Spin or Lose
Where can teens experience an array of activities at a 40,000 sq. ft. entertainment complex or catch a show at an attached 14,000 sq. ft. performance space? Right in Peekskill, at The Factoria at Charles Point, home to Spins Hudson.
Guests can try their hand at a four-level aerial ropes course or a two-story laser-tag arena before hitting a massive arcade and bocce court with crew in tow.
Believe it or not, boardgames really are a mega-popular pastime among the current cool kids. And if you wander into The Rift, an emporium of comic books, collectibles, and role-playing games located in Peekskill, you can often find several of the sub-20 set engaging in some highly competitive Warhammer or D&D.
Not sure what those games even are? No worries, because the welcoming staff and enthusiastic patrons at this Peekskill stalwart will be happy to initiate you.
Time to put your parent’s credit card — er, we mean, all that hard-earned snow-shoveling money — to work at The Westchester. Gucci, Sephora, Burberry, and several other of the labels pop stars sing about can be found at this luxe shopping plaza located in White Plains.
Be sure to stop by the absolutely awesome Savor food court, which includes New York City gems like Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, The Little Beet, and Juice Generation.
While Justin Bieber, who famously hung out at Bowlmor White Plains, may no longer be a teen, this place still attracts a heaping helping of adolescents looking for a good time.
Drenched in blacklight and filled with pounding music courtesy of an on-site DJ booth, it’s clear to see that this is not your everyday alley. Add in walls of HD video screens, an arcade, and fleets of eats and refreshments, and you have one extraordinary night out.
Get (Film) Buff
Teens head to the fun and funky Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers en masse to watch films that fall outside of your run-of-the-mill multiplex lineup. Along with a selection of cult, retro, and classic films harking back to the early aughts, the Drafthouse also offers a wealth of approachable food (some specifically themed to flicks), as well as plenty of drinks and desserts, all served straight to seated audience members.
King of the Hill
With a laid-back, open layout and a host of approachable shops, Ridge Hill remains a top destination for teens looking to drop some dough. Clothing connoisseurs can find youth-focused brands, like Uniqlo, Express, and Forever 21, not to mention the indoor-skydiving venue iFly and a range of restaurants, including Nathan’s, Elevation Burger, and P.F. Chang’s.
When we asked teens and their parents on Instagram what Westchester desperately needs, we received one overwhelming response almost immediately: karaoke. A virtual rite of passage for young Manhattanites, our county offers few opportunities to sing your heart out anywhere other than a 21-and-up bar.
That said, if you really need to belt out your rendition of “My Heart Will Go On,” give Imperial Pool & Karaoke, across the Hudson, in Tappan, a try.
Don’t get us wrong, Westchester boasts plenty of top-tier pizza shops, and nearly all of them are well worth a slice — or eight. That said, New Rochelle’s Pizzeria La Rosa slings some particularly pleasing pie courtesy of hot-shot chefs Frank Pinello and Tuckahoe native Matt DiGesu, both of the legendary Best Pizza in Brooklyn.
With a 100-year-old wood-fired monolith churning out the goods, this awesome eatery also makes for a fun place to hang out with friends.
Along with cellphones and social media, teens sure do love smoothie bowls. Whether it’s blended açai, puréed dragon fruit, or blitzed banana, these fruit-filled, topping-covered creations are an almost every-day eat for some kids.
Drop by Playa Bowls in Pleasantville, and you will likely spot a handful of just-such-hungry teens looking for one of the company’s signature green, banana, or açai bowls, all of which are pretty tasty no matter your age.
Mexican food has really improved in the county over recent years, case in point: The Taco Project and bartaco. Found in both Tarrytown and Yonkers, The Taco Project remains a favorite of teens, as well as their parents, for incredible chicken and shrimp varieties, all served in relatively large portions.
For a more out-on-the-town atmosphere, try bustling bartaco in Port Chester, where hungry locals can snag some churros dipped in chocolate after all that guac.
Few beverages have gained the esteem of teens quite like bubble tea. Also called boba, the beverage is essentially green or black tea with a range of jellies or chewy spheres, often topped with sweetened milk. 5 Spice Teahouse & Restaurant in Mount Kisco, Scarsdale’s Bubble Shop, and bustling Korean stalwart Bibille in Tarrytown are among the very cream of the local bubble-tea crop.
After school, after games, after nearly anything, teens may be found at any of several local diners in and around the county. But for those unbounded post-permit drivers, Mt. Kisco Diner is among the most delectable. Get your cheeseburger or Cobb salad, along with far more uncommon consumables, like pizza mac ’n’ cheese or the bright-blue Cookie Monster pancakes.
Seize the Stage
Ready for the spotlight? The School of Rock in Bedford, Mamaroneck, and White Plains (among several other nearby locations) is a prime spot for wannabe stars and musicians-on-the-rise. The school’s Center Stage classes just might be the top option for teens looking to channel their inner rock god.
After they submit an audition video as part of a selection process, talented teens have the chance to participate in a studio recording session and perform at a live artist showcase in Los Angeles that is attended by record-label executives searching for the next big thing.
Teens with a soft spot for any form of art are enthusiastically invited to attend free weekly sessions at ArtsWestchester in White Plains. During Teen Tuesdays, young adults between 12 and 16 years old can enjoy snacks and refreshments as they produce a range of incredible art works led by knowledgeable teachers weekly from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
One recent class involved creating large-scale circular mandalas from sand, while another called for crafting small-scale decorative ornaments from clay. No matter the subject that day, Teen Tuesdays are a superb way to get artsy in a supportive and welcoming atmosphere.
Attention all artsy adolescents! Over the summer, Pleasantville’s Westchester Art Studio offers their Drawing and Painting for Teens class, aimed squarely at young people ages 10 to 17. Potential Picassos will receive art supplies before being taught step-by-step techniques in painting and drawing by an acclaimed artist who will help both beginners and studied scribblers craft individual projects.
Go Out and Clay
If crafting incredible vessels is more your speed, drop by Port Chester’s Clay Art Center, where youths can engage in some serious mud work during their Teen Wheel program.
This eight-week course teaches teens how to center, pull, and throw clay on a potter’s wheel, and allows them to explore a wide variety of functional pottery forms that go well beyond that mug they made in elementary school. Students are then taught how to take pieces off the wheel and alter their forms with advanced techniques before finishing off their masterworks with professional studio glazes.
Kill It at Cooking
The chic home-goods store Sur La Table offers several popular cooking classes exclusively for teens ages 12 to 17. This year, as part of their Sur La Table Ultimate Summer Experience Cooking Classes, the store will offer courses in a range of disciplines.
Their Baking Workshop shows adolescents how to make treats like cookies, cakes, and pies, while The Academy of Cuisine teaches teens how to craft dishes from a small menu. Particularly ambitious young chefs can try the Open Your Own Restaurant class, where they’re taught how to prepare a host of kid-centric dishes, like pizza, pretzels, and sushi. With locations at Ridge Hill in Yonkers and White Plains’ The Westchester, it’s easy to find a spot to hone those cooking chops.
Kick It With Kids in Need
One of the most rewarding ways to volunteer is with fellow youngsters dealing with some very hard times. Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla offers programs for teens ages 16 and up, with more than 100 volunteers working in departments across the hospital, some involving interaction directly with patients ranging from infants to high schoolers and others providing critical behind-the-scenes support.
School credit is available to those who qualify, and the hospital will match an applicant’s skills, availability, and interests to Blythedale’s needs. In addition, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, also in Valhalla, has volunteering programs for teens 16 and up with an internship program tailored to high schoolers (they have one for college kids, too).
Help Your County Out
If you are wondering where exactly to donate your time, Volunteer New York! has the answer. Based in Tarrytown, this acclaimed organization offers pre-filtered volunteering opportunities for young people ages 12-17.
These range from helping out during mealtime at an assisted-living community or manning a coffee cart for veterans to aiding a mobile food pantry in Port Chester. Volunteer New York! even runs its own Youth Volunteer Guidebook app — for both Apple and Android — that explains everything new participants need to know.
Feed the Needy
Those who are short on time but big of heart also have options. At Elmsford’s Feeding Westchester, anyone more than 8 years of age — and especially enthusiastic teens — are welcome to help feed the 200,000 food-insecure individuals living in the county for as little as 1.5-2 hours, with no need to make an ongoing commitment.
Feeding Westchester also offers options for group and family volunteering, just in case you can get your BFF or your ’rents to drop by, as well.
Give Pets a Second Chance
More into nurturing cuddly creatures? New Rochelle’s Humane Society of Westchester has you covered. The Humane Society’s Junior Volunteer Program allows people ages 14 to 18 to create their own schedules in conjunction with the shelter, during which participants can complete tasks like feeding animals and socializing cats, kittens, or puppies.
Looking for the world’s steepest roller coaster? How about a wild wave pool or ice-skating rink? What about a luxury movie theater? All this and much more can be found at American Dream in East Rutherford, NJ, home to the largest indoor amusement park in the nation, Nickelodeon Universe.
Here, guests can not only shop to their hearts’ content, but they can also hit the slopes at Big SNOW, the first indoor snow park in North America, or scope the scenic environs from a 300-foot observation wheel. Oh yeah, and there will also happen to be 350 shops and nearly 100 dining experiences, as well.
Those teens who wonder what it feels like to soar the skies need look no further than Thrillz High Flying Adventure Park. Located in Danbury, this place has attractions ranging from a 70-foot zip line and elaborate obstacle course to state-of-the art laser tag, 3D rock-climbing walls, a slack-line station, ropes course, and even trampoline launch pads, not to mention a free jump room.
Throw in console and PC gaming stations, an elaborate arcade, and even glow-in-the-dark axe throwing, and you have one unique entertainment complex well worth a stop.