Best of 2022 Westchester Kid Edition: Top Openings, Happenings, and Other Awesome Stuff We Loved
The end of the year has us waxing nostalgic for the year that was and spotlighting the best new kid-friendly openings of 2022 in Westchester and the Hudson Valley with this look back at eight awesome openings, events, and things to do Best of all? Many of these new-to-the-scene family fun spots are either open all year or still going strong.
Whether your outings this year took you to one of these new openings, or you revisited old favorites like the region's beautiful farms, hit up a festival or two, or simply enjoyed local hikes, and explored destination parks, it's a perfect time to look back on the family-friendly memories made all around and appreciate the kid-friendly fun in our own backyard.
As we turn the calendar to 2023, we wish you and yours a very Happy New Year and thank you for being a reader. Cheers to a new year filled with more family-friendly fun.
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1. Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience – Yorktown
With everything from a wand duel to favorite characters come to life, this immersive outdoor experience—which kicked off in October at FDR State Park in Yorktown—is a thrill for any kid who loves Harry Potter. Add to that fun touches (hot chocolate with sprinkles in the color of your house, anyone?) and a very cool ending, and you’ve got a great family event. The good news? It doesn’t end in 2022—you can score tickets through Sunday, January 22, 2023.
2. The Pamplemousse Project – White Plains
The newest spot on our list—it just opened in December!—this coffee shop in downtown White Plains is owned by two local residents and is a great place to grab a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. There are lots of sweet treats on tap too, with a wall dedicated to all different kinds of candy and a display case full of chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels, and more. You’ll also be doing good when visiting—the cafe donates all of its profits to charity.
American Christmas invited visitors to explore its workshop and a special Santa's village walk-through. Photo by Jody Mercier
3. American Christmas – Mount Vernon
Christmas magic is created partly in the North Pole, of course—and partly at American Christmas, a 110,000-square-foot warehouse in Mount Vernon that supplies tons of Christmas decorations and lights to some of the most well-known displays around (think: Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center). For the first time, it opened up to visitors, who can enjoy a visit with Santa (on certain days), check out all the decorated installations, and so much more. The best part? All the proceeds from ticket sales go straight to local charities.
Hapik opened in Ridge Hill giving kids plenty of room to romp and climb. Photo courtesy of the venue
3. Hapik – Yonkers
If you haven’t stopped by this bright and colorful indoor climbing park in Ridge Hill, which opened in July, this winter may be the perfect time to do so. You’ll find tons of climbing walls—many with fun themes, like a wall of Crocs—along with a ropes course and other fun obstacles in the huge, clean facility. It’s a popular spot for birthday parties and can be great for kids of a variety of ages. Plus, since you’re in Ridge Hill, there are plenty of lunch spots to hit up after a morning of climbing—though Hapik has its own snack bar, too.
5. Emelin Theatre – Mamaroneck
After a hiatus due to the pandemic, Mamaroneck’s Emelin Theatre is hosting kid-friendly productions once again. These shows make for a great first theater-going experience for little ones, with a manageable size theater and reasonable ticket prices. Some upcoming shows to consider: Junie B. Jones Essential Survival Guide To School on Sunday, March 19, 2020, and The Pout-Pout Fish on Sunday, April 16, 2023.
Legoland New York celebrated its first Holiday Bricktacular in 2022. Photo courtesy of Legoland NY
6. Legoland New York’s Holiday Bricktacular – Goshen
Since the start of the season back in April, families have been heading to Legoland for everything from the rides to a stay in its Lego-themed hotel. There were a variety of special events throughout the year, which for the first time ran for an entire season. Act fast to catch the park's first Holiday Bricktacular, which runs through Sunday, January 1, 2023, rounding out the holiday season with a visit with Lego Santa (naturally!), rides, a tree lighting, and tons more.
7. Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum – Poughkeepsie
This family-friendly favorite was closed for renovations and debuted both a new name—it went from the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum to Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum—and a new exhibit, Science Revealed!, when it re-opened last spring. Planning a visit? Admission is FREE on the third Saturday evening of every month.
Flip Circus turned heads all across the tri-state this spring and summer. Photo by Gwendolyn Tundermann
8. Flip Circus – Yonkers
Back in April, families enjoyed some time-honored fun with Flip Circus, which made a stop at the Cross County Shopping Center. And they were able to check all the boxes—from popcorn and cotton candy to clowns and jugglers, with lots of great acts throughout the show. Keep an eye out on its website for upcoming shows.
The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Experience is an out-of-this-world family hotel. Photo courtesy of Disney
More Cool Kid-Friendly Openings in 2022
9. Mommy Poppins Launched in San Francisco and Miami
Our little family grew this year as we added San Francisco and Miami to the world of Mommy Poppins. Our two new sites join NYC, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut, DC, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Orlando, and Atlanta. Also expanding: the cool things you can do on our site. We recently redesigned our search pages with a cleaner, easier-to-use design and new functionality. You can now find camps and classes on your local calendar of events and even buy tickets directly from our website—if an event has a red "Book It" tag, you can purchase tickets immediately, with no added fees. Oh yeah, in our spare time, we also created a new Earth Kids Guide and newsletter. Since the environment is one of the most critical issues facing our children’s futures, we wanted to think and talk about new meaningful and fun activities to engage children and families with sustainability each month.
10. Sesame Place – San Diego, California
One of our LA writers visited the park before it opened and got the inside story on what kids love about the country's newest theme park. There's a water park element to the place, too, which is open year-round, and it's definitely one of the best amusement parks in the US for kids under 5.
11. Dig World TX – Houston, Texas
This construction-themed adventure park opened this year near Houston. Here kids can operate the equipment instead of just watching: drive skid steers, dig dirt with excavators, and more. (Now our own Diggerland isn't the only construction-themed amusement park!)
12. Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex – Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida
This new, 50,000-square-foot, multi-level attraction at Kennedy Space Center opened in March. It gives space fanatics of all ages first-hand views of modern-day spacecraft such as a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster and Orion Crew vehicle. The main concourse features a 4D motion theater offering four different journeys. It's as close to outer space as you can get without paying for a ride on a tech billionaire's rocket.
13. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Experience – Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida
At this one-of-a-kind hotel experience, guests stay aboard a starship for a two-night adventure. The journey begins on a launchpad with a simulated blast off into space. The launch paddocks land at the Halcyon starcruiser, where guests have their own passenger cabin complete with bunk beds and a galactic view. Young Jedis can get a sneak peek of the inner workings of the ship, encounter stormtroopers in the ship's atrium, wield a lightsaber, and navigate the ship with the crew's help. Cheap? No. An incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience? Yep.
14. The Dr. Seuss Experience – Traveling show
This traveling show is one our Houston editor caught when it was there, and she said it’s as if the books have come to life. The show moved to Colorado and will continue touring the US from there. The experience gives kids a chance to see, hear, feel, and experience their favorite settings from nine of Dr. Seuss’ stories as they go from room to room to interact with each installation.
Did we miss any of your favorite new openings? Let us know on Facebook!