There aren't many better ways to get the family excited for the fall in NYC than taking the kids for a tour through a three-acre corn maze in the middle of Queens and letting their imaginations run wild. The Queens County Farm Museum's Amazing Maize Maze opens for the season September 23, and it's just one of the quintessential fall activities happening at this New York City institution.
The Amazing Maize Maze is the only corn maze in the city. My family and I have conquered lots of these mazes and can happily say that the one at the Queens County Farm Museum is just as much fun as its country counterparts. We made it through in just about one hour—even with a pair of 8-year-olds leading the way. That left us plenty of time to enjoy other farm fun. We've got some tips for how to make the most of your visit to the farm and the corn maze. But no, we aren't giving you the route. You'll still need to figure that out yourself!
You won't be able to see above the stalks, so find your path another way!
The Queens County Farm Museum started the Amazing Maize Maze in 2002. The theme and route change annually, but the goal is always the same: to find your way out! Don't be put off by the size; three acres is totally manageable, even for young children (just stay more focused with tots and preschoolers), and there are fun interactive elements to keep them engaged along the way.
Before you enter the maze, staff will give you the "Stalk Talk," a short info session with the rules (no running, no cutting through the stalks) and tips about how to conquer the corn maze, like looking for mailboxes that contain pieces of a map. Then you grab a flag (every group gets one—it helps the farm keep track of how many folks are in the maze) and you're off. It can take up to two hours to navigate to the exit, though the average time seems to be about an hour. You're welcome to stay inside as long as you'd like, and if you really get stuck, you can ask for assistance from the helpful workers sitting up in the tower by talking to them through a long black hose.
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The maze is great for all ages as you can go at your own pace.
Our kids loved traveling through the maze, especially looking for the mailboxes so they could assemble the map on their game board. We actually found our way out before we got all the map pieces, much to the dismay of the kids, who wanted to collect them all. They were happy to discover that you can grab all of the missing pieces at the exit. The game board has other helpful hints, like info about the color-coded ribbons tied around the stalks and a just-for-fun crossword puzzle that has clues scattered throughout the maze.
If you're looking for a unique and spooky evening, check out Maze by Moonlight on October 14 and 21. The Maze will be staying open until 9pm, and you'll find your way through the stalks by starry light and flashlight.
After completing the maze, the kids might enjoy picking a pumpkin from the patch, petting and feeding the farm animals, or going on a hayride. There are even carnival rides, pig races, and magic tricks and other performances on certain fair days. There are various fees for each activity, or you can save a few bucks by buying a multiple-activity bracelet.
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The farm hosts tons of festivals all season long.
Highlights of the fall season at the farm:
- 35th Annual Queens County Fair, September 23–24 with hayrides, carnival rides, corn maze, petting zoo, fair food, and performances.
- Pumpkin Patch weekends, September 30–October 29, pick out the perfect pumpkin.
- Kick Off to Fall, October 1 with cider, hayrides, donuts, and pie.
- A kid-friendly haunted house, October 28–29, plus hayrides and Halloween-themed fun.
- Children's Fall Festival, Sunday, October 29, bounce houses, costumes, haunted house, pony and hayrides, and petting zoo.
Thing To Know Before You Go
Eat before entering the maze. You're going to be spending an hour or two inside, so you definitely don't want to get hangry. There are food vendors at the farm, but you can also bring your own food and sit at the picnic tables.
Bring water. I brought water bottles (and there is a water fountain at the entrance), and we were still thirsty the entire time.
Don't forget the sunscreen. Even in the fall, the sun can get strong on the farm.
If possible, leave the stroller home. While the lanes in the maze are wide enough to accommodate most strollers, it is natural farmland with divots and grooves and it's tough to push most carriages through. Pack the Ergo instead.
Let the kids lead the way. It's fun for them (even if it takes a little—OK, maybe a lot—longer).
The Amazing Maize Maze is located at the Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway. It's open Saturday and Sundays, September 23 through October 29, and Monday, October 9 from 11am to 4:30pm. Ages 0-3 are FREE. Transit directions are available on the farm's website, but it's a haul from Midtown without a car.
All photos courtesy of the Queens County Farm Museum