Autumn & Halloween in NYC

The season of jack-o-lanterns and ghosts has come to a close for 2018, but it’s never too early to start planning next year’s Halloween celebrations, right?! New York City is a famous Christmas destination (and for very good reason, many of which I’ll highlight in a blogpost soon), but did you know that it celebrates Halloween and Autumn-time just as well? Take a look at some of the ways NYC flaunts its Halloween pride and start planning next year’s visit: 

 

1. Pumpkin Flotilla in Harlem

On the very northeast corner of Central Park, locals gather for the annual Pumpkin Flotilla! It’s the most curious event: anyone can donate a carved pumpkin to the flotilla and, at 7pm, people dressed in flowing Grim Reaper-esque cloaks get onto kayaks and pull lines full of jack-o-lanterns through the Harlem Meer Lake. Everyone on shore dresses up in costume to attend the event while a DJ sets the mood with spooky Halloween music.

I love events like this. They’re a good reminder that, yes, there is so much anger and hatred in this world, but the majority of humanity just want to dress up in silly costumes, cut up pumpkins and watch them float across a lake. 

 
 

2. Boo at the Zoo

The Bronx Zoo’s month-long Halloween event is super fun to attend; we weren’t able to visit on their “Zombie Weekends” or the “Creepy Spider Weekends,” but, on their average Boo at the Zoo days they spice up their experience with added Halloween décor and exhibits like their Hall of Jackolanterns and “creepy crawly” animals. They also have the option to attend their “Spooktacular Night Walks” in October if you’re willing to pay more than the $22.95 admission ticket. (We weren’t.) Nevertheless, we actually recommend visiting the Bronx Zoo at any time of the year simply to see the animals - it’s a great zoo!

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4. Halloween Dog Parade

Yup - it’s as glorious as it sounds. Every year, hundreds of New Yorkers dress up their dogs and strut them around Tompkins Square in the Lower East Side. It’s a must-see event; the creativity of these dog-owners is ingenious!

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3. Queens County Farm Museum

Speaking as someone who grew up in a rural area, this is NYC’s best fall festival! It also happens to be on NYC’s last working farm. Public transit will get you to the Queens County Farm Museum where you’ll be treated to a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, a walk-through garden, hayrides, a corn maze and plenty of yummy autumn treats. 

4. Rocky Horror at the Cinepolis 

The Cinepolis actually hosts a viewing of Rocky Horror every weekend at midnight throughout the entirety of the year! But, in October, they ramp up their showings and do one every night. Get your tickets in advance if you want to attend on Halloween night (we were lucky enough to snag tickets last year.) This cult-classic is a crazy experience and a must-attend for everyone who likes to have a good time and doesn’t get freaked out by—immodesty. We don’t want to say much more because, if you’ve never been, then we don’t want to spoil it, but we do have two pieces of advice: 1.) spend the extra couple bucks to get the bag of props. And 2.) let them know that you’re a “virgin” if you’ve never been to a showing of Rocky Horror before. You won’t regret! (Well, you might, but isn’t that what life is all about?)

6. The Halloween Parade

NYC has a ton of awesome Halloween parties (R.I.P. Webster Hell, which no longer exists) but if you still find yourself searching for a way to enjoy Halloween on the day-of, we highly recommend the Halloween Parade. Our pro tip, though? Don’t be a spectator … march in it! NYC’s Halloween Parade is the largest participatory parade in the world. Show up at 6th Ave & Canal St as early as 6:30pm (parade begins at 7pm and you can jump in anytime between 6:30pm and 9:00pm.) Be prepared, though, waiting in line can take a while – the line is long and there are volunteers and security that stagger the line of costumed people in between the floats, bands and puppets. However, once you do start walking, it’s an experience of the ages! You get the best view of the participants in the parade that you walk with (we sped up and slowed down at different times so that we could see more), and – the best part – you get your fifteen minutes of fame! Daniel and I worked hard on our costumes this year, so we were constantly being stopped by the throngs of people who wanted to take our picture. Everyone in the parade is in costume (you aren’t allowed to participate if you aren’t), and the energy is electric – everyone is taking pictures with each other, complimenting each other’s costumes, dancing with each other and swapping suspicious beverages. Being amongst thousands of people in costume is my very favorite part about celebrating Halloween in NYC. 

 
 
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When Autumn comes, there’s a mass exodus of New Yorkers who leave the city to do Fall-y things Upstate or in Long Island. If you are one of those people who really just wants those true breaths of fresh air, then here are some suggestions for you:

1. F&W Schmitt’s Family Farm in Melville, Long Island

At this farm, they have a pumpkin patch that you can wander through until you find your perfect pumpkin(s) to take home, a barn full of Autumn décor and delicious food that you can purchase (including apple cider, apple cider donuts and candy apples), and – our personal favorite – a tractor-pulled hayride that takes you to a corn maze. I’m a child at heart; you best believe I still love hayrides.  

2. Angry Orchard in Walden, NY

This one is a bit of a drive: but in 1 1/2 hours you can find yourself at Angry Orchard’s 60 acre farm. We love this awesome location because there’s absolutely no admissions fee! You can wander through their apple orchards (though you can’t pick any - those apples are saved for their cider!), hang out around the fire in their backyard, listen to the live music and - best of all - sample their apple cider flight entirely for free! If you’d like to purchase any of their limited edition ciders or take a tour of their brewery and learn how the cider is made, then you do have to part with a small sum of money. Both times we’ve visited, however, we spent just $5 on their apple cider donuts to pair with our cider flight. The donuts may be the best apple cider donuts we’ve ever had - they’re made fresh in front of you, dunked in cinnamon or maple sugar, and completely melt in your mouth when you eat them. This destination is certainly worth a visit!

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3. AppleFest in Warwick, NY

About an hour outside the city, the quaint town of Warwick hosts an Apple Festival every year! This festival brings crafts(wo)men, musicians, artists and food vendors together to celebrate Autumn. There is an apple pie baking contest (and a subsequent apple pie eating contest), face-painting and henna, raffles and auctions, and many delicious, apple-themed treats. We helped ourselves to apple slices smothered in caramel and peanuts after enjoying a day of wandering through the lively festival.

Warwick is super cute and super quaint!

Warwick is super cute and super quaint!

4. Jenkins-Lueken Apple Orchard

When on the East Coast you have to go apple picking, right? Over the years, we’ve finally settled on our favorite upstate apple orchard: Jenkins-Luekin Orchard in New Paltz, NY. We like this orchard because it’s small enough to be manageable, but sizable enough to boast a wide arrangement of apples. We also loved it’s laid-back vibes; after we asked the attendant what kind of apples were on which trees, she answered by saying “don’t forget to take a bite just to make sure you like them!” We got to spend the next hour wandering through the rows of trees, tasting and picking whatever we liked. The prices were affordable and they didn’t require a minimum amount of apples - you could pick as many, or as few, as you’d like. (They also have an awesome instagram. Who doesn’t love an apple orchard with an awesome instagram?)

Jenkins-Lueken Orchard is a 1 1/2 hour drive outside of NYC. It also happens to be situated right beside Minnewaska State Park, so make a day of it and visit the beautiful Awosting Falls after you satiate yourself with fresh-picked apples!

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5. Storm King Sculpture Park

Storm King is open all year ‘round, but visiting during Autumn is a popular New Yorker past time. Nearly everyone we know goes up to Storm King to enjoy the fresh, Autumn weather and take in the absolutely stunning trees as their leaves begin to turn colors. Storm King is a 500 acre sculpture park; expect to spend your day walking for miles and still not see it all. $18 will get you access to this beautifully photogenic place - your instagram feed won’t know what hit it!

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So there you have it! When you find yourself looking for a new way to celebrate Autumn and Halloween next year, keep these awesome destinations and events in mind. Does your country/city/town have unique ways to celebrate the spooky season? Let us know in the comments below or on our Instagram!