Fabulous Fall Activities for Families in New York City

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This is a guest post from Holly Rosen Fink, the founder and editor of The Culture Mom, a guide to the best family cultural and travel experiences in New York City and beyond. Holly lives in Larchmont, New York with her husband and two children.

There’s nothing like fall in Manhattan. It’s a cultural extravaganza – new Broadway shows, prominent art exhibitions premiering in the greatest city in the world, festivals of all kinds up and down the streets and bursts of fall foliage all over the city.

The options are endless, and if you’re visiting, with kids, it’s not easy to narrow them down. Here are ten options from a native’s perspective that are sure to satisfy any parent or child:

Autumn Things To Do in New York with Kids

Pumpkins New York City Botanical Garden

Pumpkins at NY Botanical Gardens by Martine266 on Flickr

Botanical Gardens

A Culture Mom favorite, the NY Botanical Gardens is a hop, skip and jump from the city by car, bus or subway. The grounds are stunning in the fall, and the Haunted Pumpkin Garden featuring hundreds of carved pumpkins is sure to please. It runs October 1st – October 31st.

Central Park

There’s no prettier place to explore the fall foliage without leaving the city limits than Central Park. Kid’s activities abound like boat rides on the lake, the Tisch Children’s Zoo, the Central Park Carousel, a tour of Belvedere Castle, and so much more.


Kid’s Programming at the New Victory Theater

We are actually regulars at The New Victory Theater, where we are amongst many moms, dads and kids eager for the special performances they present from around the world. After a show, walk the none blocks up the street to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for lunch where you will be serenaded by future Broadway stars.

Jazz for Young People at Lincoln Center

Jazz at Lincoln Center is the quintessential jazz experience in New York City! They have an incredible fall schedule which kicks off on November 20th with Wynton Marsalis and “What is Jazz?”

Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum

On a rainy fall day, if you have a child who loves space and airplanes, he or she will love this museum. They’ll love exploring a real Concorde, a Soviet helicopter, dozens of aircraft, a real submarine and the inner workings of a ship at the Exploreum.

Brooklyn Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City presenting an array of literary stars and emerging authors who represent the exciting world of literature today. They have a lot to offer children and families, including book signings, story-telling and special activities. This year’s festival is on September 18th.

Atlantic Antic Festival

On October 2nd, the Atlantic Antic will draw up to 1 million attendees onto Atlantic Avenue to celebrate the Antic’s longstanding tradition of eclectic food, festivities, and fun. From start to finish, Atlantic Avenue is a sea of people exploring a variety of 600 vendors while grooving to music from nine live performance stages.

The Cloisters

The Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, was assembled from architectural elements, both domestic and religious, that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century.

You and your kids will love walking the grounds and gazing at the views over the Hudson River this time of year.

Dumbo Arts Festival

The DUMBO Arts Festival is a feast for the senses that attracts 200,000 visitors over 3 days with the participation of over 500 artists from a variety of disciplines, 100 studios, 50 galleries and stages and 100 programming partners. This year, the Festival will take place on from September 23rd – 25th.

Feast of San Gennaro New York City

Feast of San Gennaro by flickr4jazz on Flickr

The 84th Annual Feast of San Gennaro

New York City’s longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States, will be held September 15th – 25th on the streets of historic Little Italy.

Relevant Links:

Ciao Bambino recommended New York family hotels

2011 fall getaway ideas from the Ciao Bambino portfolio

Tips for visiting New York with kids

Top kid-friendly excursions with kids in New York with kids

New York museums favorites with kids

New York City theater favorites for kids

Visiting and climbing the Statue of Liberty

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  • Great ideas! Loved our first trip to New York, last Fall, without the kids. We spent the whole time saying “The kids would love this.” Will bookmark this post for the next time we go, with the kids.

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