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Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The best fall activities for kids in NYC

The best fall activities for kids in NYC include apple treats, scares and all-things pumpkin, so start making plans

By Danielle Valente, Allie Early and Dorkys Ramos

Don your coziest sweater: NYC's best fall activities for kids require your attention! 

Like your little goblins' Halloween stash, our list of things to do is sweet and plentiful. We highly encourage you to explore the best apple picking NY families can't resist. Of course, a visit to spectacular harvest festivals for families is a must. Above all, get a jump start on Halloween for kids with our guide to all-things creepy and scary (and not-so-scary). 

RECOMMENDED: More things to do in the fall with kids

As much as we love the holidays, not all fall activities focus on Halloween and Thanksgiving. To ensure that you're keeping busy even when the spooky season concludes and you can't possibly have another bite of turkey, we round up our favorite indoor activities for kids that are perfect for a crisp, autumn afternoon. 

Let the season of scares, pumpkin spice and flannel sweaters begin!

Fall Activities for Kids

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

1. Apple picking

Things to do

The only thing crisper than the autumn air will be your Granny Smiths. We've rounded up the best apple picking NY and the surrounding areas have to offer, so if you're looking to get the whole family in a fall state of mind, we have you covered.  These orchards and farms not only offer the chance for visitors to pick their own fruits and veggies, but many of the venues feature fun activities like hayrides and Halloween attractions, so it's a win-win if you have little ones in tow.

Photograph: Decker Farm

2. Pumpkin picking

Things to do

‘Tis the season to put Charlie Brown to shame (no hard feelings, Charlie). Grab the whole gang and head to a local farmstand for a pumpkin that’ll suit your carving, painting or decorating needs. After all, no autumn is complete without a home full of gourds and jack-o-lanterns.


3. Corn mazes

Things to do Festivals

Let the kiddos zig-zag their way through the best corn mazes NY has to offer. After they conquer the seasonal labyrinths, most venues offer other fall fun such as hayrides, pumpkin picking and even haunted houses for those who are brave enough to enter.

Photograph: Julochka/Flickr

4. Cider mills

Things to do Markets and fairs

Autumn is prime time for all-things apple. When you and your crew are not bobbing for Granny Smiths or indulging in a PYO offering, make sure you’re sipping on the best cider in town.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

5. Best fall festivals and fairs for NYC families

Things to do Festivals

  'Tis the season for scares and pumpkin spice! Our guide to Gotham's fall festivals and fairs is a perfect way to get a jumpstart on the happenings, so ready your flannel and beanies.   Whether you're planning to tackle one of the craziest corn mazes NY offers, or if you're craving a bite of the best apple cider doughnuts NYC has on its menu, we're certain you'll get a taste of autumnal goodness at these events.  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the fall with kids To ensure that you're really prepared for the fall, we also suggest taking a look at these great spots for apple picking, pumpkin picking and fall foliage. Of course, a few screenings of scary movies for kids are also in order.  Happy harvest season, families! Save us a bite of apple pie. 

Courtesy American Dream

6. American Dream Mall

News City Life

"Mall" isn't necessarily an accurate way to describe American Dream.  Sure, the long-awaited Jersey attraction boasts hundreds of retail options, from Zara and H&M to Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., but the three-million-square-foot destination is definitely an entertainment hub that needs to be on your radar. Mark your calendars for Oct 25, the grand opening of the estimated $5 billion project. Triple Five Group, the masterminds behind the Mall of America in Minnesota, has worked to ensure that the Meadowlands shopping and entertainment behemoth is the talk of the town. Expect a Nickelodeon-themed amusement park, a DreamWorks water park, an ice rink, the country's first indoor snow and ski center, mini golf and so much more! 

Photograph: Courtesy SMARTSTUDY / Nickelodeon

7. Baby Shark Live

News Theater & Performance

It's true, parents: You can swim, but you can't hide. One of the the catchiest kids' songs of all time is getting the theater treatment later this year. It's time to put your fins together for Baby Shark Live! In the slight chance you haven't heard the sensation that is "Baby Shark," the family jam from Pinkfong has permanently seeped into toddlers' brains and garnered a total of over 2 billion YouTube plays. Needless to say, this fun beat about a family of fish has been quite a hit (and deserves a spot on your dance songs for kids playlist).  Catch it on Nov 7 at the Tilles Center in Brookville and on Nov 8 at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

8. Museum of Ice Cream

News Eating

A delightful treat is on its way this fall, and it'll make the back to school season a whole lot sweeter.  According to a breaking newsletter from the Museum of Ice Cream, the masterminds who delighted tastebuds with the Pint Shop last summer, a flagship SoHo store will make its delicious debut this autumn and feature exhibits, a shop, a café and naturally, creamy goodness. We have a feeling this three-floor bonanza will land a spot on our favorite ice cream shops for kids. Sign up for early access and keep an eye on the website for more details. We're getting hungry just thinking about the snacks that await! 

Photograph: Joshua Bright

9. New York fall foliage

Things to do Walks and tours

Autumn in New York can take anyone’s breath away—the air is crisp, the harvest is aplenty and the landscape puts on a beautiful display of red, gold and orange. It’s no secret that kids love jumping into piles of crunchy leaves or making craft projects out of their nature collection, so why not take the fun a step further and plan a whole activity or trip around the colorful foliage? These fall itineraries offer the best scenic drives, mini escapes and tours of local gardens and parks that will make all ages fall in love with NYC this time of year.

10. Fall day trips

Travel Getaways

When temperatures cool and the fall foliage surfaces, out-of-town adventures beckon you away from NYC. Fortunately these locales—including West Point, New Paltz—are within striking distance of the city and make for the perfect day trip.

Photograph: Courtesy Friends of the High Line

11. Halloween for NYC kids

Things to do

This spooktacular time of year is a complete blast! Pack your calendar with the best Halloween parades, scary movie marathons, costume ideas and more!

Haunted High Line Halloween
Photograph: Rowa Lee

12. Trick-or-treating in NYC

Things to do

Finding the perfect costume, walking through haunted houses, marching in Halloween parades and participating in other Halloween events in NYC is fun and all, but nothing beats going out into the night in search of candy. These trick or treating spots for kids will not disappoint! Not only will the little goblins go home with bags full of delicious sweets, but many of the events on our list offer games, activities and live performances to make the whole experience one that the family will remember.

Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

13. Scary movies for kids


Eeek! Our lineup of fantastic scary movies for kids will make you shriek! Grab the popcorn and pizza and buckle up for a wild ride, because we went on a mission to round up the coolest scary movies to thrill and—on occasion—totally disgust—your kids, tweens and teens. 

14. Halloween stories for kids

Things to do Literary events

Looking for something creepy (but not too spooky)? The best Halloween stories for kids offer spine-tingling goodness that ensures all nightlights are left on when darkness hits.   

Photograph: John Huntington

15. Haunted houses for kids

Things to do

Have a holly, jolly...Halloween? The best way to summon the spookiness is to pay a visit to NYC's best haunted houses for kids. They're the perfect way to ring in the season and have fun with the family. (Fear not: Kid-friendly adaptations exist, so don't worry about inspiring nightmares). No October is complete without a little creepiness, so find your best costume, greet the home's scary inhabitants and round out the experience with some candy corn. Happy Halloween! 

Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher

16. Haunted hayrides in NY

Things to do Quirky events

Celebrate Halloween to the fullest with a ride on these amazing haunted hayrides in NY! Our list of exciting venues in New York—and the surrounding areas—provide plenty of reasons to be spooked, from eerie decorations to actors donned in frightening costumes. A hayride seems like a fun fall activity, but these frightening options kick things up a notch. Get ready for a night of scream-filled fun! 

Photograph: Courtesy American Broadcasting Company/CBS

17. Thanksgiving movies for kids

Movies Family and kids

There are so many amazing things to do in the fall in NYC, but once Halloween passes by, we can't keep Thanksgiving dinner off our minds! Whether you're cooking a feast at home or hitting up some great family restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day, your family will need some after-dinner entertainment for when the Tryptophan kicks in. Track down one of our top favorite Thanksgiving movies for kids and have a holiday-themed screening while you and the youngsters digest.

Photography: Nitzan Rubin

18. Time Out Market New York

Time Out Market

If you only have a New York minute to spare, let Time Out help you discover the best of the city. We promise it's easier than ever. Indulge in the city's tastiest dishes in one location: Clinton St Baking Co. pancakes, pizza from Juliana's and so much more. There's plenty of comfort food to enjoy during the cold-weather season! Learn more about the Market at timeout.com. 

City Bakery
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

19. Hot chocolate in NYC


A hot chocolate is a sweet alternative when you’ve had one too many cups of apple cider. We rounded up the best spots in NYC that offer the tastiest hot chocolate offerings for a fall day.

20. Ramen in NYC


Nothing warms the soul like a bowl of soup! Have you and the kids enjoyed the best ramen NYC has to offer? If you haven't (or if you're an aficionado looking for your next great bowl with the kids in tow), here's where to look.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

21. Apple cider doughnuts in NYC

Restaurants Bakeries

What's chock-full of cinnamon, spice and everything nice? The best apple cider donuts NYC has each autumn, of course. Once September hits, people might start craving all-things pumpkin, but there's no excuse to surpass delectable apple desserts. Trust us, your sweet tooth will thank you. We've rounded up our favorite spots for apple cider donuts—and similar seasonal flavors—that deserve a spot on your autumn to-do list. Happy munching!

Photograph: Courtesy Children's Museum of the Arts

22. Kids' museums

Museums Special interest

Use the cooler weather as an opportunity to explore the fun indoors. NYC’s best kids’ museums will teach your little ones about a variety of subjects—art, history, math—and make for a great weekend adventure.

Photograph: Courtesy FunFuzion

23. Indoor amusement parks

Attractions Arcades and amusements

No warm weather, no problem—just head inside. Practice your Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Street Fighter skills, try your hand at Skee-Ball or hop in some go-karts at these indoor amusement parks and fun zones near New York City. Some spots are specialized and focus on games while others offer a variety of fun attractions for all ages.

Photograph: Courtesy of Recess Dumbo

24. Indoor playgrounds

Sports and fitness Gyms and fitness centers

Indoor playgrounds are a great option for kids when it's rainy, snowy or their favorite schoolyard playground may be closed! Expect awesome features like activity tables, mini slides and plenty of cool toys to share with new friends.

Photograph: Courtesy Coco Key/ The Hotel ML

25. Indoor water parks

Things to do Play spaces

In the dead of winter, it's normal to dream about tropical locations far from NYC. If the thought of more family ski trips chills you to the bone, consider these fun-filled indoor water parks near NYC. The kids will be thrilled with all the water slides, pools, obstacle courses and more, and you'll just be glad to be in your bathing suit.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Ruben Martinez Barricarte

26. Kids' library branches

Things to do

When you venture to the best kids' library branches in NYC, your pint-sized bibliophiles are bound to get lost in the stacks.  Options abound for curious little ones, whether they're searching for kids' books about NYC or hoping to get involved in the library's coolest free classes for kids. Make a pitstop at each venue's children's room, sit in for a fun storytime and don't forget to go home with a bestseller or two! (Our favorite children's books are sure to inspire a swipe of your library card.) 

Photograph: Courtesy Kevin Winzeler / Sky Zone

27. Trampoline parks

Things to do Play spaces

No room in the apartment? Trampoline parks and bounce houses are great indoor activities for kids who want to run wild! Let them get all of that energy out before coming home. We'll help you find a trampoline park NYC kids love—just scroll through our go-to venues. After all, we believe the best family attractions don't necessarily require shoes.  

Photograph: Funtopia USA

28. Kid-friendly arcades

Things to do

These kid-friendly arcades are perfect for families! Many of the picks on our list also have accompanying activities, like spots to eat, bowl, play a game of laser tag and other cool stuff—the perfect place to visit when it's cold, rainy or you just don't feel like playing outside.

Photograph: Sean Rosenthal

29. Kids' bowling alleys

Things to do

Lace up those funky shoes! Our favorite kids' bowling alleys in NYC will certainly inspire some friendly competition amongst your brood. Find a lane, ready the scoreboard and prepare for a strike. Thanks to glow-in-the-dark options at Astoria Lanes, performances at Brooklyn Bowl and next-level amenities at Bowlmor Lanes, these bowling alleys for kids are some of the coolest indoor activities in town. Sounds like a strike! 

Photograph: Courtesy Escape the Room

30. Escape rooms

Things to do

New York's biggest new family entertainment trend lets you, your kids (and their friends, if you're brave enough to invite even more adventurers) strategize to escape from a thief's house, help a space ship make its way home and even pretend to be Indian Jones right here in the city. While some escape rooms are better suited for an older crowd, these picks are perfect for visitors of most ages. Read on for our recommendations!

Photograph: Cylla von Tiedemann

31. Broadway shows for kids


If you have a little theater buff on your hands, we highly recommend these Broadway shows for kids. From retellings of Disney princess movies to musical adaptations of your go-to movies for tweens, the Great White Way offers a little something for all ages and interests, and the lineup is totally grool (if you catch our drift).  

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