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#LoveLocal: Support the independent businesses at the heart of NYC

As the city recovers, we’re backing the independent businesses that represent the soul of the city from unique shops to restaurants and bars.

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason
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Hello, New York!

Time Out editors have been seeking out the best of the city since 1968. We know that New York is nothing without its restaurants, bars, theaters, music venues, nightclubs, cinemas, art galleries—and all the other local, independently run places where people come together to eat, drink, laugh and think.

We’re determined to help. That's why we launched our Love Local Awards to support local food, drink, culture and entertainment in New York. The awards let New Yorkers decide the city's favorite restaurant, bar, club, theater, gallery, coffee shop, bakery and independent store. (We had over 60,000 votes!) You can see the winners here.

You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram to hear more about our ongoing campaign. As New York adjusts to its new reality, we’ll continue to support local independent venues, and the people that bring them to life. Keep scrolling to see Time Out's Love Local campaign in action and consider supporting a New York business today.

Will Gleason
Editor
Time Out New York


The 2021 Love Local Awards winners

Small business in NYC: the latest

  • Restaurants

There is a reason why we long to touch the surf, why kids skip stones on creeks, young lovers kick off their shoes to wade into river beds and aspiring villains ascribe intrigue to international waters: The sea is beguiling. And in New York City, we have plenty of places to get close enough to almost see our refracted reflection on its surface.  Some of those opportunities are at our beaches, others are aboard boats, and many of the best are at restaurants and bars near the water. With views of the Hudson and East River, the Atlantic Ocean and the nautical breeze to match, these are NYC’s best seasonal and year-round waterfront destinations. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

  • Bars

In New York City, outdoor drinks are possible, probable and practically perfected year-round, but spring and summer are prime time for open air imbibing. The sunny days are longer, the temperatures are warmer and fun frozen drinks reenter the mix all around town. With appearances by boat bars, rooftops, dives and secret gardens, these are our favorite places to sip beer, wine, cocktails and all manner of boozy consumables outside in NYC this season.  RECOMMENDED: More of the best bars in NYC

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  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Although NYC has tons of fantastic steakhouses, new ones don’t seem to open up as frequently as, say, this year’s ever-expanding list of speakeasy-themed bars. But tomorrow, Friday, May 13, a new entry to the beefy genre gets grilling in Flatiron.  Vinyl Steakhouse is named for its dual conceits: music and meat. Musical memorabilia factors into the decor. Vintage-style show posters line the walls, prints depict Run-DMC, Debbie Harry and the Beastie Boys and shelves are filled with album sleeves. And, beyond those show tunes, expect to hear full sides from among the 2,000-plus records collected by sommelier-owner Kevin Flannery, who operates the restaurant with his somm wife Sofia.  Photograph: Courtesy of KK Chote MST Creative PR Executive Chef Alexander Lord-Flynn joins from the East Village French restaurant Jules Bistro, which closed during the pre-vaccine pandemic. Lord-Flynn was also previously the private chef at a Montana cattle ranch. Steak, of course, factors significantly into the opening menu, including an 8- or 10-ounce filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip and dry aged porterhouse for two. Classic steakhouse sides like mac and cheese (this one truffled), creamed spinach (turned carbonara with pancetta, parm and egg yolk) and a potato pavé piled with bacon, chives, gouda and jalapeño are also available.  The rest of the menu has plenty of general interest items for red meat dissenters, including a few salads, some sushi options, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail and on

  • Restaurants

After long months of snuggling up to portable heaters at NYC’s coziest outdoor dining spots and keeping covered rooftop bars warm until the open-air terraces are repopulated for spring and summer primetime, New Yorkers are ready to drop the cold weather caveats and get back to eating and drinking on sidewalks, patios and backyards without having to study the weather app.  These luncheonettes, all-day cafes, Michelin-starred stunners, dives, neighborhood favorites and newcomers all have settings to get your attention, and great food and drinks to keep you coming back from now through next fall.       RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

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  • Restaurants

New York City's warming up this spring, and outdoor dining and drinking are as hot as ever. Rooftops bars and waterside restaurants are open all over town, and the appeal of the open air makes outside space as competative as a table at the Waverly Inn circa 2008. Short of making a reservation (What is this, Los Angeles?) one way to secure a spot is to patronize places unknown to your friends and neighbors, unheard of by tourists and unfamiliar to even the most prolific Yelpers. But being that this is neither the surface of the sun nor the bottom of the sea, few places are truly secret. Some restaurants and bars, however, do have areas that are a little more hidden away than the rest. These are your semi-secret gardens, surprising back yards, unexpected patios and cozy spots where you can feel a little tucked away in one of the biggest cities in the world.

  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

Some stuff is subjective, like what drink will this be the summer of? Last year’s was the frozen, though some reported alternative anecdotal perceptions. Other stuff is evidenced by empirical fact, like the great speakeasy-style bar resurgence of 2022.  In March, I explored why hidden spots and the patina of secrecy, however thin, have become de rigueur once more in the post-vaccine pandemic, and the genre has continued to expand since then. The latest entrant to the speakeasy-theme scene opens tonight, Wednesday May 11, in Times Square, with a couple more conceits on top of that designation: Sex and the 80s!  Photograph: Courtesy of Phil O'Brian The Woo Woo is the latest from PMac’s Hospitality, which operates a consortium of large, exceedingly midtown-y restaurants in, of course, midtown. This one is adjacent to the group’s Irishish offering, The Mean Fiddler, where you can request a password for permission to woo if you haven’t simply found the phrase on the bar’s website or made a reservation.  Inside, The Woo Woo aims to evoke that last decade before widespread internet, its surrounding neighborhood of Times Square in those same, pre-Disney days, sex shops and, the reason for the season, speakeasies. These themes are executed with a combination of graffiti that reasonably approximates the style of the time, vintage nude mags and video tapes, rouge neon, throwback punk show posters and the whole password thing.   Photograph: Courtesy of Phil O'Brian Drinks include ode

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  • Bars

In New York City, “underground” is good. Speakeasy-themed bars. Hidden streets. Secret gardens. The actual underground. But sometimes you want to soar above it all, sipping effervescent libations among the clouds like some kind of fancy bird with an expense account. You want to be uplifted.  In the city that never stops sprawling, upward expansion has also reached great heights. Many incredible eating and drinking destinations are poised in the sky like treehouses with cover charges. Among these rooftop bars are old New York throwbacks, party destinations and seaside terraces practically fashioned for Instagram. They each offer booze, some kind of view and an invitation for you to get high.  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

The Mermaid Inn, which first made a splash in Manhattan in 2003, has seen a slow and steady seafood expansion over nearly two decades. Between two Inns and its Oyster Bar, all have been seafood forward in curious juxtaposition with its sexy, sexy illustrated logo. But today, Tuesday, May 10, the team turns from its usual fare with its latest venture, Mermaid Mexicana, in the familiar waters of Greenwich Village.  Chef Victor Marin, whose previous credits include Mermaid Oyster Bar and Sushisamba nearby, is at Mermaid Mexicana’s helm. The opening menu includes chips and guacamole, flautas and quesadillas to start, six taco varieties and large plates like enchiladas suizas and pescado a la talla. There’s a little more fish where that came from, too, in the cóctel de camarones, fluke aguachile and a few other items, should you need to ease into new things.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mermaid Mexicana (@mermaidmexicana) Ranch water, which adds tequila or vodka to Topo Chico and lime, micheladas and palomas are among the cocktails, in addition to wine and beer. Margaritas are available on the rocks or frozen, and several types of tequila and mezcal are also listed.  The familiar space previously hosted Mermaid Oyster Bar’s original iteration. And, in keeping with the local mini-chain’s reputation, Mermaid Mexicana will have a happy hour daily from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, when a smattering of snacks are all $10, select cocktails are $9, wine is $

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  • Bars

Although 2022 has wrought quite the resurgence, the last of New York City’s real-deal speakeasies ceased operation in 1933. That’s the year prohibition ended, and once that odd bit of wise legislation managed to pass, in spite of hidden entrances, decoys, and hooch-obscuring levers and pulleys, wowie-zowie, all those gin joints turned into bars!  Some of those bars, like 21 Club, remained open in various forms for many more years. Any place popping up in the interim is simply speakeasy-inspired. These newcomers aim to approximate Jazz Age style absent its inconvenient trappings. See, just like we wouldn’t take a suborbital flight and call it space travel, we can’t really say we fully comprehend the sights, smells, tastes and heartbeat of erstwhile speakeasies.  But we do go to a lot of bars, and plenty of those are rather convincingly fashioned after speakeasies, but with better booze (fewer errant pest particles), improved air quality (no smoking), and modern conveniences like online reservation platforms, air conditioning and mobile payments to follow up with the moochers in the group. Some have circa (19)20s details for days and others would make a dramaturg’s stomach turn, but their semi-hidden entrances, Old New York decor and appearance of exclusivity are almost enough to make us feel like we’re about to light up a Chesterfield, sip some cold clear liquor and–what?–oh, we’ll Venmo you later.   RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC

Crew hospitality group has been helping New Yorkers fake sailing photos since 2014 when it opened Grand Banks in far west Tribeca—more precisely, on a wooden schooner docked on the Hudson River. Pilot followed on another schooner in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2017, and today, the Crew team operates four seaside (or sea-top) spots citywide. Now, it's trying its hand on land with the opening of Holywater this Wednesday, May 11.  Photograph: Courtesy of Douglas Lyle Thompson Holywater is a return to Tribeca—a few blocks inland. It still evokes nautical notions via decorative maritime literature, cozy, ship cabin spaces and with aesthetic oceanic strokes like bronze mermaids and a lacquered faux-hammerhead shark mounted near the bar. Its website also boasts a testimonial from the actor and area resident Harvey Keitel (“I love this joint!”), who is credited as playing “Blue Whale customer” in the 1960s soap opera Dark Shadows, perhaps foreshadowing this very venture.  In keeping with the theme, Holywater’s dinner menu is abundant with seafood like oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, and of course a couple of seafood towers. There are also a few caviar preparations including atop tater tots, in addition to larger plates like lobster frites, crawfish étouffée, burgers and steak.  Photograph: Courtesy of Douglas Lyle Thompson Cocktails number the titular Holywater with rum, cognac, Chartreuse, lemon, grapefruit, bitters and a scorch of fire, sazeracs, sidecars and a boozy Arnold Palmer

Love Local from Time Out New York Kids

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Brownstone Brooklyn's newest attraction is a win-win for kids and parents.  While you're sipping a hot chocolate (perhaps with a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream), your kiddos can whip around Court Street Tavern's debut ice skating rink. The newly opened Carroll Gardens restaurant has taken outdoor accommodations and upped the ante; while most eateries have opted for heated tents, this South Brooklyn spot has created its own destination for winter fun.  Meet the Court Street Ice Rink. Photograph: Time Out / Danielle Valente Photograph: Time Out / Danielle Valente Photograph: Courtesy Emily Bartlett Perfect for ages 13 and under, the super-cute "glice" rink from Matt Shendell of Paige Concepts is open daily from 12:15–7:15pm for $25 per child (including skate rentals). Parents can make reservations on Resy for 45-minute sessions and walk-ins are welcome. For an additional $10, moms and dads can rent a skate aid seal—an adorable buddy looking to help your little skaters keep their balance. Note that lockers are not available, so be prepared to hang onto those winter boots.  Plus, there's more good news. TVs are stationed right above the rink, so you can have your eyes on the game, your lil' winter Olympian and that tasty Hot Toddy. We told you this would be a win-win for everyone! Court Street Tavern is located at 449 Court St in Carroll Gardens.  Most popular on Time Out - Awesome things NYC families can’t miss in 2021- New kids’ movies coming out in 2021 that you can’t miss

  • Things to do
  • Literary events

Are your little ones missing their favorite reading circle? Don’t worry, Mom and Dad: We have the perfect solution! Time Out is partnering with the New York Public Library to present digital storytimes for pint-sized bookworms. Beginning August 10, families can tune in Monday through Thursday at 10am—right here—for a remote read-aloud. Curious about the lineup? The Time Out New York Kids newsletter will reveal forthcoming story time schedules on Fridays, so sign up today! Monday, January 4 Susan Burkhardt from Van Cortlandt Library in The Bronx The Completed Hickory Dickory Dock by Jim Aylesworth and I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon Tuesday, January 5 Dana Keddy from Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library in Staten Island I Went Walking by Sue Williams and Boo! by Ben Newman Wednesday, January 6 Ruth Guerrier-Pierre from Kips Bay Library in Manhattan Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson Thursday, January 7 Nanette Rivera from Mulberry Street Library in Manhattan Perfect Square by Michael Hall Friday, January 8 Katie Loucks from Mosholu Library in The Bronx Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Rock-a-bye Baby by Jane Cabrera

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  • Art
  • Art

Update: The completely redesigned Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals will now open in spring 2021 as opposed to February 2021. An exact date has not been revealed. We'll be sure to update you as soon as we know more.  Looks like we're going to have to be patient.  The Museum of Natural History's completely redesigned Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals will now open in 2021 as opposed to this fall. But judging from the details, we have a feeling it'll be well worth the wait. On Feb 17, 2021, the family attraction will welcome visitors to the 11,000 square-foot space that house roughly 5,000 pieces from 95 countries. Guests can catch a glimpse of a 3,000-pound block of iridescent green and blue labradorite, the Singing Stone from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the new "Beautiful Creatures" exhibit, which will celebrate historic and contemporary jewelry inspired by animals. Patrons will be able to find it in halls’ first temporary exhibition space. Plus, as an added bonus for the little learners in your crew, the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals will be the perfect spot for children with an interest in earth science, as it promises to be an invaluable resource for schools and camps.  Courtesy AMNH “Generations of New Yorkers have loved the Museum’s mineral and gem halls, storing up memories of family visits and marveling at the glamorous displays of utterly spectacular minerals and gems,” Ellen V. Futter, Pre

  • Art
  • Art

A library card goes a long way in New York City.  Today, the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library announced that Culture Pass will resume for 25 attractions—with limited capacity—on Nov 1. This program provides New Yorkers with library cards free access to their favorite family attractions.  The 25 institutions participating:  Alice Austen House Museum American Museum of Natural History Asia Society Museum Brooklyn Museum The Drawing Center Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Fraunces Tavern Museum International Studio & Curatorial Program The Jewish Museum King Manor Museum Kingsland Homestead The Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) MoMA PS1 Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum of Arts and Design Museum of the City of New York National Lighthouse Museum New Museum New York Botanical Garden The Noble Maritime Collection The Noguchi Museum Poster House The Rubin Museum of Art SculptureCenter How to snag a freebie:  Beginning Nov 1, in-person passes can be reserved up to one month in advance on culturepass.nyc. (Learn more about Culture Pass rules.)  More good news:  Additionally, Culture Pass is rebroadcasting virtual arts and cultural programs for all ages from NYC's favorite institutions through Nov 21.  Besides mapping out your Culture Pass plans, be sure to check out the best new and upcoming exhibits at our go-to kids' museums, sit in for virtual storytimes from the New York Public Library every Monday through Friday and see what el

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

November 3 is quickly approaching, and the New York Public Library is in a political state of mind.  In honor of the upcoming election, the NYC institution has released a 2020 Election Reading List for three age groups: children, teens and adults. The selections focus on voter issues such as climate change, foreign policy and healthcare, among many others.  If your little bookworms are curious about this historical moment in our nation's history, have a look at some of the inspiring kids' books below that have landed on the ballots!   2020 Election Reading List for Kids Around America to Win the Vote by Mara Rockliff  Dreamers by Yuyi Morales Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson Out of the Ice: How Climate Change Is Revealing the Past by Claire Eamer Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport Courtesy: NYPL 2020 Election Reading List for Teens Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook & Ryan Estrada Displacement by Kiku Hughes Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life & Work by Victoria Ortiz Election Manipulation: Is America's Voting System Secure? by John Allen It's Getting Hot in Here by Bridget Heos Courtesy: NYPL For the full list for each age group, visit nypl.org/election2020. While you're at it, be sure to check out Time Out's daily virtual storytimes with the NYPL and get homework assistance with the NYPL's free virtual tutoring—a game-changer for parents.   Most popular on Time Out - NYC schools closed: a running list of building shutdowns

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Milk & Cream is at it again!  After the success of the limited-edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle treats (ice cream pizza!), the Instagrammable dessert spot is continuing the fun with a second installment of the Nickelodeon flavor takeover (#NICKFLAVORTAKEOVER). This time, the focus is on Blue's Clues.   Show one of your favorite TV shows for kids some love by stopping in for a snack. Now through Oct 25, the shop will offer Blue's Snack Time Treat, an ice cream sammie with cookie dough, chocolate chips and dark chocolate-covered pretzels and Josh's Ultimate Ube Surprise, a purple yam ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate wafers and dusted off with chocolate crunchies.    Courtesy: Milk & Cream Cereal Bar   Of course, the ice cream hotspot will be decked out in all-things Blue's Clues, so make sure there is room in your camera roll. (We did tell you this was an Instagrammable dessert spot, after all.) Plus, temporary tattoos will be given out with your Blue's Clues purchase.    Courtesy: Milk & Cream Cereal Bar   If all of these dreamy desserts have given you a hankering for the Nickelodeon of yesteryear, check out where you can stream the coolest old-school cartoons (Doug, Hey Arnold, Ren and Stimpy, etc.).  Most popular on Time Out - NYC DOE reaches a new decision about the return to school- The NYC School Calendar for 2020-2021- A drive-thru fair food festival headed to New York this fall- The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is opening a second location this year- The

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Sleeping is overrated when there is a good book to finish.    Now that the New York Public Library has released its list of "125 Books We Love for Teens," a good night's rest will likely be few and far between. This brand-new collection of YA goodness joins the ranks of the Library's 125 favorite books for adults and children, both of which are in celebration of the attraction's milestone anniversary.  Now readers 12-18 (and the young at heart, of course) can enjoy tales of identity, self-discovery and love. (It's not all about unrequited crushes and the cool clique in homeroom, though there's plenty of that.) Curious what books made the list? Have a look at some of our favorite selections:  Go Ask Alice Anonymous The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier The Giver by Lois Lowry The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes You can take a gander at the full list on the NYPL website and download your favorite selections (aka everything) on the SimplyE app.  Have younger readers in your crew? Check out daily storytimes from Time Out New York Kids and the New York Public Library, where you can sit in on a digital read-aloud of your favorite kids' books.  Most popular on Time Out - NYC DOE reaches a new decision about the return to school- The NYC School

  • Art
  • Art

Museums in New York City were given the green light to reopen at limited capacity on Aug 23. Although family attractions such as The Museum of Natural History and The Met started welcoming back visitors, most of our favorite children's museums only remain active online. However, the Children's Museum of the Arts just announced its plans in a Sept 18 newsletter.  "After evaluating options to reopen safely, we have made the difficult decision to stay closed for the remainder of the year," the note read. "Though our doors remain shut, we are more dedicated than ever to pursuing our mission of providing transformational and accessible arts opportunities through online content and programs." There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the best of the attraction: Art pods, parent workshops and virtual kids' classes are some of the offerings that'll keep the creative juices flowing this fall. No matter your little artist's interest, CMANY has the perfect fit, from its graphic novel club to animation and character design, among other cool after-school programs. Check them out! You can stay up-to-date on kids' museum reopening plans at Time Out New York Kids.  Most popular on Time Out - NYC DOE reaches a new decision about the return to school- The NYC School Calendar for 2020-2021- A drive-thru fair food festival headed to New York this fall- The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is opening a second location this year- The best apple picking NY kids and families love Get us in your inbox! Sign

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Summer vacation is practically in the rearview mirror, so now is the time for kids to soak up that last bit of freedom.  Plus, there are a few end-of-season perks to enjoy. Some of NYC's best family attractions are offering free and discounted admission for students before the first day of school on Sept 21. Count us in! “Arts and culture are a critical part of New York City’s social fabric, and we thank these organizations for providing our kids with safe, educational activities before schools open next week,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his Sept 14 press briefing.  Making day trip plans? Here are the participating institutions, according to the city's website:  American Museum of Natural History: The museum welcomes NYC schoolchildren and their caregivers back, with a hall to visit for every grade and every age. Tickets are pay what you wish for NYC residents. Reserve on their website: https://ticketing.amnh.org/#tickets. Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Met is welcoming students and caregivers back to both their main building on Fifth Avenue, and to The Cloisters. For NYC residents, admission is pay what you wish. Closed to the public Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Reserve a timed ticket on their website: https://engage.metmuseum.org/reservation. Morgan Library and Museum: The Morgan Library & Museum is providing free tickets to school-aged kids aged 18 and younger and their caregivers on September 16, 17 and 18. Advance reservation required. Families can email tickets@th

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Update: You can snag 50 percent off a child's ticket (with the purchase of one adult ticket) when children where their costumes to Boo at the Zoo. Use "COSTUME" at checkout to claim the offer.  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.    Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher   Like other family attractions, the Bronx Zoo had to make some adjustments to this year's festivities, but that certainly doesn't mean Halloween is canceled—far from it. All guests 3 and up are required to wear a mask and social distance when on the grounds. Additionally, advanced tickets are required before attending and reentry is not permitted. A full list of health and safety guidelines is available on the zoo's website.  You can snag tickets online ($39.95 adults, $29.95 children ages 3–12) and map out your other fall activities. We suggest apple picking, checking out Six Flags' new HALLOWFEST and, of course, marveling at the pumpkin artistry on dis

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