Ah, October. It’s always been my favorite month. What’s not to love? Crisp nights, changing leaves, hat and scarf accessories, caramel apples, cider mills, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and scary movies all culminating the best holiday of them all, Halloween. Seriously, an excuse to buy a new outfit combined with eating copious amounts of candy? Yes, I raise my pumpkin spiced latte to you, October.
As a relative newbie to NYC, I recently set out to fully embrace all that autumn in New York has to offer on what turned out to be a seven hour date combined with a tour of lower Manhattan.
Stop No. 1: Drinks at a haunted pub. Start the afternoon off right by visiting one of the haunted NYC pubs on Jess’s list. We chose the off-the-beaten-path Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, because it’s one of the oldest in the city — serving since 1817 — and perfect for a consultation on all things ghostly over a pint of beer. This easily overlooked venue in west SoHo is definitely not a tourist spot. The décor shows the yellowed edges of the past, complete with dust-covered bottles from who knows what year over the bar. The bartender/owner exudes an unnerving demeanor and confirms that the establishment is haunted. “I didn’t so much see a ghost as felt a ghost,” he said, staring straight at us without blinking for several beats as we nervously shifted in our seats and took long sips from our beers. If you’re “real nice” to him, he’ll supply you with a password to go upstairs and check out the spiritual goings on yourself, so long as no one is staying at the inn.
Stop No. 2: Walking the High Line. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, you have to do it at least once. I couldn’t imagine anything better than leisurely meandering around the urban park on a crisp autumn afternoon, admiring the changing leaves, the architecture, and the view of the river from an elevated height. The Meatpacking District and West Chelsea never looked so good. Plus, it’s free.
Stop No. 3: Dinner at the Breslin. The brainchild of April Bloomfield, a British chef who gained notoriety in the USA with The Spotted Pig in the West Village and The Breslin, 16 West 29th Street, which both have been anointed with the most impressive of honors, a Michelin star. The interior is dark and cozy and appropriately decorated with pumpkins and fall colors, perfect for kicking back and relaxing with a fun seasonal cocktail. My pick was the Headless Horseman, featuring bourbon, pumpkin ale, bitters, pressed Lemon and a spiced rim. It was autumn distilled in a glass. Equally enticing sounding is the Baked Apple Old Fashioned, featuring whisky, applejack, a spiced cider reduction and freshly grated nutmeg. Dinner is also delicious: an extremely generous portion of pork belly with a shatteringly crisp top, faintly anise flavor and perfectly cooked baby Brussels sprouts didn’t disappoint.
Stop No. 4: A haunted house. At Nightmare New York (107 Suffolk Street on the Lower East Side), you’re immediately segregated into two groups: those who opt to be branded with red X’s on their foreheads are subjected to being grabbed/manhandled by the actors, which lends to the creepy effect. There’s nothing like having a stranger dressed like a mutilated corpse grab your ponytail and subject you to the “close talker” treatment to give you the willies. Props also must be given to the cloth bag-over-the-head portion, where we were hooded and had to walk blindly single file while clutching a rope to guide us toward the next unknown obstacle. It’s all fun and games until somebody drops the rope though – then the actors might break character and swear a bit.
Stop No. 5: Another haunted house – because one is just not enough. The delicate equilibrium of yin and yang would be all thrown off if we didn’t give the West Village attention as well as the East. Well over 100 people stood in line willing to pay good money in hopes of getting the crap scared out of them at Blood Manor, 163 Varick Street. Depending on how you look at it, the attraction got off to an impressive or horrifying start with a real, live woman suspended in the air and hanging by clamps attached to her skin. Whoa. Blood Manor is indeed the bloodier of the two, with a deranged operating room, a realistically squealing bloody prop pig, and a 3-D glasses portion complete with a disorienting neon light effect.
Neither haunted house will legitimately scare the average skeptical, jaded, and desensitized New Yorker, but in the name of Halloween they’re a good time.
Stop No. 6: A scary movie. Back to our apartment to chow on caramel corn and cling to each other as J-Law (aka Jennifer Lawrence) navigates the terror of suburbia by screaming her head off in House at the End of the Street. Next weekend it’s Hocus Pocus.
How would you spend your quintessential autumn day? Share below!
By: Sarah Henry of Written in Chocolate