A Tale of Two Tours

Ghost Hunt: It's 7 p.m. on a cool October evening in Pacific Heights, and standing in the shadows…

My Weekend Sherpa:

Want to do it Did it


Ghost Hunt: It’s 7 p.m. on a cool October evening in Pacific Heights, and standing in the shadows of the Queen Anne Hotel is Jim Fassbinder, a darkly outfitted man clasping a gas lantern. Since 1998, Fassbinder has been leading tours of San Francisco’s spookiest spots for visitors and locals alike. Follow him and you’ll visit sites of alleged paranormal activities, creepy places from San Francisco’s bloodiest histories, and the mansions of infamous city residents. Fassbinder couples a dry sense of humor with painstaking historical research, and even if you’re not interested in spying ghosts, you’ll love his knowledge, wit, and attention to detail. A few hours with Fassbinder is a frighteningly good time.

Nightly tours leave from the Queen Anne Hotel lobby (1590 Sutter Street) at 7 p.m., rain or shine. Plan for a three-hour tour and be sure to dress warmly. The cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children under 16 (cash only). No reservations are required, but the tour sometimes changes, so be sure to consult the website here or call before arriving.

Vampire Tour: For a chilling tongue-in-cheek evening, pop in your favorite fangs and meet Mina Harker (a.k.a. Kitty Burns), a candelabrum-toting vampiress who guides vampire tours through the gothic side of Nob Hill. Mina will regale you with an interesting miscellany of Bay Area histories and fictitious narratives. You’ll hear a trove of stories, including how Mark Twain wrote about the vampire infiltration of Grace Cathedral, and—in nearly the same breath—how the cathedral’s door arrived in San Francisco by way of Florence. Mina will recount how wily vampires founded and continue to run our city’s major corporations, too. The vampiress has achieved local celebrity, so don’t be spooked if area residents give a friendly shout out as you’re passing by. The treat at the end of this trick is a stop atop the Mark Hopkins Hotel—where you can savor the spectacular views of the city while sticking your fangs into one of their 100 types of martinis.

Tours start at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night, convening near Huntington Park on the corner of California and Taylor streets. Dress warmly, and note that the very convenient parking at the Grace Hill Cathedral is expensive. The cost is $20 and coming in costume is encouraged! For more information click here.

Topic 3 photo courtesy of pinilla


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