Elegantly Creepy Halloween Activities

PHOTO: New Orleans church spire
Pat Garin

With a nod to this fall's bumper crop of stylish, ghoulish supernatural shows ("American Horror Story: Coven," "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," the return of "Walking Dead"), we went looking around the country for Halloween celebrations that offer a similarly creepy-elegant vibe. Not surprisingly, New Orleans (pictured) delivers the most, but we also found insect art in a country manor hotel, degenerate clowns in Las Vegas and gothic cemeteries throughout the South.

PHOTO: W Hotel Hoboken Zombie Chic
Urban Decay
Zombie Chic, W Hotel, Hoboken, N.J.

W Hoboken's Halloween-week package is an excellent enticement to a) get dressed up for Halloween twice this year, and b) splurge on a big New York weekend in a hotel that's not technically in New York. The hotel is doing two parties and two pre-parties this year, and people who purchase the package get access to ALL the parties, plus two pre-party cocktails. The Saturday night party is themed Zombie Attack, and to help you get dressed to the peak of undead chic like the lady pictured, the package also includes a makeup kit from cosmetics company Urban Decay (official slogan: Beauty with an Edge).

PHOTO: Tour de Graves, Charleston
Courtesy of Magnolia Cemetary/Historic Charleston
Tour de Graves, Charleston, S.C.

As picturesque as it is historic, it is the oldest public cemetery in Charleston. Poets, politicians and 2,200 Civil War veterans are at rest under the elegant oaks, on the banks of Cooper River. Though not in Charleston's historic district, this site is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

PHOTO: Megasoma at Umstead House, North Carolina
Courtesy Christopher Marley
Megasoma at Umstead Hotel & Spa, Raleigh, N.C.

Artist Christopher Marley makes his pieces out of "natural materials," and his particular genius is that he turns items that most people would never consider bringing indoors into artworks that they're proud to hang on their walls. His exhibition at Umstead House, a genteel spa-hotel in Raleigh, features arthropods -- that's beetles and bugs in plain English -- but other Marley works incorporate sea creatures, feathers, fossils and serpents, all dead of natural causes and painstakingly "reclaimed" by the artist.

Absinthe at STK Vegas

Bawdy, fearless, beautiful, sometimes shocking and occasionally sinister -- all within an intimate setting that doesn't allow guests to keep their distance from the action -- the acro-cabaret Absinthe has proven to be a sleeper hit for Caesars Palace. For Halloween, wonderfully pervy host The Gazillionaire, Green Fairy Melody Sweets, and the rest of the troupe move to STK in the Cosmopolitan for a very special "Absinthe in Wonderland" one night only (Monday, Oct. 28 at 9 p.m.). Make your reservations now for the Mad Hatter Tea-inspired feast, unique performance, and to experience STK transformed from sleek steakhouse into a "whimsical forest utopia."

PHOTO: Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls, New Mexico
Santa Fe Culinary Academy
Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls, New Mexico

Learn how to make Dia de Los Muertos sugar skulls as artistic as this colorful grinning abuelita at a special class that the Santa Fe Culinary Academy is holding on Oct. 30. Spots are still available, and if you're lucky enough to be near Santa Fe at the time, this is a great way to learn about one of Mexico's most important cultural holidays. Plus, sugar skulls are much more aesthetically interesting than drugstore Halloween candy.

PHOTO: Marie Laveaus House of Voodoo, New Orleans
Courtesy Pat Garin
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo, New Orleans

In American Horror Story this season, Marie Laveau is alive and well (or so it would appear, anyway) and owner of a hair salon in the Ninth Ward. That may seem like a step down for a legendary voodoo priestess. In real-life New Orleans, her corporeal presence is no more but her legacy is undiminished: No hair extensions at this shop, just psychic readings and occult items galore and an altar where you may pay your respects to the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

PHOTO: Baolis "Black Swan" Bash, Miami
Baoli/My Boyfriend is Out of Town
Baoli's "Black Swan" Bash, Miami

If you're thinking of dressing as "Slutty Cheerleader" or "VMA Miley" this year, there's one party in Miami that probably won't let you in the door. It's the annual "My Boyfriend is Out of Town" bash at Baoli, and despite the name, the costume dress-code is as elegant as Halloween can be. Ladies still show skin, only in a sequined, silk-draped, gothic-dungeon style. Last year (pictured), the theme was Eyes Wide Shut. This year it's Black Swan, with gentlemen in black tie and ladies in "Midnight Ballerina."

PHOTO: Queen Mary, Zombie Hangout on Long Beach, Calif.
Courtesy Queen Mary
Queen Mary, Zombie Hangout, Long Beach, Calif.

The West Coast's proud standard-bearer for creepy elegance, retired ocean liner Queen Mary is a must-visit in southern California if you're intrigued by the paranormal. Though known as one of America's most haunted places, this stately ship isn't only beloved by ghost-hunters. It's one of the featured attractions in the newly released "Dead Sexy: The Walking Dead Fan Guide to Zombie Style, Beauty, Parties, and a Ghoul-Lurching UNLifestyle." In other words, shades should prepare to have their Queen Mary party crashed by a rather more colorful crew this Halloween.

PHOTO: Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia
Courtesy Bill Crabtree, Jr.
Hollywood Cemetery, Virginia

Dusk falls on Hollywood Cemetery, where the venerable Jefferson Davis, two U.S. presidents and 25 Civil War generals all lie in their final rest. The same can't be said for the Richmond Vampire, whose legend was spawned during a horrible tunnel accident, and who's said to haunt the tomb of W.W. Pool.

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