New York City may have the Lego Store in Rockefeller Center, but if your kids are as obsessed with Legos as my eight-year-old son, it's worth taking a trip north to the brand-new Legoland Discovery Center, which opened a few weeks back in nearby Yonkers. When we set out to visit over spring break, I worried that it would just be a glorified Lego Store and not worth the schlep to Westchester's Ridge Hill mall. But I'm happy to report that the Legoland Discovery Center is a super-fun play space that has a lot more to offer than just building ith Legos.
The only Legoland Discovery Center on the entire East Coast, this new family attraction offers hours of indoor fun, including rides, interactive stations and a massive play structure to explore. Your kids don't need to be Lego nuts to enjoy themselves here: Even though there were literally hundreds of thousands of Lego pieces at my son's disposal, he didn't stick one pair of plastic bricks together during our visit. He figured why waste time on something he could do at home when there were so many unique Legoland Discovery Center experiences to try.
Of course as cool as the new Legoland Discovery Center is, there are some important things to know before you go to help you make the most of your visit. So here are my top 15 things to do at Westchester's Legoland Discovery Center as well as my insider tips as a mom who's been there, done that.
- Pose for a photo in the Lego Man-shaped doorway, which leads to the colorful lobby
- Explore the play Lego Factory, a fun manipulative area for preschoolers with lots of things to touch, spin and push
- Bring a mini Lego figure to trade—all the cash registers have trading posts where you leave an old mini and grab a new-to-you figure
- Shoot the bad guys on the Medieval-themed Kingdom Quest video game-inspired ride
- Conquer the three-level Lego Fire Academy play structure, which even has a pit full of soft, squishy Lego bricks called the Construction Site
- Build and race Lego vehicles in the Lego Racers: Build & Test area
- Catch a short animated movie in the Lego 4D Cinema
- Jump on the Merlin's Apprentice carnival ride, which spins and goes up and down
- Marvel at super-detailed NYC landmarks made from Legos in Miniland
- Sit in on a Master Builder Academy workshop with a Lego pro to learn tricks of the trade
- Enjoy creative play in the just-for-tots Duplo Village
- See if your Lego skyscraper can withstand a natural disaster at the trembling Earthquake Tables
- Sing karaoke at the Lego Friends playhouse
- Build amazing creations from an incredible variety of Lego pieces
- After you're done inside, explore the rest of the swanky open-air Ridge Hill mall, which includes tons of stores and the awesome Tom Otterness-designed Big Girl Playground
Things to Know Before You Go
At the risk of kicking up that old Lego gender controversy, prepare yourself for a lot of "boy energy" at Legoland Discovery Center. Sure girls come here, too—there's even an area specifically meant to appeal to little ladies—however the crowd is mostly male
Buy your tickets in advance! Yes, there's a small service fee, but the center often sells out, so if you go hoping to pay at the door you might be turned away.
Go early or late! Legoland Discover Center is already an extremely popular destination and it gets quite crowded. For the best experience, try to visit during off-peak hours.
While there's an onsite cafe, the prices are steep. Since you're not allowed to bring your own food, I suggest timing your visit in between meals or trying one of the many restaurants in Ridge Hill.
While lots of grown-ups love Legos, adults aren't allowed to visit Legoland Discovery Center without a child under 13 in tow. This rule is strictly enforced and frankly, as a mom, I think it's a good one.
Speaking of ages, Legoland Discovery Center is aimed at children ages 3 to 10 and I agree. Toddlers won't really get that much out of it and tweens will probably think they're too cool for it.
Another reason to leave your babies and toddlers at home? Due to narrow doors and hallways (not to mention crowds), double strollers won't work in the space and you may even have difficulty using a single stroller.
Driving is the easiest way to get here—it took us 30 minutes door-to-door from midtown Manhattan—but Legoland Discovery Center is also accessible via public transportation. Grab the Metro-North Hudson Line to Yonkers and transfer to a Westchester County bus that will take you to the Ridge Hill mall.
The price: I have heard people complaining about it being expensive. Admission is $22 for adults and $19 for children ages 3 to 12. If you just drop in for an hour, then yes, it's pricey, but if you spend the whole day here like we did, it's not that bad. If you think you'll visit more than three times in one year, an annual pass is more economical.
Legoland Discovery Center is located at 39 Fitzgerald Street in Westchester's Ridge Hill mall in Yonkers. It's open Monday to Saturday 10am-9.30pm, and Sunday 11am-7pm. Visit the website for directions and ticket options.