Making the big move to the suburbs from the city is something many New Yorkers contemplate at some point. One major reason they decide to make the leap to the ‘burbs often has a lot to do with kids. While raising a baby in the city is pretty Instagram-worthy, reality sets in when it’s time to enroll for kindergarten. But, moving to the suburbs doesn’t have to mean a stripping of your hip urban identity anymore. Oh no, you wild thang you, relax, you can have your brunch and picket fence, too.
My family and I moved to Northern Westchester recently, and, while I was a bit nervous about losing my identity and having to join endless mom groups and book clubs, I was in for a surprise. The ‘burbs have life! There is no shortage of brunching, shopping, kid events and art. While people move out of the city for the space and good schools, there are lots of surprises in store that make it almost like the city, without the crowded subways.
Our sponsor Houlihan Lawrence invited us to share some of the awesome things about life in the towns, villages and hamlets north of New York City. So come on up and start exploring. Here are 10 ways you’ll find we’re rocking your urban lifestyle up here.
1. But what about the culture? We got your live theater and even indie movie theaters. The Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck has the best programming for kids and adults and even a solid season of modern dance. The Jacob Burns Movie Theatre in Pleasantville is an indie theatre that has great artist meet and greets with the filmmakers and a media lab to create your own talking pictures. For fine arts, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art has stunning installations, movement pieces and arts festivals to fit your fancy. And Dia: Beacon offers community free days with family- friendly programming, workshops and live music.
An enthralling installation at The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art
2. But what about all the free summer festivals? Don’t worry about missing out on the Philharmonic at Central Park. Pack your picnic, grab some champagne and head to Caramoor for an entire summer of outdoor concerts—it’s less crowded and just as charming. For something on the funkier side, the Wassaic Project Summer Festival is a free celebration of art, music, dance, film and community featuring family-friendly programming by over 100 artists and 25 bands.
3. What about our scenic strolls over the Brooklyn Bridge? You can’t beat the views from the Walkway over the Hudson, the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. And our scenic walks aren't limited to bridges. The Dutchess Rail Trail offers 13 miles of safe and peaceful paths for walking, running or biking. If biking is more your thing, for a few weeks in the summer, the Bronx River Parkway is closed to cars and used only for bikes.
Visiting the animals at Muscoot Farm
4. But my kids have access to so much amazing stuff. We have found a plethora of activities and places with great kids’ programming. We love the Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers, the Media Arts Lab at Jacob Burns where kids can make their own films, the Katonah Museum for its elevated art programming and Hudson River Museum that offers some pretty amazing science projects for kids. For hands-on educational fun, head to Muscoot Farm. The farm is free to enter and offers tons of programs for kids and adults, including bird watching, nature walks, morning farm chores, maple syrup and a popular farm summer camp that fills up before you even hear about it.
5. But what about Eataly? If gourmet food halls are your jam, then you have arrived at the right time. Exit 4 in Mount Kisco just opened with six dining options that offer everything from a lobster roll to squid in pasta. The bar has nitro coffee and wines on tap! And since Mario Batali is on your mind, there's also Tarry Market, the "mini-Eataly" in Port Chester, which sits right next to his neighboring restaurant.
Shopping at the Plaesantville Farmers’ Market
6. But what about my sustainable swordfish and fair trade coffee? Farmers markets and grocery co-ops are in practically every town. Our favorite has been the Pleasantville Farmers Market and the Sunday market at John Jay Homestead, where Martha Stewart rides her horse to pick up a few provisions. Or you can’t get more locavore than this: North Salem’s Farmer and the Fish has an operating farm out the back door of its kitchen.
7. But what about the history of old New York? If you like architecture, check out the mansions of New York’s elite, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Hyde Park, Robert Livingston Jr.’s Clermont and John D. Rockefeller’s Kykuit. All are fun to visit and walk the grounds. If literary legends are what you crave, you can also visit Washington Irving’s Sunnyside to see where he penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. Fun fact: The names for his characters came from the gravestones at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Yes, you can find the grave of one Ichabod Crane.
8. But what about my Instagram feed? Worried about missing out on the food scene? Oh, no, my fine foodie friend, you have arrived at the Mecca of food. The Hudson Valley is New York’s Napa. Jean-Georges has a new spot tucked away nicely in Pound Ridge, and you can’t talk about food without mentioning Blue Hill and Dan Barber. The Obamas fly up here just for dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The setting at L’Escale on Greenwich Harbor could pass for Monte Carlo or Cannes. And let's not forget #instagood favorites like Walter’s Hot Dogs, Fortina and The Cookery.
9. But what if I don’t want to live in a house? There are plenty of luxury apartments, condos and townhomes for you to settle into. You can get that feel of cosmopolitan living without committing to the hedges and driveway, from luxe dockside developments in Greenwich or Rowayton to more vertical configurations. White Plains is the big city of the suburbs and gives you everything you need within walking distance: grocery stores, restaurants and even the Metro North Train. Luxury apartments can be found up the Sound Shore from New Rochelle through Connecticut, as well as up the Hudson from Yonkers to the factory loft conversions of Beacon and Poughkeepsie, with commuter-friendly neighborhoods up the Harlem Line as well.
10. But I like to be able to walk, not drive everywhere. Come discover the land of wide sidewalks, cul-de-sacs and vibrant downtowns that are just looking for kids to come visit. Come stroll the streets of Larchmont, Scarsdale, Cold Spring or Irvington to name just a few of the pedestrian-friendly towns where you’ll find mom and pop shops, delis, outdoor seating, movie theaters and more. You’ll find all the charm without the crowds!
So if you're ready to connect with an expert and find your dream home in New York City’s northern suburbs, visit HoulihanLawrence.com.
Maria Colaco lives in Westchester with her husband, two children and one very large St Bernard. She blogs at TheNewYorkMom.com. All photos by author.
This post is sponsored by Houlihan Lawrence, the real estate market leader serving Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Fairfield counties.