From hiking and biking to indoor go-carting, horseback riding, and camping, the North County confidently answers the age-old kid question, “What are we doing today?” Here are some of the best answers for all families and all budgets.
The sight of the Kensico Dam (1 Bronx River Pkwy,Valhalla 914.231.4033) is impressive—it’s 300 feet high, 1,830 feet long, holds 30.6 billion gallons, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also home to The Rising, the county’s September 11 Memorial. But mostly, it’s a place for all kinds of family fun from cultural heritage celebrations; concerts; antique and arts and craft shows; free summer movies; as well as lots of room for picnicking, in-line skating, walking, and nature study. (Oh, and our own Westchester Magazine Wine & Food Fest!)
Lasdon Park, Arboretum & Veterans Memorial (2610 Rte 35 Katonah 914.864.7268), which straddles the Somers-Katonah border, features a 22-acre bird sanctuary, Monarch butterfly trail and meadow, historic tree walk with smartphone-interactive icons, and a holiday (December) train show.
For biking, you can’t beat the North County Trailway. The longest of four connected rail trails of the former New York Central Railroad’s Putnam Division line, the Westchester portion of the trail is 22.1 paved miles of lush forest and beautifully manicured farms. The northern end of the trail starts at Rte 118 and Rte 6 off the Somers Commons Shopping Center and the southern end in Mount Pleasant can be reached in the Eastview Park and Ride.
The Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco (260 Chestnut Ridge Rd 914.666.8448) is a 640-acre family-friendly nature preserve located within easy access from Interstate 684. Every weekend programs such as hiking, pond studies, animal encounters, and more are presented. The annual SugarFest takes place on March 14 and 15, celebrating the tradition of maple sugaring with a pancake breakfast.
Need to rent bikes? Try Yorktown Cycles (1899 Commerce St 914-245-5504) for beginner to advanced bike rentals and gear for the whole family (call first for availability).
All that pedaling get you hungry? Pause your ride and cross the street to Trailside Cafe (1807 Commerce St; 914.302.7331), which offers the best in farm-to-table soups, salads, smoothies, and fresh juices to give you the energy to bike that extra mile. Call ahead and your order will be available for pick up.
For weatherproof year-round fun for all ages, look no further than Grand Prix New York (333 N Bedford Rd, #200, Mount Kisco 914.241.3131). GPNY is the largest indoor track in the country, and boasts a blacktop floor instead of concrete, plus tracks with varied elevations. There are three racetracks—each with different cars and different speeds—for ages 9 to 11, 12 and up, and 16 and up (with permit). After racing, check out the 19-lane bowling alley Spins; a redemption-style arcade where you win tickets toward prizes; Hologate VR, XD interactive ride, and more than 100 arcade games; a toddler area filled with bouncy houses; and Fuel, a full-service American restaurant.
Channel your inner Forrest Gump at Westchester Table Tennis Center (175 Tompkins Ave, Pleasantville 914.741.0738), a 14,000-square-foot facility with 19 tables. The center has a variety of programs for all skill levels including group and one-on-one lessons for kids and adults.
Everyone loves a good story at the Chappaqua Library Children’s Room (195 S Greeley Ave; 914.238.4779), where a range of programs for children and their caregivers are offered year-round. Many of these are drop-in programs, which visitors are welcome to attend, including Laptime for pre-walkers, Nursery Rhyme Time for ages 3 to 4, and All Together Now for birth to 5-year-olds.
Grab a cup and create your own masterpiece at Frannie’s Goodie Shop in Mount Kisco (134 E Main St 914.218.8697), a DIY frozen yogurt haven. There are dozens of flavors that rotate daily (e.g., cappuccino, Georgia peach, Thin Mint cookies) plus more than 100 carefully-curated toppings selected by co-owner Frannie Albanese including mochi, pomegranate seeds, Cocoa Puffs cereal, and Ghirardelli white chocolate syrup.
Get on the other side of the camera at The Jacob Burns Film Center Media Arts Lab (405 Manville Rd, Pleasantville 914.773.7663), a media education hub that houses a recording studio, soundstage, and animation studio. The JBFC Media Arts Lab offers innovative programs in new media, film production, music, animation, and more for students from pre-K through adult, including special one- or two-day weekend workshops for families. There are also workshops during vacation weeks.