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Boo at the Zoo
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher

October events calendar for kids in NYC

Our October events calendar for kids will let you in on all of the spooky (and non-spooky) events taking place in NYC

Written by
Danielle Valente
,
Allie Early
&
Oliver Strand
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'Tis the season to be spooky, and there's no better way to celebrate all-things creepy and kooky than with our October events calendar for kids! There are plenty of Halloween happenings across the city, and you can't miss 'em. 

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for kids

If you're in need of other cool family adventures, try pumpkin picking near NYC, have a marathon with these  scary movies for kids and enjoy a helping of the best apple cider donuts in NYC.  

October kids' events

  • Things to do
  • City Life

In a spooky state of mind? You're not alone. Tickets have just gone on sale for the Bronx Zoo's annual Boo at the Zoo festival, and this year's celebration is chillingly wicked—in a good way! Thursday through Sunday from Oct 1 to Nov 1 is your chance to revel in the Halloween fun, from magic shows and pumpkin carving demonstrations to mind reading and trips through the spooky extinct animal graveyard. Each day, animal-themed costumed stilt walkers and Halloween animal puppets will put on a "MASKerade" while the Wildlife Theater will pull out all the stops with performances in Astor Court. 

  • Things to do
  • City Life

The spooky season is right around the corner, so ghosts and ghouls should prepare accordingly. HALLOWFEST, Six Flags Great Adventure's all-new celebration, will run from Sept 18 through Nov 1, which means there are plenty of opportunities for creepy, kooky and spooky shenanigans. During the day, little monsters can enjoy seasonal scream-worthy attractions: inflatables, a Trick or Treat Trail, a hay bale maze (in one direction) and other fun activities. At night is when things get a little more serious (perhaps a time better suited for the tweens and teens): Creepy fog, eerie lighting and sinister music will transform the family attraction into a real-life horror movie and thrill-seekers can ride their favorite coasters...in the dark! 

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  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

The Headless Horseman and his creepy counterparts are toning it down for the kids this Halloween. (So sweet!) In Ulster Park, New York, the Headless Horseman Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses is gearing up for a fright-filled drive-thru experience for adults. However, it's more about smiles than screams during its Children's Day event, which will take place Oct 11 and 24 from 11:30am–3pm. (Rain dates are Oct 11 and Oct 25.) Families can expect to drive through an I Spy-like Halloween game in their vehicles and encounter spooky (but fun!) characters along the way. Then they'll be able to park their cars and enjoy more fall festivities, including a maze, a haunted garden, seasonal tunes and more cool things to do. Like most Halloween events this year, reservations are required ($11.95 tickets are available online) and new safety protocols will be in place.

 

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  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

Let's be honest: We love a ride on the ferris wheel and a few rounds of Whac-A-Mole, but the real draw of a festival is the food. (Candy apples, anyone?) Since fall activities are making adjustments this year, one New York town wanted to ensure that you got your funnel cake fix. Plan a weekend day trip to the free, socially-distanced Orange County Drive-Thru Fair Food Festival. From Sept 24–27 and Oct 1–4, you and your family can head to the Orange County fairgrounds in Middletown for all the sweets your heart desires. 

  • Movies
  • Movies

Come for the treats and stay for the screams: This week, Adventureland will debut its Nightmare at the Movies drive-in experience. For $40 per car, the whole family can cash in on the ghoulishly good fun. The package includes a chicken fingers and fries dinner, a $10 Adventureland Arcade card, movie-style popcorn and a choice of beverages, trivia on select evenings and, of course, some of the our favorite scary movies for kids. The series will kick off on Friday Sept 25 with a classic, Hocus Pocus, beginning at 7pm. Feel free to drive by sooner, as gates open at 5pm and festivities like trivia will begin at 6:30pm. Even better news? If you're in search of a spooky date night, leave the kids with a sitter and enjoy the late screening at 10pm (gates open at 8:30pm). First up? Nightmare on Elm Street. The series will continue on Oct 9 with Hotel Transylvania and Friday the 13th, as well as Oct 23 and 30. However, a full schedule has yet to be released, so check back in for the latest updates!

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  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

Although the Museum of Natural History is a renowned pitstop for dinosaur enthusiasts, it's getting some fierce competition from Christie's—at least this month. The auction house will offer "one of the largest, most complete and widely studied Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever discovered" for roughly $6–$8 million, according to a press release. Stan is named for the scientist who first discovered the dino's remains on Hell Creek Formation in 1987, and it's believed that the former predator is a mere 67 million years old. No big deal! Catch him before he's gone on Oct 21: Here's how to see him. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Searching for a fun end-of-summer activity? Skating has resumed in Prospect Park, so now's the time to show off those moves you've perfected during quarantine. (C'mon, we know you've got 'em!)Families can make the way to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside every day from noon–6pm for a loop around the rink. Admission is $6 and $10 on the weekends; skate rentals are $7. It's the perfect way to spend a long holiday weekend. Plus, the outdoor hub boasts plenty of other cool things to do for families: kayaking, boating and biking, to name a few.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

One of New York City's most popular literary celebrations, the Brooklyn Book Festival, is going remote for the first time. Although it seems like an atypical way to ring in the event's 15th anniversary, the star-studded author lineup and programming, particularly for young readers, is certainly worth celebrating—even from your laptop. The week-long festival is scheduled from Sept 28–Oct 5. Children's Day, which will take place on Oct 3, will include virtual illustration competitions, readings and performances for little bookworms. Among the author attendees are R.L. Stein, Oliver Jeffers and Tami Charles. But families with teens should particularly take note: BKBF is introducing a new program titled Y.A. Out Loud, which is also slated for Oct 3. Attendees can enjoy virtual readings and talks with the most popular young adult authors out there, including Libba Bray, Kacen Callender and Marie Lu.

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  • Things to do

Just like Humpty Dumpty, it's time to have a great fall: That means cozy sweaters, mugs of warm cider and the best pumpkin picking NY has to offer. Make a day of it. The awesome pumpkin picking NYC families love might also include farmstand treats and a hayride, some live music and a petting zoo, maybe a corn maze. Remember to wear sturdy shoes and expect the kids to get muddy. We won't make any promises, but we bet they'll sleep all the way home.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler and pumpkins are on the brain. If you find yourself asking Google where to find a "corn maze near me," you've stumbled upon a mighty fine list (if we do say so ourselves). We round up New York's best farms and orchards that are indugling in the best fall activities for kids, including long, windy labyrinths, apple pickingpumpkin picking, petting zoos and even apple and corn cannons! Neat right? 

 

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  • Attractions
  • Farms

Want to take advantage of the harvest season? We'll tell you where to find a farm NY families enjoy spending the day. From the North Fork of Long Island to a neighboring town in New Jersey, our go-to rustic attractions are home to many a fall festival, apple picking, corn mazes and plenty of other fall fun. (Yes, there's ample opportunity to score an apple cider doughnut, so worry not.) If you're in need of a family day trip, why not take a break from the city and revel in nature's goodness? Pick a few good car sing alongs and make your way to the farm. See you there!

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

Calling all paleontologists: A dino-mite drive-thru experience has just debuted right outside New York City. If you loved the Bronx Zoo's Dinosaur Safari and have been known to frequent AMNH's "T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator" you'll want to snag tickets to Jurassic Quest ($49 per vehicle). From now until Oct 18, the event will operate at both the Point Lookout Town Beach on Long Island and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

American Dream, the Meadowlands' 3-million-square-foot shopping and entertainment hub, is preparing to welcome back visitors on Oct 1, and its endless entertainment options make it the perfect destination for a family day trip. Upon return to the family attraction, guests will be required to wear face masks, practice social distancing and make reservations. Features will operate at a reduced capacity. (Visitors can access all health-related information and RSVP for a visit on the mall's website.)

 

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

Soon you can hang 10 alongside Shrek and plummet down slides with the Madagascar penguins. DreamWorks Water Park, the largest attraction of its kind in North America, is set to open on Oct 1. Initially, it was supposed to debut this spring after a fall 2019 delay, but only managed to host a sneak preview for select guests. Now, the general public will be able to take advantage of American Dream's record-breaking spot in a few weeks. And those records come in spades: The world’s tallest indoor drop slide with a 50-foot freefall, the world's largest lazy river at 1.5 acres, the world’s tallest and longest hydromagnetic water coaster, to name a few. If all of those numbers sound too intimidating, worry not: The park caters to swimmers of all abilities and offers something for everyone, including the Kung Fu Panda Temple of Awesomeness Play Structure, the Soakin Safari and King Julien’s Pineapple Jam Swim-up Bar. 

 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Anxious to start paddling? We can't blame you. There are a few things to note before venturing to the boathouse on Pier 4. For one, registration is open and kayaking will resume Wednesdays from 4–8pm and Saturdays from 10am–4pm from Aug 15–Oct 15, according to the park's website. Walk-ins will be accommodated if there is room. All participants must wear a face mask and attendees under 18 must have a guardian present. Park-goers must sign a waiver before hitting the water.

 

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