AN ATMOSPHERIC WALK IN THE DARK... is pretty much a staple of every spooky story told around Halloween. You heard it on the albums you grew up with, the ones that told scary (but fun) tales of exploring neighborhood haunted houses, the kind brimming with cobwebs. You saw it in the "Thriller" video, where a stroll in the dark summons a pack of fresh-from-the-grave dancers. And every fright film about a mansion on a hill has a main character who wanders up, through the trees, to explore. But if you're off to explore The Winchester Mystery House, one of the most famously phantom-y landmarks in all of California -- and, let's be frank, the planet -- then you know a stroll home, as in a scary story, isn't in the cards.
STAY CLOSE: The Winchester sits in the middle of bustling San Jose, and attending of the house's autumn-nifty flashlight nights means you'll probably arrive at the attraction by car. Unless, of course, you book at Hotel Valencia Santana Row, a posh property that's just a pip and hop (read: five-minute walk) from Sarah Winchester's infamous manse. You won't need to push through a forest of foreboding trees to reach Hotel Valencia following your Winchester visit, however, but you should plan on visiting one of the many restaurants or bars that dot Santana Row, for many'll keep the liveliness going well into the evening post-flashlight tour.
THE HOTEL... underwent a recent refurbishment that enhanced its "Mediterranean accents and Spanish Golden Age appeal." Warm woods, mood lighting, and rich fabrics lend the building further luxe-o-sity. While there are no packages with a Winchester theme, there is one that has a fall-y feel to it, a Wine Weekend Getaway deal. Cheeses and vino and picnicking and discounts at vineyards around the nearby Santa Cruz Mountain region await. And, truly, what's more autumn than A) wine and B) ghost tours? If you're fond of both, this could be your spot -- the Hotel Valencia Santana Row -- to combine both, in one flashlight-bright, merlot-tasty weekend. Just enjoy your walk from The Winchester Mystery House back to your hotel and keep your fingers crossed you won't meet up with a pack of dancing ghoulies.