Sometimes a bar is just a bar, just a simple place to hang out and have some drinks. Other times, a bar is much more than just a bar – it’s an experience with an ambiance that captivates the soul and entertains your senses. For those interested in the latter, here are some of the best themed bars in New York City.

The Beetle House

308 East 6th Street, East Village
“Everyday is Halloween” is the first thing you need to know. The food and cocktail menus are similarly themed. Plus, the Big Fish Bowl – complete with spiders and Swedish fish – is not to be missed.


281 3rd Avenue, Gramercy Park
Sometimes, taking it to the next level is just the beginning. And then there’s Rolf’s, which warmly welcomes you with a floor-to-ceiling onslaught of nearly 100,000 ornaments and more than 150,000 lights. And there’s an equally overwhelming supply of Santas to keep you company. It can get crowded during the holidays, but stopping in for a glass of mulled wine is always a good move.

The Ship

158 Lafayette Street, Little Italy
Masquerading as a century-old passenger ship, this Soho hangout is the perfect example of a well-thought-out nautical theme. Exposed ventilation shafts and antique boat seats transform the two floors into separate decks. Excellent small bites and classic cocktails keep seafarers and landlubbers equally happy.

Kingston Hall

149 2nd Avenue, East Village
The early days of Jamaican independence were a celebratory time, and this mahogany-walled establishment captures the vibe perfectly. Lest you think the sounds of reggae and smells of jerk chicken make it like any other Caribbean-style joint, bear in the mind the leather-pocketed pool table, wut (glass solarium), and twin fireplaces gently remind you of its elegance.

Beauty Bar

231 East 14th Street, Gramercy
If it wasn’t for the alcohol, you might think you’re still in a ‘60s era beauty salon. Chrome- domed hair dryers now serve as armchairs. One super special not to be missed is the $10 martini and manicure – just $10 for a drink and a manicure.

Trailer Park Lounge

271 West 23rd Street, Chelsea
It’s all the Americana its name promises and kitschier than you could imagine. Neon signs and Christmas lights hit you as soon as you pass through the screen door. Cuisine ranges from the “double-wide burger” to “moon-pies,” and beers include American favorites like Pabst, Schaefer, and Rheingold. The menu does note that champagne is available – no word as to whether it’s also in a can.


179 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
Imagine your favorite camping lodge – complete with deer heads, kayaks, working fireplace, and more – now conveniently located in Brooklyn. Make your own s’mores, play Big Buck Hunter, and enjoy the mountain-and-lakes scenery at the bar ranked #3 on Buzzfeed’s “21 Insanely Unique Bars You Need To Drink At Before You Die.”

And there are so many more – such as Burp Castle, modeled after a Belgian Trappist monastery, and the weird and theatrical Jekyll and Hyde Club – you just have to get out and explore!