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Editors’ Picks 2013: The Best Kids’ Entertainment in Westchester

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photo by michael polito

 
 
New Playground

Nature’s Discovery Playground at Greenburgh Nature Center
99 Dromore Rd, Scarsdale
(914) 723-3470; greenburghnaturecenter.org

You want your kids to have an appreciation for nature. They want to play on state-of-the art playgrounds. You’ll both be happy at the Greenburgh Nature Center’s Nature’s Discovery Playground, which has fun play spaces made to look like they’re part of the natural environment. They’ll feel like they’re climbing up trees and into birds’ nests while you’ll feel great that they’re getting fresh air and exercise.  
 

 

photo by michael polito

Horseback Riding for Children with Special Needs
Pegasus Therapeutic Riding
310 Peach Lake Rd, Brewster, NY (+ three regional chapters, including one at Fox Hill Farm in Pleasantville)
(845) 669-8235; pegasustr.com

We’ve all heard of animal-assisted therapy, but most think that term means “therapy dogs.” At Pegasus, a PATH International Premier Accredited Center founded in 1975, therapy comes in the form of horses, and, for children with special needs or disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome, hearing or visual impairment, and traumatic brain injuries, the therapeutic power of riding is tremendous. What makes the therapeutic riding activities so special, says Pegasus Executive Director Todd Gibbs, is that “these large, powerful, intelligent animals allow our students to be their leaders.” This empowers students (most are under 18, but Pegasus works with many adults, too) and teaches them the importance of responsibility and teamwork. The effectiveness of therapeutic riding is derived mostly from the similarity between a horse’s gait and a human’s walk, and this therapeutic riding can substantially improve mobility, balance, posture, coordination, language development, behavior control, and concentration. 

 

photo courtesy of great play of scarsdale

Yes We Know It’s a Chain But…
Zumba Class
Great Play of Scarsdale 
969B Central Ave, Scarsdale
(914) 713-3470; greatplay.com/locations/scarsdale/

Do you have a kid who makes the Energizer Bunny seem lethargic by comparison? Get him (or her) to Great Play of Scarsdale, and sign up for its high-energy, tons-of-fun Zumba class. There are two classes grouped by age: Zumba LM (for ages 3½ to 5½) and Zumba (for ages 5 to 10). Both classes feature choreographed, age-appropriate routines to help children develop coordination while learning a bunch of cool dance moves. Each class (offered in fall, winter, and spring) includes a warm-up, Zumba dance routines, team-building games, and closing activities. Read: Your little ball of energy will come home happily spent.

 

Ballet Program 

Christina Donohue at Central Park Dance
450 Central Ave, Scarsdale
(914) 723-2940; centralparkdance.com
There’s many an impressive resumé at this well-known studio next to the Greenburgh Nature Center on Central Avenue, but it’s not her professional dancing background that will have your budding ballerina obsessing over “Miss Christina.” Whether a wallflower or destined prima donna, a tot as young as 2 or “Pre-Ballet”-ready at 6, your child is bound to feel like a star in Donohue’s kiddie classes, which include a “Fairytale Ballet”; as well as tap, jazz, and hip-hop. “She has so many students and knows them all,” gushes one grateful dance mom. 

 

Ice Cream Sundae
The Puppy Bowl at The Tavern at Croton Landing
41 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 271-8020; thetavernatcroton.com
Basically, it’s a hot fudge brownie sundae. But it gets better. It’s made with premium vanilla ice cream and a perfect brownie baked by Dave Tuttle of Tuttle’s Homemade Pies. The cherry on top is that it is served in a real puppy bowl, not that your pups will need any encouragement to lap it up. And for dogs in your party who scream for ice cream, too: there’s the Dog Bowl.

 

Yes We Know It’s a Chain But…
Destination for Kids
Legoland Discovery Center
Westchester’s Ridge Hill
29 Fitzgerald St, Yonkers
(866) 243-0770
legolanddiscoverycenter.com
From the tiniest Duplo lovers to the thrill-seeking Lego Racers builders, and from karaoke queens to 4D-cinema enthusiasts, there’s something to interest every kid at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. At the Center—the first one in the Northeast—kids can take a factory tour to see how Lego bricks are made, zap away skeletons and trolls on a Lego-themed ride, climb on an indoor structure, and see recreations of New York landmarks in a Miniland. Oh, yeah, they can build stuff, too.   Win this! Click here for details on how to win a free family ticket to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center (good for up to two adults and two children, or four people).

 

Indoor Playspace 
WeeZee World of “Yes I Can!”
Chappaqua Crossing
480 Bedford Rd, Chappaqua
(914) 752-2100; weezeeworld.com
This 16,000-square-foot sensory play-and-learn complex makes you want to be a kid again, what with the rain forest, rock-climbing wall, and honest-to-goodness recording studio, to name a few highlights. Or to have little kids again, if only to hang out in the Zen Den, a tricked-out waiting room for parents with massage chairs and iPads. “Fitness clubs improve physical capability by focusing on muscle tone and flexibility,” says founder Louise Weadock, a registered child psychiatric nurse. “WeeZee aims to improve cognitive capability by focusing on the senses to challenge intellectual curiosity in children of all abilities, including those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and autism.”

 

Library Program (2 and Under)
Mother Goose – Katonah Village Library
26 Bedford Rd, Katonah
(914) 232-3508; katonahlibrary.org
The Katonah Library’s Mother Goose program, geared toward children 18 to 36 months and their caregivers, is so popular that the library had to add a second weekly session. (It also has politely asked that visitors come to either the Wednesday or the Thursday session—but not both.) Trust us: Both days are packed. And we can see why, with Laura D’Amico—who also teaches music through Mustard Seed Music Studio—at the helm. D’Amico takes nursery rhymes and livens them up in a way that captivates even the youngest of audiences, earning her a cult following among grateful parents. 

 

New Kids’ Fashions
LOL Kids Armonk
384 Main St, Armonk
(914) 219-5232; lolkidsrock.com 
Edgy little leather skirts, chic Chanel-esque tweed jackets, and faux-fur fringed vests abound at this oh-so-au-courant boutique for the discerning young stylista aged 3 months to 8 years. Suri Cruise is a big fan of the small chain, new to Westchester and specializing in hip street-wear and elegant European designs for everything from cruising the playground with Mom to dodging the paparazzi at Dad’s film premieres. Showcasing looks for girls and boys often featured in Vogue Bambini, you’ll want to bring your own little fashion plate on by. Ciao bella, indeed! 

 

Yes We Know It’s a Chain But…
Place to Take Your Straight-A student
The Melting Pot
30 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 993-6358
meltingpot.com/white-plains
The idea of getting a free meal may not seem like such a novelty to most kids—who, let’s face it, eat for free all the time—but a trip to The Melting Pot is. Parents who bring in their elementary or secondary school student and his or her report card with all A’s get the kid’s meal free, when the adult buys a meal for the same price. It’s a lot of food, so you may want to bring another one or two family members or friends to share in the celebration.

 

Social Skills Classes
Sociable Kidz
1600 Harrison Ave, Ste 105, Mamaroneck 
(914) 502-3295; sociablekidz.com  
Social skills—so essential, yet so difficult for many kids to master. The good news is that social skills can be learned, and nobody teaches them more effectively than Sociable Kidz, an acclaimed social-skills program founded by kindergarten teacher Susan Hendler in 2010 to serve children ages 4 to 15. The program uses proven techniques and methods—in ways that are fun, interesting, and age-appropriate for kids, such as games and role-playing—to help children improve their self-esteem, make friends, make eye contact while talking to others, learn to share, and more. Many other concerns, such as social isolation and bullying, are addressed, too.

 

Sports Camp 
MVP Basketball DAY Camp
29 Homeside Ln, White Plains
(914) 946-1231
mvpbasketballcamp.org
For kids, MVP is about nonstop fun, great exercise, and wonderful new friends. But this nonprofit organization is so much more. Yes, the experienced counselors teach basketball skills and technique. But  MVP (which, here, stands for “Most Valued Person”) also helps boys and girls ages 6 to 16 (grouped according to age and skill level) from all economic backgrounds (more than 4,000 economically disadvantaged kids have attended with the help of scholarship awards) develop character and life skills as well. The camp offers several programs—and a typical day here is busy, starting with stretching at 9 am and offering practices, instruction, contests, and competitions (plus an awards ceremony on Fridays) until 4 pm. A misting tent to keep kids cool in the summer heat has been added, much to the delight of campers. Your child will meet you in the dismissal line sweaty, tired—and very happy.

 

Tweens/Teens Library
Ossining Public Library
53 Croton Ave, Ossining 
(914) 941-2416; ossininglibrary.org
The teen room at the Ossining Public Library alone is enough to keep your tween or teen happy for hours, with recliners, computers, a private meeting room, and a flatscreen TV. But add the rest of the library’s features, including a Wobble Cafe outpost, and a theater that has been home to such events as Hunger Games Party and Movie night and Wii game and craft events, and you’ll have to drag them home.