Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house or slightly spooky Halloween trail just might be the right kind of boo for you.
Haunted houses long have been a popular suburban Halloween staple—Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, and New Jersey are rife with them. And while NYC has gained several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, those are 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 the best of the city's more elaborate and kid-friendly haunted houses and other spooky attractions for kids 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.
Sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.
The Bronx Zoo includes a spooky, jack-o-lantern filled tunnel to crawl through during its "Boo at the Zoo." Photo by Sonia Gonzalez.
Jack O'Lantern Creatures — the Bronx
Weekends through October 31
Part of the Bronx 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 folks behind Long Island's awesome Rise of the Jack 'O Lanterns. Afterward, families can enjoy more Halloween-themed fun, including keeper chats with scary animals, live theater, music, magic, a hay maze, trick-or-treating, and costume parades. Included in a Total Experience Ticket.
Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel — Downtown Brooklyn
Thursday, October 20-Saturday, October 22; Thursday, October 27-Monday, October 31
Ages 8 and older
The students and faculty of Theatreworks, City Tech College's department of entertainment technology, built this spooky haunted "hotel" at the Voorhees Theatre that takes its inspiration from the animatronic houses you see at amusement parks.
RELATED: Best Free Halloween Events in NYC for Kids
See Scarecrows: From Heartland to Horror after dark...if you dare.
Scarecrow Nights for Families – the Bronx
New York Botanical Garden
Fridays and Saturdays, October 21-October 29
Head to the New York Botanical Garden for a nighttime visit to its Halloween-themed exhibits. Kids, including toddlers and preschoolers, can grab a flashlight to explore the trails, pumpkins in the Everett Children's Garden, create crafts, and even trick or treat. Braver kids will enjoy an after-dark look at the garden's new seasonal exhibit: the animatronic Scarecrows: From Heartland to Horror. A live theater group takes visitors through the exhibit at night, upping those Halloween thrills and chills.
Halloween Haunted Walk — Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Saturday, October 29
Head to Lookout Hill in Prospect Park for this outdoor haunted hike, where you'll be visited by zombies, wolfmen, headless horsemen, good and bad witches, and other creepy characters. Afterward, hit the Nethermead for an all-ages Halloween-themed carnival with games and treats. FREE
RELATED: October GoList: Best Events for NYC Kids All Month
The Halloween haunted house at the Queens County Farm Museum is a spooky but gentle intro for kids.
Halloween Haunted House — Floral Park, Queens
Saturday, October 29-Sunday, October 30
You never know what you'll find—or what will find you—in the Queens County Farm Museum's not-too-scary haunted house. The house will be completely dark inside and filled with winding paths and sudden surprises, but is generally considered a good intro haunted house for school-age children. Afterward, go for a hayride, down some cider, buy your pumpkins and apples, and navigate the Amazing Maize Maze for an extra fee. The haunted house is $4 per person. If you go on Sunday, October 30, the family can enjoy the ride- and activity-filled Children's Fall Festival from 11am to 4pm for an additional $5.
Spooky Barn — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Saturday, October 29-Sunday, October 30
Part of the Prospect Park Zoo's Boo at the Zoo weekend, the Spooky Barn is teeming with not-too-scary creatures. Afterward, stick around for other Halloween fun, including wildlife shows, pumpkins for baboons and roaming costumed characters. Kids can show off their outfits in a costume parade and burn off that Halloween candy rush at the zoo's dance party. Free with zoo admission.
Top image: Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel.
This post was originally published in October 2010 but is updated annually. Unless otherwise noted, all photos from the venues.