Floral Park

Haunted Halloween Houses and Not-Too-Spooky Walks for NYC Kids

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 stapleLong Island and Westchester have dozens. And while NYC has several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, most are definitely grown-ups only. There are, however, 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.

Harvest Fests, Pumpkin Patches, and Hayrides Right Here in NYC

If you think you need to head out to the 'burbs for an authentic fall harvest experience, we've got good news: You can pick the perfect pumpkin, go on a hayride, meet farm animals, and even get lost in a massive corn maze right here in NYC.

So if you're looking to skip the car rental, hop onto the subway instead to head out to these fall harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, all located within the five boroughs. Looking for more fall fun? Check out our NYC Fall Fun Guide for the best of the season.

NYC's Only Corn Maze and More Fall Fun at the Queens Farm Museum

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 22, 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!

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more interactive fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly festivals this September.

11 Queens Water Playgrounds and Sprinkler Parks

Let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to live by the schedule of open swim hours at your local NYC pool. Sometimes you just want to tire your kids out so they sleep until 6 (or even 7) in the morning. And sometimes you just want to relax outdoors with iced coffee and a book, but your children aren’t as into that idea as you are. This is why water playgrounds were invented...we're pretty sure, anyway.

While we already have profiled some of the top water playgrounds in other parts of the city as well as some of the top fountains for splashing, we realized we had neglected our Queens families. So in the interest of parenting solidarity we’ve put together a list of eleven spraygrounds or water playgrounds in Queens. They’re all FREE, and as an added bonus most usually have an ice cream truck in the area—for the children, of course, totally for the children. 

Check out our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Parks Guide for more summer splashing, or our Summer Fun Guide for more seasonal activities for the kids.

Best Summer Festivals and Fairs for NYC Families in July

So far this summer, we've posted FREE outdoor movie screenings, FREE kayaking, and FREE things to do every day with kids in New York City. Now we're rounding up our favorite and (mostly) FREE family festivals and city street fairs going on in the month of July.

Two of our favorite annual fests take place this month: the big Bastille Day street fair on the Upper East Side, and City of Water Day at South Street Seaport and other locations around town. But that's just the beginning. We've rounded up lots of other options, including Come Out & Play Family Day, this year in Brooklyn, and Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Family Day.

So go grab your calendar (and check ours frequently)! Here are the best sizzling summer fests for New York City families.

Petting Zoos Near NYC Where Kids Can See Farm Animals

We're so fortunate to live in a city that offers an incredible array of fun spring activities for kids, but sometimes I fret over the disconnect from nature. I want my daughter to be as comfortable in the country as she is in the urban jungle, so we're always looking for ways to get out of NYC and explore the expansive farmland that borders the city.

While you can meet some furry friends at the city's wonderful zoos, and even get hands-on at their mini petting zoos, there's something particularly special about enjoying an authentic farm setting. We've rounded up our top petting zoos and animal havens to get some serious face time with furry friends. Get ready to load up the family for a day of donkey petting, goat bottle-feedings, and sheep shearing.

Here are our favorite spots for an up-close animal encounter, all within two hours of NYC.

Queens Party Places: 23 Top Spots for Kids' Birthdays

We've profiled cool NYC party places in the past, but there are so many awesome birthday spots in good old Queens alone that it deserves a post of its own.

These Queens birthday party places cater to all kinds of kids, from active to artsy to animal lovers. As a Queens mom with two children, I've been to many of these spots personally. You can find additional birthday inspiration in our NYC Party Guide.

Farm-to-table: Hands-on Planting and Harvesting Summer Camps for NYC Kids

[UPDATED: February 23, 2013]  If your child loves digging in the dirt and messing around in the kitchen as much as mine does, then camps that offer planting, harvesting and cooking activities are a summer dream come true. Even for kids who are less, shall we say, dirt-inclined, these programs offer a wonderful opportunity to learn about the farm-to-table movement as they harvest fruits and vegetables right here in NYC. Here are five programs where city kids can get a literal taste of farm life.

Party Like an Animal with 5 New York City Birthday Party Ideas

Every parent wants his or her child's birthday party to be a special and memorable experience. One way to insure that your child's party will be one that he or she will remember for years to come is to invite some animals, and I don't mean those boys in their class. Kids love animals and there are some really cool birthday party ideas that you can have right in New York City with live animals in attendance.

While some of these parties are admittedly exorbitant, you'll be surprised at a few options that are on par with other birthday parties in New York and won't break the bank. Check out these animal parties that kids will be "eternally" grateful for (for at least a couple of days):  

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