From pumpkin patches to haunted virtual reality escape rooms, there are plenty of events and ways to celebrate the season safely across the five boroughs

 New York City is the perfect setting for a stay or a getaway this fall. Even with the pandemic, the city is full of spooky programming and Halloween offers in October and November, including pumpkin plantations, ghost tours, Halloween-themed movies at drive-ins, and festivities at zoos, and you have the recipe for an ideal New York cation.

Visitors who explore the five districts are encouraged to wear masks, practice social detachment, and wash/clean their hands frequently.

Below is a brief selection of Halloween and fall-themed staycation ideas:

The Bronx

  • The annual Bronx Zoo Boo at the Zoo is back and ready for visitors to show off their spookiest costumes. Boo at the Zoo has Halloween-themed activities for the entire family to enjoy, including mind reading, a costume MASKerade, candy trail, scavenger hunt and more. The event runs Thursdays through Sundays through November 1.

  • Explore a variety of pumpkins and scarecrows in the Great Pumpkin Path at the New York Botanical Garden, including some of the world’s largest pumpkins, arriving on October 24. For a fun weekend activity for family, stop by Hello Harvest! in the Edible Academy where children can learn all about fall harvesting, participate in a scavenger hunt and even take home seeds to plant. Visitors can also enjoy vibrant autumn foliage in the Thain Family Forest.

Brooklyn

  • National Historic Landmark Green-Wood Cemetery celebrates El Dia de Los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, the holiday honoring the departed through offerings arranged on altars, with a large-scale altar designed by Dominican painter Scherezade Garcia. From October 23 through November 1, visitors can bring personal offerings to place at a community altar inspired by this centuries-old celebration.

  • Spread out and pull up a seat to enjoy screenings of cult classics and new films at Experiences in Vale Park outside The William Vale hotel. Movies includePan’s Labyrinth on October 22, Kindred on October 28 and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on October 29. Vale Park will also be home to a family Pumpkin Patch on October 18 and 25.

  • Beat the Bomb, an immersive video game experience in Downtown Brooklyn featuring the World’s Largest Paint Bomb, will host a special Halloween Edition experience with extra spooky surprises from October 22 through November 1.

Manhattan

  • Take an NYC Ghosts tour of Greenwich Village where visitors can explore some of the most haunted spots in the City, including the “House of Death,” where Mark Twain resided and is rumored to still roam, a residence where Edgar Allan Poe wrote some of his creepy tales and a restaurant said to be haunted by the ghost of Aaron Burr.

  • The Museum of Ice Cream is celebrating Halloween with its Trick or Sweet experience, where for an additional $10, visitors can come in costume and receive candies, prizes and merchandise. Trick or Sweet runs October 29–31 and reservations must be booked online in advance.

  • Escape Virtuality is offering a VR Halloween-themed escape room called the Ghost Collector, where guests can save Manhattan from being overtaken by ghosts. The venue is also offering virtual haunted walk-throughs this season, similar to walking down a haunted path, but with VR goggles.

  • On October 30–31, the famed Madame Tussauds in Midtown is offering free admission with purchase of a full price ticket to kids 14 and under. From noon to 3pm, employees will award prizes for the best costumes and distribute candy in particularly frightful areas of the attraction.

  • Also in Midtown, ExperienceFirst is offering Haunted Broadway: A Halloween Pop-Up Event, led by theater professionals showcasing the ghosts that haunt the theaters and including some of the strange superstitions within the theater community. The event will run on Halloween with a family-friendly version during the day and adult version at night.

  • Uptown, in Washington Heights, hunt ghosts in Manhattan’s oldest residential building, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, rumored to be home to the spirit of Eliza Jumel, second wife of former Vice President Aaron Burr. The Paranormal Historical Investigations at the mansion is open to the public, ages 18 and older, on October 23, November 7 and 14.

Queens

  • The Queens County Farm Museum has a full lineup of autumn activities through the end of October, including pumpkin picking, Maze by Moonlight at the only corn maze in NYC, weekend hayrides during Harvest Weekends and a Halloween on the Farm celebration on October 31.

  • The Queens Botanical Garden will host its annual Halloween at the Garden on October 31 where kids can show off their Halloween costumes as they walk along the trick-or-treat trail and enjoy multiple performances, including a magician. The pumpkin patch at the Garden also will be open the weekend of October 24–25 and on Halloween.

  • The Queens Drive-In will host a series of scary movies the week leading up to Halloween that include Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and The Birds on October 24; Nosferatu (with live music) and Young Frankenstein on October 25; Get Out and The Babadook on October 29; Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacreon October 30; and Little Shop of Horrors and Beetlejuice on October 31. Tickets start at $45 for the double features and organizers encourage pre-purchasing.

Staten Island

  • Spooktacular is back at the Staten Island Zoo. While exploring the decorated campus, guests will meet princesses and villains and enjoy various performances. The outdoor-only event encourages families of all ages to dress up in costume for the festivities, taking place October 23–25 from 6 to 9:30pm.

  • Historic Richmond Town will celebrate its annual Old Home Day on Sunday October 18 from 11am to 5pm with a variety of family-friendly activities, including historic trades demonstrations, music, food and crafts. The 100-acre historic village is also home to NYC’s oldest working family farm, Decker Farm, which offers pumpkin picking through October 31.

VIVIANE FAVER
Jornalista
vfaver@gmail.com