For some people Halloween is just a day, but it's a lifestyle for a blessed few of us. For others like myself who are blessed with a naturally macabre disposition, it can be difficult to keep the spirit of Halloween alive through those long twelve months in between. Horror movies come and go, concerts and nightclubs are rare treats, but what else can a guy like me do to keep the party going?
Fortunately, I live in New York.
There are a bunch of spooky-themed venues, shops, and bars for everyone who likes their pleasures a little darker. These are all my personal haunts and hangouts and I invite you to take a grand tour of the places next time you're in the Big Apple.
A great place to start your year-round Halloween party is at Halloween Adventures, a year-round Halloween store. This fun two-story shop has both the kind of simple costumes you'd find at pop-up Halloween stores as well as more elaborate theatrical pieces, props, decorations, and anything else you need for a mid-summer Halloween party. For you magically inclined, there's also an on-staff magician downstairs and you can schedule appointments with a fang smith to custom make Vampire fangs.
Beetle House NYC
How can you not love a bar whose motto is Everyday Is Halloween!
Inspired by the phantasmagorical films of Tim Burton, Beetle House is a Halloween dream! The decor is lovely in an "I myself am . . . strange and unusual" kind of way and the bar serves delicious themed cocktails. I myself am very fond of their chocolate martini. For you dancers out there, they have 80s New Wave nights as well. Bring cash though because it's one of those very common cash-only places.
One of my favorite hangout venues in the Lower East Side, Bedlam bar is inspired by Victorian-era gentleman's clubs and salons. In practice, this means that there's lots of eerie Victorian wallpaper, taxidermied animals, and old fashioned medical charts on the wall. There's also a really nice dance floor and private area, which I've enjoyed during party nights. Finally, when you need a little bit of relief, you can pop into the bathroom and check out the mug shots that date from around the turn of the 20th century.
Duff's Alcohol Abuse Center
A legendary fixture of the NYC heavy metal scene, Duff's has existed in one form or another for a long time. Its current incarnation rests in Williamsburg Brooklyn and it a museum of metal history. Guitars, autographed photos, and paintings by serial killers line the walls, and patrons can sit on coffins or electric chairs while they drink. There are a lot of metal centric events going on all the time, but Duff's is more beloved to people like me for being a great place to get drunk for less than $20.
Jekyll & Hyde Club
The perfect family restaurant if you're from the Addams Family, the World Famous Jekyll & Hyde Club is a restaurant that caters to seekers of the macabre. The food it pretty good but the real treat is the floor shows, event nights, and morbid flair. A charming little Planet Hollywood-style theme restaurant, this place was parodied in the Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
If you ever find yourself trudging through a lonely Scottish moor and you're attacked by a ravenous werewolf, you'll want to find a pub like the Slaughtered Lamb. Based off the creepy pub from An American Werewolf In London, this cozy bar located near NYU is a favorite hangout of student drinkers. It's also got a great fireplace, which makes it a personal favorite spot for those chilly winter months.
The Green-wood Cemetery is a wonderful place for a walking tour. It's a beautiful location filled with the final resting places of some of New York City's most fascinating historical figures. There are walking tours guided by some very knowledgable historians and there are some really fascinating events that happen at Green-wood after dark. I once attended a moonlit party with a concert, acrobatics, and a hot dog cart set up outside of the large mausoleum that houses the remains of the inventor of the hot dog.
The Mysterious Bookshop
For those of you of a literary bent, The Mysterious Bookshop is a mystery-themed bookstore that carries all types of ghoulish treats. You can dig deeper into the works of your favorite authors or discover a new favorite from writers around the world. A great location for bibliophiles, this store is a fantastic place to find your next whodunnit.
I've been interested in the Goth scene for a long time and Gothic Renaissance has become something of a second home for me. You can find clothing and accessories here that you can't find anywhere else, plus the knowledgable staff knows all the great creepy events going on year round. It's a fantastic place to stock up on stuff you'll need for your next big event as well as some really unique clothing.
St. Vitus Bar
A fantastic bar and performance venue in Greenpoint Brooklyn, St. Vitus (named after the notorious dancing disease) is a metal bar that showcases acts nearly nightly. There's always something new to check out and several famous musicians have made stopovers there. There is also a regular metal yoga event for you health goths out there.
The Evolution Store
For you taxidermy fans, science geeks, and fans of having skulls on your desk, The Evolution Store is a SoHo shop for all the little strange bits you need to be a happy little creepsters. If you ever wanted a spider trapped in amber or a life-sized skeleton replica then The Evolution Store is the place for you. This place does sell actual human skulls but you have to be a medical or education professional.
The store that brags about having 18 miles of books - and I'm inclined to believe them - the Strand Book Store is a bibliophile's dream. They have a zillion books on every subject imaginable, plus they have tons of author events on site. Their old books room is a marvel of literature and I've found uncounted treasures within their walls. Plus, if you're looking for love, the Strand hosts literary speed dating events.
Boroughs of the Dead
A lot of the picks I've highlighted are locations but if you're a more active type, then take one of the Boroughs of the Dead walking tours. These lively and charming tour guides will take you on a tour through the dark side of New York's haunted history. I've done several tours with them and I discover something new and interesting each time. This is a great way to explore some of the most famous neighborhoods in New York.
Finally, what place could be more Halloween-y than an H.P. Lovecraft themed bar? This bar is located in the lively nightlife neighborhood of Alphabet City in Manhattan and has a funky steampunk vibe to it. Aside from excellent food and drink (including fantastic appetizers) they are a hub of literary nightlife. There are shows, readings, and theater hosted in the basement and you're guaranteed to see something vibrant and creative at the Lovecraft!
Have any favorite Halloween spots we've missed? Post them in the comments below.