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50 things to do in New York City with kids in the fall

Get ready for fall! Our list of things to do in New York City this season—exhibits, shows, festivals and more—will keep your family busy through Thanksgiving.

Photographer: Filip Wolak
San Gennaro Festival

We love September in New York City—temperatures cool down, sweaters come out of the closet, pumpkin-flavored treats start to pop up everywhere and there's plenty of fun in the pipeline. To kickstart your crew's season, we've put together a list of the 50 best things to do in New York City this fall (many of them are even free!), including festivals, concerts, apple picking farms and orchards, shows and new and upcoming exhibits for kids. Scroll through our top 50 list to get the scoop on all the great happenings this autumn, from a Frozen–themed figure skating show to New York City's largest street fair. Happy fall!

Things to do in New York City with kids in the fall


Celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro

Little Italy’s 88th annual street party salutes the patron saint of Naples in a series of raucous celebrations. For ten days, Mulberry Street succumbs to food vendors, live music and carnival-esque games and rides in between the festival’s main events: the 13th Annual Cannoli Eating Competition, the Grand Procession, a huge parade complete with floats and marching bandsand the traditional religious procession in which the statue of San Gennaro is carried through the streets. All ages.

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Enjoy a family film at BAMkids Movie Matinees

Sundays this fall mean catching up on kid-friendly classics (and some more recent films, too) at BAM. Start with the tale of a Coney Island runaway in 50s flick, Little Fugitive (10/12) and the 3D, eerie mystery of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (11/2). Next up: a day in the life of the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night (11/16), and a heartwarming must-see for all kids, The Sound of Music (11/30). Just in time for the holidays, giggle and sing along to The Muppet Christmas Carol (12/14) to close out the series. Ages 7 and up.

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Catch up on movie classics at Film Forum Jr.

Today’s 3-D movies and Blu-rays are great, but don’t you want your kids to experience the cinematic classics of past generations, too? At this Sunday series, Film Forum will screen family-friendly movies and musicals. Embark on an epic adventure with Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Sept 7), learn lessons along with some rambunctious London high school students in To Sir, with Love (Sept 14) then giggle at an old-school comedy double feature showing The Bank Dick, followed by Buster Keaton short, Cops (Sept 21). Follow a time-traveling scientist in The Time Machine (Sept 28) and an unlikely seaman in Captains Courageous (Oct 5) and enjoy more family flicks through the end of the year: Hippity Goes To Town (Oct 12), The Strong Man (Oct 19), Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (Oct 26), Annie (Nov 2), Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (Nov 9), Bugs, Daffy and Chums (Nov 16), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Nov 23), Our Hospitality (Nov 30), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Dec 7), Bringing Up Baby (Dec 14) and Mary Poppins (Dec 21 and 28). Ages 5 and up.

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Parade your puppet at Morningside Lights

The third annual event organized by Columbia University’s Miller Theatre delivers a week’s worth of all-ages creative workshops in which families can design and craft their own lanterns, then showcase their work in a twilight procession through Morningside Park (Sept 27, 8pm). The result? A glowing, somewhat eerie (but nonetheless beautiful) mass of handmade art. This year’s theme, “Odysseus on the A Train” calls for vibrant lanterns inspired by Homer's epic tale. Expect urban twists on ancient icons like gods, monsters, heroes and nemeses as a tribute to Harlem artist Romare Bearden. Be sure to sign up for workshops and the parade online. A special craft table for families can also be found at the Common Ground Festival (Sept 27) on the day of the big parade in Morningside Park. Ages 8 and up.

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Play inventor at the World Maker Faire

This wacky West Coast transplant displays way-out-there experiments that will have your little mad scientists in awe. This year's event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World's Fair and will celebrate the impressive technologies and advancements made in the past 50 years via hands-on booths letting visitors touch and interact with the inventions—in the same spirit as at the exposition years ago. Details of this year's events are still TBD, but last year's lineup involved running through a life-size mousetrap, watching a Coke Zero and Mentos mountain explode, shooting marshmallows, flying model drones and powering your own DIY rides. Robots, 3D printers, electric vehicles, kites and bikes will also be in the mix. Ages 5 and up.

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Enjoy country life at the Queens County Fair

A reading of Charlotte’s Web is about as close as most city kids have come to a blue-ribbon livestock and produce competition. But at this annual outdoor fest, they’ll get a glimpse of farm life firsthand—or at least a wonderful re-creation of it. Pie-eating and corn-husking contests, hayrides, carnival rides, lumberjack shows, a Bavarian garden, Irish and German folk bands, pig racing and the three-acre Amazing Maize Maze will make the big city seem far, far away to little ones. Big Apple Circus To-Go will set up their spectacle on-site, providing live entertainment for families, while ConEdison will post up at an ecology booth where green-thumbed kids can adopt a worm for their home compost bin and get in on free crafts. Admission does not include maze entry, carnival rides and games, or various other fair activities. All ages.

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Get spooked at the Haunted Pumpkin Garden

Let the kids get extra milege out of their costumes in daily parades along garden trails decorated with more than 500 hand-carved pumpkin sculptures. Along the way, they can play in the Pumpkin House, stage a puppet show, embark on scavenger hunts and dig for worms. On weekends, catch creepy-crawler meet-and-greets (with frogs, snakes and spiders) and Halloween readings. Spooky Nighttime Adventures (Oct 18, 24, 25, 31 from 6:30 to 8:30pm) dare after-hours visitors to brave the Trick-or-Treat Trail by flashlight for gourd-decorating, ghost stories and photo ops with costumed characters. Kids can also check out the Gone Batty! Live Bat Encounter program during Columbus Day Weekend (Oct 11, 12, 13 at 1 and 3pm) or Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend (Oct 18 and 19), which includes demos by master Food Network carver, Ray Villafane. See the website for the full schedule. All ages.

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Float a lantern for peace

Kids of all backgrounds can take part in a modern Shinnyo-en Buddhist lantern ceremony by building, decorating and floating their own creations on Lincoln Center's Paul Milstein Reflecting Pool. While similar ceremonies are held annually in places like Japan and Hawaii, it’s only the second annual event for NYC, where the theme “Be a Light for Peace” honors peacemakers on the United Nation’s International Day of Peace. All afternoon long, construct a lantern (first come, first served) and inscribe it with a personal message of peace, then set your creation afloat and enjoy live performances by Taiko drummers and local musicians. Don't miss the closing ceremony (7pm), led by Her Holiness Shinso Ito, the head priest of Shinnyo-en. Ages 5 and up.

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Meet authors and illustrators at the Brooklyn Book Festival

The ninth annual kid-lit fest returns to Brooklyn Heights armed with dozens of to-be-announced local authors and illustrators (we'll keep you posted!). Keep an eye out for the festival’s “Bookend” events, popping up in parks and bookstores all over the borough from September 15 to 21. Ages 4 and up.

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Delve into Mac Conner's New York Life

McCauley ("Mac") Conner made a career in the publishing industry of New York by contributing artistic creations. The exhibition features Conner's hand-painted illustrations for women's magazines and advertising campaigns made after World War II. His colorful art demonstrated American values, style and culture. All ages.

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