With fall approaching the New York area, there’s no better time to gather up the family and find some seasonal fun outside
Sure, every season has its share of fun, family-friendly activities to choose from. Summer is all about splash pads and sun-filled trips to the beach, and winter is much more enjoyable with a good sledding hill nearby, but fall? There’s nothing quite like it. In fact, it’s categorically impossible to do all the things—or even a fraction of them—on your list.
There’s apple orchards to visit and pumpkins to pick (and carve!), of course. There are fall festivals filling up weekends and corn mazes that seem to take as long to escape. Oh, and don’t even start with all the Halloween tricks and treats to add to your schedule! To help you make the most of the season without feeling too frenzied, we rounded up some of our all-time favorite fall activities in the New York area to add to your shortlist. And, never fear: there’s always next fall!
Marvel at the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze
The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley is a perennial favorite fall activity. It's a display of more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’ lanterns—all designed and hand-carved on site by a team of artisans. Expect a pumpkin carousel, Statue of Liberty, stunning walk-through arch and more. Plus, synchronized lights and an original score. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Get them before they sell out, because they will! (On Long Island? They have one, too! Check out the new Flex ticket which allows you to visit on any night at any time.)
Tickets: $24 and up; members and kids under two are free
Sep. 16- Nov. 20
Van Cortlandt Manor
525 S. Riverside
Long Island Blaze
Sep. 30-Nov. 6
Old Bethpage Village Restoration
1303 Round Swamp Rd.
Old Bethpage, NY
Related: 60+ Free Things to Do with Kids in NYC All September Long
Visit the 39th Annual Queens County Fair
A great way to kick off the season, the Queens County Fair at the Queens County Farm Museum brings country to the city. Three days of carnival rides, live music and entertainment, pie-eating and corn husking contests, sack races, historic farmhouse tours, contests in produce and arts and crafts a farm-wide scavenger hunt and a lot more!
Fri., Sep. 10, 3:30-8:30 p.m.; Sat., Sep. 11, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun, Sep. 12, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
Get Wild at Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo is back for all of October. Expect amazing pumpkin carving, magic and mind-reading, a pumpkin trail, Halloween puppets on stilts, an extinct animal graveyard, a candy trail, pumpkin trail and a scavenger hunt. Tickets must be purchased in advance. (Members are free but you must still reserve a time and date.)
This is another event that sells out fast. Tickets are on sale now!
Sat. & Sun., Oct. 1-30
Tickets: $41.95/adults; $36.95/seniors; $31.95/kids, free/2 and under
2300 Southern Blvd.
Hit a Fall Fest
Fall is festival season in NYC. Mark your calendar—these are some of our favorites!
Honey Fest: Celebrate all things bees at Rockaway Beach in Queens on Sep. 10!
New York City Poetry Festival: Head to Governors Island Sep. 10-11 for a free weekend of storytelling, workshops, open mics, bookselling, activities, food, and more. It's a great time for everyone.
Museum of Chinese in America Mini Mid-Autumn Family Festival: MOCA welcomes kids and families for moon cakes, crafts and magic on Sep. 17 from 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Randall's Island Harvest Festival: Face-painting, crafts, lawn games, live entertainment, scarecrow content and harvest sampling happens at this free fest on Oct. 1.
Brooklyn Book Festival: This year's fest is hybrid, with remote and in-person events. The main event is Oct. 2, with Children's Day Oct. 1.
Flatbush Frolic: This neighborhood fest on Cortelyou Road is scheduled for Sep. 18.
Atlantic Antic: This popular north Brooklyn fest of food, vendors, entertainment and community is scheduled for Oct. 2.
Hit the Museums for Some Hot New Shows
Does your family like puppets, cars, fashion, trains or badass ladies? There's something for you this fall! Click here to see this season's big shows for kids and families.
Visit Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain State Park has all the things your family will enjoy: a large play field, picnic areas, river fishing, hiking, biking, and a swimming pool. Check out the Trailside museums and zoo along the way. There's even a merry-go-round! But don't forget to consult our guide to visiting Bear Mountain with kids here!
Route 9W North
Bear Mountain, NY
Walk the Highline
Enjoy this free, public park! The High Line allows visitors to experience nature, art, and design all in one place. Check out their stargazing event every Tuesday at dusk. You can also take a docent-led tour on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays through October.
10th Ave. and Gansevoort St. to 30th St.
The High Line
Visit an Historic Ship for FREE
The South Street Seaport Museum is welcoming guests with a free visit to the 19th-century tall ship the Wavertree. Tickets must be reserved in advance.
12 Fulton St.
Take a Break at Camelback Resort
Camelback Resort in the Poconos gets into the fall spirit with specials for "Leaf-peepers" (the foliage is stunning up there), fall tubing (like snow-tubing but sans snow), a Halloween-themed Monster Coaster and an Adventure Zone with a climbing wall and Euro Bungee. Plus: campfires, s'mores and Halloween fun throughout October! (And of course, the indoor waterpark Aquatopia.)
243 Resort Dr.
Get a Dose of Fall Foliage
Sure, you can drive upstate for some leaf-peeping, but there are plenty of spots that deliver stunning displays right here in the city. These are our favorites. Check out Randall's Island for some fall beauty!
Head to Winery for a Sip of Something
Did you know Long Island is known for producing some stellar wine? It's true! Many vineyards and breweries are open for tastings for you and outdoor frolicking for the kids. Bring a picnic and chill, or maybe even stomp on some grapes! These are our favorite kid-friendly wineries near NYC!
Visit The Floral Escape
This artistic explosion of flower installations is back for another season! This event runs until Oct. 31.
Tickets: $29/adults; $15/kids, free/kids under 2
Roosevelt Field Mall
Garden City, NY
Related: The Ultimate Leaf-Peeping Destinations to Visit this Fall in NYC
Set Up Camp
Fall is a great time to go into the woods and make some amazing memories with family. Find our favorite spots for family camping near NYC here! Try out Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park!
Walk a Bridge
We've got lots of 'em in NYC! And they're a great way to get some exercise and see some nice views. Click here for our guide to walking NYC's bridges with kids.
Take to the Water via Boat
Not only is New York surrounded by water, it has quite a few ponds/lakes where you can paddle around as well. For example, you can take a kayak for a spin in Brooklyn Bridge Park through mid-October. Find more boating options here!
Related: Top Seeds: The Best Spots for NYC Apple Picking
Get Some Slices
That slight chill in the air pairs very nicely with a fresh slice, no? Get one at one of our favorite spots for pizza in NYC. Some even have outdoor dining like Prince Street Pizza.
Hop a Zipline
Get your last zips in before they close for the season! Here's where to find them. Try out a nature trek at the Bronx Zoo.
Explore Central Park
Playgrounds, ponds, historic spots and more. (Not to mention all that fall color.) Check out our Guide to visiting Central Park with Kids here!
Related: Culture Club: NYC Museum Shows for Kids
Take a Garden Stroll
The Gardens are open! Take a trip to The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and enjoy one of their many tours or children's events. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden also has lots of great things going on like bird tours and plant discovery events for kids. The Wave Hill Public Garden is also in the Bronx and also full of wonderful events like family art projects and Butterfly Garden Walks. There are so many events your family will love!
Entry is by reservation and timed ticked only, so plan ahead!
Take a Hike
Want something that's stroller-friendly or good for little ones and within city limits? Try these treks. We love to explore Kazimiroff Nature Trail!
For something further afield and a little more active, consider these.