Not jetting off to Vail or popping down to Palm Beach for the season? Lucky you—because there are plenty of holiday and cold-weather attractions and activities right here. Check out our road-tested experts’ guide for where to go and what to experience.
Interactive Holiday Experiences
“One-destination wonders”—multi-attraction special events—offer lots of experiences and bang for your buck while eliminating the schlep factor. Two relatively new ones have quickly become beloved family traditions. From November 7 to December 24, the multisensory Adventure to Santa Interactive Holiday Experience (above) at Westchester’s Ridge Hill in Yonkers (www.ridgehill.com; online reservations required) has lots of festive fun for families—especially for kids.
Embark on an interactive sleigh ride blending storytelling and technology with Shrek and pals as they head to the North Pole in search of Santa. And now in its second year, the expanded Westchester Winter Wonderland at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla (www.wwinterwonderland.com), from November 27 to January 4, rivals scenes in New York City, with a new Rockefeller Center-size outdoor skating rink, an outdoor light show, artisan craft fair, heated entertainment tent, and much more, in an enchanting setting.
Lots of outdoor sports—even ice fishing—are happening at county parks and golf courses around our area. Check out www.parks.westchestergov.com/activities for locations, hours, pricing, and on-site amenities, such as food vendors and restrooms.
Grab a sled or inner tube and head to Maple Moor County Golf Course in White Plains (www.golf.westchestergov.com/maple-moor-golf-course) for an excellent variety of slopes and easy parking. Further north is Gedney Park in Chappaqua (www.mynewcastle.org), a designated town sledding area.
For cross-country and snowshoeing, both Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Pound Ridge (www.parks.westchestergov.com/ward-pound-ridge-reservation) and Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining (www.teatown.org) have miles of trails and varied terrain.
Lights, iPhone Cameras, Action!
What’s a holiday season without oohing and ahhing at beautiful light displays? If you want lots of professional lights in one spot, head to Westchester Winter Wonderland at Kensico Dam Plaza for a spectacular outdoor show with 2.5 million-plus LED lights choreographed to music. Another favorite destination, featuring four elaborately decked-out homes on the same block, from late November through early January, is the North Kensico Christmas Light Show in White Plains (www.nychristmaslights.com). It features more than 10,000 computerized lights synchronized to music on 144 channels. Stand-alone homes worth the trip are at 155 Vaneck Drive in New Rochelle and 58 Gedney Park Drive in White Plains.
Channel your inner Tara Lipinski or Wayne Gretzky indoors at the iconic Casino at Rye Playland in Rye (www.playandice.com) or Elmsford’s Westchester Skating Academy (www.skatewsa.com). Both offer clinics, camps, public sessions, and food. For outdoor skating, the Wampus Pond Park in Armonk (parks.westchestergov.com/wampus-pond) has a low-key bucolic setting within walking distance of a charming town. And Lasdon Park in Katonah (www.lasdonpark.org) is a family favorite with its own snack shop
Westchester Winter Eats
Port Chester; (914) 253-5680;
European Chocolate Bar Hot Cocoa
Mint Premium Foods
Tarrytown; (914) 703-6511;
Encore Bistro Française Larchmont;
(914) 833-1661; and Rye; (914) 481-8833;
Smoked Brisket Chili
Peekskill; (914) 930-1880;
Crabtree’s Kittle House
Chappaqua; (914) 666-8044;
Saltaire Oyster Bar & Fish House
Port Chester; (914) 939-2425;