Where to Find Family Fun for Fall 2021

Read next

Summer 2021 is in the rearview! (It was longer this year, right?) Heads up: fall 2021 is here and it’s full of fun family events and activities for kids. Go apple-picking, go pumpkin picking, navigate a corn maze, and then hit a fall festival, visit a farm, see some crazy pumpkin displays, and of course, celebrate Halloween for the entirety of October. Read on to see how to make this autumn in New York one for the books!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Go Apple Picking

September is prime apple-picking season, and the orchards, cider donuts and corn mazes are waiting for you! Click here for our favorite spots to pick apples near NYC

Go Pumpkin Picking

Once October hits, it's time to head to a farm near NYC for a hayride and pumpkin picking. These are our favorite farms for pumpkin picking near NYC!

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 are on sale now for all dates, and 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
Sept. 17- Nov. 21 
Van Cortlandt Manor
525 S. Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson
914-631-8200
Online: hudsonvalley.org

Long Island Blaze 
Sept. 22-Nov. 7
Old Bethpage Village Restoration
1303 Round Swamp Rd.
Old Bethpage, NY
Online: pumpkinblaze.org

Visit the 38th 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, Blu Ribbon contests in produce and arts and crafts a farm-wide scavenger hunt and a lot more!

Of course, the Amazing Maize Maze returns—this year, in the shape of Andy Warhol's cow to celebrate the artist's genius. Plus, the Con Edison Ecology booth’s Adopt-a-Worm composting program and the return of The Popular Floral Escape, a gorgeous sculptural flower display (additional fee). 

Fri., Sept. 10, 3:30-8:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 11, 11 a.m.-6p.m., Sun, Sept. 12, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Tickets: Three-day pass: $45/adults, $35/ages 3-12; Fri.: $14/all ages; Sat. & Sun.: $20/adults, $15/ages 3-12

73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
Floral Park
718-347-3276
Online: queensfarm.org

photo: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

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. 2-31
Tickets: $39.95/adults; $34.95/seniors; $29.95/kids, free/2 and under 
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx
718-220-5100
Online: bronxzoo.com

photo: iStock

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 September 12!
Online: nychoneyweek.org

African Film Festival Family Day Celebration: Head to Governors Island on September 12 for a day of free activities including storytelling, double-dutch, dance and drum workshops led by world-renowned instructors, arts and crafts—all celebrating Africa and the diaspora.
Online: govisland.com

Museum of Chinese in America Mini Mid-Autumn Celebration: MOCA welcomes kids and families for moon cakes, crafts and magic on September 18.
Online: mocanyc.org

Randall's Island Fall Festival: Face-painting, crafts, lawn games, live entertainment, scarecrow content and harvest sampling happends at this free fest on October 2
Online: randallsisland.org

Brooklyn Book Festival: This year's fest is hybrid, with remote and in-person events. The main event is October 2, with Children's Day October 3. 
Online: brooklynbookfestival.org

Flatbush Frolic: This neighborhood fest on Cortelyou Road is scheduled for September 19. 
Online: festivalnet.com

Atlantic Antic: This popular north Brooklyn fest of food, vendors, entertainment and community is scheduled for October 3. 
Online: atlanticave.org

Take a Day Trip

Take a break from the city with a fall day trip to one of these spots near NYC. (Kaaterskill Falls is above.)

photo: Brooklyn Museum

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. 

photo: Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats /Courtesy of the Artist

Get Cultured with the BAMkids Fall Season

BAMkids is gearing up for lots of fun this fall. The new season kicks off with a free all-day outdoor festival on September 25, featuring live musical performances, interactive workshops and showcases. Catch it on The Plaza at 300 Ashland starting at 10:30 a.m. See the full lineup and schedule here.

October brings returning favorites BAMboo! on Halloween, and the first installment of Best of BAMkids Film Festival, running on-demand from October 30 to November 7.

Plus, a virtual filmmaking series for youths in collaboration with BRIC from October 10 to November 7, that allows kids to explore the artistic process more deeply through an animation workshop and filmmaking series and story building improv classes designed to encourage creative thinking and cultural exchange. 

Online: bam.org/Kids

Visit Bear Mountain

But don't do it before consulting our guide to visiting Bear Mountain with kids here

Build a Fairy House

Indoors, outdoors, with natural or manmade materials. Any way you do it—they're a creative way to spend a fall afternoon! Get some inspo here

Walk the Highline

It changes with every season! If you're going on the weekend, you'll need to make a reservation. Do that here.

10th Avenue and Gansevoort St. to 30th St. 
The High Line 
Chelsea
Online: thehighline.org

photo: Richard Bowditch

Visit an Historic Ship for FREE

The South Street Seaport Museum is welcoming back guests with a free visit to the 19th-century tall ship the Wavertree through October 10. Tickets must be reserved in advance. 

Click here for more info!

photo: Camelback Resort

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.)

Online: camelbackresort.com

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. 

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 at the Queens County Farm Museum. (Admission is a separate fee from the farm.) 

Sept. 15- Oct. 31
Tickets: $20/adults; $12/kids 2012, free/kids under 2
Queens County Farm Museum 
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
Floral Park
Online: showclix.com

photo: Getaway

Set Up Camp

Fall is a great time to go into the woods. Find our favorite spots for family camping near NYC here!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Walk a Bridge

We've got lots of 'em in NYC!  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! 

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, whose slices are pictured above. 

photo: Julie Larsen Maher

Hop a Zipline

Get your last zips in before they close for the season! Here's where to find them. 

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! 

Take a Garden Stroll

The Gardens are open! Which ones?

The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Brooklyn. 

Wave Hill Public Garden, (pictured), also in the Bronx. 

Entry is by reservation and timed ticked only, so plan ahead! 

Visit Governors Islands

This place is great in the summer, and just as lovely in fall. It's open until October 31 this year. See more info on visiting Governors Island with kids here

Take a Hike

Want something that's stroller-friendly or good for little ones and within city limits? Try these treks.

For something further afield and a little more active, consider these. 

—Mimi O’Connor

RELATED STORIES:

Best NYC Museum Exhibits to See with Kids Now

Top Seeds: The Best Apple Picking Near NYC

After-School Programs in the Great Outdoors

Fresh Air Fun: Kid-Friendly Hikes Near NYC