Is there a name for people who like to be scared? I’m not talking about life or death scared. I mean that feeling where the tiny hairs on your nape stand up and goosebumps are rising on your arms. That feeling when you’re watching a scary movie and on the screen the phone rings as someone jumps out from behind you and yells BOO. I think we all know that feeling and I happen to love it.
I love all things creepy and spooky, especially around Halloween. So just imagine how I feel about Virginia City officially dubbing October as “Hauntuber”. There is something about haunted old mining towns that send shivers in all the right places (like down my spine!). The city is offering visitors a number of ways to get their spook on including the haunted places to stay, creepy tours, and chilling saloons. There are even lighted evening trains to make the town an epicenter for the supernatural.
Mwah ha ha.
Get Your Scare On in Virginia City
Staying a night in one of Virginia City’s haunted hotels may just be the ultimate thrill. There’s plenty to choose from, so if at first you’re not scared, book and book again!
- Gold Hill Hotel – Nevada’s oldest operating hotel with abounding stories of the ghosts of children running the halls and the scent of roses that appears randomly when a spirit is said to be present. Visit GoldHillHotel.net to book.
- Silver Queen Hotel – Allegedly haunted by one or more of the working women who did business in the hotel, this establishment was built in 1876 and is considered one of the most haunted locations in town. The hotel offers paranormal investigations for an additional fee. Go to SilverQueenHotel.net to book.
- st. Mary’s Art Center – Originally built in 1875 as Virginia City’s hospital, this majestic building offers 16 guest rooms for artist retreats, or anyone looking to stay in Virginia City. Paranormal investigations are offered monthly or can be booked as a private tour and the building is reported to have very active paranormal spirits. Visit StMarysArtCenter.org for details.
- Tahoe House Hotel – Dating back to 1859, this property offers plenty of tales of paranormal encounters from guests over the years. Renovated in 2020, it features five rooms with balconies overlooking C Street, along with a lobby bar, great room and courtyard. Book at TahoeHouseHotel.com.
More lodging options are available at VisitVirginiaCityNV.com.
Looking to get your fill of spirits? Yes, that kind. Check out Virginia City’s plentiful saloons. During its heyday, more than 100 saloons lined the streets of the mining town. Today a solid 12 remain, not bad for a town with a population of fewer than 900 residents.
The Washoe Club offers haunted tours and for some, just walking into the Bucket of Blood, Old Corner Boardor the Silver Dollar, is like stepping back in time. For a complete list of saloons, visit online at https://visitvirginiacitynv.com/virginia-city-saloons/.
Take home a bottle of Cemetery Gin, Virginia City’s own distilled spirit. Bottles can be purchased at the Visitors Center and locations throughout northern Nevada. Drinks featuring the tasty gin spirit are available at the Virginia City watering holes or stop by the Visitors Center for a sample.
October Tours and Attractions
Haunted Adventure Pass: Spooky adventures in Virginia City start at the Visitors Center where visitors can get their Haunted Adventure Pass for discounted access to Virginia City’s Hauntober attractions. The pass includes a Bats in the Belfry Ghost Tours, access to the Haunted Washoe Club Museum and a tour of Piper’s Opera House. Purchase passes at the Visitors Center, 85 South C Street. Reservations for the Bats in the Belfry and Washoe Club Tours must be made separately in advance.
Bats in the Belfry Guided Ghost Tours: If you want to know where the most haunted locations are in Virginia City, this is the tour for you. Take a walk around this historically haunted town and learn about the lively souls that still occupy it today. Visit VirginiaCityGhostTours.com.
Paranormal Investigations at St. John’s Mary’s Art Center, Oct. 16, 29-31: Explore the halls of the historic St. Mary’s Art Center with paranormal investigations led by one of the area’s leading ghost experts. Reportedly one of the most haunted buildings in Virginia City, the Art Center was originally built as the town’s hospital.
V&T Railroad Pumpkin Patch Train, Oct. 16 & 17 and 23 & 24, 11:20 am, 1:20 pm and 3:00 pm: A pumpkin patch is fall’s ultimate playground for kids so why not make an adventure of it with a train ride to the Gold Hill Pumpkin Patch. Purchase train tickets at VirginiaTruckee.com.
“Art of the Grotesque” at Gallery of the West, Oct. 23-31, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Discover works from fine artists throughout the region, featuring odd, grotesque and downright creepy works. This display is not for the faint of heart. Learn more about Gallery of the West at VirginiaCityGalleryoftheWest.com.
Haunted Virginia City Escape Room & Haunted Ghost Town – all month-long thrill-seekers have the opportunity to try their hand at the Haunted Virginia City Escape Room. All new and revamped for this year, this escape room is one of the most challenging in the area. For more thrills, take a stroll, or maybe run, through the Haunted Ghost Town. This walk-through attraction is sure to give an adrenaline rush. The Virginia City Escape Room must be booked online in advance at VCEscapeRoom.com. The Haunted Ghost Town is just $4 per person and can be paid onsite.
Mackay Mansion Haunted House and Paranormal Tours – Investigate one of the town’s most haunted locations, the Mackay Mansion, with special paranormal tours and haunted tours throughout the month. For details and reservations, call 775-847-0156.
Washoe Club Haunted Tours, offered daily, times vary – Featured multiple times on “Ghost Adventures,” The Washoe Club and Haunted Museum offers daily ghost tours. Private, overnight investigations can also be booked. Get details at TheWashoeClubMuseum.com.
Halloween Weekend Events
Electric Halloween Steam Train of Lights, Oct. 30 & 31, 5 pm, 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm: Get in the haunted spirit with a ride on a spooky evening steam train from Virginia City to Gold Hill. A special adult-only train departs at 7:30 pm and provides adult beverages to enjoy on the way. Tickets available online.
Fourth Ward School Museum’s Victorian All Hollow’s Eve Ball, Oct. 30, 7 – 10 pm – Disneyland’s European Haunted Mansion is a copy of this historic building. Explore it on the eve of Halloween with this adults-only evening, including music and dancing, a costume contest, flashlight tours, a fortune teller, light snacks and drinks. For tickets visit FourthWardSchool.org.
Cemetery Gin’s Hunt for the Spirits, Oct. 31, 11 am – 4 pm: Embark on Cemetery Gin’s Hunt for Spirits, a fun and tasty scavenger hunt through town. Participants must use their historic Virginia City knowledge to solve clues and unscramble a secret message of Virginia City’s past, learning more about this historic town while sampling tasty spirits along the way. This is a 21+ event. Purchase tickets online.
Halloween Tricks, Treats and Art for Kids, St. Mary’s Art Center, Oct. 31.: Bring the kids for fun games, prizes, fun art projects and treats in the spookily decorated halls of the historic hospital property. Get tickets here.
Hauntober Parade, Oct. 31, 5 to 6 pm: Goblins of all ages dressed to scare are invited to participate in the Hauntober Parade on Halloween night. Check-in and costume contest starts at 4 pm at the Virginia City Jerky Company.
Hauntober Safe Trick-or-Treating, Oct. 31, 6 to 8 pm: Stick around after the parade for safe trick-or-treating at the many shops along the boardwalk.
Virginia City Cemetery, Oct. 31, 5:30 to 11 pm: Once a year, on Halloween, the gates to the old Silver Terrace Cemetery stay open for visitors to stroll past dusk. Here, souls rest in peace but their stories live forever. Take a self-guided tour with the downloadable audio tour, available online. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Proceeds benefit the Comstock Cemetery Foundation. For more information, visit online.
For tickets, details and to plan a trip to Virginia City, visit VisitVirginiaCityNV.com.