Here's How to Do Autumn in New York City, Family Style

Autumn in New York. It’s not just an Ella Fitzgerald hit and a longtime jazz standard. It’s also a lovely time of year steeped in very American traditions. Besides the general back-to-school rigamarole, there’s plenty of family fun to be had that’s as American as apple pie. Visit a farm, carve some pumpkins, and participate in some very festive parades to celebrate the season.

Take your kids around the boroughs with the best that autumn has to offer.

Learn Something New

Fall means back to school time for kids, but parents can get in on the educational opportunities too at Museum Day Live, when more than 20 museums in the city offer free admission through an initiative sponsored by the Smithsonian.

Find an obscure, expensive or far away museum and make a day of it. Pack up the family and spend a free day roaming the galleries at the Ukrainian Museum, the Skyscraper Museum, or even the Jell-O Gallery. Oh, the places you’ll see and the things you’ll learn!

Fall Means Fair

Bob for apples, get lost in a corn maze, and even eat pie competitively at the Queens County Farm Museum this fall. Although the farm and museum are open year round, the fall season is a great time to check out the harvest and load up on fresh veggies.

Show your kids how you were raised in the olden days at the September fair, where you can enter a blue ribbon livestock and produce competition a la “Charlotte’s Web,” take a hayride, or even cheer on the pigs at the races. Don’t miss out on fresh apple cider and sheep shearing, too!

Pluck a pumpkin from the patch to carve at home. Kids will love nibbling on the cooked pumpkin seeds after the carving is done. Drizzle some olive oil and salt before baking for the tastiest results.

Dare to enter the corn maze, a labyrinth of gargantuan stalks made to re-create “The Shining.” Just leave your axe at home and prepare to run!

As the Leaves Turn

As September ends and true autumn begins, it’s time for the leaves to turn their shocking shades. Biking and walking around the city becomes especially fun when the best advice you can give your kids is to just look up.

Watch the green leaves of summer turn to shades of exploding red and caramel-apple yellow as the seasons change. It’s the perfect time to visit the New York Botanical Garden, where Fall Forest Weekends provide opportunities to tour the old-growth oaks and learn about the science behind your favorite foliage.

Traipse through the tunnel of elm trees at the Mall and Literary Walk in Central Park for a tour of the leaves straight from a Woody Allen movie. Then, explain to your kids who Woody Allen is, and why they can’t see his movies yet – but they should, and they will. While you’re at it, don’t forget to make a pile of leaves big enough for the kids to jump in and splatter everywhere. It’s a mess worth making.

For the Spooks and the Spooked

Take your kids on a costumed walk through Greenwich Village with thousands of New Yorkers at the Village Halloween Parade, a celebration of artistry and the neighborhood’s eclecticism that’s been running for 42 years.

Follow a giant puppet (a new, themed puppet is made annually for the event) through the Village, or join the millions of spectators watching the parade go by as your kids prepare for their own tricks and treats. It’s a delightful way to see New Yorkers come out and come together in a family-friendly, unique, pageant-like showcase.

Not so keen on humans in costume? Kids will also enjoy the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Costume Party, where they can see pit bulls and poodles in the most delightful duds a dog has ever worn. The daytime event takes place over the weekend around Halloween, but leaves the day (and evening) of Halloween free for costuming your own kids.

Turkey Time

Celebrate the most American of holidays at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when dozens of giant floats, marching bands, and Macy’s family-and-friends participants take their annual stroll through Manhattan with Santa.

Relive your “Miracle on 34th Street” memories far from the Macy’s store, though, as television crews don’t leave much access for viewers in front of the venue. For best results, view the parade in the early morning along Central Park’s western border, or catch the participants along 6th Avenue after 9 am.

Gather at the American Museum of Natural History from 3pm to 10pm on the day before Thanksgiving to watch the inflation of the parade’s giant balloons. That’s right – balloon prep alone takes seven hours. That’s commitment!

What are some of your favorite things to do in NYC in the fall? Share them with us in the comments below!

Tags : travel   NYC   New York   

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