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This post covers the best things to do in New York City in October, including nighttime activities, free as well as family-friendly things to do, all updated for 2019.
This section will feature our top 10 activities to enjoy in New York City throughout October.
Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in NYC, for more ideas any time of year.
Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass.
For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out the following posts:
October offers several thrilling sports to choose from. We’ve got ice hockey in full swing, football heating up and the basketball season starting.
Central Park is a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the fall. Join us for one of our pay-what-you-like tours of Central Park.
Our guided walks are free to join and operate on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means you decide what a tour was worth or what you could afford (even free) when the tour is over.
We offer approximately 40 different tours, including free, self-guided, guided, and GPS-enabled audio tours of every neighborhood that you will likely visit as a tourist in NYC.
TIP: Madison Square Garden offers All-Access Tours so you can see how this iconic arena has become a world landmark.
(4) See a Broadway Show
October has some wonderful shows playing on Broadway. The creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is bringing an old show back to Broadway for a limited engagement. It’s called Freestyle Love Supreme. (See below for details).
If you still haven’t seen Hamilton, find out about discount tickets here.
See what else is playing when you are in town.
TIP: If you are on a budget, there are several ways to get discount tickets, sometimes as low as $10! See our post on how to get cheap Broadway tickets.
For connoisseurs of comic books, games, sci-fi, anime, manga, and all things pop culture, October 3-6, 2019 brings you heaven on earth.
Visit their website for more information and to purchase tickets.
If you can’t see your favorite super heroes at Comic Con, you can still see their haunts and HQs on a Super Hero Tour.
Our self-guided Super Hero tour includes locations from tv shows and movies of Spiderman, Superman, The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Batman and more.
TIP: Some NYC tourist discount passes include a free super hero tour. See our post comparing tourist passes.
On October 3, 2019, fill up on $1 slices of pizza from over 50 of the best pizzerias in NYC. All money raised goes to charities that help feed New York’s hungriest.
Visit Slice out Hunger’s website for all the information you need.
If you can’t make it to the event, take our pay-what-you-like Greenwich Village Food Tour which goes to some of the pizzerias included in the Pizza Party event!
If you love pizza, consider taking a New York Pizza Tour.
If you want a wider sampling, check out our food tour offerings!
This year, October is one of the most important times in the Jewish calendar as both Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur occur this month.
Therefore, it is a fitting time to see this extraordinary exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan.
This exhibit is the largest exhibition about Auschwitz ever held in the United States. You can see 700 original objects and 400 photographs never presented in the U.S. before.
TIP: Did you know that most museums in NYC have a free day or free hours? See our list of free museums in NYC.
On October 7, 2019, you can see a flotilla of boats of all kinds at Pier 62 in Chelsea. There will be historic ships, ferries, yachts and more as well as a narrator to discuss each boat.
This free event starts at 6 pm just as the sun is setting for maximum effect. You can catch a sunset on a boat any night of the year, in some cases for free!
Read our post comparing New York City boat tours and cruises to help you choose the best one.
For a free sunset cruise, take the Staten Island Ferry in the evening! It runs 24 hours!
Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most important holiday in India.
On October 12, 2019, in Times Square the largest Diwali celebration outside of India will take place.
Times Square will be filled with the sounds, sights and delicious foods of South Asia and India. Find out more here.
There are many other things to do in Times Square. Take a look at our post on 22 Things to Do in Times Square.
If you’re looking to see and do as much as possible, using a New York City tourist attraction discount pass can help you save money and time.
Attractions Available on Passes Include:
These passes save you money by bundling dozens of popular attractions and tours into one discounted ticket (up to 55% off).
They can also save you time by allowing you to skip the ticket lines and numerous locations. Read our post comparing your options.
For more ideas for any time of year, be sure to read our master post on things to do in NYC.
You can find some amazing things to do any night of the week. As listed above, you have a bunch of great concerts, Broadway shows, sports events.
There are also evening activities in other sections of this post, so take a look through.
Below are a few highlights for a night out in October. Find even more ideas from our post what to do at night in NYC.
Take a Night Walking Tour
October temperatures are still comfortable enough to take a night tour. The night air is brisk but invigorating and the city at night is electric and dazzling.
For decades, the Village Halloween Parade has attracted thousands of New Yorkers to watch the floats and art troupes who flood 6th Avenue with the most creative Halloween costumes you will ever see.
The parade starts at 7 pm on October 31, 2019. The route runs along 6th Avenue from Spring Street in SoHo to 16th Street in Chelsea. (map).
Find out about all the great things to do in Greenwich Village, including where to eat, drink, shop and more.
See Jerry Seinfeld Perform
Jerry Seinfeld will be playing at the Beacon Theater on October 25 and 16, 2019. He’ll be doing two shows that night – so take your pick of early or late. Buy tickets here.
Ticket prices, however, are no laughing matter. If you are on a budget, you can still enjoy comedy all over NYC for free or almost free.
Read our post on affordable and fun NYC comedy clubs.
In 2019, the prestigious New York Film Festival takes place September 27-October 14. To find out which films are playing and to purchase tickets click here.
They are shown in beautiful Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. While tickets are $25 and up, the higher price is worth the experience of being in this special venue!
See a Free TV Show Taping
If you love Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert on TV, why not see them live and for free?
Some of the best late-night talk shows tape in the evening. These are three fun shows to attend a TV taping:
To see what other show tapings you can attend, see our post, New York TV show tapings.
Free Admission to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
On October 25, 2019, you can visit this highly interactive and engaging museum for free between 5 pm and 9 pm.
This museum is housed on an aircraft carrier whose exhibits include a Concorde, submarine & space shuttle and much more.
This is a fun way to spend an evening in NYC. This is also a kid-friendly activity.
See more information about the event here.
Find out about other musuems that are open late and offer free admission by reading our post on Free Museums in NYC.
Enjoy a Skyline View of New York City
What could be more magical than seeing the glittering lights of New York City at night?
You could go to one of the 3 observatory decks, but there are plenty of other ways to get a great photo-worthy view of the iconic New York Skyline.
H.P. Lovecraft Festival
You can hear some of H.P. Lovecraft’s spine-tingling stories read aloud by the players of the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Radiotheatre in Greenwich Village. Find out more here.
Get more ideas for what to do in the evenings by looking at our post about things to do at night in NYC.
Below are just a few of the hundreds of free things you can do in New York City in October. Some of the events above are free, like the Halloween Parade, the Clio Art Fair and taking a tour of Central Park. So be sure to look at the other sections in this post for more ideas.
For even more free activities, see our guide to free things to do in NYC.
Visit Governors Island
This recreational, car-free oasis just 7 minutes from Manhattan is open through October.
Although you will have to pay $3 for the ferry, you don’t need to pay for anything else once you are there. Endless activities await you and your family at this playground for people of all ages!
Read our post on Governors Island to find out about biking, kayaking, picnicking, historic tours and more.
This is the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture and it is on October 14, 2019, starting at 11 am. The parade route is along 5th Avenue from 47th Street and 72nd Street (map).
There will be over 130 marching groups including bands, floats, and Italian heritage and cultural groups marching proudly along the route. Click here to get more information on the parade.
For suggestions of other things to do in the area once the parade is over, see our post 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan.
October 6, 2019, it’s all about pickles in the Lower East Side. Come out to try all sorts of pickled foods from 20+ picklers.
There will also be non-pickled treats, pop-up shops by local boutiques and restaurants, live music, games, and a home pickling/dancing contest. Find out the details here.
Pickle Day is on a Sunday and would be an excellent activity to attend after taking our Sunday Lower East Side Food Tour at 1 pm.
OHNY is an annual event that gives the public has free access to over 275 of the city’s architecturally and culturally significant buildings that are not generally open to the public.
Known as the “Anti-Fair for Independent Artists”, this event has received rave reviews from the ‘establishment’ art world.
The Clio Art Fair is held in Chelsea and runs from October 10-13, 2019. Entrance is free on October 11 only.
On October 19, 2019, from 12 pm- 4 pm, head to Socrates Sculpture Park to see the fairly wacky Flux Factory artists -in-residency troupe.
They put on a full afternoon of art installation, performances and anything else goes! Get the details here.
There are many more activities that dont cost a thing. Find out from our post on free things to do in NYC.
Here are just a few fun activities that will keep the kids and adults amused. Many focus on pumpkins, harvests, and Halloween.
Some of the events listed above are family-friendly, such as the Halloween Parade and going to Governors Island, so definitely look at the other sections for ideas.
Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla
At twighlight on October 18, at the Harlem Meer in Central Park, you and your family can make your own jack-o’-lanterns, light them up with a candle inside and send it sailing on the pond. This is an especially fun event for younger children. See the official website for details.
Pumpkin Picking at Decker Farm
On weekends in October, visit Decker Farm in Staten Island to get a true Halloween seasonal experience.
There will be hayrides, face painting, farm animals, arts and crafts, a corn maze, and even a pumpkin patch at a historic working farm.
For more details, see their website.
TIP: To get to Staten Island you will want to take the free Staten Island Ferry. Our post explains how to do this and provides tips on making your ride the best possible. Click here.
This festival is perfect for the younger kids and the Garden is offering free admission for kids age 12 and younger. The date has yet to be announced, so check their website.
The BBG is a wonderful place to visit at any time. Though they do charge admission, they have special free hours on Friday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. Find out which other museums are free in NYC.
Not just for grown-ups, ComicCon welcomes children of all ages but ticket availability is somewhat limited depending on age.
It’s held on October 3-6, 2019 at the Jacob Javitz Center.
Kids 5 and under can attend for free. Kids 13 and older will need to purchase an adult ticket.
See our Top 10 section above for more details on the event.
Take a Free Super Hero Tour
If you cant see your favorite super heroes at Comic Con, you can still their headquarters and haunts located all over NYC.
This self-guided Super Hero tour includes locations from tv shows and movies of Spiderman, Superman, The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Batman and more.
TIP: Some NYC tourist discount passes include a free super hero tour. See our post comparing tourist passes.
On October 5, 2019, you can take a tour of Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse. At the Little Red Lighthouse Festival, there will also be food vendors and live music. It takes place in Upper Manhattan in Fort Washington Park.
Get even more ideas from our post on the best things to do with kids in New York City.