Photo courtesy of Rockefeller State Park Preserve
Rockefeller State Park Preserve
This spring break, many Westchester families are trading Aruba for Ardsley or Disney for Dobbs Ferry. But don’t dwell on the vacation you gave up; revel in the “staycation” you’ll get. Westchester offers a host of budget-friendly activities to keep your kids smiling until school’s back in session.
Monday, April 6: Sports Day
Where to linger: Frozen Ropes. Little kids love the LED pitcher while the big kids go nuts for the ProBatter virtual reality pitcher that throws a real ball at this indoor baseball training facility (300 Executive Blvd, Elmsford, 914-345-3370). Cross the street to the Westchester Skating Academy for a public session (1:30-4:45pm)—the earlier you go, the more space your little Dorothy Hamill will have to show off her double toe loop (91 Fairview Park Dr, Elmsford, 914-347-8232).
Where to lunch: Silver Tips Tea Room. Warm up your little skaters with Hawaiian Berry and Cotton Candy, two favorite teas for the younger set at this cheery café. Kids can order “afternoon tea” served on a three-tiered plate with two tea sandwiches (don’t miss the egg souchong: egg salad marinated in smoked tea), a scone, a slice of cake, and a pot of tea (3 N Broadway, Tarrytown, 914-332-8515).
Staycation secret: Last Licks in Scarsdale, Armonk, and Rye Brook have wonderful selections of sports memorabilia to admire and, oh, yummy ice cream, too.
Tuesday, April 7: Arts Day
Where to linger: Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo. Don’t expect a stuffy docent-led museum tour here—just acres of grass for running and loads of Met-worthy art from the likes of Rodin, Giacometti, and Calder. A must-see: the giant teddy bear sculpture (David Wynne’s Grizzly Bear) at the mouth of the lake, a perennial kid fave. And, though tempting, please don’t feed the ducks or koi (700 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase, 914-253-2000). Entry and parking are free. Want to stay indoors? The Katonah Museum of Artis offering its popular School’s Out /Art’s In program led by teaching artists. The current Roy Lichtenstein programs include comic book illustration, painting with patterns, and pop-art collage. Your kids will wonder why they ever bothered with Garfield once they get a load of these comics (134 Jay St, Rt 22, Katonah, 914-232-9555).
Where to lunch: Ebb Tide Seafood. Kids love the outdoor deck (worth bundling up for) on which they can admire the seagulls and enjoy fish sticks homemade from fresh cod (1 Willett Ave, Port Chester, 914-939-4810). Head down the street to The Kneaded Bread to pick up mini chocolate brioches for dessert (181 N Main St, Port Chester, 914-937-9489).
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Staycation secret: Visit Little Rembrandt, where kids can paint Easter and Passover pottery. Pick up a few art supplies (the wooden-animal painting kit is a bestseller) for at-home projects to keep ’em busy tonight (116 S Ridge St, Rye Brook, 914-939-1400).
Wednesday, April 8: Nature Day
Where to linger: Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Take an invigorating hike on the carriage roads that traverse this magnificent 1,233-acre preserve. Trail maps with distance and grade descriptions are available. Best bet for beginners is the flat loop around the lake. You can even bring the dog, on a leash, and the little ones: it’s stroller- and wheelchair-accessible (Rte 117, Tarrytown, 914-631-1470).
Where to lunch: Q Restaurant. Young’uns eat free on Wednesdays at these oh-so-popular barbecue joints famous for pint-size portions of mac ’n’ cheese and Southern fried chicken fingers (cooked without trans fat). Kid wranglers love their Texas brisket, corn bread, and iced tea served in a take-home Mason jar (487 E Main St, Mount Kisco, 914-241-RIBS; 112 N Main St, Port Chester, 914-933-RIBS).
Staycation secret: While away the afternoon at The Trove, White Plains’s brilliant children’s library, exploring the interactive exhibits and secret spaces. (Good luck pulling your kids away from the marble machine!) Check out books and DVDs on favorite nature topics to enjoy at home tonight (100 Martine Ave, White Plains, 914-422-1476).
Thursday, April 9: Community Day
Where to linger: Do good on this day—send the kids to their closets and toy bins to kick off spring cleaning; then, donate your items (don’t forget eyeglasses and cellphones). Grab a trash bag, and clean up your local park. Install energy-efficient light bulbs in your home. Set up a hot cocoa stand and collect money for a cause that’s important to your family.
Where to lunch: Near & Natural. Local, organic, and delicious. Kids love the organic egg burrito, served all day, and the peanut butter-and-banana smoothie, and bring something home for dinner. Why cook? You’re on staycation (1 Court Rd, Bedford Village, 914-205-3545).
Staycation secret: The Volunteer Center lists opportunities for family volunteering on its website. Or call to discuss your family’s philanthropic interests, and a staff member will match you up with an organization that needs help (914-948-4452).
Friday, April 10: Our Town Day
Where to linger: Start at your local library or tourist center. Read up on your town’s history in a local guidebook and visit an historic place or landmark. Then hit your town’s business district to admire the architecture, browse a store you’ve never been to, and explore as if you were a tourist. Bring disposable cameras and let the kids take photos of their favorite sights.
Where to lunch: Your favorite local restaurant, of course!
Staycation secret: Go to NoKa for a copy of KidSavvy Westchester, the essential resource for exploring Westchester with kids (25 Katonah Ave, Katonah, 914-232-7278).
Just because you’re on staycation doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an adults-only night out. Bring the kids to a friend’s for a sleepover (you’ll do the same for them another night this week) and try a “four-course” night out in White Plains. Park in the City Center lot: all the destinations are walking distance from there.
First Course: Drinks at BLT Steak. Kick off the night with a cocktail (try the popular acai mojito) and a free bowl of Cajun popcorn at the bar (3 Renaissance Sq, White Plains, 914-467-5500).
Second Course: Dinner at Legal Sea Foods. A romantic night out calls for the Lobster Lovers dinner. They also have a gluten-free menu (5 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, 914-390-9600).
Third Course: A movie at City Center 15—Cinema de Lux. It is date night after all, so catch the newly released romantic comedy The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler (19 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, 914-747-6000).
Fourth Course: Cappuccino and dessert at Via Quadronno. Don’t miss the killer capps and perfectly decadent signature tiramisu (199 Main St, White Plains, 914-288-9300).).
Need a break? Put the kids in mini-camp. Here’s a sample of the many camps going on this month.
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture (Pocantico Hills, 914-366-6200)
FasTracKids (Rye Brook, 914-937-6977)
Jodi’s Gym (Mount Kisco, 914-244-8811)
The Rock Club (New Rochelle, 914-633-ROCK)