Updated: Oct 1, 2019
It’s October, one of the most magical times to be in New York City. There are so many Fall activities to do. It can actually be overwhelming. Since part of my job is to know all the awesomeness happening in the city, I wanted to share some of my favorite Fall activities so you can plan ahead.
Yes, my friends, there is indeed a farm in NYC. It may be a bit of public transportation trek, but these 46 acres of farmland which date back to 1750 are totally worth it! This is especially true during the Halloween season when the Queens County Farm has everything from tractor rides, to a pumpkin patch, to a haunted farm house! Here is a complete list of events at the Queens Country Farm. The event on this list that I am the most excited about is the MAZE BY MOONLIGHT. Twice each October, they open up the Amazing Maize Maze after the sun sets. You and your friends can attempt to conquer this 3 acre labyrinth of corn using only the light of the moon! Bring a flashlight! This year the MAZE BY MOONLIGHT event will take place October 12th and 19th, 4:30pm-9 pm.
RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns takes place on Governors Island, providing New Yorkers with fabulous Halloween fun. They use real pumpkins. Thousands of real pumpkins. All of these pumpkins are carved in fantastical ways, often grouped into themed sections such as “Disney,” “Classic Hollywood Movies,” and “Sports Stars.” You walk along a candlelit trail as you admire the handicraft of the RISE pumpkin carvers. They also have a food court area, as well as pumpkin carving demonstrations. Adding to the fun, you also get to ride the Governors Island Ferry to and from the event.
Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place of everyone from toymaker F.A.O. Schwarz, to Composer Leonard Bernstein, to gang leader William “Bill the Butcher” Poole. When it was founded in 1839, most people were buried in church graveyards, not sprawling cemeteries with giants hills. It was built well before Central Park or Prospect Park opened. So, in addition to burying their dead here, New Yorkers would use Green-Wood Cemetery as a picnic location. In fact, by the 1860s Green-Wood Cemetery was drawing so many (living) visitors that it was second only to Niagara Falls as the most popular tourist attraction in America!
The 478 acres that currently make up Green-Wood, are home to some of the most exquisite outdoor statuary and mausoleums that exist, and are a history buff and bird watcher’s paradise! They are also home to some of the most unique events that take place in the five boroughs, especially during days approaching Halloween!
You can see their complete calendar of events here: https://www.green-wood.com/calendar/
Some events that look especially enticing to me are:
NIGHTFALL on October 25th and 26th.
Green-Wood Open Doors on October 6th.
Green-Wood night tour (every Friday and Saturday in October)
Green-Wood Cemetery also offers daily trolley tours, which I can say from experience are incredible! https://www.green-wood.com/historic-trolley-tours/
Ok, maybe there aren’t apple orchards in New York City, but there are plenty just outside of New York City! Harvest season is a great time to get out of the city for a few hours and become one with Nature while acquiring ample bounty for several apple pies! I’m sharing a marvelous article from The Thrillist listing the best places near NYC to go Apple picking!
This bar is actually open year-round, but since this cocktail bar advertises itself as an “immersive potions experience,” it is a natural Halloween stop! The experience is loosely based on science fiction books such as the Harry Potter series. You can sign up for a Potions class, where you brew potions with molecular mixology, and responsive magic wands in a cocktail master class.
As the oldest continually operating pub in NYC, you can imagine McSorley’s is home to a few ghosts. Patrons have claimed to have seen ghosts ranging from Harry Houdini (usually in the form of a cat) to members of the McSorley family. Here is a fun article from the New York Times outlining McSorley’s haunted history.
DAY OF THE DEAD
This is one of Mexico’s most important festivals where families gather to welcome the souls of the dead during their annual visit home. The celebration at St. Mark's on the Bowery goes all out, as does El Museo Del Bario.
HAUNTED HOUSE EXPERIENCES
Look, I’m a scaredy cat. I avoid these like the plague! However, paying money to be scared out of your wits might be totally your jam! In which case, I leave you in the able hands of Brian Murray Jr. and his article for bestproducts.com.
This house, dating back to 1832, has long-been considered NYC’s most haunted location. It originally belonged to the Treadwell family, and many believe that some members of the Treadwell family never actually left. Most notably, Gertrude Treadwell, who never married, lived in the house, until she died in 1933. Visitors claim to have sensed Gertrude in the form of cold spots in the building, inexplicable footsteps, and even piano recitals! You can say hello to Gertrude yourself by visiting the Merchant’s House year-round. In October, they go all out with their “Spirited October” events to get you even closer to the paranormal world of existing within the Merchant’s House.
Uptown Manhattan has its fair share of hauntings as well. The Morris-Jumel Mansion dates back to 1765, which means that, in addition to being able to boast that is has, at one time, housed George Washington, it also claims the title of oldest house in New York City. They also host public and private paranormal investigations to get you in touch with the ghostly realm.
If you love the Bronx Zoo, you will love it even more in October, when they have a mini hay maze, a pumpkin carving display, and Halloween Fun for the whole family!
The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is usually a peaceful respite from the city, but in October things get a little scary! They transform their landscape with carved gourds, scarecrows, and frightening Halloween activities for the whole family. If you want even more frights at the NYBG, check out Spooky Pumpkin Nights - where you will come face-to-face with skeletons and creatures that only come alive once the sun has set.