30 Fall Activities We Can't Wait To Do in NYC

New Yorkers can see the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in two suburban locations on Long Island and in Westchester. This seasonal attraction is one of our favorite fall activities. Photo courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley
New Yorkers can see the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in two suburban locations on Long Island and in Westchester. This seasonal attraction is one of our favorite fall activities. Photo courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley

With Labor Day behind us and a full-time back-to-school schedule looming on the calendar, it's official: Fall has arrived in NYC. An optimist by nature, I've decided that instead of lamenting the summer that was, it's time to look forward to the changing of the seasons and all the fall activities that await.

With that in mind, here's our season-long look at the family-friendly fall activities we can't wait to enjoy. After all, we've got assorted school holidays, plus a few long weekends to fill before the weather really changes. Without further ado, here are 30 fall activities we can't wait to do in NYC with kids. For more seasonal fun, be sure to bookmark our Fall Fun Guide.

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1. Back to School

The first day of school. Granted, there are still restrictions in place, but I'll be happy to add my kids' school pictures to the adorable ones peppering my social media feed and to find a little more routine in our day-to-day!

2. Grab a Bite

Take a night off from dinner duty and show some love to one of our favorite family-friendly restaurants. Fall is the perfect time to check out one of these waterfront eateries or restaurants with backyards before the weather turns and alfresco dining returns to bubbles, parkas, and space heaters. 

3. Crack Open a Geode

Discover your inner geologist at Astro West, where you can peruse and purchase a mind-boggling array of fine minerals, crystals, fossils, dinosaur teeth, and stunning crystallized meteorites.

See the Nature of Color at AMNH
Paint the walls mess-free as you explore The Nature of Color. Photo by A. Mickens/courtesy of AMNH

4. Visit a Favorite Exhibit at a Favorite Museum

Visit the American Museum of Natural History to see The Nature of Color before it closes on Sunday, December 5.

5. Go to the Edge

Put on a brave face and take in the stunning views at Edge, the outdoor observation deck in Hudson Yards.

6. Visit Little Island

The city's newest public park is an absolute wonder. Little Island looks like a floating leaf thanks to the tulip-shaped platforms rising from the Hudson River. Explore the winding paths, beautiful landscaping, and much more. Bonus: After Labor Day, the free, timed-entry tickets are only required on weekends and holidays!

RELATED: Best Things To Do in NYC in September 2021 With Kids

A visit to the Queens County Farm Museum is one of our must-due fall activities
Take a trip around the Queens County Farm Museum. Photo by Sarah Meyer

7. Go to the Farm Museum

Don't miss the 38th annual Queens County Fair in September at NYC's only historic working farm, the Queens County Farm Museum.

8. Traverse a Maze

While you're there, get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze, or explore one of these other corn mazes outside city limits.

9. Have an Outdoor Adventure

See how many outdoor adventures you can tackle before the weather turns.

RELATED: Pick-Your-Own Guide to Farms Near NYC

Seeing the animals at the Bronx Zoo is one of our favorite fall activities
Fall in love with animals at the Bronx Zoo. Photo by the author

10. Have a Special Zoo Visit

Explore the candy trail, watch pumpkin-carving demos, catch a magic show, and visit all our favorite Bronx Zoo animals during the annual Boo at the Zoo.

11. Play Laser Tag

Spend an action-packed day with your tween or teen at one of Area 53 NYC's three locations.

12. Dust Off Your Wand

With its 15 different themed rooms, Harry Potter New York has everything your little witch or wizard needs.

RELATED: 12 Apple Picking Orchards Near NYC for Fall 2021

Visit the sharks at the New York Aquarium
It's sharks galore at the New York Aquarium. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher

13. Explore Underwater Worlds

Reserve timed-entry tickets for the New York Aquarium to explore its Spinless exhibit, plus see its stunning shark exhibit, and the rest of the seafaring fun.

14. See a Broadway Show

The show must go on! And it will as Broadway reopens in September after being shuttered for more than a year.

15. Go Apple Picking

Load up baskets until they overflow with freshly picked apples, and nosh on one of these easy apple recipes.

RELATED: 30 Perfect Fall Family Day Trips from NYC

Take in the foliage at one of NYC's amazing parks. Photo by the author

16. Take in the Colors of Fall

Take a brisk fall walk while enjoying some excellent leaf-peeping at one of these city parks. Push yourselves a little harder with one of these hikes.

17. Choose a Great Pumpkin

Nab the perfect pumpkin at one of these nearby patches.

18. Talk to the Animals

Visit a local petting zoo to get some face time with the animals.

RELATED: Best Fall Festivals in NYC

Go kayaking in Brooklyn Bridge Park this fall
Kids can join parents in kayaks at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Etienne Frossard

19. Get Out on the Water

Glide across the water with FREE kayaking in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

20. Discover the Garden

Visit the New York Botanical Garden to help prepare the Edible Academy for a new growing season with its Dig! Plant! Grow: Pollinator Pals event, and catch one last glimpse of Yayoi Kusama's work, including the newly opened Infinity Room, before it all closes on Halloween.

21. Take a Ferry to the Governors Island

Visit Governors Island once the crowds die down and consider an overnight glamping expedition for an extra special treat.

RELATED: Day Trips and Weekend Getaways Near NYC for Families

Bucks County, Pennsylvania offers beautiful leaf peeping and more family-friendly fall activities
One of the most picturesque times of the year in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, autumn brings in a bounty of colorful foliage. Photo courtesy of Visit Bucks County

22. Hit the Beach

Who says beach season is over? Activities abound in the offseason at these Jersey Shore towns.

23. Take a Weekend Away

Sneak away for a long weekend at these fall-friendly haunts around the Northeast.

24. Visit the New Attractions

Check out the Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center at the over-the-top American Dream Mall.

25. Go to an Art Park

Take in larger-than-life art at these outdoor art parks near the city. Bonus: You'll see some stunning fall foliage, too.

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze is a favortie fall destination
The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze opens its 2021 season Friday, September 17. Photo by Susan Miele

26. Check Out Excellent Pumpkin Art

Get some serious pumpkin-carving inspiration at the stunning Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson or at Old Bethpage on Long Island.

27. Take a Safari

Hit up Six Flags Great Adventure for its Frightfest Halloween celebrations and its cool drive-thru safari park.

28. See The Obamas

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are holding court at the Brooklyn Museum—in portrait form—through Sunday, October 24. 

29. Trick or Treat!

One word: Halloween. Even though we're not quite sure what the night will hold, we know New Yorkers will find a way to celebrate!

30. Relax at a Resort

The year-round Camelback Resort in the Poconos is a blast for everyone, regardless of the season.

Originally published in October 2018.

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