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Boo at the Zoo and beyond: Fall outings for Philly families this week

Explore leaves and seeds at a Pennypack nature walk, go bird-watching in Fairmount Park, and enjoy family-friendly museum programs, including a virtual ofrenda-making workshop for Día de los Muertos.

In this file photo, a pumpkin-lovin' lemur celebrates Halloween at the Philadelphia Zoo
In this file photo, a pumpkin-lovin' lemur celebrates Halloween at the Philadelphia ZooRead more

The season formerly known as autumn and currently known as pumpkin spice is more than just nutmeg-y lattes. It’s also our last chance to go outside without doing the whole hat, mittens, and scarf rigamarole. Sweatshirts, however, are recommended.

Pennypack Trail has set up a great little self-guided nature walk for some DIY outdoor education. Boo at the Zoo is back and longer, but different. Fairmount Park’s Discovery Center, a go-to spot for birders, is letting novices into the migratory magic.

It’s also a great time to gear up for Day of the Dead and book reservations for new museum exhibitions. Because one day soon, we’ll all be shivering outside or stuck inside.

Trees, Seeds, and Leaves Self-Guided Trail

10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue., 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Wed.-Sun., 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon. Oct. 19, free, on Facebook @PennypackEnvironmentalCenter (all ages)

The Pennypack Trail asks young explorers to stop and look at the natural world — but not touch or interfere with it. Several naturally socially distanced trees along the trail have leaf- and seed-based activities to observe. The object is to notice what’s going on without disturbing the setting.

Virtual Ofrenda Workshop

5 p.m. Thu., free, register at, under the CultureFest tab (ages 5 and up)

No surprise: The Penn Museum isn’t hosting its typically bang-up, extra fun Día de los Muertos CultureFest in person this year. They, like all of us, are doing the best they can by doing it virtually. A month of events begins Thursday with an online workshop with Mexican artist and frequent muralist Cesar Viveros, who’ll teach the whole family how to build a colorful altar to make Coco proud.

Boo at the Zoo

Opens Fri. and continues every weekend through Nov. 1, hours 9:30 a.m.-5 .p.m. Fri.-Sun., reserve at, $20 for ages 2 and up (free under 2 with adult)

The Philadelphia Zoo’s popular Halloween festivals have always been notoriously, festively, hilariously packed. Not this year. Now operating at 50% capacity, the zoo has expanded its costumed celebrations over three consecutive three-day weekends. Instead of exhibit-based trick-or-treat stations, bags of Mars treats are distributed at the entrance. Everyone age 2 and over must wear a mask, and not just the Batman kind.

National Liberty Museum

Reopening Fri., hours 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. thereafter, $6-$12 (kids under age 5 free), tickets at (elementary through high school)

The somewhat unsung National Liberty Museum in Old City is reopening with the debut of “Philly’s Freedom” (through Feb. 13), an exhibition of works by 70 Philadelphia artists, including Alexander Calder, narrative painter Serena Saunders, Sean Lugo (known for portraits of humans with teddy bear heads), sculptor Jonathan Mandel, and neon artist Eve Hoyt. It’s accessible, inspiring, and bound to lead to “What’s that about?” conversations.

“Elijah Pierce’s America” at Barnes Foundation

Hours 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Mon., exhibition through Jan. 10, reserve tickets at, adults $23-$25, $5 ages 13-18 and students with ID (free for children 12 and under)

Art world critics do not measure the success of an exhibition by the lasting impression that it made on a Roblox-playing 8-year-old. I do. My Little Leaguer (go Dragons!) loved Elijah Pierce’s tactile, story-rich wood carvings so much that he 1. squealed with delight upon identifying the Barnes Foundation banners along Broad Street, 2. described Pierce’s dollhouse during this third-grader’s virtual share time, and 3. sat down, unprompted, to draw with crayons.

Discovery Center Birdwalk

8-10 a.m. Sat., free, info at (all ages)

If you’re ever going to watch birds, this is when to watch birds. Those migratory lovelies are passing through our region right now, and they’re up for the guided viewing courtesy of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club at Fairmount Park’s Discovery Center. BYO binoculars.