Beautiful technicolor leaves, hay rides, pumpkin patches, corn mazes; surely such beloved fall delights can only be experienced in rural towns and country sides.
Wrong! Fall loving New York City families need not resign themselves to long trips to the country to enjoy the wonders of autumn. While you may need to venture outside the Big Apple for apple-picking, you can enjoy many of fall’s other iconic delights right in your—figurative—backyard.
Here are 7 of NYC’s can’t miss seasonal activities:
1) The Haunted Pumpkin Garden
A pumpkin garden with no pumpkin-picking? Don’t write off the Bronx’s Haunted Pumpkin Garden just yet! While not for picking, the garden boasts displays of over 500 intricately carved jack-o-lanterns for your viewing please. You won’t believe the amazing scenes and critters that can be displayed on a pumpkin canvas.
The garden is open September 20 to October 31. Admission is free for those with an All-Garden Pass. Other activities include pumpkin carving, costume parades, live bat encounters and nocturnal adventures. If you want to learn more about the real creepy-crawlies of fall, stop by on select weekends for lectures on local critters (with live examples!).
2) Brooklyn Plantology
Looking to spend a relaxing day picking pumpkins and enjoying a few low-key events? Head over to the Brooklyn Plantology in Canarsie. Their small pumpkin patch is open daily from September 20 to October 31. Admission is free, though pumpkin prices will vary.
Help your kids scour the patch for the perfect pumpkin while enjoying live music and entertainment. Don’t forget to stop by the goat petting zoo and face painting station before you leave!
3) The Amazing Maize Maze
That’s right, there’s a corn maze in New York City! Try your luck with the Amazing Maize Maze, located on grounds of Queens County Farm Museum (Floral Park). The maze is open on weekends from September 20 to October 26, with special extended hours—to 9:00 P.M.—on October 4 and 18. Adult admission is $9; kids 4-11 get in for $5.
Those with younger children will enjoy wandering the maze as a family while those with older children may enjoy challenging their kids to a friendly race. Travel at your own pace, or use the hidden clues and puzzles within the maze to navigate to the exit. No matter what your age, just be sure to plan ahead before entering the maze.
4) Children’s Fall Festival
While some activities are open all season, many of the bigger events are one-day-only, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affairs. Make sure to mark your calendars now for Floral Park’s Children’s Fall Festival. The event is held October 26 and admission is only $5 (although some activities will have individual fees).
Lace up your sneaks and come prepared for a plethora of hearty outdoor activities from bounce houses to haunted houses, pony rides to petting zoos, sack races and other fall games. Combine two activities in one by stopping by the Amazing Maize Maze. For extra fun, get creative and come in costume!
5) Children’s Harvest Festival
Looking for a great free event suitable for younger tykes? Head over to Greenwich Village on October 11 for toddler-friendly autumnal activities. Work together to decorate mini-pumpkins, then work off any excess energy jumping in leaf piles and romping on straw bales.
Take advantage of Oktoberfest to explore Sunnyside Gardens Park. Although typically closed to non-members, the park is open to the public for October 11th’s Oktoberfest. Admission is free with additional fees for some activities.
Speaking of activities, there is certainly plenty to do at Oktoberfest! Tap into your creative side with pumpkin decorating, fall craft projects and a talented artisan market. Enjoy your fill of fun and games with pumpkin picking, kiddie rides and inflatable obstacle course. Indulge all your senses by sampling classic German food, listening to local bands and attending the live magic show.
If you’re looking for a great way to spend a fall day, skip the long—stressful—car ride to the country. Instead, explore the amazing activities and experiences just waiting to be discovered right here in New York City.