Halloween

Halloween Adventures at PA and South Jersey Amusement Parks

Summertime visits to an amusement park often mean dealing with long lines and hot weather. Fortunately, many parks around the Philadelphia area are extending the season into the cooler fall months with Halloween-themed attractions. This can be a fantastic off-peak day trip for thrill-seeking families looking to enjoy a Halloween experience beyond the local parades and festivals. Several of the theme parks have kid-friendly attractions during the day, then transform into frightening tween-and-above entertainment zones at night. There are often trick-or-treat opportunities and costume contests, so children (and even some adults) can gather candy goodies and show off their Halloween disguises. If your family is seeking some over-the-top Halloween fun ranging anywhere from silly to downright scary, check our list of amusement parks sure to provide excitement.  

Cool Pumpkin Displays, Decorating, and Carving Events in NJ

Are the kids already preparing for Halloween, with visions of candy, costumes, and pumpkins dancing in their heads? Well, kick off the season in New Jersey with one of the many wonderful pumpkin-themed events coming up, everything from elaborate pumpkin exhibits to carving competitions to good old-fashioned pumpkin picking and decorating.

Read on for our top picks, including a special newcomer to the scene, and find more seasonal events in the Mommy Poppins Fall Fun Guide for NJ Families.

Pumpkins and Scarecrows Invade New York Botanical Garden

Come autumn even urbanites seem to crave seasonal harvest displays more often found at the pick-your-own farms just outside NYC's borders. Lucky for us, there are amazing fall fests right here in the city and even a corn maze for those who really want that farm experience. Now we can add the just-opened fall and Halloween-themed outdoor displays at New York Botanical Garden to our list of the best seasonal happening around NYC. 

My family always heads to the Botanical Garden in the Bronx for its annual exhibit of pumpkins and gourds, so we were excited to see this year's brand-new programming. Titled Pumpkins: Playful & Plentiful, there are gourds galore, plus seasonal activities and events for kids in the Everett Children's Adventure Garden, a guaranteed hit for families with small children. And though my now-teenage(!) son has outgrown the Children's Garden, he did perk up a bit when I mentioned NYBG's other new exhibit, Scarecrows: From the Heartland to Horror, a trail of spooky and original sculptures that is not recommended for young kids.

We just visited and have the scoop on what to expect at this year's fall festivities at the New York Botanical Garden, so read on for more details.

A Visit to Pumpkintown U.S.A.

If you’re looking for a destination that celebrates autumn, grants pumpkins celebrity status, and leaves out the scary stuff, set your GPS location to Pumpkintown U.S.A., located less than 30 minutes southeast of Hartford. Here you can sit and chat with Barack and Michelle Gourdama, watch Arnold Squashernager flex his muscles, or crash the wedding of Tanya Turnip and Willie Joe Beet. They are but a few of the adorable pumpkinheads that will welcome thousands of visitors from now until the end of October. If you have children under age 10, Pumpkintown is a "must see" this fall, and be sure to browse our Connecticut Fall Guide for more fun ideas. 

Hudson Valley's Best Halloween Celebrations for Kids

The Hudson Valley is the setting for many a scary Halloween happening—parents be warned! There's traditional fall fun like pumpkin picking, fall festivals, and corn mazes, but the area celebrates Halloween in a big way with attractions for all ages (and all levels of bravery). Even if you don't live in the Hudson Valley, these are totally worth the schlep and blowing the kids' bedtimes—at least once.

While the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze is perhaps the top Halloween event in the area, there are other cool happenings just next door: the haunted attraction Horseman’s Hollow, a live retelling of Irving's Legend ,and the little-kid-friendly Legend Behind the Legend. Head a little further north to Somers to check out the Halloween Train Show at Lasdon Park, and put the Wappingers Falls and Nyack parades on your calendar. 

Our best advice: Start planning now. Nearly all require advance tickets and most sell out. 

Pumpkin Patches Near NYC Where Kids Can Pick Their Own

We can't deny it any longer: The Halloween season is upon us! And what's All Hallows' Eve without the perfect pumpkin? Sure you can grab one from the local farmers' market, grocery store, or one of the few pumpkin patches right here in New York City in a pinch. But for a more immersive experience, head to the country to pick your own pumpkin this fall. Many of these farms and orchards offer additional activities for kids, including hayrides, bouncy houses, corn mazes, and apple picking, so you can extend your hunt into a family day trip.

Like our recent profile of nearby pick-your-own-apple orchards, these 10 pumpkin patches are all about an hour from Midtown Manhattan by car. We even found a few reachable via public transportation.

All A-Boo! Halloween and Fall Train Rides for New Jersey Kids

Halloween and hayrides go hand in hand, but have your kids ever heard of a "Halloween train"? If you have a junior train conductor in your family, don't miss out on one of these four seasonal NJ railway adventures. Take a seat in a vintage caboose, travel through gorgeous fall foliage, pick pumpkins to bring home, and even trick-or-treat onboard. After the ride, round out the day with autumn activities, from corn mazes to crafts to spooky scarecrows.

Check out our NJ Fall Fun Guide for even more seasonal family fun around the state, and find more cool fall train rides just over the border in Pennsylvania, from a haunted ride to preschooler-friendly Day Out with Thomas.

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