Your Definitive Guide to Halloween in New York City

New York is the place to be if you're looking to let your freak flag fly a bit this Halloween. Be safe, ghouls, and give yourself over to the night.

DAYTIME

For some family-friendly fun, a lot of New York City's wonderful Botanical Gardens are hosting fun Halloween events all week. The Bronx's Botanical Garden has its Spooky Pumpkin Garden on display through Thursday, October 31. Open from 10-6, you can also stay after and meet some skeles and ghouls from 6:30-8:30 PM for Spooky Pumpkin Garden Nights.

At the Queens Botanical Garden, there will be a Halloween celebration from 12 to 4 PM on Sunday, October 27, featuring a trick or treat trail, arts and crafts, and much more. For more spooky Queens fun, check out the Queens County Farm Museum, which hosts an expansive corn maze, a Children's Fall Festival, and a haunted house recommended for ages 4-12. The museum is open daily from 10-5 PM.

Of course, The Tompkins Square Park Halloween Parade runs from October 24 to 27, and the best part of this classic attraction is that it's a parade for dogs.

American Kennel Club

If you're looking for an excuse to go to Central Park, the Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla kicks off at 5:30 PM on Sunday, October 27. Register in advance for the chance to send your very own Jack O'Lantern floating out over the reservoir, and best of all, it's free.

For Brooklynites, Prospect Park hosts a Halloween Haunted Walk and Fair on Saturday October 26, from 12-3 PM. It's perfect for kids or the young at heart.

NIGHTTIME

Evening Events:

The Village's Halloween Parade is probably NYC's biggest and most famous Halloween event, and that's saying a lot. Costumes are no laughing matter here (you have to dress up to march), and you'll find over 50,000 zombies, ghouls, witches, and monsters coming together for one wild night. The parade typically runs from 7 to 10:30 PM (line-up starts at 6:30!), running from Spring Street on Sixth Ave to 16th Street. If you don't want to march, try setting up shop around the parade's starting point or finish line.

If you're looking to get out of the city, check out the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in Sleepy Hollow (yes, the legendary home of the Headless Horseman) and see 7,000 illuminated pumpkins. Times and tickets vary by evening and cost $22.

hudsonvalley.com

If the Great Blaze is too far away, you can head out to Governor's Island to see a slightly smaller (around 1,000) but still impressive gathering of artfully carved orange gourds. Running from 5 to 10 PM, it's $26 for adults and runs from October 24-29 at various times.

And if you're looking for some more intellectually stimulating and/or introvert-friendly entertainment, you most definitely have options. If you're not exhausted by the end of Halloweekend because you've spent the whole time indoors watching scary movies and eating candy corn (totally understandable), you can get a more in-depth history of all your favorite Halloween candies at the Brooklyn Brainery's October 29 event, Candy: From Early History to Halloween. And don't worry, there will be candy samples. Tickets are $15 and the event is 6:30-7:45.

Haunted Houses and Immersive Events:

Enter the 5,000-foot labyrinth that is Manhattan's Blood Manor and forget that you're in ritzy Tribeca.

Then there's the Merchant's House Museum, said to be one of the most haunted houses in New York City. This macabre destination hosts a variety of events, and you can pick from everything from an Evening with Edgar Allan Poe to a 60-minute candlelit ghost tour ($30-40, every half hour from 6:30-9:30 PM, various evenings) to even spookier midnight tours, also on various evenings throughout October.

Being NYC, there are no shortage of immersive events that sound genuinely terrifying. At the event called The Cooping Theory 1969, you'll travel back to the 60's to meet the members of the so-called Poe Society, who try to channel the dead poet via a seance. Things don't go well, if that weren't obvious. This event runs through November 2, and costs $75.

Then there's the supposedly terrifying Bane Haunted House, which makes its Hell's Kitchen debut this year. If you get too scared during the half-hour trip you can yell "Mercy," and in the two weeks it's been open this year, there have apparently been over 200 mercy cries. If you want to brave it, the event takes place at various hours, runs through November 9, and costs $35-55.

Asbury Park Press

For Those Who Want to P$arty:

Looking to celebrate Halloween like Old Hollywood stars? Look no further than the Sleep No More Hitchcock Party at Chelsea's McKittrick Hotel. Running from Friday October 25, 2019 to Thursday. October 31, a ticket (expensive $) will get you admission to Sleep No More, the immersive Macbeth-inspired experience, as well as admission to a fancy dinner and the luxe all-night hotel party.

If Manhattan parties aren't your thing, don't worry: Brooklyn and all its resident hipsters have got you more than covered. First and foremost, there's Brooklyn's infamous House of Yes. From a so-called Poetry Brothel (Thursday, October 24, 6:30-9:30 PM, $50-250) to the House of Yes Horrorvaganza (Friday, October 25, 6:30 PM, $20-100) and the subsequent Cirque Nouveau freak show, this venue is sure to give you all the saturated, freaky Halloween party vibes that your heart desires.

There's the BangOn!NYC Warehouse of Horrors, which fills Queen's Knockdown Center with freaky performers, huge art installations, vendors, and all the glitchy DJ performances your cold, dead heart could desire. The event happens on Halloweekend (Friday, October 25 to Sunday, October 27) and a general admission ticket will cost you $75.

Brooklyn Bazaar also has a party on Friday the 25th, entitled "Halloween Massacre," so if you're looking to get murdered this is the place. Plus, it's only $8.

For more themed entertainment, check out Queens' It-themed Halloween party at the famous Doha Nightclub on Saturday, October 26. Admission is free before midnight. If none of these parties catch your eye, check out Eventbrite's hundreds of Halloween parties—or forgo it all for a movie.

Film Showings:

For some of us, Halloween is basically Rocky Horror Picture Show night and nothing else. Rocky Horror showings are happening all over the city, so get your fishnets out and check out one of the dozens of options. In Manhattan, every Friday and Saturday in October finds a shadow cast shaking to the Time Warp at the Cinéapolis Cinema in Chelsea at midnight. Tickets are $10, and it's recommended that you arrive early. In Brooklyn, you can sing along with four-piece group The Occasionalists at Union Hall, who will play the movie's score live (the film won't be shown).

If you're looking for something a bit witchier, Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg is exclusively showing movies about witches for all of October. Check out their schedule here—tickets still remain for the Friday, October 26 showing of Drag Me To Hell.

For an even more immersive experience, head uptown to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which holds an annual scoring of Nosferatu with a live score. Plus, after the showing, you can follow their macabre Procession of the Ghouls down Amsterdam Avenue. Tickets cost $27.50.

Observer

AVOID AT ALL COSTS

Halloween is a time to be free and release your inner monster. But there are some places you absolutely should not go, namely the Joker Steps in The Bronx.

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.


Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).


Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!

Travel

So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—Workaway.info.

Workaway Workaway


Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).

Workaway WoIsango.com

You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway


Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker