The Winchester Mystery House is still on my to-do list, especially when it’s celebrating its centennial, but I’m no fan of horror or ghosts. For those who don’t know San Jose’s biggest attraction and oddity, the Winchester House was the residence of Sarah Winchester, heir of the firearms magnate William Wirt Winchester. To appease the spirits she kept building additions to her mansion and ended up with 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 9 kitchens, 13 bathrooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces.
Obviously this is the core idea of a haunted house, with staircases going nowhere and doors open to the outside! Tickets are about $42 for adults. Like I said, all these are reasons I did not bother to visit, yet.
If you are looking for a stripped down adventure which bypasses the inside experience, go and visit the free Product Museum and gift shop. The Product Museum is one room inside the gift shop that shows off the Winchester products and history. Did you know that they were known for roller skates? I also liked the model of the Winchester house, it gives you an idea of the quirkiness of it. The gift shop, besides the kitsch, has these old penny machines – test your love, anyone?
Another way to enjoy the Winchester Mystery House on a budget is to walk the garden; see some old Winchester equipment, like a Winchester lawn mower. Also, the paid entertainment fits the eccentric location: axe throwing and a shooting gallery. Axe throwing for one hour for up to 5 people is $24.99 per person per lane. The shooting gallery with one game for $3 might be the most frugal experience.
The Winchester Mystery House is located at 525 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA near Santana Row. Parking is complimentary. Opening hours are daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekdays and 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekends. You can book various tours online.
Have you been to the Winchester Mystery House?