Make New York City your Halloween haven this fall, and enjoy kid-friendly events across the five boroughs. Though the holiday isn't until the end of the month, the City is famous for celebrating all October long: take your pick of zoo-based activities, harvest festivals, haunted walks and costume processions. Read on for some of our favorites, all of which are appropriate for the younger set (for grown-up activities, see our guide here).
Enchanted Wave Hill
Bring your little ones to Enchanted Wave Hill for two days of storytelling and craft making inspired by local folklore and fairy tales. Build tiny houses of sticks, leaves and pixie dust for woodland creatures, and take part in a collaborative painting project. Behold the magic of these Bronx woods!
Boo at the Zoo
October 3–November 1 (weekends)
Get into the Halloween spirit with Boo at the Zoo, taking place at the Bronx Zoo every weekend in October and into early November. Enjoy family and kids' activities, including magic shows, costume parades, a hay maze, pumpkin painting and live music. Visitors can also get an up-close look at all the creepy critters on display within the zoo.
Día de los Muertos Weekends
New York Botanical Garden
October 24–November 1
While it translates to “day of the dead,” Día de los Muertos isn't as scary as it sounds. The Mexican holiday is a time for families to come together to honor their deceased loved ones. For two weekends in October the New York Botanical Garden celebrates this tradition with a parade of life-size skeletons, puppetlike butterflies and representations of the grand dame of the day, La Catrina. On October 24 and 25, kids can watch a special pumpkin-carving display. The second weekend coincides with the end of NYBG's Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life exhibition.
Halloween Haunted Walk and Carnival
Make your way to Prospect Park's Lookout Hill, where zombies, werewolves, witches and headless horsemen lurk in this outdoor haunted house. Adults are encouraged to accompany small children through this adventure.
Creepy Crawly Halloween
Audubon Center, Prospect Park Boathouse
Visit the Audubon Center at the Prospect Park Boathouse for a look at some creepy, crawly creatures. Kids can participate in activities like an “Owl Pellet Dissection,” a walk through Prospect Park in search of some spooky residents and feeding snakes and other creatures inside the Audubon Center itself.
Brooklyn Children's Museum
Come to the Brooklyn Children's Museum for a kid-friendly Halloween bash. Make crafts, join in a dance party and enjoy a performance by Mariachi Tapatio de Alvaro Paulino. This event is appropriate for all ages, and children are encouraged to arrive in their Halloween finest.
Boo at the Zoo
Prospect Park Zoo
For two days, Prospect Park Zoo celebrates Halloween with bats, baboons and various live animal encounters. This kid-oriented Halloween event also offers arts and crafts, face painting and the opportunity to watch zoo critters gobble down Halloween food. Don't be afraid to dress the part: costumes are encouraged.
Hansel and Gretel's Halloween Adventure
The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
Created specifically for Central Park's Marionette Theatre, Hansel and Gretel's Halloween Adventure begins with the children safe at home. They have vivid dreams—with Belvedere Castle and the park in starring roles—that set the scene for an NYC Halloween adventure in which the duo encounter mermaids, monsters, pirates and vampires.
Halloween Murder Mystery
Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
Budding detectives will love this murder mystery event, loosely based on actual historical events. An unidentified skeleton has been found at the Mount Vernon Hotel. As you explore the museum by candlelight, find clues to help you solve the case. This event is recommended for children 8 and older, and adults will have loads of fun, too.
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade
Tompkins Square Park
The always-adorable Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade returns to the East Village for its 25th annual installment. Dog owners go all out to dress up their canine friends, often choosing timely and humorous costumes. In the past, dogs have been almost everything imaginable: iPhones, MTA buses, hot dog vendors, Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards (ridden by a “twerking” Miley Cyrus doll). And owners often join in on the fun, dressing to match their four-legged companions. Prizes are awarded, so expect to see the best of the best at this beloved event.
Brookfield Place Halloween Party
Brookfield Place Winter Garden
Come in your Halloween best to this free, family-friendly spookfest in Lower Manhattan. Strut down the Costume Catwalk, hear live music from the Deedle Deedle Dees, listen to stories, take part in hands-on activities, see magic tricks and go trick-or-treating.
American Museum of Natural History
The museum's halls are open from 2pm until 5pm for trick-or-treating, crafts, live performances and cartoon encounters. Characters such as Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog will be on hand, along with performers from the Big Apple Circus.
The Amazing Maize Maze
Queens County Farm Museum
September 19–October 25 (weekends)
One of New York's hidden treasures, the Queens County Farm Museum is the five boroughs' only honest-to-goodness working farm—a welcome refuge of agrarian bliss tucked away in our vast metropolis. The farm's annual Amazing Maize Maze finds kids of all ages making their way through a three-acre cornstalk labyrinth. (It's like The Shining, but dread-free!) Kids can also pick pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch.
Halloween Harvest Festival
Socrates Sculpture Park
Outdoor arts space Socrates Sculpture Park hosts its seasonal artistic celebration. Prep for Halloween by crafting a costume alongside the park's artists, listen to music and enjoy seasonal foods from local restaurants. Face painting and a canine costume contest are also on the agenda.
Halloween Haunted House
Queens County Farm Museum
Once you've tackled the Amazing Maize Maze, you may be ready for the weekend-long haunted house at Queens County Farm Museum. Venture inside for some family-friendly scares and surprises. Kids ages 6–12 will love it, and adults will enjoy it too! Hayrides, treats, pumpkins and cider will also be available for purchase.
Boo at the Zoo
October 31–November 1
Head to the 11-acre Queens Zoo in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for a weekend full of fun and spooky events. Families can enjoy trick-or-treating and making crafts, while watching pumas and bears tear into treat-filled pumpkins. And, for those who dare, take an adventurous walk through a haunted habitat in the zoo's Wild Room.
Conference House Museum
The Conference House Association invites you to Staten Island for its Halloween Extravaganza, featuring a costume parade, magician, haunted kitchen, hayrides and face painting.
Halloween in Richmond Town
Historic Richmond Town
Add some period style to Halloween at Historic Richmond Town. The usual fun—crafts, games, costumes and some friendly ghouls and ghosts—is in store, in the confines of a colonial village that preserves hundreds of years of early American history. Reservations are required: call 718-351-1611 ext. 281. Kids can also pick pumpkins at Decker Farm on Saturdays and Sundays throughout October.