13 fun and free things to do with kids in NYC in October 2018
Families don't have to spend a lot of money to have a great time throughout the five boroughs with our guide to free things to do with kids in NYC.
Fall has officially arrived, with local pumpkin patches for amazing photo ops and getting a taste of the farm life while apple-picking upstate. And there's plenty of free ways to have fun with little ones too like street festivals, magic shows, exploring old buses and more.
The Saturday Morning Show brings two hours of musical acts and performers just for kids to Brookfield Place. Starting at 10 a.m. in the Hudson Eats food court, catch kid-friendly musical acts for an hour of funny and interactive songs. Then at 11 a.m., various performers from magicians to puppeteers will wow kids and adults alike. The series takes place every Saturday through Dec. 15. Oct. 6, 13, 20 & 27, 230 Vesey St., Lower Manhattan, bfplny.com
The Queens County Farm Museum is New York state’s oldest working farm and a great chance for kids to get up close with livestock and see how vegetables are grown. The farm offers free admission every day of the year (except during special events), but during October weekends there’s also a pumpkin patch, a corn maze ($10) and a seasonal market of goodies like Hudson Valley apples, cider, doughnuts and pies. 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, queensfarm.org
The Harlem Harvest Festival brings the neighborhood’s local businesses and restaurants to St. Nicholas Avenue for a fall-themed block party. In addition to the usual food vendors, musical performances and marketplace, there’s a special kids zone with tons of free activities like a pop-up baking shop, fun with The Bubble Man, pumpkin decorating, mini trampoline classes and face painting. And if you never learned to ride a bike and want to keep up with your kids, they’ve got free adult cycling classes. Oct. 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., between 116th and 117th streets, free entry, harlemharvestfestival.com
Instead of celebrating Christopher Columbus colonizing the Americas, be part of a celebration of Native American culture on Randall’s Island. The Indigenous People Celebrate is a two-day festival of song, art, food, performances by the Redhawk Dance Troupe and special events like a Sunrise Ceremony. Oct. 7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 8, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., randallsisland.org
Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image opens its doors to youngsters ages 17 and under for free on Fall Family Day with activities for kids from age 2 and up all themed to the recently opened Jim Henson Exhibition. Get a hands-on lesson in puppet making and filming, a scavenger hunt, an interactive puppet show and a workshop on puppetry for film, TV and video. Oct. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $15 adults, movingimage.us
New York City’s mass transit system is faltering right now, so take a much-needed time warp t the past at the 25th annual Bus Festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Oct. 7. Climb aboard 80 years of surface transit history courtesy of the New York Transit Museum, with vintage buses to explore, special activities and photo ops, bus driver meet-and-greets. Entry is free for all! 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Brooklyn Bridge Plaza under the bridge at 11 Water St., nytransitmuseum.org
Now that the leaves are changing, it’s a great time to take a ramble through Central Park. Discovery Walk for Families is a free series that takes visitors on kid-friendly hikes all over the park — on Oct. 8 at 10 a.m., they’re headed into the North Woods for Towering Trees, a look at how to tell trees apart and their role in a healthy urban park. Must be age 5 or older, registration required, meet at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth avenues, centralparknyc.org
Talking is not usually encouraged in a library, but the Queens Village Public Library is bending the rules for a Children’s Paint and Chat session for kids ages 5-12 on Oct. 9, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Supplies are provided, no reservation necessary. 94-11 217 St., Queens, queenslibrary.org
All of New York is invited to the mayor’s house for a Harvest Festival! Carl Schurz Park, also known as the Mayor’s Lawn as it’s home to Gracie Mansion, holds its annual all-ages Harvest Festival on Oct. 13 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. where families can pick their own pumpkin and decorate it, meet a live scarecrow, take part in a Halloween dance party with make-your-own maracas and see shows by the Playdate Puppets. East 87th Street and East End Avenue, Upper East Side
Every third Saturday of the month is Farmhouse Family Day at the historic Wyckoff House, with free activities designed for families with kids ages 4-10. Activities vary, but plan to arrive by 1 p.m. to take part in a unique hands-on crafting workshop. Scavenger hunts, artifact investigation and gardening are among the other activities. On Oct. 20, there will be waffle making over a fire, outdoor games from the colonial era and a pumpkin patch. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5816 Clarendon Road, Brooklyn, wyckoffmuseum.org
Little kids are already comedians, so they’re sure to love Guess What Comedy Show, a free PG-rated stand-up act for families. Taking place the third Saturday of every month at The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City, comics share their best family-friendly material — but best of all, kids get a chance to go onstage and tell a joke, too! Oct. 20, doors at 12:30 p.m., 10-93 Jackson Ave., facebook.com
Bring your little pumpkin to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual music and harvest festival Ghouls & Gourds. Expect tons of nature- and Halloween-themed fun like rutabaga skeeball, helping to build a giant spiderweb, a menagerie of larger-than-life mythical creatures, and what’s promised to be “Brooklyn’s wackiest costume parade,” plus two stages of concerts and interactive performances. Oct. 27, gates open at 10 a.m., festival goes from noon-5:30 p.m., free for kids under 12, $20 for adults, bbg.org
It’s beginning to feel a lot like ice skating weather. The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park returns Oct. 27, and while browsing the holiday goodies inside the jewelbox booths is certainly the best way to shop for gifts, the star attraction is its Olympic-size ice rink. Skating at Bryant Park is totally free for everyone — the only ice rink in the city that doesn’t charge admission — if you’ve got your own skates. Without them, it’s $20 to rent a pair. Oct. 27-Jan 2, 2019, bryantpark.org