Best Things To Do on Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day in NYC

Visit the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden for seasonal, kid-friendly celebrations on Columbus Day and all October long. Photo courtesy of NYBG
Visit the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden for seasonal, kid-friendly celebrations on Columbus Day and all October long. Photo courtesy of NYBG

Columbus Day is on the horizon and that means New York City kids are staring down another day off. Officially rechristened Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous Peoples Day on the school-year calendar, the holiday falls on Monday, October 10, 2022. If it's snuck up on you, don't panic! There are plenty of things to do in New York City whether you're celebrating Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day.

Fall offers the perfect chance to hit one of New York City's many destination playgrounds, of course. Still, we've also scoured our Family Activity Calendar and museum listings, and combed through our day trip guides to put together this list of 25 things to do with the family on Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. So, step away from the screen and step outside to enjoy all the city has to offer.

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1. Brooklyn Children's Museum

This Crown Heights institution offers plenty of fun things to do any day, but it's especially fun when you can hit the rooftop for an Indigenous Peoples Day party.

2. Take a Hike

There are plenty of family-friendly nature trails within city limits for families to explore, or make it a day trip and hike one of these Hudson Valley trails.

RELATED: Fall Bucket List for Kids: 35 Top Things To Do in NYC this Fall

Things to do in NYC on Columbus Day picnic in Central Park
Have a picnic in Central Park before the chilliness of fall sets in. Photo via Flickr by ep jhu

3. Central Park

Get lost in the North Woods, explore The Ramble, and marvel at the soaring arches in Central Park's family-friendly northern edge, hit the slides at one of our favorite Central Park playgrounds, or explore a new-to-you corner of the park.

4. Go Under the Sea

Come face-to-face with a real-life predator at the New York Aquarium's Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit, and explore the rest of the exhibits, including Spineless, the Playquarium, and more.

5. Visit Governors Island

Take the ferry to the action-packed isle to enjoy playgrounds, public art, bike riding, and tons more fun.

RELATED: Best Fall Festivals in NYC this Autumn for Families

Things to do on Columbus Day in New York City Summit One Vanderbilt
Summit One Vanderbilt is a high-art observation deck experience. Photo by Diana Kim

6. Hit an Observation Deck

Check out the view from one of New York's observation decks, including Summit One Vanderbilt, Edge New York, the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and One World Observatory.

7. See the Parade

Cheer on the throngs of performers when the Columbus Day Parade marches up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 72nd Street, featuring marching bands, floats, dance troupes, and plenty of Italian pride.

8. Explore the World's Borough

We've found 47 fun things to do in Queens, so you'll have no problem filling up the day with new-to-you experiences

RELATED: 35 Things We Can't Wait To Do this Fall in NYC

Things to do on Columbus Day in NYC NYBG Fall-o-ween
Fearsome and friendly scarecrows greet visitors as they walk along the trails of the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden at NYBG. Photo courtesy of NYBG

9. Celebrate Fall-O-Ween

Visit the New York Botanical Garden for some fall colors and seasonal fun, including its Scarecrows & Pumpkins displays.

10. Ride a Bike

Grab your bike or rent one and hit one of these family-friendly local paths. You can also explore the Empire State Trail running from Lower Manhattan to Canada.

11. Play with Magic

Pick up a magic wand, learn a few tricks, or see a magic show at one of these magic shops in NYC.

RELATED: Pumpkin Patches, Hayrides, and Harvest Festivals Right Here in NYC

Things to do on Columbus Day in NYC Kenoza Hall
Book an overnight at the enchanting Kenoza Hall for a Catskills getaway. Photo by the author

12. Enjoy a Sweet Catskills Getaway

Fall is the perfect time to explore this picturesque New York region. We've rounded up more than 30 family-friendly places to play, eat, and stay in the Sullivan Catskills.

13. Have Some FREE Fun

We've found 100 things to do in NYC that don't cost a thing!

14. Do Some Halloween Prep

The official countdown to the holiday is on! If you need costume ideas, we've found 101 easy Halloween costumes and some unique Halloween costume stores in NYC.

RELATED: The Best Zoos and Aquariums in NYC

Things to do on Columbus Day in NYC Bronx Zoo's Boo at the Zoo
Dig out your wildest costume, and join the Bronx Zoo for family-friendly outdoor activities and entertainment during Boo at the Zoo. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher

15. Make Furry Friends at the Zoo

Read our post on seeing the Bronx Zoo like a local, then head there to make some furry friends and enjoy its Boo at the Zoo.

16. Get Cultured

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York's largest art museum

17. Hit the Road

Venture out of the city for one of these 30 fall day trips.

RELATED: Best Things To Do with New York City Kids this Weekend

Things to do on Columbus Day in NYC Brick-or-Treat at Legoland
Legoland's monster-inspired Brick-or-Treat adds a whole new layer of sweet fun onto your visit to this mega theme park in the Hudson Valley. Photo by Katherine Dhurandhar

18. Go Brick-or-Treating

The famous Legoland New York is just an hour north of the city. Perfect for the under 12 set, there is plenty of kid-friendly amusement park fun to enjoy. Visit on October weekends to take advantage of its Halloween event.

19. Romp at a Play Space

If you need to let the kids run wild, we've found a dozen budget-friendly indoor playgrounds within city limits.

20. Explore American Dream

The New Jersey mega mall is packed with family-friendly fun like DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe, and so much more.

21. Go Pumpkin Picking

Pick the perfect pumpkin with a day trip to one of these nearby farms or local NYC pumpkin patches.

RELATED: Fall Fun Guide for NYC Families

Things to do on Columbus Day in NYC Six Flags Fright Fest welcomes visitors on Indigenous Peoples Day
Enjoy the fall decor, photo-ops, haunted attractions, and rides at Six Flags Fright Fest. Photo by Jody Mercier

22. Get Scared

Six Flags Fright Fest is in full force. Enjoy the rides, including the record-breaking Jersey Devil coaster, plus plenty of family-friendly daytime thrills and teen-friendly evening chills.

23. Get Lost in a Corn Maze

Tackle a corn maze at a local farm; there's even one right here in Queens.

24. Eat All the Apples

Get creative in the kitchen with one of these apple-filled recipes after a trip to a local orchard.

25. Get Away

If you're craving more than a day trip, we've found 20+ weekend getaways nearby, perfect for a cozy fall escape.

Originally published in 2013.

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