ADVERTISEMENT

4 Scariest Halloween Celebrations in the Northeast

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
January 27, 2022
A scary model of the Headless Horseman from the Horseman's Hollow Halloween Celebration
Tom Nycz/Historic Hudson Valley
Zombies, ghosts, and ghouls make these haunted attractions the creepiest out there.

Fair warning: These Halloween celebrations are not for everyone. With screams, (fake) blood, and surprises worthy of a Hollywood thriller, these haunted attractions are perfect for those who like to be scared out of their wits at least once each October. (If being terrified isn’t your thing, you may want to check out a soothing fall festival or indulge in some gorgeous leaf peeping instead.)

1. Horseman’s Hollow/The Unsilent Picture, Sleepy Hollow, NY

The spooky spirit of Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow is alive and well every October in Westchester County, less than an hour’s drive north of New York City. Horseman’s Hollow has terrifying characters and models on the grounds of one of New York’s most historic properties, Philipsburg Manor, maintained by Historic Hudson Valley. And this year a brand-new scary attraction is The Unsilent Picture, a silent movie starring Tony-Award-winning actor/dancer/clown Bill Irwin, presented under a tent on the manor grounds. (hudsonvalley.org)

2. Eastern State Penitentiary Terror Behind the Walls, Philadelphia, PA

A weekend or overnight to Philadelphia this time of year may offer the most terrifying Halloween thrill in America. Eastern State Penitentiary was closed long ago for its horrific treatment of inmates, and the fright fest they put on each fall includes lunatics, mad scientists, and other folks you wouldn’t care to meet in real life. (easternstate.org)

3. 13th Hour Haunted House, Wharton, NJ

This haunted house in New Jersey gets high marks for re-creating the feel of an actual run-down old house. You don’t feel as if you are visiting a theme park attraction, and that makes the ghosts, ghouls, and zombies all the more terrifying. 13th Hour offers a variety of experiences, including one in which you wander in complete darkness. And, 13th hour is also famous for its “escape room” experience. (13thhour.com)

4. Blood Manor, Tribeca, NYC

You don’t have to leave NYC to experience a haunted house. Blood Manor, in TriBeCa, is one of the hottest tickets in town. Some of the ghouls and zombies have a decidedly "downtown" goth vibe and look as if they shop at the iconic Trash & Vaudeville punk/both boutique in the East Village to be honest. New this year is a wake for a character named Baby Face, and a Killer Clown room that I, for one, will not be entering. (bloodmanor.com)

Keep reading
Inspiration

Hotel We Love: Hellenthal Lofts, Juneau, AK

About 1.5 million passengers come through Juneau’s cruise port each year, and while the compact, scenic seaside town is a stopover for many, it’s also an excellent destination for a longer stay, what with its vibrant dining and brewing scene, proximity to natural wonders and hiking (there’s over 250 miles of trails and only 42 miles of road in town), and all kinds of interesting historic remains of the booming Gold Rush era. One of those holdovers is the Hellenthal Building smack in the middle of downtown. It opened as a hotel in the summer of 2018 after extensive renovations and it's an affordable, comfortable and convenient lodging option if you plan to visit this scenic Alaskan capital city. THE STORY The building was constructed in 1916 by J.A. Hellenthal, a lawyer for a big mining company. It started out as offices then became a bank. An Art Deco-style theater was housed in an adjacent space. But the theater closed in 1971 after the building fell into disrepair. Christine Hess and Dale Whitney, who took a “left turn” from their legal careers, bought the rundown property in 2016 and after two years of planning and giving the space a complete overhaul, the boutique hotel opened in June 2018 with six airy, contemporary loft spaces, each individually designed and decorated with shrewd minimalism. The renovation, much of which Christine and Dale did themselves, preserves the building's infrastructure. Particularly impressive are the three wood beams, each made from a single Juneau-grown tree, that run across the length of the structure under the roof. They discovered this architectural marvel only after they ripped out the attic. Chris and her 80-year-old mother sanded and stained them themselves. THE QUARTERS Most units sleep six people, but the biggest, one of the lofts, features a queen bed, a pullout queen, and futon queen bed and can accommodate eight. Each of the units has an open floor plan, spacious closets, a washer and dryer, flat-screen televisions, and free wifi. They're all also equipped with a full-size kitchen complete with modern appliances, a roomy fridge, and all the cookware, flatware, and dishes you could hope for, so if you're on a budget, stocking up on food and having a few meals in would be a good idea. Just take note: grocery shopping requires a cab trip, as there are no markets within walking distance. THE NEIGHBORHOOD Three words: location, location, location. The building is smack in the middle of the bustling downtown, which is very compact. Restaurants, bars, galleries, a bookstore, and gift shops--not to mention the ocean--are virtually all right outside. THE FOOD There is not an affiliated eatery within the hotel, but Devil's Club Brewing Company is located next door in an adjoining space formerly occupied by the theater, so it's close enough. The lively brewpub with communal tables serves creative beers and pub grub with a global twist. Chris and Dale created a curated guide of their favorite nearby restaurants and bars with snapshot descriptions of each that they leave in each room alongside with a variety of Alaska-themed books. Consider it their personal recommendations. ALL THE REST The Hellenthal Lofts can be booked through Airbnb or by calling the hotel's office directly. It's self-check-in, though sometimes Chris and Dale will be there to welcome guests. RATES AND DEETS Starting at: $150 Hellenthal Lofts100 Franklin StreetJuneau, AK 99801(907)523-0703 // www.airbnb.com/room/24287288?s=51

Inspiration

Treehouse Vacations: 3 Awesome & Affordable Destinations

When you’re planning a vacation, an inspiring view out your hotel window is often high on your list. Well, it turns out there are some lodgings around the U.S. and beyond where that view is extremely inspiring, not to mention extremely high - like, in the treetops. Here, three of our favorite treehouse vacations—all for well under $200/night. 1. BLUE RIDGE TREEHOUSE, BLUE RIDGE, GA As if Blue Ridge, Georgia, weren’t beautiful enough, the Blue Ridge TreeHouse, located at Bear Claw Vineyards, delivers breathtaking views year-round. And autumn may be the best time of all to soak up those gorgeous colors. You’ll stay in a real treehouse - tree trunks are part of the interior design! - and enjoy visiting the vineyards, the nearby cool town of Blue Ridge, and those endless northern Georgia mountain views. (blueridgetreehouse.com) 2. TREEBONES RESORT, BIG SUR, CA Perched high above cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur, California, Treebones Resort, on Highway 1 (which is now completely reopened) offers an array of elevated structures that deliver views of the sea and the stars you’ll never forget. The Human Nest (just what it sounds like) literally gets you up into the trees, and you have to bring your own sleeping bag and, when needed, rain gear. Cushier options include yurts (essentially comfy tents with hotel-style furnishings inside). The property also offers cozy indoor amenities, food at the Wild Coast Restaurant and the Sushi Bar, and lounge chairs for taking in the ocean views. You may even hear the distant cry of sea lions. (treebonesresort.com) 3. BANGKOK TREEHOUSE, THAILAND Treehouse hotels aren’t just for U.S. domestic travelers. One of the best-known in the world is the Bangkok Treehouse, in Thailand, with a dozen elegant elevated bungalows built with sustainable wood and repurposed and recycled materials. You won’t believe you’re in a major metro area, just a short ferry or taxi ride from the city’s river, temples, and iconic skyscrapers. Thailand, though it’s a long flight away, we’ve found that it is affordable and easily navigable for American travelers thanks to reliable public transportation and English-speaking locals. (bangkoktreehouse.com)

Inspiration

7 Wineries to Visit for More Than Just the Wine

Looking to up your wine IQ? According to industry advocate group WineAmerica, American wineries welcome nearly 30 million visitors a year. Though California produces 90 percent of US wine, with Napa and Sonoma providing the flagship tasting experience, wine is now being produced across the US in even the unlikeliest of places, which means diverse experiences for wine-loving travelers. And though tasting is surely a top priority, the offerings at these seven wineries are sundry and distinct and sometimes even enjoyed by the entire family. 1. Island Grove Wine Company: Kissimmee, Florida  When you think Orlando, Mickey—not wine—likely comes to mind. But this sustainable winery (www.formosawinery.com) in Kissimmee, delivers a family-friendly, organic, eco-minded experience on top of its award-winning fruit wines. The two-story, 13,000-square-foot winery is surrounded by eight acres of botanical gardens and farms where they grow more than a dozen different fruit crops (lychee, anyone?), including the blueberries for their specialty blueberry wine. Tastings are very low-key, allowing you to sip as you mosey around the property. Hungry? Take a wander over to the Blue Grove Baking Company, which serves vegan and vegetarian options among its selection of flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, and home-baked goods. Check out seasonal events like Oktoberfest, a British Festival, and, of course, the Blueberry Festival. 2. Francis Ford Coppola Winery: Geyserville, California (Courtesy Francis Ford Coppola Winery) Francis Ford Coppola makes no apologies for the kitschy pleasures of his eponymous winery in Sonoma (www.francisfordcoppolawinery.c...). By design, this is a family destination. “The Godfather’s” production designer, Dean Tavoularis, styled the property after Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It includes two restaurants; a movie gallery of props, scripts, and other memorabilia; a family gaming pavilion fashioned after “The Godfather: Part II” with bocce courts, board game tables, live entertainment, and interactive events; and a groovy, reservations-only swimming pool with cabanas. Of course, if your focus is wine, there’s plenty of it. Private tours include a full journey of the grounds. Other options include the First Flight Tasting featuring limited production wines, a Sonoma Inclusive tasting of the entire region, and a behind-the-scenes peek at the state-of-the-art bottling facility. 3. Wolf Mountain Vineyards: Dahlonega, Georgia Located on Wolf Mountain, this 10,000-square-foot winery (www.wolfmountainvineyards.com) sits 1800 feet above the fieldstone-encased cellar overlooking the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The high elevation provides the vineyard with warm days and mild evenings, which give the grapes a long warm period to flower, set, and ripen, and helps explain the 200-plus medals its wines have won. Enjoy tastings of six bottlings with impeccable views of the vineyard and mountains, then grab a full glass and locally sourced bites from the café on the open-air veranda. A Sunday brunch changes monthly and includes a themed cuisine, live music, food and, of course, vino. Gourmet Winemaker Dinners are sporadically announced and include a Cellar Reception with appetizers, a three-course dinner, and paired wines. 4. Bendell Cellars: Cutchogue, New York The Hamptons may boast celebrities, nightlife, and pristine beaches, but when it comes to wine, you’ll want to head to the North Fork, Long Island’s more laid-back coastline. Bedell Cellars (www.bendellcellars.com) sits in Cutchogue, a quiet town known for its stunning views of craggy cliffs overlooking the Long Island Sound and miles of bucolic farm land. Bedell, however, features 75 acres of vineyards. Tastings take place in the refurbished New England-style barn with a mahogany garden pavilion and intimate loft area with vaulted ceilings and fireplace. Elegant small plates are the draw at its seasonal restaurant, Noah’s. Book a group reservation for a sommelier-led tasting of both current and limited production wines or just walk in to customize an individual tasting. Local events include live music, wine and cheese parings with samples from New York City’s famed Murray’s Cheese, and even stargazing evenings organized by a local observatory, complete with telescopes. And wine specials.  5. Raffaldini Vineyards: Ronda, North Carolina Nestled near the Yadkin Rover and Blue Ridge Mountains, this Tuscan-style villa and tasting room (www.raffaldini.com) sits at a 1200-foot elevation and is the centerpiece of the winery’s 40-plus acres that grow classic French and Italian varietals. Regular tastings are offered on a walk-in basis and include a commemorative Riedel glass. And because the National Wildlife Federation recognizes the vineyard as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat, you’ll want to join one of the moderate hikes with vintner Jay Raffaldini, which are offered on select Sundays throughout the year. Other events include the educational Afternoon in Tuscany, a two-hour wine experience with lunch, a guided tour of the property, and an outdoor concert. Various Italian festivals take place throughout the year. 6. Chateau Ste. Michelle: Woodinville, Washington (Courtesy Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery) Founded in the 1930s and producing European varietals since 1967, this Washington state winery (www.ste-michelle.com), which uses grapes grown in the eastern Columbia Valley, is lauded for its eight different styles of Riesling. The Woodinville-based namesake Chateau is surrounded by 105 wooded acres and located just outside Seattle, making it the perfect pit stop if not a destination. The new state-of-the-art visitors’ center lets you customize your afternoon. Try the daily Feature Flight of five reserve wines; a Champagne and bubbly literacy session with food pairings; a free half-hour tour of the property; and a personalized wine-blending session to create your very own bottle to take home. There’s a café with daily specials to fortify you while you’re there. And make sure to check out the lively calendar of events, including a summer concert series that supports over 400 local non-profits. 7. Domaine Serene: Dayton, Oregon Producing award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a 42-acre hillside estate, Domaine Serene is a classic example of the style of the Dundee Hills in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In addition to a new winery dedicated to white wines and bubbly, the estate includes both a tasting room and a 30,000-square-foot Clubhouse. Inspired by a 15th century chateau in Burgundy, France, it offers a diverse lineup of wine-related experiences. The most luxurious contribution is the 45th Parallel Experience, a four-course wine and food pairing inside a lighted wine cave. Go behind the scenes with a guided tour of the winemaking facility or head off to tour the estate armed with a glass of Rose. A more formal and educational Prestige Tasting includes seasonal wine flights or you can just take in the valley views at the more casual Estate Tasting with light bites.

Inspiration

Take a Civil Rights Tour of Montgomery, AL

Montgomery, Alabama, has been a flashpoint of Civil Rights activity since the movement’s beginnings in the 1950s. Montgomery is the city where Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, where a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. helped lead the subsequent long (and ultimately successful) bus boycott, and where allies known as Freedom Riders arrived via buses from across the U.S. to march with protesters. When the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery in April, we decided to drive the four hours south from our home in Nashville to see it and some of the other important Civil Rights sites there. NATIONAL MEMORIAL FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE & THE LEGACY MUSEUM Sometimes called the “Lynching Memorial,” the National Memorial for Peace and Justice pays tribute to the thousands of African Americans who were murdered by white supremacists over the decades. A spiraling walkway leads us past hundreds of huge metal obelisks hanging from the ceiling; each one bears the name of a county, and the names of those who were murdered there. A few counties have just a handful of victims’ names; many have dozens. The path gradually descends as it proceeds, until we’re looking up at the hanging objects and they become an all-too-evident representation of the horrifying murders that they memorialize. This is a somber and powerful place to reflect on some of the darkest moments of American history. The Legacy Museum is set in a downtown building that was once a literal warehouse for slaves. It outlines the grim path that U.S. policies have laid out, showing a direct connection from enslavement to Jim Crow laws to mass incarceration. (museumandmemorial.eji.org) REMEMBERING THE BUS BOYCOTT Nearby, the Rosa Parks Museum remembers the famous defiance that prompted the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott. The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached for six years, was the site of many meetings in planning the boycott, as was the Dexter Parsonage, where the King family lived. This house has been restored to its 1950s condition, including furniture and many personal items used by the family. Also preserved is the damage done when a bomb exploded on the front porch. Downtown’s Civil Rights Memorial pays tribute to the people who lost their lives in the struggle for equality and bears one of Dr. King’s favorite quotes, “... until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” FREEDOM RIDES MUSEUM In the former Greyhound bus station downtown, the Freedom Rides Museum memorializes the bravery and sacrifices of the young men and women who faced violent, racist mobs hell-bent on maintaining segregation in the south. At this and at all the sites we visited, we found the docents to be welcoming and engaging, eager to answer questions and impart their considerable knowledge to curious visitors. A TASTE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CUISINE When it came to eating in Montgomery, we decided to spend our money in black-owned businesses in town. A few blocks west of the Freedom Rides Museum, Margaret Boyd’s Mrs. B’s Home Cooking is a classic southern meat-and-three restaurant, whose sides (like cabbage or collard greens) are cooked with smoked turkey drippings rather than lard. It’s also another “museum”: The walls are plastered with family, military, and celebrity photos, as well as framed press articles of momentous local events. A few blocks southeast of town, Monique Williams’ Cheesecake Empori-yum offers delicious desserts and also, unusually, eggrolls in inventive flavors like “Soulfood” and “Cajun seafood”. Just around the corner from the Rosa Parks Museum is the Savanna Tropical Rotisserie Cafe, where a wood-smoke grill sits out on the sidewalk, enticing customers to partake of authentic Caribbean/African cuisine like savory goat curry or delicious Jamaican jerk chicken. HISTORIC LODGING There is more to see in Montgomery than can be covered in a single day. We spent the night at a fantastic Airbnb rental, The Treehouse at Cottage Hill, a full upstairs apartment in an elegant, historic 1892 home in a quiet neighborhood, just three blocks away from the Peace and Justice Memorial.

ADVERTISEMENT