Does the thought of spending another vacation waiting in hour-long lines at the nearest theme park make you yearn for a boring day in the office instead? Then you should consider taking a totally different kind of vacation – one that appeals to your goth side!
Whether you prefer a big city vacation with all the amenities or a quiet, small-town getaway, there is a perfect destination for you filled with gravestones, bats, and museums of the strange and ghoulish. Visit one of the places below to stay in a haunted hotel or pay homage to some of history’s most unconventional thinkers for a delightfully weird alternative vacation.
Keep it Surreal in St. Petersburg
Because of the alternative lifestyles influenced by his surrealist artwork Salvador Dali is often considered one of the ancestors of goth culture. If you want to embrace Dali’s work in a whole new way, you should make a pilgrimage to the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg. Surround yourself with some of his most famous works of art, or even take a class to delve into the innovative style of Dali.
Be sure to stay at the Vinoy Hotel if you want to potentially encounter a few guests from beyond the grave. The ghosts at the Vinoy are known to be tricksters who are especially fond of taunting the professional sports teams that stay here during spring training.
Pay Homage to Poe in Ithaca, NY
If you want to pay homage to another patron saint of the Goth movement, Ithaca is the place to go. Cornell University has several pieces of Edgar Allen Poe’s original works on display, giving you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the creepiest poems and stories ever written.
Once you’ve had your fill of Poe, take advantage of one of Ithaca’s best free activities and head out to explore some of the many lakes and waterfalls in the city. Afterwards, you can drive over to Binghamton and explore the rich history of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone, including a trip to the local Bundy Museum of History and Art where they have many props and personal memorabilia from the show on display.
Go Bat Watching in Austin, TX
If you’re looking for a vacation destination that is a little more Bauhaus and a little less It’s a Small World, Austin is the perfect place for you. Every year from March to November tourists and residents alike come out at dusk to watch the flight of 1.5 million bats. For people who want to enhance their viewing experience, Lonestar Riverboat Cruises offers a sight-seeing cruise of the city that culminates in the bat flight each evening.
For a deliciously sensual dining experience you can’t go wrong with Justine’s Brasserie, where gorgeous chandeliers and velvet walls are just the start. Round out your trip with a visit to Gallery Black Lagoon to see some eclectic contemporary art for the perfect alternative vacation.
Visit Gorey House in Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Looking for a way to make a traditional summer vacation a little more goth? Cape Cod has exactly what you’re looking for at the Edward Gorey house. Master of goth art and illustrations, Edward Gorey’s house has been turned into a public museum dedicated to his life and work, letting you surround yourself with the surreal and macabre before you hit the beach.
If you’re interested in an eerie dining experience you’ll want to grab a bite at either Local 186 Restaurant or Orleans Waterfront Inn, as both places have a ghost that calls their restaurant home. If you want to see some creepy bluffs that might also have a ghost of their own, be sure to check out the Windy Gates Cliffs before you head home.
Explore Spooky American Legends in Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Want to explore a spooky American legend? Point Pleasant is home to the Mothman, one of our strangest national legends and the inspiration for a number of books as well as a popular horror movie. Go explore the Mothman Museum and Research Center, and if you go during the third weekend in September you might even get to attend their annual Mothman festival.
If you want to expand your trip beyond the Mothman legends, you’ll be happy to hear that Point Pleasant has had a number of UFO sightings in the last 2 years, one of which was even caught on video. Grab a slice at Village Pizza and ask the locals to tell you about their sightings; you might be surprised what you hear!
Experience Haunted History in Estes Park, CO
If movie sets and haunted hotels are more your style, head to Estes Park and visit the most famous haunted hotel of them all. The Stanley Hotel is where The Shining was filmed, making this an excellent place to take a ghost tour where you’ll hear gruesome stories of times gone by. If you travel there during the winter months you’ll be able to take advantage of skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports in between bouts of hunting for spirits at the hotel.
To make the most out of your spooky trip you might decide to see a show at the Historic Elitch Gardens Theater, also home to a ghost who has occasionally been sighted sitting in the balcony with the audience.
Go Gothic in New York City, NY
When people think about a vacation in New York City, often they think about musicals, museums, and shopping in Times Square, but these things are only a small fraction of the attractions in the city that never sleeps. NYC is famous for its nightlife and has dozens of clubs designed for people who love all gothic subgenres, from ARKHAM: Brooklyn Gothic Party to Memento Mori. You can even visit Lovecraft NYC, a bar and restaurant designed with everyone’s favorite horror fiction author in mind.
If horror fiction is your thing, you’ll want to wander around Greenwich Village, where Shirley Jackson lived while she wrote some of her most terrifying tales. If you’d rather see the punk poet laureate’s old stomping grounds instead, you can head up to Chelsea to see where Patti Smith lived with Robert Mapplethorpe at the aptly named Hotel Chelsea.
Also, don’t write off the theater scene completely, as there are multiple shows that would appeal to a goth crowd available all year long. As of this writing A Clockwork Orange is playing Off-Broadway, but in the past NYC has seen everything from American Psycho to Stephen King’s Misery on the stage, so it’s worth checking out what is playing before you decide to skip the theater altogether.
Revisit Vampire Lore in Exeter, RI
If you are interested in a vacation that explores a bit of American history but you want to see something a little different, a trip to Exeter might be just what you need. Exeter is home to one of the saddest vampire legends in the United States. Before germ theory existed, when Tuberculosis came to Rhode Island the panicked citizens decided it was clearly vampires who were causing the problem. After a young girl named Mercy Brown died of the disease, the townspeople desecrated her corpse in their attempts to stop what they assumed was an undead monster from harming the town.
Today many people from across the country come to visit Mercy’s grave and pay homage to the spirit of this poor, maligned girl who was swept up in the vampire lore of her time. Exeter is also just a short drive from Providence, which means delicious food and a thriving art scene are just a few minutes away to ensure that all of your vacation needs are met.
Visit Emily's Bridge in Stowe, VT
If you are looking for a family-friendly destination that also appeals to your goth side, Stowe strikes the perfect balance. While you can get ice cream at the Ben & Jerry’s factory and see how cider is made at the cider mill, you can also visit Emily’s Bridge. A covered bridge in a quaint part of town, Emily’s Bridge is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who was left jilted by her lover when they tried to run away together.
Rumor has it that she hung herself from the rafters of the bridge, and lots of people come to hold séances and attempt to converse with Emily to find out more about her tragic past. If a visit to Emily’s Bridge simply isn’t enough for you, Club Metronome in nearby Burlington has theme nights that are perfect for those into the goth scene, from 'Witches of New England' to 'Gothic Burlesque.'
Take a Haunted Cruise on The Norwegian Dawn
If you want something a little bit different, this haunted cruise liner puts a spooky twist on the concept of a relaxing sea voyage. Rumored to have at least one ghost of a passenger who died aboard the ship in 2008, there have been multiple reports of run-ins with the phantom herself, objects moving on their own, and lights that flicker of their own accord.
The haunted ship is so well known that they have even arranged for a spooky cruise in the past, travelling from Salem, MA to the Bermuda Triangle with haunted artefacts brought on board to add to the scare factor! In addition to all of the ghoulish happenings on the sea, the cruise has restaurants, casinos, and bars on board to keep you entertained when you aren’t hunting for spirits from the beyond.
Will you be visiting any of these wonderfully gothic vacation spots? Let us know in the comments section!
Rachael Brennan is a freelance writer and environmental activist living in Boston. You can follow her on twitter @rachaelbwriter.