Favorite Parent Band
Ask Your Mom
We love this six-piece Bedford-based “classic alternative” rock band, started in 2006. We love that its members are all suburban dads (they have 14 “known” children among them). We love that they don’t take themselves too seriously. We love that their day jobs are cool and diverse (drummer John Trumpbour is advertising director for Sony Music; bass player Buz Abrams is an emergency-room surgeon at Montefiore). We love that their instruments don’t come from Best Buy (guitarist Derek Correia plays a Gibson Les Paul and a Strat and Rob Cavenagh plays a Rickenbacker and a Gretsch). We love that they rock (their influences include the Clash, the Stones, and Eric Clapton). And we love that, as their name implies, they know who’s boss.
White Plains (914) 304-4052
High-tech this and state-of-the-art that. Whatever happened to plain old fun? It still exists—really. And it’s right in our own backyard. Here’s what we love about Backyard Sports: its focus is on kids, on sportsmanship, on fun. Founder and Scarsdale resident Danny Bernstein hopes Backyard Sports brings back some of the “schoolyard spirit and sandlot magic” that’s been lost over the years. Kids—and not just those destined for greatness—can play basketball in fall, soccer in winter, and baseball in the spring. A program for children with special needs also is offered.
Special Needs Program
Special Needs Academic and Arts Center at JCC of Mid- Westchester
(914) 472-3300 x 327
Parents and caregivers don’t have to scratch their heads when looking for programs for children with speech and language delays, learning disabilities, or other special needs. At the JCC of Mid-Westchester, their progeny will be in the care of 12 teachers, who are supported by a full team of specialists experienced in speech and language pathology, occupational and physical therapy, social work, and psychology. But kids don’t care about credentials—they care about having fun, and the SNACC lets them have it in spades with their sports, arts, computer, music, and theater programs. The JCC of Mid-Westchester also offers transitional kindergarten for youngsters who’d benefit from an additional year of schooling and respite-care for families exhausted due to the demands of caring for a child with special needs.
Clay Art Center
Port Chester (914) 937-2047
The Clay Art Center is a nationally recognized nonprofit ceramic art center is not just an adult art center, it has some of the best kids’ art programs around. Perhaps your eight-year-old would like the eight-week “Clay Afternoons” class, in which she can learn about the magic of molding and creating with clay. Got a teen at home? Sign him up for “Teens on Wheels,” a 10-week intro to working on the potter’s wheel. All classes are reasonably priced, too—$145 to $245 for members and $155 to $255 for non-members.
Indoor Sports Center
OnTrack Sport Center
Tarrytown (914) 909-2974
OnTrack Sport Center, adjacent to the Tarrytown Metro-North station, is a 26,000-square-foot indoor sport center with a 200-foot-by-70-foot main field, a field house featuring professional-grade synthetic turf, and a baseball center equipped with pitched-ball batting gages and a soft-toss area. Lots of classes too. Enough said.
Outdoor Family Event
John Jay Homestead Barn Dance
(914) 232-8119, (914) 232-5651
Yee-ha! If you and your family haven’t been to the annual John Jay Homestead Barn Dance—a Westchester tradition for 16 years (2009 will mark the 17th)—held on the gorgeous 62-acre grounds of John Jay Homestead State Historic Site in Katonah, what in the world have you been waiting for? Why miss out on succulent country barbecue, a rock concert in the barnyard, make-your-own sundaes, and swimming-pig races? Don’t just sit there like a frog on a log—get your kids’ and your dancin’ shoes on!
Crib & Teen City
Hartsdale (914) 686-3331
Crib & Teen City doesn’t look lush or swanky like some of those high-priced kids’ furnishings stores, but we love its huge selection of well-priced quality furniture for babies, kids, and teens from Munire, Stanley, Lea, and Berg. And the staff couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful.
Cool Kids’ Party
Dino Dig USA
Mamaroneck (914) 381-DINO
Okay, dig this: your little one grabs a bucket and shovel, heads into an ominous-looking (but completely safe) 30-foot-long, rock-edged sand pit amid the roar of dinosaurs, and begins searching for buried treasures. Your pint-sized paleontologist emerges tired (good for you—he’ll sleep), hungry (good for you—he’ll get to eat at the party and you don’t have to cook), and happy (he’s got a handful of treasures that he found all by himself and gets to keep!). We just love this place—it takes everything kids love (dinosaurs, sand, digging, exploring, discovering, collecting) and mixes them all together in a joy-filled, safe, and educational setting. What could be better?
Scarsdale Metro Restaurant
Scarsdale (914) 713-0309
The nine-year-old Scarsdale Metro Restaurant, arguably the busiest lunchtime destination in town, didn’t set out to try to be “kid friendly.” It just happened. “Our customers have a lot of kids,” says co-owner Gus Catechis, who also co-owns the popular Scarsdale Metro Deli, “and our workers have a lot of kids. We have no choice in the matter.” What the restaurant has is a vast menu, a cheery atmosphere, excellent service, and happy kids with full bellies.
Display of Girl Power
Mamapalooza Festival at Kensico Dam in Valhalla
Okay, so the moniker’s a little hokey and its promotional materials use hackneyed New Age-y buzzwords like “empower” and “inspire,” but that hasn’t stopped thousands of women and their families from loving this dedicated, cool, and conscientious women-powered organization and festival of the same name, both of which are dedicated to all things Mom. And these chicks rock. The annual festival, held in May, is free.
Bedford Hills (914) 666-7707
201 Marble Ave, Pleasantville (914) 449-6909
It’s worth it just to see how cute your little darling looks while safely tucked into the fire truck or Jeep-styled salon station—but of course, we love the stylish cuts that KidStyles delivers (and the always-fresh coffee for the parents).
(914) 937-6363, ext 108
This ain’t your grandma’s Y, and these ain’t your grandma’s swim classes, either. With more than 50 swim instructors, aquatic exercise professionals, ARC trainers, swim coaches, lifeguards, and scores of class and private-instruction choices, the Rye Y knows how to teach children their strokes—whether they’re doggy-paddlers or a tri-athletes-in-the-making.
Katonah (914) 245-2319
Nothing tastes better than the berries you pick yourself. Amawalk Farm offers lots of room to delve into your search, with five acres of organic, “u-pick” raspberries. Last year, locals treated themselves to 4,000 pints of the beautiful berries, and this year, the farm is bolstered by a brand-new trellis system for easier picking all summer long and right into October. Bring a straw hat, but leave your cellphone in the glove compartment—the farm is a cell-free zone.
Best News Kids’ Clothing Store
Rye (914) 908-5688
Reasons parents will love this store: (1) it’s one-stop shopping for babies through juniors and young men, (2) it’s well organized and easy-to-navigate, (3) it has plenty of free, on-site parking, and (4) it has so many of the latest sizzling hot trends and upscale, must-have labels that even the prickliest pre-teen won’t find much to complain about.
Best Place to Clown Around
Circus Arts Camp at Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
555 W Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale
Your kids are thinking of forgoing a liberal arts college for Clown College, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the college prep. Send them to a camp they’ll actually love—forget the calamine lotion and bug juice—where they can learn to walk the tightwire like Philippe Petit; “fly” on a trapeze with the greatest of ease; juggle beanbags, balls, rings, and clubs; walk on stilts or ride a unicycle; learn the art of genuine circus clowning (as opposed to the getting-sent-to-the-principal hijinks of class clowning). The ringmasters under this big top are professional educators and coaches, many of whom are grads of the world’s best circus schools and gymnastics programs. Just don’t be surprised if they inspire your young ones to run off with the circus.
Photo by Cathy Pinsky
Training For Project Runway
Westchester Fashion Academy for Children
Westchester Fashion Academy students stop pouting that they have nothing to wear and demanding rides to the mall (along with money for a new wardrobe). After all, they can create their own threads. Founder Denise Proctor, an FIT grad and 20-year fashion vet, teaches youngsters how to design, draw, pattern, construct—and even market and sell—their own clothing at her eight-year-old fashion school. Graduates hope to send their “collections” down the runway. Until then, many can help their parents dress better.