Our Top 11 Picks for Free Fall Events, Halloween Options, and Weekend Getaways for NYC Families

Nothing says Autumn like Harvest Fests, unless you mention apple picking, pumpkin patches, and Halloween! Curious G has explored a spectrum of options for Fall fun, and I present to you a list of her favorite events and venues. We are talking about the best free events throughout the city, the best apple picking, the best Halloween events, the best Fall art, and some other frightfully good fun!


Read on to find out what they are, and start planning your weekends now!


Free Events Around Town


Elizabeth Street Garden Harvest Fest

We love this garden in Nolita! We have featured it in so many of our lists and in this post. Last year, we attended the Harvest Fest and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. There was food, face-painting (G was basically transformed into an extra from The Lion King after she requested a giraffe), arts and crafts, games, and performances. This year, the event will take place on October 26th from noon – 4:00 pm. You can roll this event into a visit to #11 on our best playgrounds list, a.k.a. DiSalvio's Playground.


Pumpkin Point on Governor’s Island

Pumpkin Point takes place on October 19th, 20th, 26th, and 27th this year from 10:00 am -6:00 pm. It is free to attend. A large selection of pumpkins will be available for purchase, free arts and crafts activities will be led by the Children’s Museum of the Arts, and snacks and drinks by local vendors will be on-site. The kids can even trick-or-treat on October 26th! We went last year on one of the windiest days of the year, but Curious G and her buddies had a blast. We also had the chance to check out the Audubon House, and a “haunted house” while we were there. If you haven’t been to Governor’s Island yet, this is a great time to go. Check out our IG highlight reel from our last visit there.


Jefferson Market Garden Harvest Fest

This free Harvest Fest takes place this year on October 19th from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. You will find games, food, and more fall-themed activities for kids. We went two years ago with friends, and everybody walked around with a perma-grin because it was just so adorable. We also walked across the street to Rosemary’s for lunch (get the burger, it’s amazing), then returned to the fest after lunch for more fun.


This is the G-rated section of East 67th Street Halloween display

Mini Horror Vignettes throughout the city

Every neighborhood has them—some have multiples! I am talking about those Halloween decorations that give you nightmares! The scene on East 67th Street between Madison and 5th Avenues was like a vaccine for Curious G last year. After witnessing the gore on East 67th Street, she decided that no décor was too scary for her. We unknowingly walked past this full-on fright fest last year on our way home from Central Park, and while she screamed and cried, she could not look away. She even asked to return a few times after her initial accidental viewing. If you are into gore and have a high tolerance for creepiness, go check out this display. You won’t be disappointed.

Tell us about your best local Halloween displays in the comments below!



More Fall than a PSL

Nature Walks in Central Park

We started this nature walk tradition when Curious G started preschool, and was tasked with bringing in fall foliage to share with the class. What better place is there, to collect fallen autumn leaves, than Central Park? They are everywhere! If you want specific spots, please leave a comment below or email me at curiousgandme@gmail.com. I will tell you our favorite spots!



What We Did Last Year for Halloween (both FREE)


Trick-or-treating in Grand Central

Grand Central may be one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City, and it is quite a trip to stroll under its Constellation-bedecked ceilings amongst Halloween costume-clad kids wielding bags of candy. We went trick-or-treating here last year and had a blast. A lunch at Shake Shack in the basement food hall capped off the candy-grubbing. This year, you can trick-or-treat in Grand Central on October 27th from noon – 3:00 pm.


NYU Annual Children’s Halloween Parade at Washington Square Park

This event starts at 3:00 pm, when kids march from Washington Square Park to LaGuardia Place, where the party begins. This party unfolds into a festival complete with performances, bouncy castles, games, candy, and more!



Get Out of Town


Apple-picking

We love Terhune Orchards for apple-picking. The apple harvest is bountiful, and the kids’ activities are just as plentiful. We love the pony rides, pumpkin painting, pumpkin patch, barnyard games, hay bale maze, corn maze, hay rides, and apple cider doughnuts! We have never partook in one of their wine tastings, but this may be the year to finally do it!


Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center has been a Fall family tradition for us since Curious G was about 1.5 years old. With acres and acres to roam (and a few fine slopes to roll down) it’s a perfect playground for energetic kids. The beautiful golden colors of fall only enhance the large scale art throughout the park. Storm King is about 1.5-hour drive from the city, in upstate New York, and is worth the trip! Admission is $18 for adults and $8 for kids ages 5 and up.


The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The trip to see The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is worth it every year. You can drive there in about an hour, or take Metro North. Countless pumpkins are carved and lit, then constructed into amusing displays that will dazzle and delight the whole family. At least, it did that for us. See why here.


Field Station Dinosaurs

If your kids like dinosaurs, this place is a must! It is as close to Jurassic Park in the tri-state area as you are going to get. Click here for more photos and details from our last visit to Field Station Dinosaurs.


Like what you see here? Follow along on our adventures on Instagram!

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