Hair-raising Halloween haunted houses
By Aimee Drew
With witches preparing to take flight in the night skies and goblins peeking out from their hidey-holes, all things haunted are popping up. In Marin, San Rafael plays host to its first annual Haunted Pirate Manor, wherein a ghoulish crew unleashes piratical terror on the Queen Anne mansion. Live music rounds out the festivities Thursday–Sunday, Oct. 28–31, at the Falkirk Cultural Center (1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael; 6:30–10:30pm, Thursday, and 6:30pm–midnight, Friday–Sunday; $10; 415.485.3328). Zombies, ghosts and things that go bump in the night descend on Mill Valley for the Halloween Haunted House with Atmosfear. With three different levels of fright, the haunted house caters to varying age groups and faintnesses of heart on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29 and 30, at Tamalpais Valley Community Center (203 Marin Ave., Mill Valley; Friday, 6:30–9pm, and Saturday, 2:30–9pm; $3; 415.388.6393).
In Napa County, Calistoga's Haunted House and Carnival offers a scare-inducing haunt as well as a tamer carnival for younger visitors. It kicks into gear on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29 and 30, at the Monhoff Recreation Center (1505 Grant St., Calistoga; 6–9pm; $2–$5; 707.942.2838). For a less harrowing time, the city of Napa opens its downtown shopping area for a safe afternoon merchant trick-or-treat. Costumed fun and a pet costume contest ensue on Saturday, Oct. 30 (Main and First streets, Napa; 1–3pm; free; 707.257.0322).
In Sonoma County, Blind Scream and Doc's Horrortorium are sensory nightmares for visitors with a haunted maze and the horrible-sounding "Last Ride," which simulates being buried alive. Be plunged into terrifying darkness Wednesday–Sunday, Oct. 27–31, at the Manly Honda Superstore (2770 Corby Ave., Santa Rosa; 6:45pm; $12–$25; 707.523.3728). And finally, if any venue can play host to a haunted house, it's an abandoned carnival. The former site of J's Amusement Park, with remnants of rusting rides, opens its ghoulish gates for Dr. Evil's House of Horrors. Costumed actors and special effects combine to give guests a fright on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30 and 31, at the former site of J's Amusement Park (16101 Neely Road, Guerneville; sundown–11pm; $10; 707.695.7591).
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