image of New York City Upper West Side building decorated for Halloween

The Upper West Side is a reliably good neighborhood for trick-or-treating — and based on the decor, this is a particularly good building to try.

For one night a year, parents let their kids disregard every rule they’ve ever taught: Do knock on random people’s doors; do take candy from strangers; do wear your favorite princess or dinosaur outfit out in public. Halloween trick-or-treating is an experience loved by everyone — but for obvious reasons, it’s much different in NYC than in other locales. Here are some tips to make your kids’ NYC trick-or-treating experience one to remember.

1. Check for Events in Your Area

Check in with your building and neighborhood: Some places organize buildingwide or even blockwide trick-or-treating parties. Others have everyone in the building pool their resources to provide candy for the invading horde of sugar-seeking children. If you have a doorman, ask them. If you don’t, ask neighbors, check for notices around the neighborhood, or visit a neighborhood-specific parenting website.

2. Go Beyond Your Neighborhood

You don’t need to live in a neighborhood to trick or treat there. Costumed kids from across the city are welcome at events like the East Midtown Halloween scavenger hunt and the annual Jackson Heights Halloween Parade, as well as in other family-friendly NYC neighborhoods.

3. Celebrate Halloween All Week Up to Oct. 31 and Beyond

In NYC, Halloween is a weeklong celebration for  trick-or-treating events. If your kid is itching to stretch Halloween past a single day, events like the Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Park — which continues until past Thanksgiving — and the Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm Museum are fun, free ways for them to get more treats and more time to wear their beloved costumes.

4. For Good Trick-or-Treating on Halloween, Start Early

We mean really early. Traditionally, trick-or-treating is done in the evenings, but in NYC you’ll find costumed tots out as early as the morning. This means that in busy neighborhoods, local spots (especially shops) can run out of candy surprisingly early, leaving the evening hordes with nothing — or, worse, raisins.

5. Go in a Group

In NYC or anywhere, it’s important. Going as a group makes for a much more exciting experience, and ensures everyone is having a good — and safe — time.

6. Respect the Boundaries

Houses, buildings, and even shops all welcome trick or treaters, but there are some rules and boundaries that should be respected. Some buildings, for instance, require a passcode or friendship with a resident to be allowed through the front door. A few buildings open their doors for Halloween, but not all — do some research online or ask parents in the neighborhood where the good spots for trick-or-treating are. Most stores will also clearly indicate if they aren’t giving out candy (or if they ran out).

7. Do Some Research

Some neighborhoods are simply more welcoming during Halloween than others. Two regular favorites are West 79th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, and Clinton Avenue between DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues (you can even get a map to the best Halloween houses to hit in this area from the Society for Clinton Hill).

8. Know Where to Knock

Not everyone gets into the Halloween spirit — but some of the best candy can be found in the most unexpected places. So how do you know where the best candy is? If you’re visiting private residences, go for the ones with Halloween decor out front. If you’re visiting shops, most have some candy to hand out unless otherwise stated. Of course, shops that regularly stock candy are the best bets, but you can also find some great treats at places like laundromats and liquor stores.

9. Find a Kid-Friendly Parade

Trick-or-treating might be all about candy, but there’s nothing like joining a group of costumed paraders. The annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade is notorious for its outlandish costumes and might not be appropriate for kids — but there are plenty of family-friendly costume parades for your kids to enjoy as well, such as Washington Square Park’s children’s Halloween parade.

[This post has been updated and republished.]

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