Post overview: Things to do with kids on Halloween in NYC
Halloween is a magical time of year no matter where you are, but in New York City it’s a nothing short of magical.
Pair the idyllic fall color with the force of community organizing and you have a boatload of fun things to do in NYC with kids on Halloween. There’s something for every budget and age group, and I’m here to help you find them.
As a local with an unabashed love for ghouls and goblins I’ve been enjoying Halloween in NYC with kids since becoming a mom in 2018. Throughout the years I’ve gained firsthand experience in all the best annual events.
So if you’re tackling your first (or dozenth!) Halloween in New York City with kids, you’re not alone. We have a lot of ground to cover in this article, so what do you say we jump right in!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Things to Do on Halloween with Kids in New York City
Search for the Best Halloween Decorations
New York City isn’t known for doing anything halfway (except following the crosswalk) and Halloween decorations aren’t the exception. Regardless of which neighborhood you choose to visit, you won’t be disappointed!
Just taking the time to wander the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Greenwich Village aimlessly is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids on Halloween.
Charming brownstones lined with spider webs, skeletons and vibrant pumpkins turn every day strolls through the city into an experience. Plus – this is one of the best things to do with kids on Halloween in NYC because it’s free!
Grab your favorite warm drink, bundle up and explore the magic in NYC during the autumn.
If at all helpful, here are some of our favorite neighborhoods (including streets) for decorations in NYC this Halloween.
- The Spookiest Halloween Decorations on the Upper West Side
- 10 Spooky Spots for Halloween Decorations in New York City
- The Spookiest Halloween Decorations on the Upper East Side
- The Charming West Village in Autumn
Visit the Pumpkin Arch on Pier 17
Who doesn’t love a fall photo-shoot? If you’re in need of a fun place to take pictures of your kids in NYC on Halloween then you can’t do much better than the Pumpkin Arch on Pier 17.
Since 2020 Pier 17 has put together a free art instillation made up of over 500 pumpkins in the shape of an arch. The only purpose is to bring folks joy and a unique photo-op, and judging by the non-stop lines it’s managed just fine.
Drawing people from all over the city, not only does this perfectly orange pumpkin arch make for great photos, the Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop is stunning.
The arch typically makes an appearance mid-October and lasts until the end of the month. Snapping a photo with this masterpiece is one of the best things to do on Halloween in New York City with kids.
While technically there are no rules for how long you can take pictures, be courteous of those around you. Try to take your pictures quickly to maintain the flow of the line.
Pro Tip: Visit the pumpkin arch at night for a magical experience. The arch is full of lights that add a whole new dimension to the arch and your photos (and your kids will love it!).
Address: 89 South St, New York, NY 10038
Peruse the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade
Yup, Tompkins Square throws an annual Halloween parade for dogs and it’s just as adorable as it sounds!
Folks from all over flood the East River Park Amphitheater with their pups dressed in ridiculously cute costumes creating one of the best Halloween events in NYC for kids.
Since moving to NYC I learned New Yorkers don’t mess around when it comes to their dogs. With that said, why would Halloween be any different? Especially when awards are to be had.
Clear your schedule on October 21st because you’re not going to want to miss this. The creativeness and dedication leaves me speechless year after year. A lot of the dogs I see at the parade are dressed better than me!
Whether you own a dog or not, this is one of the best things to do on Halloween with kids in NYC. It’s so stinking precious and you’re guaranteed to melt into a puddle from all the cuteness.
Address: E 10th St, New York, NY 10009
Celebrate Fall-O-Ween at the New York Botanical Garden
One of my favorite New York Halloween events for families is Fall-O-Ween at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). NYBG kicks off the fall season with loads of pumpkins, hordes of gourds and plenty activities.
It looks as if your local, small town farm and fancy botanic garden had a baby. You can make yourself comfortable on a hay bale and sip apple cider as your kids are enthralled by giant pumpkin carving.
NYBG also hosts a Halloween parade every year, the date has yet to be released for 2023 but we’ll update this guide as soon as we know.
Kiddos dress up in their Halloween costumes and get to strut down Garden Way showing off the cutest looks. It’s one of a handful of can’t miss Halloween events in NYC with kids!
But you should check Fall-o-Ween’s schedule before booking tickets. Every weekend hosts different activities (like Bales & Ales, giant parking carving and a spooky garden night) so pick the date that best suits your interests.
Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458
Visit the Pumpkin Patch at Queens County Farm
When I first moved to New York City eight years ago I was worried I’d be giving up essential fall activities.
My first thought was where the hell does someone get a pumpkin for Halloween? Sure bodegas are great and they provide the goods, but it’s not the same. I needed the full Halloween experience in New York City.
To my surprise, you can still enjoy a pumpkin patch, it’s one of the best things to do for Halloween in NYC with kids! Thanks to Queens County Farm (and a lengthy subway ride) you’re still able to get your fix of a pumpkin patch and corn maze.
Queens County Farm has been around for over 300 years and provides families with one of the best Halloween events. If you need fun things to do in NYC for Halloween with older kids, you should attempt the corn maze at night.
The pumpkin patch is opened daily from October 1st to October 31st. Opened Monday through Friday from 12 PM-4:30 PM and Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 AM-4:30 PM.
Best part? Free admission! Pumpkins are priced by size if you do choose to get one.
Further reading: Check out why Queens County Farm is also on our list of 30+ Festive Fall Things to Do in New York City.
Address: 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, Queens, NY 11004
Check out Boo at the Zoo
Every year the Bronx Zoo hosts a Halloween event in NYC for kids, named Boo at the Zoo. Guests are encouraged to show up in costume and take part in a schedule full of fun activities.
The zoo has candy trails so kids can trick or treat alongside their favorite animals. It’s an educational day too, since the zoo shows what some of the animals’ favorite snacks are.
There’s a multitude of arts and crafts kids can take part in, as well as a magician, pumpkin carving shows, and a costume parade that takes place 3 times a day.
Long story short, this is one of the best Halloween events New York City has for kids looking for simple, clean fun.
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460
And Pumpkin Nights
While Boo at the Zoo is one of the best things to do on Halloween in NYC with kids during the day, Pumpkin Nights is one of the best things to do at night, and it’s right next door at the Bronx Zoo.
After the animals go to bed the lights turn on (inside the pumpkins). There’s an illuminated, animal themed jack-o-lantern trail that meanders around the zoo.
You’ll also come across games and vendors selling appetizing bites. Throughout the whole experience you’ll be learning about animals and how they behave at night (remember, there won’t be any actual animal exhibits open)
Perusing the 5,000+ pumpkins at Pumpkin Night is one of the best Halloween events in NYC with kids. Spend some time watching new, masterful jack-o-lanterns made and snap some photos of your children.
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10460
New York Simply Exclusive: This NYC Halloween season is extra special because our readers can enjoy 15% off their tickets to Pumpkin Nights with code NYSIMPLY. Code valid until 10/29.
Cheer on the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
This year is the 50th annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, one of the best things to do in New York City with kids on Halloween. The tradition started with a solo mask maker and puppeteer who walked his neighborhood streets for the local kids’ entertainment.
By the third year the NYC Halloween parade developed into a non-profit organization full of volunteers who dedicate themselves to keep the tradition alive. With more than 50,000 costumed participants a year I’d say the parade is very much alive and well.
But full disclaimer: the parade is frequented by eclectic locals who might wear costumes that could be distasteful for younger kids. I only recommend this as one of the best things to do on Halloween in NYC with teenage kids.
The parade can be viewed on both sides of 6th Avenue between King St. and 15th St and begins at 7PM.
There are also a handful of ways to participate. The Halloween parade is always looking for volunteers. Meanwhile, if you want a more flashy role consider actually being in the parade. This year the theme is Upside/Down : Inside/OUT.
There will be a costume contest, which you automatically enter just by showing up in costume. The Halloween Parade has “secret scouts” out looking for the most original and fun costumes. Prizes are announced after the parade and trust me – there are some interesting ones.
Local’s Tip: if you aren’t comfortable being around so many spooky figures consider watching the parade at home. The TV Channel NY1 will be covering the parade from 8 to 9:30 PM. If you cozy up with a cup of cocoa it could also be one of the best things to do with kids in NYC on Halloween.
Address: 6th Avenue between King St. and 15th St.
Head to Coney Island for the Halloween Harvest
Coney Island is home to Luna Park, an amusement park that’s a goldmine for entertainment and fun. The park is especially worth visiting in October thanks to the 10th annual Halloween Harvest, one of the best things to do for Halloween in NYC with kids!
The event’s activities are free with the purchase of admission. The entirety of the park will be celebrating Halloween and the fall season. The headliners are the intricate jack-o-lanterns carved before your very eyes.
There’s also an influx of pumpkin flavored goodies like pumpkin spice funnel cake, orange Halloween themed cotton candy and pumpkin gelato. Just don’t overeat before hopping onto a roller coaster!
And all the classics that make an amusement park a blast will be ready for your enjoyment. Face painting, balloon animals, and of course the rides make Luna Park’s Halloween Harvest one of the best things to do in NYC with kids on Halloween.
The event runs from September 22nd to October 29th. I guarantee your children are not going to want to miss it!
Address: 1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224
Attend the annual Harlem Meer Pumpkin Flotilla
One of the best things to do in New York City with kids on Halloween is to visit Central Park, period. Having said that, if you can only visit one day make it on the day of the Pumpkin Flotilla (2023 date TBA).
Every year, usually a few days prior to Halloween, the Harlem Meer hosts a pumpkin flotilla. In simple terms, they let a caravan of carved, illuminated pumpkins float across the body of water for a few hours.
You can enter your own jack-o-lantern, but only few spots are available and the park picks the best of the best. According to the website you should try to make your pumpkins as close to eight-pounds as possible and avoid using unnatural decorations like glitter that could harm the ecosystem.
The annual pumpkin flotilla is one of the best things to do for Halloween in NYC with kids, and costumes are encouraged. The event usually starts around 4PM, so you’ll get to enjoy sunset as your pumpkin runs laps.
Address: The Harlem Meer & Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in the Northeast Corner of Central Park
Peruse Halloween House at the Oculus
If you’ve ever wanted to go to haunted house with your children but thought the jump-scares and gory scenes might be too much for them, the Halloween House at the Oculus says come on over!
Their website promotes no fear. Just fun. which makes this one of the best things to do for Halloween in NYC with kids. Instead of mad-men chasing you with a chainsaw you’re instead greeted by a troop of friendly faces.
Kids will be able to trick or treat, enter a glow in the dark room, peruse an indoor pumpkin patch and more. Incredibly, all this takes place at the Oculus Shopping Center in the Financial District so it’s easy to get to.
The Halloween House opens on the September 29th and runs until November 1st. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy one of the best things to do with kids on Halloween in NYC. Tickets will run you $39.99 for an adult, $34.99 for children and are available here.
Address: The Oculus, 185 Greenwich St, New York, NY 11006
Trick or Treat!
You didn’t think I forgot about the quintessential Halloween tradition, did you?
Trick or treating is one of the best things to do on Halloween with kids in NYC, but it looks a little different compared to the rest of America.
Instead of hitting your subdivision, pillowcase in hand and ready to stock up on candy New Yorkers take their kids to businesses. My first year in New York I saw children walk into the liquor store!
My jaw on the floor! But I was able to see through the window they were trick-or-treating. I was then able to breath a sigh of relief. Afterwards I wondered if they do shots of Titos or Jack Daniels for the parents.
And like most towns across America the affluent neighborhoods are famous for giving out full-sized candy bars. Places like the Upper East Side and the West Village help the local dentists in business.
So don’t for a second think that you’ll be sitting at home bored. Dress up and enjoy one of the nest things to do in NYC on Halloween with kids, it’s a memory you won’t soon forget.
Best Halloween activities with kids in NYC (Post Summary)
- Search for the Best Halloween Decorations
- Visit the Pumpkin Arch on Pier 17
- Peruse the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade
- Celebrate Fall-O-Ween at the New York Botanical Garden
- Visit the Pumpkin Patch at Queens County Farm
- Check out Boo at the Zoo
- And Pumpkin Nights
- Cheer on the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
- Head to Coney Island for the Halloween Harvest
- Attend the annual Harlem Meer Pumpkin Flotilla
- Peruse Halloween House at the Oculus
- Trick or Treat!
Things to do on Halloween in New York City with kids (Map)
I hope you found this article helpful in planning your Halloween in NYC with kids! Enjoy the spooky celebrations, be safe and we hope you’ll visit our site again soon.