Boo at the Zoo

Boo at the Zoo (photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher)

Many New Yorkers (and tourist brochures) make a case for visiting NYC year round, but there is little doubt about the glories of a fall visit. October is a particularly delightful time of year for family travel, with Halloween festivities around the city.

The Bronx Zoo goes all out, with Boo at the Zoo festivities on five weekends. Activities include a Haunted Habitat Mansion, Creepy Hollows Hayride, costume parade, music, magic, and pumpkin carving demonstrations. And you can get more mileage out of your costume: children 12 and under wearing a Halloween costume get free general admission with one paid adult general admission.

Prospect Park Halloween 3

Prospect Park Halloween Haunted Walk

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden in the New York Botanical Garden, also in the Bronx, runs for over a month. The garden is filled with over 500 spookily carved pumpkins. Look for scarecrows, spiders, snakes, and bats.

If you are ambitious, you can go to both of these Bronx attractions in one day, but when my kids were younger, we had to choose just one.

The free Pumpkin Fest at Central Park, on October 26, includes a Haunted House at Bethesda Fountain, a Pumpkin Patch, Pumpkin Decorating and live Quidditch matches. 11 am – 3 pm.

Central Park Pumpkin Fest

Central Park Pumpkin Fest

Downtown, Haunted Highline Halloween, at the exact same time, offers free trick-or-treating a haunted tunnel, a photo with a giant ghost train, and art, music, ghosts and ghouls.

Brooklyn’s family friendly attractions also offer a weekend of fun October 26 and 27.

On Saturday, the annual Halloween Haunted Walk and Halloween Carnival are from noon – 3pm in Prospect Park. Get here early so you can see the zombies, wolf men, headless horsemen, witches, and more. Free, with a $1 suggested donation. Then head to the adjacent carnival for games, pony rides and face painting.

Also in the park the carousel is transformed into the Haunted Carousel, all weekend. There is spooky music and creepy decorations. $2 per ride – and if your child is too young to ride alone, adults have to pay as well. Noon – 5pm.

The park’s Audubon Center also offers a weekend of Creepy Crawly Halloween, focusing on spiders and worms. Free, noon – 5pm.