Pay Respect at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno

Pay Respect at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno

Tombstones at the Golden Gate National CemetaryIf you ever entered San Francisco from the 280 you probably noticed the national cemetery in San Bruno, the Golden Gate National Cemetery. When the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio reached capacity and San Franciscans voted to bar cemeteries in the city’s vicinity, San Bruno was chosen. The San Francisco misnomer has created frequent confusions. 

The first interment was in June 1942. Ironically interment can be easily confused with the Internment, which was arranged at the same time a mile below the cemetery at the Tanforan Assembly Center.

Entrance to the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno.The monumental entry gate sets the tone for the memorial park. Signs explain the etiquette to fit the tone, no sports activities, dogs, etc. By 1966, veterans from World War II and Korea and later Vietnam filled the grounds to capacity. You can circle the round drive. If you are looking for someone in particular you can use the grave locator from the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

It is overwhelming to see the rows and rows of white tombstones;  you really feel the impact of wars. 

The Golden Gate National Cemetery is open 7 days a week from 8 am – 5 pm. It is ​​closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Intersection of North Loop Dr and and Fork Dr

If you are fascinated by gravesites you should visit Colma, the town with almost 1000 times more dead people than living. 

Gravestone salt and pepper shaker

Be alive in Colma

If your favorite Halloween outing is going to a cemetery you might find Colma attractive.

The city’s population of 1792 (2010) has seventeen cemeteries – , including one for pets. Four are listed in the cemetery travel guide! Hence the ratio of alive to dead is 1:1000 and the cities motto:”It’s Great to be Alive in Colma”. Colma was build as a necropolis, after San Francisco in the 1900 outlawed interments and then in 1912 evicted all cemeteries.  

Hair jewelry at the Colma Historic AssociationI started my exploration of Colma at the local Historical Association (free, but donations are encouraged). They embrace the dead neighbors with interesting knowledge about customs about grief. For example did you know that hair of deceased was made into jewelry? For those of you interested in genealogy the museum also has a reading room.

Crypts at the Italian Cemetery in ColmaI can recommend the walkable Italian Cementy next to the museum. A lot of interesting crypts and someone at the museum told me that people like to picnic there on the weekends. 


Some famous underground residents of Colma are:

Joe DiMaggio

Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery

Wyatt Earp

Hills of Eternity Jewish Cemetery

William Randolph Hearst

Cypress Lawn Cemetery

Levi Strauss

Home of Peace Jewish Cemetery

None of these resting places has a special Halloween offering, but two of them do occasionally offer tours:

Cypress Lawn ( and Holy Cross


Grave decorated in Halloween theme

For a Halloween event in the area you can go to the Annual Halloween Spook Parade and Costume Contest, Tuesday, October 31st from 3 pm – 5:30 pm at the Serramonte Center in Daly City.

What is your favorite passtime on Halloween?