Best Places to Trick-or-Treat for New York City Kids
Due to Hurricane Sandy, many neighborhoods will probably opt not to host door-to-door trick-or-treating this year, especially areas that are still without power. We can't verify which neighborhoods will continue with the festivities. Our best advice: Stick close to home! Wish we had better info but the storm has really put a damper on the holiday.
While trick-or-treating in your building is great for adults because it feels so safe and convenient, it's nowhere near as exciting for kids as getting to run around the city streets at night going door-to-door. One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and freaks who marched through the neighborhood, so it felt more like a community affair. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was really friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.
Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids can still enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many other New York City neighborhoods. On Halloween, join one of the smaller kid-friendly Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families, or hit an area that's well known for doling out candy. This year we expanded our list by asking our readers where they go, and we got a slew of new spots to try! Note: because of Hurricane Sandy, most parades, including the big Greenwich Village one, have been canceled this year.
We do want to note: Because of the storm, we can't promise all the neighborhoods will participate the way they have in the past.
Upper West Side
For years there has been a huge party on 69th Street near Central Park West. In fact, it's gotten so popular that the block association has decided to stop distributing candy at 7pm in order to get the crowds to disperse. This is where many Upper West Side kids head for great door-to-door trick-or-treating so be prepared to battle the hordes. Update: A local resident just told us this event has been canceled due to lack of police to help with crowds.
One of our contributors who lives in the neighborhood said that 90th between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues is also a good bet, and a lot less busy.
Amy, one of our readers, recommends 87th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. "The whole block gets decked out, brownstone to brownstone!"
Reader Howard says, "79th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues is great. All the prewar buildings decorate their lobbies and hand out candy to kids. Really cool."
And Ani says that "95th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West is closed to traffic and all the brownstones are decked out and hand out candy. Lots of fun!"
Upper East Side
For four decades, 78th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues was the go-to block for Upper East Side trick-or-treating. But unfortunately, the family that organized it all those years moved away in 2011 so it's unclear whether their former neighbors will continue the tradition this year. If you're nearby, drop by and report back to us!
Alternatively, one of our readers, Amanda, recommends 95th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. "Lots of candy and the brownstone mansion on the corner even has gaslights!"
In recent years, Harlem has become a hotbed of Halloween activity. The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association sponsors trick-or-treating near Marcus Garvey Park. Beginning Sunday, October 28, families will be able to find a list of participating houses on the website. They'll all be between 119th to 124th streets from Fifth Avenue to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.
Astor Row, 130th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues, and Strivers' Row, 138th and 139th between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevards, are also good bets.
Harlem resident Jessica recommends Hamilton Terrace between 141st and 144th Streets. "The brownstones are all made up to look spooky. Last year, my family and I started around 147th Street and also visited some of the brownstone blocks between St. Nicholas and Convent Avenues and worked our way down. The kids had a lot of fun and it came closer than any other Halloween to feeling like trick-or-treating in the 'burbs."
Reader Pedro advises, "Hit Broadway between 168st and 181st Streets. High volume of all sorts of candy." Given the street, we're guessing it's mostly stores doling out sweets, not residents.
Reader Beth says nothing beats 217th Street between Park Terrace East and Park Terrace West. "The house on the corner of 217th Street and Park Terrace West sets up a not-too-scary haunted house in its garage, and a nearby home puts some kind of window covering with huge eyes in its attic window. And there are always resident standing on their stoops with bowls of candy waiting for trick-or-treaters." We've also heard that many of the stores on Dyckman Street give out treats.
From 3-6pm, you can hit the Greenwich Village Children's Halloween Parade and Party in Washington Square Park. This parade has been canceled due to the hurricane. Afterward, stay far from Sixth Avenue and the big Parade, (also canceled) and make your way further west to the West Village for the real neighborhood experience. We hear that the East Village is also great but don't know any specific blocks. If you have ever trick-or-treated in the neighborhood, please share your expertise!
No idea if this is going on since there's no power down here. This is a big one that we've done many times: Families gather in Clement Clarke Moore Park—known by locals as "Seal Park"—on Tenth Avenue at 22nd Street around 6pm, and then walk up and down the brownstone blocks around the General Theological Seminary. 21st and 22nd Streets between Ninth and Tenth Avenues are always jam-packed, but you'll also find houses giving out treats between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. It's a really memorable experience.
No idea if this is going on since there's no power down here. I typically don't like trick-or-treating in stores, but in Tribeca the businesses decorate to the hilt and throw open their doors to greet the kids. It's a nice scene and who can resist Japanese sweets from Nobu or homemade cookies from Bouley? The hot spots are Duane, Reade, Greenwich and Hudson Streets.
Lower East Side
No idea if this is going on since there's no power down here. One of our favorite NYC sweet shops, Economy Candy, usually hands out free treats on Halloween from 3-6pm. In fact, pretty much any candy, chocolate or dessert store is a good bet to hit on October 31, even though that's not necessarily an authentic door-to-door experience.
Brooklyn is home to an incredible number of kid-friendly Halloween parades. This year, there will be processions on Wednesday, October 31 in Park Slope, Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, West Midwood and Prospect Park South, after which kids trick-or-treat in the areas. Joining the parades is the best bet in terms of figuring out exactly which blocks to hit. All of these parades have been canceled except for Midwood, Cobble Hill and Williamsburg.
Reader Gabrielle recommends Fort Greene. "I would say anywhere around Clinton Avenue and Lafayette Avenue where the Halloween House is (the exact address is 313 Clinton Avenue). ApoCalypso2012 is this year's theme. I've seen a few of the headdresses and they are amazing!" In addition to candy, families will be treated to an original Halloween-themed show. The house hosts a new one every year!
A family organization in Bedford-Stuyvesant emailed us about the neighborhood's annual Halloween festivities. Families can print out a trick-or-treat map of participating houses, or just follow the orange balloons throughout the nabe. Begins at 4:30pm and ends promptly at 7:30pm. We confirmed this is definitely still happening.
Another reader recommendation from Melanie: "Smith Street is a great spot for businesses handing out candy, and all the streets between Court and Hoyt Streets, especially Dean and Warren Streets. Everyone hangs out on their stoops passing out candy... honestly all of Brooklyn is pretty good!"
Queens also has lots of great trick-or-treating spots. A few years back, our Queens maven, Leni, offered this tip: "Kew Gardens is a little hamlet tucked away from the main drag of Queens Boulevard, and a little east of the very popular Forest Hills. The intersection of Austin Street and Lefferts Boulevard is Queens’ best place to take kids of all ages to trick-or-treat. There are small stores up and down Lefferts that give out candy and even people walking the streets with bags of treats. The nearby apartment buildings from 83-33 Austin Street and down toward Hillside Avenue all open their doors to trick-or-treaters. These are great ideas for little ones who need to stay warm, or in case of rain."
Of course, families also flock to the super-popular Jackson Heights Halloween Parade, and then stick around to trick-or-treat in the neighborhood. This parade has been canceled.
Last year a reader told us that Flushing gets pretty busy. "166th Street between 45th and 46th Avenues gets 600 to 700 kids consistently every year. Everyone on the whole block typically sits in front of their houses dressed up and giving out candy."
The Morris Park section is surrounded by single-family houses. The homes on Morris Park and Hone Avenues always give out candy.
We also hear that the Pelham Bay area is great. People go all out with their decorations and dole out lots of candy.
The picturesque City Island has hosted a big Halloween Parade followed by trick-or-treating in the past. We're trying to confirm whether the procession is happening this year but regardless, we're sure that many families will be giving out candy from their porches. City Island was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy so we doubt there will be trick-or-treating this year.
Again, the isle was severely damaged. We doubt there will be much trick-or-treating. Every year readers complain that we don't recommend any places to trick-or-treat on Staten Island. That's because the borough is filled with neighborhoods featuring single-family homes, so there are just too many to list. Really, any part of NYC that has more houses than apartment buildings is a good bet for door-to-door trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Did we miss your favorite place to trick-or-treat in NYC? Share the info in the comments below! We're always looking to add to our list.
For more seasonal fun check out our Halloween Guide.