Sure, fall 2020 is different, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of things to do with the kids in NYC this season. Not only is the city rolling out events and happenings this season (with precautions, of course), many of our favorite fall activities are outdoors, which is kind of the place to be these days. Below, our list of things you must do this fall with the kids, from classics (hello, apples and pumpkins) to fun new additions. (See you at the drive-in!) Fall in!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Go Apple Picking

September is prime apple-picking season, and many, if not most farms and orchards are welcoming guests. (You'll just likely have to buy a ticket in advance and wear a mask.) Click here for our favorite spots to pick apples near NYC

Go Pumpkin Picking

Once October hits, it's time to head to a farm near NYC for a hayride and pumpkin picking. These are our favorite farms for pumpkin picking near NYC!

photo: Cafe do Soliel

Eat Outside

As you likely know, there are more places than ever to eat outdoors in NYC this fall. We rounded up some of our favorites here! 

Marvel at the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley is a perennial favorite fall activity. It's a display of more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’ lanterns—all designed and hand-carved on site by a team of artisans. Expect a pumpkin carousel, Statue of Liberty, fire truck, a "Museum of Pumpkin Art" (in which famous works a rendered in gourds) and more. Plus, synchronized lights and an original score. Tickets are on sale now for all dates, and must be purchased in advance. Get them before they sell out, because they will, especially because capacity is reduced to accommodate CDC recommendations and social distancing. (On Long Island? They have one, too!)

Tickets: $24 and up; members and kids under two are free
September 18- October 31; November 1; 6-8; 13-15; 20-21
Van Cortlandt Manor
525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson
914-631-8200
Online: hudsonvalley.org

Visit the Queens County Farm Museum

The Queens County Farm Museum occupies New York City's largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland, and its history dates back to 1697.  One of the longest continuously-farmed sites in New York State, it includes historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard and herb garden.

Head here for lots of fall fun including a corn maze, a pumpkin patch and fall festivals throughout the season! Click here for more info! 

photo: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

Get Wild at Boo at the Zoo

The Bronx Zoo's Boo at the Zoo is returning in 2020, with some safety precautions to keep everyone safe. Expect amazing pumpkin carving, magic and mind-reading, a pumpkin trail, Halloween puppets on stilts, an extinct animal graveyard, a candy trail and a scavenger hunt. Tickets must be purchased in advance. (Members are free but you must still reserve a time and date.)

Thurs.- Sun., through Nov 1. 
Tickets: $39.95/adults, $29.95/kids
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx
718-220-5100
Online: bronxzoo.com

photo: Nicholas Knight/Public Art Fund

Make Some Noise With Some Public Art

Head to Brooklyn Bridge Park to ring one of five, cast bronze bells along the waterfront, part of Davina Semo's piece  "Reverberation", mounted by the Public Art Fund. On view until April 18, 2021, the bells are bright orange, to evoke the international color of urgent alarm–meant to heighten our attention in precarious times. The exhibition encourages audiences to "add their own contribution to our urban soundscape, which has been filled with sounds that have characterized our collective experience, whether through the evening cheers for essential workers or the chanting voices of protesters demanding justice."

Online: brooklynbridgepark.org

Take a Day Trip

Take a break from the city with a fall day trip to one of these spots near NYC. (Kaaterskill Falls is above.)

Visit Domino Park's LEGO Syrup Tanks

From September 18 to October 5, Williamsburg's popular riverside spot, Domino Park, will host a replica of the park’s Syrup Tanks rendered in LEGO DOTs, a new 2D tile building product. Master builders will craft the structures using as many as 800,000 pieces, to celebrate the industrial history of Brooklyn. 

Find Some Treasures at the Newly-Reopened Chelsea Flea Market

It's back, just in time for fall foraging. Head to the Chelsea Flea Market on Saturdays and Sundays, where you can now also grab a bite to eat from Smorgasburg vendors. Find it at Sixth Avenue and W. 25th Street, 8 am. - 5 p.m.

Online: chelseaflea.com

Visit Bear Mountain

But don't do it before consulting our guide to visiting Bear Mountain with kids here

Build a Fairy House

Indoors, outdoors, with natural or manmade materials. Any way you do it—they're a creative way to spend a fall afternoon! Get some inspo here

Walk the Highline

It changes with every season! Keep in mind it's one way, from south to north, and you must reserve your free tickets in advance! 

More info here.

photo: Socrates Sculpture Park

See Some New Monuments at Socrates Sculpture Park

Head to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City Queens for Monuments Now, which seeks to address the role of monuments in society and commemorate underrepresented narratives such as diasporic, Indigenous, and queer histories. Rolled out in three phases, the show features the work of numerous artists, including Jeffrey Gibson, whose work Because Once You Enter My House, It Becomes Our House (shown here) celebrates inclusion and diversity. (It's huge—measuring 44 feet-wide at the base and 21-feet-high!) 

Online: socratessculpturepark.org

photo: Richard Bowditch

Visit an Historic Ship for FREE

The South Street Seaport Museum is welcoming back guests with a free visit to the 19th century tall ship the Wavertree in September and October. Tickets must be reserved in advance. 

Click here for more info!

photo: Ort Farms

Get Lost in A Corn Maze

The designs of these multi-acre agri-puzzles just keep getting more and more impressive. There's one as close as Queens, and another you can take a steam train to in PA! Find your corn maze here! 

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Visit Chinatown

Chinatown is hopping and festive these days, with many streets closed off for outdoor dining. (Pell Street, with A + soup dumpling spot Joe's Ginger, is pictured here.) Classic New York dim sum restaurant Nom Wah Tea Parlor is also serving in the street on Doyers. 

Get a Dose of Fall Foliage

Sure, you can drive upstate for some leaf-peeping, but there are plenty of spots that deliver stunning displays right here in the city. These are our favorites. 

Head to Winery for a Sip of Something

Did you know Long Island is known for producing some stellar wine? It's true! Many vineyards and breweries are open for tastings for you and outdoor frolicking for the kids. Bring a picnic and chill. These are our favorites open now!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Walk a Bridge

We've got lots of 'em in NYC!  Click here for our guide to walking NYC's bridges with kids

Take to the Water via Boat

Not only is New York surrounded by water, it has quite a few ponds/lakes where you can paddle around as well. For example, you can take a kayak for a spin in Brooklyn Bridge Park through mid-October.  Find more boating options here! 

Get Some Slices

That slight chill in the air pairs very nicely with a fresh slice, no? Get one at one of our favorite spots for pizza in NYC. Some even have outdoor dining like Prince Street Pizza, whose slices are pictured above. 

Reminder: you can also support these great pizza places that were open and delivering in those early days of COVID shutdown. (#heroes.)

photo: Greenville Drive-In

See a Drive-In Movie

All those drive-ins people hit this summer? They are still gong strong in the fall! Find them in NYC and further afield in upstate, New Jersey and beyond. 

Click here to see what screening!

Play Some Petanque at Industry City

Sort of like French bocce, Petanque is in play in the courtyard between buildings 5 and 6 at Industry City on Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m. Better news?: it's just $20 for an hour (six people max). Purchase tickets on site. 

Online: industrycity.com

photo: Julie Larsen Maher

Hop a Zipline

Not all ziplines in the NYC area are open, but many are. Here's where to find them. 

Explore Central Park

Playgrounds, ponds, historic spots and more. (Not to mention all that fall color.) Check out our Guide to visiting Central Park with Kids here! 

Take a Garden Stroll

The Gardens are open! Which ones?

The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Brooklyn. 

Wave Hill Public Garden, (pictured), also in the Bronx. 

Entry is by reservation and timed ticked only, so plan ahead! 

Celebrate the Return of Smorgasburg to Prospect Park

This fun food truck freakout has been back, reimagined as "Smorg To Go" (safety first!) in Williamsburg for several weeks. Mid-September marks the return of the 'Burg to Prospect Park at LeFrak Lakeside, weekends 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Online: smorgasburg.com

Visit Governors Islands

This place is great in the summer, and just as lovely in fall. It's open until November 1 this year. See more info on visiting Governors Island with kids here

Day of Play at The Yard

Speaking of Governors Island...the free-for-all playground The Yard has been closed all summer, but thanks to donations, it's open for Saturday play September 26 and October 3, Noon-4 p.m. (Hooray!)

The Yard is also hosting after school Adventure Play Club this fall, and Adventure Days during the week. 

Online: play-ground.nyc

Take a Hike

Want something that's stroller-friendly or good for little ones and within city limits? Try these treks.

For something further afield and a little more active, consider these. 

Complete Our NYC Scavenger Hunt

Because you may have started it, but we really doubt you finished it...click here to get it!

—Mimi O’Connor

RELATED STORIES:

What You Need to Know About NYC Pandemic Learning Pods

Outdoor Birthday Party Ideas for NYC Kids

Safe & Smart: NYC In-Person & Outdoor After School Programs & Classes

Gear to Get You Through the Pandemic: Our NYC Editor’s Guide