Haunted Houses for NYC Kids: 7 Not-too-scary Halloween Installations for Families
Haunted houses have long been a popular suburban Halloween staple—Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey are rife with them. But over the past decade, NYC has gotten a handful of immersive haunted houses of its own like Blood Manor, Nightmare New York and Blackout—the scary thing is, they're all geared toward grown-ups and don't even allow kids. However, there are a handful of not-so-spooky haunted houses in New York City that offer gentle Halloween chills for families.
While you're sure to find spooky family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and school fall fair, we're skipping those and focusing on more elaborate haunted houses that sound like memorable experiences. Read on for the scoop on the top seven Halloween haunted houses for NYC kids... if you dare! And check out our Halloween Fun Guide for even more seasonal fun.
Jack O ‘Lantern Illumination–Creatures of the Night – Bronx
Weekends October 4-November 2 plus Columbus Day and Halloween 11am-5pm
The Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Boulevard
Free with Total Experience Ticket: In advance: $33.95 for adults, $23.95 for children ages 3-12 but save $5 if you buy in advance online
Part of the zoo's Boo at the Zoo festivities, this brand-new installation features a dark but not-too-creepy tunnel filled with more than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins sculpted into bats, reptiles, nocturnal birds, bugs and mythical creatures. We have high hopes for it since it was created by the same folks behind Long Island's awesome Rise of the Jack 'O Lanterns attraction. Afterward, families can enjoy more Halloween-themed fun including Dinosaur Safari rides; live theater, music, magic and puppet performances; a hay maze; trick-or-treating and costume parades.
Haunted Pumpkin Garden Spooky Nighttime Adventures – Bronx
Saturday, October 18; Friday, October 24; Saturday, October 25 and Friday, October 31 6:30-8:30pm
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard
Grab a flashlight so you can explore the NYBG's Haunted Pumpkin Garden after dark, making it a sort of outdoor haunted house. Listen for critters of the night, sit in on a spooky ghost story, pose for a pic with skeletons and costumed characters, and decorate a pumpkin to take home. There will be plenty of edible treats, too. Advance timed tickets are required.
Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel – Downtown Brooklyn
Thursday, October 23-Saturday, October 25; Thursday, October 30-Saturday, November 1 times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Voorhees Theatre, 186 Jay Street near Bridge Plaza Court
Ages 8 and up
This spooky haunted house is built by the students and faculty of Theatreworks, City Tech College's department of entertainment technology. Think the type of animatronic houses you see at amusement parks.
Halloween Haunted House – Floral Park
Friday, October 24-Sunday, October 26 4-7pm
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway
You never know what you'll find—or what will find you—in the farm’s not-too-scary haunted house. Afterward, go for a hayride, down some cider, buy your pumpkins and apples, and navigate the Amazing Maize Maze for an extra fee. If you go on Sunday, October 26, you can also hit the ride- and activity-filled Children's Fall Festival from 11am to 4pm for an additional $5.
Halloween Haunted Walk – Prospect Park
Saturday, October 25 noon-3pm
Another alfresco haunted hike. Head to Lookout Hill, which will be filled with zombies, wolf men, headless horsemen, good and bad witches, and other creepy characters. Afterward, hit the Nethermead for a Halloween-themed carnival with games, treats and other fun.
Prospect Park Zoo's Spooky Barn – Prospect Park
Saturday, Oct 25-Sunday, October 26 noon-3:30pm
450 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Park
Free with admission: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12
Part of the zoo's Boo at the Zoo weekend, the barn is teeming with not-too-scary creatures. Afterward, stick around for other Halloween fun like wildlife witch shows, pumpkins for baboons and roaming costumed characters.
American Museum of Natural History – Upper West Side
Friday, October 31 4-7pm
Central Park West at 79th Street
The AMNH's annual party is really anything but scary, unless seeing your kids hopped up on sugar is your greatest fear. Families hit the tot spot for crafts, candy, live music and costumed characters. Still, you could argue that the eerie halls of the AMNH are like a haunted house all year round.
What about New York City's year-round haunted attraction Times Scare on Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street? Honestly, we've never visited (though we have been by and seen the dude in bad KISS makeup trying to get people to go in). Though the FAQ says it's open to all ages, the recommendation is 10 and up. So while it may be less terrifying than the aforementioned Blood Manor, Nightmare and the 18-and-over Blackout, it's probably wise to stay steer clear of it until your kids are teens.
As for the annual kid-friendly Inwood Hill Haunted House and Forest, unfortunately, it's not happening in 2014.
Photo credit: Flikr, Melissa Clark.
This post was originally published in October 2010.