Goth Guide to San Diego

When a city is best known for having year-round sunny weather, most people will be forgiven for thinking that San Diego isn’t a goth-friendly destination. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true! Sure, it’s not teeming with old cemeteries and occult shops like New Orleans, but if you know where to look, you can find some very cool spots to hang out and enjoy dark aesthetics.



Pioneer Park in San Diego
Pioneer Park: part park, part cemetery


It’s on the small side, but the El Campo Cemetery in Old Town is worth a visit. Dating back to the mid-1800s, the humble site is home to many who played a role in the city’s early days. The mostly wooden and stone graves are a stark contrast to the elaborate tombs you’d find in a place like New Orleans and definitely inspire a more contemplative mood when visiting.


While not immediately recognizable as a cemetery, one of my favorite spots in the city is Pioneer Park in Mission Hills. At first glance, it just seems like your average neighborhood park, but tucked into the southeast corner are the remaining monuments of the cemetery underneath. Grab a picnic and set up on the grass nearby.



With two locations, Love & Aesthetics offers quirky homewares, jewelry and other odds and ends with a dark vibe. The Little Italy location is a bit bigger, and I rarely leave empty handed. Jeffrey Parish in South Park offers a little bit of everything, including a house line of women’s fashion.


Dining and Drinking



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The speakeasy trend may be overdone, but Noble Experiment has been in the game for years and remains one of the best cocktail bars in San Diego. Their drinks are fantastic, and their decor is modern gilded meets Haunted Mansion. Make reservations and get there early if you want to avoid the hoi polloi.


When it comes to restaurants, Kindred in South Park cannot be topped. It’s all vegan and everything inside is inspired by metal aesthetics, from the menu to the artwork. Expect to hear doom metal playing in the bathrooms and wait staff wearing Converge shirts. (And the food and drinks are both outstanding.)


Where to Stay

Britt Scripps Inn Gothic Room
Decor goals: the Gothic Room at the Britt Scripps Inn


You could check into one of the many San Diego area hotels that claim to be haunted, like the Hotel Del Coronado, but I recommend the Britt Scripps Inn. The classic Victorian manor has gorgeous rooms and is central to a lot of San Diego neighborhoods.




San Diego has been experiencing a resurgence of goth events lately. As with events, it’s best to check out social media to make sure these are still happening, but here’s a snapshot of where you’ll find fellow black-clad heathens:


  • Club Sabbat – one of San Diego’s longest running goth and industrial nights
  • Hemlock – a monthly night of deathrock
  • The Manhattan – in San Diego’s South Bay, the bar hosts a couple of goth and post-punks nights each month
  • Goth Swap Meet – a place to find oddities, fashion, records and more
  • Witchy Wednesday – a newer event held on the third Wednesday of the month at the Til Two Club featuring vendors

Goth Summer Vacay: Croatia

“Summer” and “goth” aren’t exactly an ideal combo. Black layers don’t usually make good warm weather clothes, and it’s hard to keep a pale complexion without them. But if you’re going to brave the heat, the best way to do it is near the water in a gorgeous, foreign country you’ve never visited before.

Croatia has been having a serious tourism boom in recent years, thanks in no small part to Game of Thrones. I’m not a fan of either the books or the show (gasp! I know!), but you definitely don’t need to be to enjoy visiting the country. Coastal cliffs paired with water so blue that it seems unreal and ancient architecture around every corner…the place is just plain beautiful!


C’mon, how beautiful is that water? (Kimono from Dolls Kill)
Dubrovnik, as seen from the castle walls
Buza Bar in Dubrovnik


Cafe Buza is mentioned in just about every Dubrovnik travel guide, and it’s for good reason. The drinks are nothing special, but where else can you sit cliffside with castle walls rising behind you? What’s nice about the bar area is that it’s open to the public, meaning you can hang out even if you don’t order something. I actually walked in with a drink from another bar and no one batted an eye.


Cemetery near Ložišća on the island of Brač


There were a lot of interesting cemeteries in Croatia, but unfortunately I only had time to visit one. I’m not even sure what the name was – it’s a small cemetery between Bobovišća and Ložišća on Brač. While the cemetery itself was quaint with some lovely tombstones and memento mori, the view was it’s best feature.


Guards at Diocletian’s Palace in Split
There are cats *everywhere* in Croatia (swoon)


Of course, the trip gave me a good excuse to stock up on some summertime goth goodies, like this pool float from Blackcraft Cult. And goth-inspired swimwear and beach accessories are getting easier to find these days (thankfully).


Bikini top by Ahuixa Swimwear, beach towel by Cafe Lab via Society6.
Waterfalls at Krka National Park


If you’re thinking of heading to Croatia, here are my tips:

  • Bring water shoes. The beach shores are almost entirely made of rocks (there are very few “sandy” beaches in Croatia), and if you plan to go swimming in the waterfalls at Krka National Park (which I recommend), the lake bottom is nothing but slippery rocks. I didn’t have any water shoes, and I sure wish I had.
  • Uber is present in the major cities, but not always super useful and not always cheaper than a traditional cab. I try to avoid using Uber when possible because of their questionable business practices and the fact that these types of sharing services undercut wages for service industry workers. However, sometimes in countries where you don’t speak the language, Uber makes getting around easier because you can simply put your destination into the app. If you’re going to use Uber in Split, be aware that drivers can’t pick you up anywhere; there are designated “pick up” spots in the city.
  • Finally, don’t believe anyone that tells you Croatians are cold, unfriendly people. Multiple people told me this before the trip, and I found it to be completely untrue. Nearly everyone I met was warm, friendly and happy to help a lost and/or confused tourist.

World’s Creepiest Bars: The Last Tuesday Society

the Last Tuesday Society and Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

To call the Last Tuesday Society a bar doesn’t do it justice, because it’s a lot more than that. Located on London’s Hackney neighborhood, this creepy bar is also home to the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, and spoiler alert: this place is heaven.

Viktor Wynd Museum table with skeletons
The ultimate dining table

The place is fairly small, but they pack a lot in. When you first walk in, you enter at the bar level. The bartender will greet you and give you the lay of the land. For a few pounds, you can pay admission to the museum, which is located on the lower lever down a precarious spiral staircase. You’re allowed to take beer or wine with you down into the gallery (cocktails are only allowed upstairs in the bar area, however). The admission price includes a little souvenir book, so my advice is to hit the gallery first, then pull up a table in the cocktail lounge and read all about the weirdness you just saw, like the gold-plated hippo skull that was owned by Pablo Escobar, Fiji mermaid or a taxidermied goat with wings.

Taxidermy lion and bone chandelier
I could never pick a favorite item at the Viktor Wynd Museum, because they are all perfect.


The museum/bar hosts a lot of unique events, from literary readings to taxidermy classes, so make sure to check the calendar if you’re planning a visit. When I visited recently, they were hosting a temporary exhibition of witchcraft art and artifacts on loan from Cornwall’s Museum of Witchcraft. (Note to self: plan a future trip to Cornwall.)

Cocktail at Last Tuesday Society
A delicious whiskey cocktail and a souvenir book are the perfect afternoon pairing.

World’s Creepiest Bars: Muriel’s Seance Lounge

Muriel's Seance Lounge creepy bar in New Orleans

On a recent trip to London, I lamented that there simply aren’t enough cool, creepy bars out there in the world. There are a lot of gimmicky goth bars. There are a lot of bars that claim to be haunted or have some sort of ominous past. And there are a lot of stylish, elegantly designed bars. But elegant, dark and just a bit twisted? That’s hard to find in the right balance. Thus, I have a new life’s mission: find all the best cool, creepy bars in the world and document them!

When you first hear about Muriel’s Seance Lounge in New Orleans, it might sound like it could skew a bit on the gimmicky side. Tucked away in an upstairs corner of Muriel’s restaurant in Jackson Square, this is where Muriel’s resident ghost, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, is said to spend most of his haunting hours. Whether or not Pierre does call this place home, from the moment I stepped in, I wanted to settle down in Muriel’s Seance Room and never leave.

Muriel's Seance Lounge creepy bar New Orleans
No, that’s not Pierre, that’s just my drinking companion.

There aren’t many instructions for visitors on how to access the room; we had to sit down at the bar and ask the bartender. On the south side of Muriel’s main dining room is a door that looks like it could be an emergency exit, but open it and follow the candle-lined hallway and you’ll find a delightfully spooky surprise. At the base of a stairwell sits a table set with bread and wine for Pierre, should he happen to stop by. Head upstairs, and suddenly the chaos of the French Quarter feels a world away. The floor-to-ceiling red decor is complemented by ethereal music, both suggestive of a haunted house. Again, this could come of super cheesy, but the space manages to walk just the right line to provide atmosphere that’s quirky but not phony. Plenty of plush sofas, banquettes and arm chairs make the space very comfortable, and the eclectic artwork ranges from Rococo-style paintings to Egyptian sarcophagi.

Muriel's Seance Lounge creepy bar in New Orleans

I visited on a Tuesday night in November, and was delighted to have the place to myself for most of the night.  I’m not sure if this is typical, or if on busier nights they might send wait staff upstairs to check on guests, but there’s no bar upstairs so getting refills on cocktails required going back down to the main bar. That didn’t deter me from spending a few hours there knocking back a few Saint 75 cocktails, a delicious arrangement of gin, St. Germain, lemon juice and sparkling wine..

I never did see Pierre’s ghost…perhaps I’ll have to make another visit.

Prague’s Best Dark Sites

The Grotto at Wallenstein Gardens in Prage

If you’ve never been to Prague, I’ll start by saying this: Prague is easily the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. (Sorry, Paris!) Every inch of the city feels like being inside a castle, and that’s well before you ever even step behind the literal castle walls! But beyond it’s beauty, Prague is also chock full of dark, creepy sites. I only had three days to spend there, which I realized almost immediately would be far too short of a stay (spoiler: I was right). However, in those three days, I managed to pack in as much as possible, so here are my picks for some of Prague’s best dark sites.

St Vitus Cathedral Prague
The exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral is wonderfully dark.

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral is located within the castle walls, so here is where my first Prague travel tip comes in: do not plan your visit for a Saturday morning. Even on a rainy morning, the line of visitors waiting to get inside the gates wrapped all around the square, and it took us nearly an hour of standing in line to even get to the security checkpoint. However, I will say that even with the super long line, it was totally worth visiting. The castle compound actually houses several major historical sites, in addition to the cathedral. There are various ticket options, and different tickets get you into different areas, which leads me to tip #2: do a bit of research on what spots you specifically want to see before you go, so you know which class of ticket you want to buy before you get there.

St Vitus Cathedral Prague gargoyle
Finding all the different gargoyles on St. Vitus Cathedral is part of the fun.

If you are at all interested in gothic architecture and dark design elements, you will fall head over heels for St. Vitus Cathedral. While the overall impact of the building is quite something, it was the little details I found throughout that really captivated me, particularly the many gargoyles and grotesque figures serving as rain spouts on the exterior.

Golden Lane Prague
Golden Lane’s charm lives up to the hype.

Another popular site within the castle grounds is Golden Lane, a perfectly preserved 16th century street with artifacts and displays of life as a castle inhabitant. One of the buildings contains an excellent display of various armor and weapons which make it worth a visit.

Wallenstein Garden Grotto Prague
Dragons and monsters are everywhere in Wallenstein Gardens.

Wallenstein Garden and the Grotto

I had seen photos of this remarkable spot and was determined to pay it a visit, but locating it proved more difficult that I thought. Though it was clearly marked on all the maps I checked, the garden is behind very tall walls, and finding which street will lead behind those walls wasn’t easy. My advice: follow the signs and directions for the Senate building. The gardens surround the Senate and are filled with bizarre surprises, like a habitat with several huge and intimidating-looking eagle owls. There are also supposedly peacocks that roam the grounds, though I didn’t see any. The most impressive feature, however, is the wall known as The Grotto. From far away, the wall appears to be made of stalactites, but when you get closer, you see there are hidden faces and figures everywhere. Some are subtle suggestions of faces, others are literal figures of cats and dragons and all sorts of other creatures. There are rumors of secret doors within the wall, though no one has every proven their existence.

Wallenstein Garden Grotto Prague
Can you find the hidden kitty?

Speculum Alchemiae

Prague travel tip #3: Make sure you verify that sites are open before heading out. Prague has a rich history when it comes to alchemy, and I was super excited to check out the Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague…and super disappointed when I found the sign posted that the museum was closed for renovation! This discovery sent me to the internet for some last minute research, which is how I discovered Speculum Alchemiae.

Speculum Alchemiae Prague alchemist museum
Speculum Alchemiae is properly creepy!

I had read that the museum mostly contained recreations of artifacts, which sounded a little lame, but I decided to check it out anyway, and I am so glad I did! It’s not so much a museum as it is a guided tour through a historic home and underground tunnels and caves that made up an alchemy laboratory. Our guide was terrific and shared so much information about religion, history and science in Medieval Prague that I was captivated the whole time. And while some of the artifacts are recreations, they are very well done, and several original artifacts from the lab do remain. If you are in Prague, this spot is a must-visit!

Speculum Alchemiae Prague
A corner of the underground tunnels that make up the alchemy laboratories.

There was one more site that I had hoped to see while in Prague, which my poor planning prevented me from seeing: the Old Jewish Cemetery. Of course, when you’re on vacation, you can start to lose track of what day of the week it is, and I went to visit the cemetery on a Saturday…also known as the Sabbath, and naturally the cemetery was closed. Oh well, I guess I have at least one reason to return to Prague!