Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house might be just the right kind of boo for you.
Haunted houses have long been a popular suburban Halloween staple—Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey are rife with them. And while NYC has gained several spooky haunted houses of its own like Blood Manor and Nightmare New York, those were for grown-ups only. However, there are a handful of haunted houses in New York City that offer gentler Halloween chills for families.
You're sure to find spooky family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and fall fair, but we're skipping those to tell you about seven of the city's more elaborate kid-friendly haunted houses this year. Read on for the scoop—and heed the age warnings! While grade-school kids can attend most of these, not all are suitable for preschoolers. (Check out our Halloween Fun Guide for even more seasonal fun.)
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Jack O'Lantern Illumination–Creatures of the Night — the Bronx
Weekends October 3-November 1 plus Columbus Day, 11am-5pm
Free with Total Experience Ticket: $33.95 for adults, $23.95 for children ages 3-12 but save by buying in advance online
Part of the zoo's Boo at the Zoo festivities, this 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. It was created by the same folks behind Long Island's awesome Rise of the Jack 'O Lanterns. Afterward, families can enjoy more Halloween-themed fun including live theater, music, magic and puppet performances, a hay maze, trick-or-treating and costume parades.
Frida for Families: A Spooky Nighttime Adventure — the Bronx
Friday, October 23, 6:30-9:30pm
Celebrate Día de los Muertos and the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden with a visit after dark. Follow the trick-or-treat trail, listen in to a not-too-scary ghost story and explore the giant pumpkin displays. Timed entries are set for 6:30 and 7:15.
Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel — Downtown Brooklyn
Thursday, October 22-Saturday, October 24; Thursday, October 29-Saturday, October 31, times vary. Visit the website for the complete schedule.
Ages 8 and up
The students and faculty of Theatreworks, City Tech College's department of entertainment technology, built this spooky haunted "hotel" that takes its inspiration from the animatronic houses you see at amusement parks.
Halloween Haunted House — Floral Park
Saturday, October 24-Sunday, October 25, 4-7pm
You never know what you'll find—or what will find you—in the Queens County Farm Museum'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 25, the family can also enjoy the ride- and activity-filled Children's Fall Festival from 11am to 4pm for an additional $5.
Halloween Haunted Walk — Prospect Park
Saturday, October 24, noon-3pm
Head to Lookout Hill in Prospect Park for this outdoor haunted hike where you'll be visited by zombies, wolf men, headless horsemen, good and bad witches and other creepy characters. Afterward, hit the Nethermead for an all-ages Halloween-themed carnival with games, treats and other fun.
Spooky Barn — Prospect Park Zoo
Saturday, October 24-Sunday, October 25 11am-5pm
450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn
Free with admission: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12
Part of the zoo's Boo at the Zoo weekend, the Spooky Barn is teeming with not-too-scary creatures. Afterward, stick around for other Halloween fun like wildlife shows, pumpkins for baboons and roaming costumed characters. Kids can show off their outfit in a costume parade and burn off that Halloween candy rush at the zoo's dance party!
American Museum of Natural History Halloween Celebration — Upper West Side
Saturday, October 31 2-5pm
Expect to be greeted at this annual Halloween party by very non-scary characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George and Peter Rabbit. The AMNH's annual party is really anything but scary, but you could argue that the eerie halls of the Natural History museum are like a haunted house all year round! Families hit this hot tot spot for the crafts, candy, live music and costumed characters.
Top photo of the Bronx Zoo's "Boo at the Zoo" by Julie Larsen Maher, courtesy the Wildlife Conservation Society.
This post was originally published in October 2010.