New York City is an embarrassment of riches this time of year. You and your kids can solve a murder mystery inside a haunted carriage house, join the world’s largest dog costume parade, gape at hundreds of hand-carved gourds, and trick-or-treat in one of NYC’s most hallowed halls. When there is so much to choose from, how do you know where you will get the best experience? That’s where we come in; our experts have selected their list of top children’s and family Halloween events in New York City. Open your calendar, read on, and get in touch with our experience advisers for any assistance in booking these awesome activities for your family.
Boo at the Zoo
Don your costumes and head to the Bronx Zoo for an annual celebration that is not to be missed. Along with the usual festivities, including the Extinct Animal Graveyard, live pumpkin carving, a trip on the “candy trail,” a lively costume parade, bird shows, craft making, magic, and mind reading, families can enjoy an interactive hayride through a corn maze and a haunted forest walk, complete with appearances from live vultures and bats.
2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx
Weekends through Sunday, October 29
$36.95; $31.95 for seniors; $26.95 for children ages 3-12; free for children under 2
Halloween Murder Mystery
The circa-1800 Mount Vernon Hotel, Museum & Garden lets families travel through time to explore the estate by candlelight as they solve a spooky murder mystery (loosely based on a newspaper account of an unidentified skeleton discovered inside the hotel). Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and track down clues to crack the case: Who was killed? Who killed him? And why? Solve the mystery solo or with a group, but either way, you’ve got one hour and a lot of nooks and crannies to ponder.
Mount Vernon Hotel, Museum & Garden
421 East 61st Street (between First and York Avenues), Upper East Side
Saturday, October 21; Friday, October 27; Saturday, October 28, 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
$25; $15 for children under 12
Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade
Dress up your doggie friends for this one! The 26th edition of the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade boasts hundreds of dogs dressed up in original and outlandish costumes to usher in Halloween. Last year, we spotted pups decked out as Prince, Eleven from Stranger Things, and characters from Game of Thrones. The celebration kicks off with the dogs strutting their stuff in a costume contest, followed by a parade featuring all the contestants.
Tompkins Square Park
500 East 9th Street, East Village
Saturday, October 21
$5 suggested donation to march
Night of 1,000 Jack O’Lanterns
If you missed your shot at scoring tickets to the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, you’re in luck! Take the ferry to Governors Island to marvel at a thousand illuminated, meticulously carved pumpkins winding along the historic path, not to be outdone by the dramatic NYC skyline and Statue of Liberty across the harbor. Advance tickets are a must.
Thursday, October 26–Sunday, October 29
$24; $20 for seniors and children ages 3–12; free for children under 2
Day of the Dead
While some people refer to Dia de los Muertos as Mexican Halloween, it is actually a festive day of remembrance that can be a joyful and multicultural complement to your Halloween experience. The not-for-profit Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders always throws a three-day fiesta, with live performances, ethnic food, a marketplace, and sugar-skull and paper flower–making workshops. Children are invited to decorate an altar with trinkets and photos to honor their deceased loved ones.
St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery
East 11th Street and Second Avenue, East Village
Friday, October 27–Sunday, October 29
Ghouls & Gourds
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual Ghouls & Gourds is a perennial Halloween favorite for NYC kids and families. The art- and nature-filled celebration includes live music; an insect petting zoo; one-of-a-kind Japanese wooden toys; arts and crafts; local authors and illustrators reading from their recent works; and the Vegetable Midway, where you can play games with produce—anybody up for a game of Rutabaga Skee-Ball? The party culminates with a costume parade and drum circle.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
990 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights
Saturday, October 28
$20 for adults; $15 for students 12-plus and seniors
Halloween Celebration at AMNH
We can’t think of anything cooler than trick-or-treating throughout the hallowed halls of the American Museum of Natural History. The Saturday before the holiday, the beloved institution opens its doors to costumed kids to give them the only-in-NYC experience of canvassing for candy in 30 of the museum’s most beloved rooms. Arts and crafts, balloon artists, live music, stilt walkers, and roaming cartoon characters round out the fun. Advance tickets required.
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West and West 79th Street, Upper West Side
Saturday, October 28