose Museum of Art The San Jose Art Museum brings a bit of high culture to the downtown area. Its collection focuses on 20th- and 21st-century works in a variety of media  painting, video ... Read more » Tofu / Flickr

#6 Children's Discovery Museum Like the nearby Tech Museum, the Children's Discovery Museum offers hands-on experiences for kids as well as some interesting displays for adults. Recent travelers seem to have several favorite ... Read more » Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

#7 Japanese Friendship Garden Visitors frequently describe this small garden as "tranquil" and a nice place to let the kids run around. Built in 1965 as a symbol of everlasting friendship between the city ... Read more » Meg Lauber / Flickr

#8 California's Great America It's no Disneyland, but this theme park in the Santa Clara neighborhood (about a 15-minute drive from downtown San Jose) will surely satisfy your family's craving for thrilling ... Read more » Courtesy California's Great America

#9 Winchester Mystery House Across the street from hip Santana Row, the Winchester Mystery House is both a piece of San Jose history and, according to some, a tourist trap. The incredibly superstitious Sarah ... Read more » Courtesy Winchester Mystery House

Santana Row picture in San Jose
Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph picture in San Jose
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum picture in San Jose
Tech Museum of Innovation picture in San Jose
San Jose Museum of Art picture in San Jose
Children's Discovery Museum picture in San Jose
Japanese Friendship Garden picture in San Jose
California's Great America picture in San Jose
Winchester Mystery House picture in San Jose
Santana Row picture in San Jose
Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph picture in San Jose
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum picture in San Jose
Tech Museum of Innovation picture in San Jose
San Jose Museum of Art picture in San Jose
Children's Discovery Museum picture in San Jose
Japanese Friendship Garden picture in San Jose
California's Great America picture in San Jose
Winchester Mystery House picture in San Jose

Santana Row is a great place to stretch your legs... and your budget. It's also home to a variety of restaurants. MasaoTaira / Getty Images

This Roman Catholic Church is California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum hosts the largest collection of ancient Egyptian finds on the West Coast, boasting more than 4,000 artifacts joncallas / Flickr

The Tech Museum of Innovation offers plenty of hands-on learning opportunities that serve to educate young minds about scientific concepts, such as space exploration, biotechnology, clean energy, genetics and the science of sound. HarshLight / Flickr

Though visitors comment on this art museum's small size, they say it's a nice way to spend an hour or two, especially if you enjoy contemporary works. Tofu / Flickr

Like the nearby Tech Museum, the Children's Discovery Museum offers hands-on experiences for kids as well as some interesting displays for adults. Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Meg Lauber / Flickr

Courtesy California's Great America

Across the street from hip Santana Row, the Winchester Mystery House is both a piece of San Jose history and, according to some, a tourist trap. Courtesy Winchester Mystery House

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