School is back in session, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time on the weekends. While there’s a bit of fall crispness in the air, it’s the perfect time to be outdoors. Here are great, can’t-miss free things to do in October in NJ.
Want more fun stuff? Check out can’t-miss events for your preschoolers, plus the best fairs and festivals happening this October. If you want to venture outdoors, check out this hiking spots, or stay inside at these indoor spots.
*Please note that the fairs and festivals below have free admission, but activities, food and rides might be an additional fee.
Saturday, October 12
Harvest, Honey and Garlic Festival
Come for the farmers’ market at Sussex County Fairgrounds stocked with honey and garlic products, then stick around for the wine and educational displays.
Art for Families: The Shape of Things
Drop in for family fun at the Princeton University Art Museum to engage in themed art activities with your kid. This week’s all about shapes and colors inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s painting “The Workshop.”
Jr. Knighting Ceremony
If your kids are fascinated by medieval times and knights in shining armor, they’ll have the opportunity to become one by taking part in a knighting ceremony and round table at iPlay America.
Storytime at the Fire Department Museum
Designed for the museum’s youngest guests, kids can listen to songs and stories about city life from museum staff and guest readers.
Saturday-Sunday, October 12-13
South Jersey Pumpkin Show
Head to the Salem County Fairgrounds for pony and hay rides, a giant Pumpkin Pyramid, corn maze, pumpkin painting and contests ranging from decorated wagons and strollers to a pumpkin weigh off. There’ll be plenty of pumpkin desserts, wine samplings and more than 100 craftsmen.
This annual festival at Historic Smithville boasts festive music throughout the entire day, an Irish market, food court and activities for the kids to enjoy.
Sunday, October 13
Hit Washington Park with the kids for activities, food, music and dancing. Check out wares from artists and crafters around the Garden State and meet local nonprofits.
Sunday, October 13
Fall Festival and Classic Car Show
Think classic cars, a ’50s costume contest, live music, vendors and crafters turning Newton into a picturesque fall town on Spring St. Dive into a pie-eating contest, take the kids to the hay bale maze, blacksmith demo, scarecrow making contest or to get their faces painted, too.
Tuesday, October 15 and 29
Elements of Game Design
Instead of just letting them play games, challenge them to learn how to make them at the Warren County Library, they’ll have the opportunity to learn about their history, play and build.
Saturday, October 19
Hoboken Harvest Festival
The kids can try pony rides, inflatables, a trackless train and get their kicks at the petting zoo, pumpkin and face painting, the hay maze, craft activities and more.
5th Annual Zombie Parade
Zombies of all ages are welcome to come in their most ghoulish attire and visit make-up artists who’ll assist with their costumes, then listen to spooky music, visit vendors and check out the parade.
Chester’s 36th Annual Harvest Celebration
This two day event on Main St. (which ends on Oct. 20) will host a blacksmith demo, clown performances, face and pumpkin painting, square dancing and an opportunity to meet the star of NBC’s Produce Pete.
Fall Festival at Casino Pier
Come dressed in your Halloween best, plus make fall festive crafts with the kids, play games and win prizes. Don’t forget to bring school supplies or canned good donations for admission.
Costume Pet Parade
Include your pet in Halloween with this cute event at Historic Smithville that’ll have more than 100+ pets competing with each other.
Friday, October 25
Intrepid Museum Free Fridays
Head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a pop-up planetarium or celebrate Halloween with a special Astronomy Night and learn about the spookiest planets in the universe.
Saturday, October 26
Come dressed in your Halloween costume to Historic Smithville and visit the on-site makeup artists before taking part in the area’s largest Zombie Walk!
Crafts and Drafts at Montclair Brewery
Are you a fan of craft beer? Patrons can sample Essex County beer and view local hardware and art at this family- and dog-friendly event.
Head to the Morris Museum for some spooky crafting fun, go trick-or-treating and hit a scavenger hunt for candy at before showing off your special costume at the costume parade.
East Asian Autumn Festival
Learn special traditions, listen to narrated music, watch performances (like the Chinese lantern dance), check out hands-on demonstrations of folk and art, play games and more at WheatonArts.
Sunday, October 27
Take the kids for a scare free trick-or-treat event throughout WheatonArts grounds and meet actors from Mystic Realms dressed as traditional characters like the Mummy, witches and scarecrows.
Looking for more free things to do in October? Check out our calendar!
Wednesday, October 2
Fossils and Dinosaurs Late Night at the Museum
Do they love the museum Night at the Museum? While statues may not come to life, they can still go on a journey through the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras through demonstrations, arts and crafts and educational activities around the Rutgers University Geology Museum.
Friday, October 4
Yes, you can really take them to a free show. The East Jersey Old Town Village is doing an original, comedic take on the mysterious legend of Sleepy Hollow. A film crew is shooting a historic adaptation of the classic tale, only to be plagued with a number of on-set disasters that drive them to create a one-night-only event for investors—with plenty of hiccups, of course. Additional dates include October 6, 11-13, 18 and 20.
Saturday, October 5
Ichabod Crane and Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The American Historical Theater will perform a reenactment of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. How did Ichabod Crane lose his head? Registration required.
Family Fun & Fitness Day
Fitness doesn’t have to be a drudgery and these YMCA’s are opening up their doors and showing off family exercise programs, indoor play streets, community vendors, games, healthy snacks and more.
2019 Fall Forestry Festival
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this fest at Forest Resource Education Center and NJ Forest Service Nursery with numerous demos like maple sugaring, woodcarving, using a chainsaw and sawmill, drones and more.
Family Day: Spread Your Wings
Visit the Princeton University Art Museum for a day filled with gallery activities, then stick around for arts and crafts activities that your family can work on together.
19th Annual Oktoberfest
Modeled after the traditional German Oktoberfest, families can dig into authentic German food and drinks like bratwurst and goulash, dancing, contests (beer stein holding, best dressed and more) and other entertainment.
Sunday, October 6
Somerville Street Fair & Craft Show
Bring the kids down for live music, children’s rides, a game trailer, petting zoo, martial arts exhibitions and more. Dig into street fare and peruse local wares.
Celebration of Pets
Spend the afternoon with your furry friend in Verona Town Square for a day of music, pet vendors, food, crafts, pet adoptions and show off your adorable pet at the pet parade. There’ll also be face painting, a balloon twister and tiger bouncy house for the kids.