I am a lover of all things Halloween and I start getting into the holiday spirit by the middle of September. I spend the entire season watching scary movies and looking for scary places to explore. The following is a list of the three best places I have found so far:
Muttontown is a several hundred acre preserve in Nassau County. Most of the preserve is a trail system but there is something else that makes it interesting to me: this preserve has ruins scattered along the grounds. The ruins were once a mansion that belonged to King Zog of Albania. The crazy thing is, King Zog never actually came to the United States and never even saw the mansion he was building. Nassau County eventually came to purchase the grounds and added it to the preserve. I have explored this place a few times and there are certain locations that just make me uncomfortable. The most unsettling spot is at the top of the staircase in the photos below. When you get to the top your heart starts to race and you feel like you are being watched.
This preserve is free to enter. If you would like more information about this preserve you can go to https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/2839/Muttontown-Preserve
Nissequogue River State Park is located in Kings Park, New York. What makes this park so unique is that it used to be a large psychiatric hospital. There were several different buildings on the grounds, including housing structures and a hospital. While it is illegal to enter the buildings, several people clearly do, as the grounds are covered in graffiti. If you are feeling curious but do not want to get in any trouble, you can look though the windows. Nissequogue has some trails that wind from building to building if you want to do a gentle hike. You can also launch a boat from the marina. If possible, I would recommend visiting on a rainy/cloudy day to get the full (spooky) experience.
Sleepy Hollow has become famous because of Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. In the story, a sinister figure on a horse with a pumpkin for a head terrorizes the townsfolk. The story became famous all around the world and was the inspiration for the 1999 movie staring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. The actual town of Sleepy Hollow has fully leaned into the lore and encourages tourists to visit around Halloween. In addition to the infamous Headless Horseman Bridge (which now looks quite plain), Sleepy Hollow has a sprawling cemetery that guests can explore. Washington Irving himself is actually buried there. The Old Dutch Church that is on the cemetery grounds was opened in the late 1600s. Sleepy Hollow is a fairly small village but it is definitely worth a trip. It is less than 40 miles from New York City in Westchester County.