Halloween can be so much more than just one predictable candy-coated night. Consider an adrenaline-pumping jaunt to Queens County Farm or the Bronx Zoo, or outside NYC to places like Sleepy Hollow, Sag Harbor and Providence. Peruse offMetro’s Halloween activity guide for loads of creepy, car-free ways that kids and adults can celebrate the holiday throughout the month of October and beyond.
What: Boo at the Zoo
Where: The Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY.
Why: Boo at the Zoo is an annual extravaganza, complete with a haunted safari, an animal-themed magic show, costume parade, hay maze, craft workshops and treat stations to sweeten the deal. This event has a low- to- no fear factor, making it perfect for even the tiniest trick-or-treaters.
When: October 4-November 6
How to get there: #2 or #5 train to East Tremont Ave/West Farms Square. At street level, walk straight ahead (follow train uptown) on Boston Road 2 1?2 blocks to the Zoo’s Asia Gate entrance (Gate A).
What: The Haunted Pumpkin Garden
Where: New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY
Why: Pumpkins sculptured into spooky scarecrows, frightening spiders and sneaky snakes await you. Kids of all ages are encouraged to wear costumes for a daily parade through the Adventure Garden. A variety of special events are scheduled, such as Pumpkin Carving and a Spooky Nighttime Adventure, where kids trick-or-treat along the garden’s paths.
When: Weekends through October 31
How to get there: Take the Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station. Walk across Kazimiroff Boulevard to the Garden’s Mosholu Gate entrance. By subway, take the B, D, or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd Station. From the station exit, take the Bx 26 bus east to the Garden’s Mosholu Gate entrance. Or walk eight blocks down the hill on Bedford Park Blvd to the end (approximately 20 minutes). Turn left onto Kazimiroff Blvd and walk one block to the Mosholu Gate entrance.
What: Spend an afternoon celebrating Halloween on a real farm, without leaving the city limits.
Where: Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park
Why: If you have never visited this working farm in Queens, October is a good time to do so. Pick your own pumpkin as you wander through the pumpkin patch searching for the perfect jack-o-lantern. Get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze, a challenging three-acre interactive corn maze.
When: The Pumpkin Patch and Maze are running Saturdays and Sundays through October 26, and the Haunted House is open October 24-26, 4-7pm. During the annual Children’s Fall Festival on October 26, kids are invited to wear their costumes and get spooked in the Haunted House, partake in traditional games, ride a pony and romp in the petting zoo.
How to get there: E or F Train to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike Station then the Q46 Bus (eastbound on Union Tpk.) to Little Neck Parkway Stop. Cross Union Turnpike and walk North on Little Neck Parkway three blocks to the museum entrance. More information about the farm can be found at queensfarm.org.
What: Old Home Day
Where: Historic Richmond Town, 441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island
Why: Celebrate fall the old-fashioned way. Watch costumed demonstrators partaking in traditional handcrafts such as weaving and bread baking. Pick a pumpkin, bob for apples and go for a hayride as you stroll through America’s past and enjoy tried- and- true Halloween activities.
When: October 19, 10-5pm
How to get there: From the Staten Island Ferry Terminal take the S74 bus to Richmond Road and St. Patrick’s Place stop.
What: Horseman’s Hollow
Where: Philipsburg Manor, 381, N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY
Why: What time of year could be more fitting to relive the Tale of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow than Halloween? The stunningly spooky grounds of this historic mansion will be transformed into a terrifying landscape where witches, ghosts, vampires and the guest of honor, the headless horseman himself, will lurk behind every shadow. You will walk the haunted trail, where state-of-the-art special effects and professional actors should give you the fright of your life. The fear factor is high, so this may not be appropriate for very young children. Tweens and teens should love it. Admission is by timed ticket, so reserve early for this crowd-pleaser.
When: October 4-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, 31 and Nov. 1
How to get there: Metro-North’s Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to Tarrytown (36 minutes from Manhattan) where cabs wait to meet trains. The cab ride to Philipsburg Manor is approximately 5 minutes.
What: Irving’s ‘Legend’
Where: Old Dutch Church, 430 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY
Why: Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers his captivating and dramatic performance of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, complete with live organ music that boosts up the spook factor just enough, while never being truly frightening. The show lasts only 45-minutes, the prefect length for fidgety kids. The church is a just few steps from Philipsburg Manor, so you can easily combine it with a visit to Horseman’s Hollow. Performances are at 5, 6 and 7 p.m., and you will need to purchase tickets in advance.
When: Oct. 4-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, 31 and Nov. 1
How to get there: Metro-North’s Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to Tarrytown (36 minutes from Manhattan) where cabs wait to meet trains. The cab ride to the Old Dutch Church is approximately 5 minutes. Visit Irving’s home Sunnyside while in town.
What: The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Where: Van Cortlandt Manor, 525 South Riverside Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Why: It’s not every day that you see over 5,000 hand-carved and illuminated jack o’ lanterns in an 18th century riverside setting. Blaze is an extravagant display of artistry that should please the entire gang, big and small. All admissions are by timed ticket only, advance purchase required. This is a popular evening event, so buy your tickets early.
When: Oct. 4-5, 10-13, 16-19, 23-31 and Nov. 1-2, 6-9, 14-16
How to get there: Metro North train to Croton-Harmon station, where cabs wait to meet each train. Van Cortlandt Manor is a five-minute cab ride or 10-minute walk away (the walk is not too pedestrian friendly).
What: Halloween Harvest
Where: Luna Park, 1000 Surf Avenue, Coney Island
Why: Combine the excitement of heart stopping rides with trick-or-treating and you will understand that an evening here is not for the faint hearted. The extreme thrills and chills and pumpkin carving activities are perfect for families.
When: Weekends in October
How to get there: Q & F to West 8th Street Station ?D, F, N & Q to the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station
What: Fright Fest
Where: Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ
Why: Explore the scores of rides in eleven themed areas, including four that cater to small children. When the clock strikes 5:30 p.m., the park transforms into a festive and creepy wonderland. Park employees dress up as ghosts, ghouls and goblins, emerging from shadows and lurking in spider-webbed covered corners, trying to scare the living daylights out of you. These creatures can be truly frightening, so young guests are given “ghoul repellant,” a festive whistle that they can blow to stop scary beasts in their tracks. Don’t miss the crowd pleasing Dead Man’s Party, which features 10 dancing zombies, and the equally entertaining The Ghoulmaster’s Ghosts, a haunted dance party and tribute to Michael Jackson. This event is generally packed, so be prepared to wait on long lines.
When: Weekends, September 20-November 2
How to get there: NJ TRANSIT offers express bus service to the park from Port Authority.
What: Haunted Walking Tour at the Sag Harbor “Wailing” Museum
Where: Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, 200 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY
Why: Bone-chilling tours attempt to bring back the lonely spirits that lurk within the museum’s venerable walls, so beware. Outside of the museum, go trick-or-treating and prowl the neighborhood by lantern (or just moonlight) once it gets dark.
When: Tickets are $20. Check the site for the updated 2014 dates.
How to get there: The Hampton Jitney’s Sag Harbor stop is a few blocks from the museum.
What: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular
Where: Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, Rhode Island
Why: You may think that Providence is a long way to go to see a bunch of pumpkins, but a spend an evening at the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular and you’ll understand why Providence is called the Creative Capitol. Those in the know consider this to be one of the most brilliant displays of holiday artistry anywhere in the U.S. Experience the glow of thousands of carved jack-o-lanterns, with painstaking attention to detail and amazing intricacy, set in a magical display during this nighttime spectacular.
When: 6pm – 11pm, through November 2 (Friday-Sunday, $12/adults, $9/children)
How to get there: Megabus to Providence. To get to the Zoo, take RIPTA’s Route 6 Prairie Ave/Roger Williams Park Zoo trolley.
Photo: Bryan Haeffele for Historic Hudson Valley
Allison is a native New Yorker, who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto and Los Angeles. She frequently contributes travel pieces to Family Travel Forum, using her own children as guinea pigs as they travel the globe. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. Her background as an Early Childhood Educator gives her an added understanding of what it takes to travel with kids in tow. She firmly believes that the most important part of education takes place outside of the classroom, on the road, around the world. She never misses a chance to sample local delicacies, as her love for travel goes hand-in-hand with her love for food and wine. Follow Allison at @gourmetrav.