Top Attractions in Westchester: Best Things To See and Do with Kids
If there’s one thing we’ve learned living here, it’s that there’s no shortage of amazing things to do and see in Westchester. From kid-friendly museums and outdoor spaces to annual events that are on every family’s must-do list, it’s easy to keep little ones engaged, and to have a blast while doing it.
So whether you’re visiting family and friends, are thinking of moving to the area, or simply want to play tourist in your own backyard, read on for are some of the top attractions for families in Westchester.
Delight in the old-fashioned amusement park at Playland Park in Rye. Photo by Susan Miele
Great Things To Do with Kids near Westchester
1. Playland Park — Rye
Hands down one of the most iconic spots in the county, this amusement park has been open for almost 100 years. If you’re visiting with young kids, Kiddie Land is a must, while a ride on the Dragon Coaster is definitely in order for older ones. There’s also mini-golf, a boardwalk by the beach, pool in the summer, and ice skating in the winter.
2. Kensico Dam Plaza — Valhalla
Another popular spot for families, there’s plenty to do at the Kensico Dam, which was originally built in 1917. Bike along the circular path, climb the stairs that lead to the top of the dam, visit the 9/11 memorial, or play at the recently renovated playground. And keep an eye out for events: Fourth of July fireworks and summer cultural festivals are held here.
The holidays come alive at Westchester's Winter Wonderland. Photo by Susan Miele
3. Westchester’s Winter Wonderland — Valhalla
We couldn’t mention the Kensico Dam without highlighting a particularly popular event come the holidays: Westchester’s Winter Wonderland. Recently revamped from an outdoor festival to a drive-thru holiday light show, the switch has proved worthwhile, with hundreds of families flocking to see the 1.2 miles of lights and special effects (Santa, too!). If you’re in the light-seeing mood, there are other displays to catch, too.
4. Hudson River Museum — Yonkers
Overlooking the Hudson River, this museum makes a great day trip with kids. Walk the grounds, check out the 19th-century Glenview Historic Home, and, on weekends there’s usually art workshops set up for kids. But likely the biggest draw: The planetarium, where you can find shows geared toward specific age groups.
5. Westchester Children’s Museum — Rye
This kid-centered space on the Playland boardwark was recently expanded to some 20,000 square feet, which means there’s lots more space to enjoy all the fun and STEM-friendly activities, like Build Your Own Rollercoaster, Toddler Beach, and the Construction Zone. Lots of events happen here, so keep your eye on its calendar.
6. Muscoot Farm — Somers
Perfect for young kids, this 777-acre farm in Somers is manageable enough for little ones, but big enough to keep them engaged. See the animals (cows, pigs, chickens, and more), tour the historic buildings, and be sure to snap a pic on the red tractor. In the winter, the farm offers events including maple sugaring, and the summer Butterfly Walk is always a big draw, too. Pro tip: Stop by King Kone for ice cream on the way home.
Say hello to the "residents" at Greenburgh Nature Center.
7.Greenburgh Nature Center — Scarsdale
Tucked off Central Avenue in Scarsdale, the Greenburgh Nature Center has animals to meet (and super knowledgeable guides who can talk to kids about them), easy trails to walk, and a great shaded playground for kids. And there are other nature centers to visit, too: The Rye Nature Center is another favorite and features a great playground (that spider web!) and lots of walking trails.
8. Teatown Lake Reservation — Ossining
For an outdoor adventure that doesn’t feel overwhelming, the 1.5-mile Lakeside Loop at Teatown Lake Reservation is a good choice for kids. (For context: My 3-year-old did most of it on her own, with a few shoulder rides here and there.) There are other trails too, as well as built-in break spots and cool viewing spots like Wildflower Island.
9. Lasdon Park & Arboretum — Katonah
Dinosaur-loving toddler? He or she will be thrilled to walk through the Dinosaur Garden, a short path with large dinosaurs like a T-Rex and brontosaurs. And there’s more to love here, too, including tons of beautiful flowers and gardens to walk through, especially in the spring; a veteran’s museum (though currently closed for construction); and kid-friendly events.
Catch the Halloween glow at the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. Photo by Susan Miele
10. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze — Croton-on-Hudson
Come fall, everyone is talking about this popular event, which is hosted by Historic Hudson Valley and features 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins lit up in all sorts of designs, from the New York City skyline to dinosaurs, spider webs, and more. The show typically runs from mid-September through early November, but be sure to score tickets early—especially around Halloween—since many nights sell out.
11. The Mario Cuomo Bridge Walkway — Tarrytown
See the Hudson River from a whole new vantage point with a walk or bike ride over the new Mario Cuomo Bridge. On the Westchester side of the bridge, there’s parking and a welcome center. Just note that the bridge is long: Walking from one end to the other (in Rockland County) takes about an hour and a half, so unless your kids are older or you have a stroller, you might want to go about halfway before turning around.
12. Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway — White Plains to Yonkers
Another Westchester institution: On specific Sundays from May through October, the Bronx River Parkway is open only to cyclers. The route starts at the Westchester County Center in White Plains and makes its way down to Yonkers—a total of 13.1 miles—but there are spots to stop and get off along the way.
13. Rye Town Park & Beach — Rye
While we love day tripping to the beaches of Long Island or Connecticut, for something closer to home, Rye Town Beach checks all the boxes: Sand, beach, (hopefully) sun—plus a concession stand, restaurant, and stand-up paddle boarding, and kayak rentals. We also love the park for a stroll or play time on non-beach days, too. Just note that, since the pandemic there are times when the beach parking lot is only open to residents—usually on weekend mornings—so be sure to check ahead.
Untermyer Gardens is a scenic oasis a few miles from the Bronx border.
14. Untermyer Gardens — Yonkers
This pretty park—Former site of a sprawling 20th-century estate—is a great spot to walk with kids, as they admire the fountains, greenery, and Walled Garden. Along with outdoor concerts and other events, the Grand Holiday Illumination holiday lights show in December is a definite must-see.
15. Tarrytown Music Hall — Tarrytown
This performance space right on Main Street in Tarrytown often holds kid- and family-friendly performances, from magic shows to concerts. You can check the schedule and filter results by “Family Series”
16. Empire State Trail — Throughout Westchester
There are tons of places to explore on the 750-mile-long Empire State Trail that extends from New York City all the way upstate. In particular, we love the Bronx and Westchester South County Trail, where you can stop at Tibbets Brook Park in Yonkers or V.E. Macy Park in Elmsford, and the Westchester North County Trail, where a stop at the delicious Flour & Sun Bakery in Pleasantville is a definite must.
Trails at Pierson Park in Tarrytown are stroller- and scooter-friendly. Photo by the author
17. Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park — Tarrytown
For another great walk, we love this stroller- and scooter-friendly path at Pierson Park in Tarrytown. And the park itself has lots for kids to do too, with a free splash pad, playground, picnic tables, and lots of green space (and slightly rolling hills) that are perfect for playing.
18. Emelin Theatre — Mamaroneck
Seeing a show at this theater off of Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck is a great way to introduce kids to the arts. In the past, it has hosted some great productions, with famous characters like Pete the Cat and Rosie Revere, Engineer. While the family series is currently on hold due to the pandemic, it’s scheduled to return, so we’d be remiss not to include it on our list.
Enjoy nature's splendor at Croton Gorge Park. Photo by the author
19. Croton Gorge Park — Cortlandt
Want to see a waterfall? You can check out the pretty one at Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt, as well as play on the playground and go for a hike on the nearby trails. Particularly fun is a walk to the top of the dam—you can park your car in the small parking lot—and enjoy amazing views of the falls and the park below.
20. Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard – North Salem
Apple picking—and eating apple cider doughnuts—is a rite of passage in Westchester, and Harvest Moon in North Salem is a favorite among local families. With its hayride to the orchard and other kid-friendly activities, it’s a great time all around. For those not visiting in the fall, there’s a fun Easter egg hunt in the spring. Another favorite: Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm in Yorktown Heights for peach picking, apple picking, or cutting down your own Christmas tree. (The corn maze is fun, too!)
Thrill to the obstacle courses, ropes courses, and zip lines at Boundless Adventures.
21. Boundless Adventures — Purchase
This eight-acre outdoor treetop adventure course on the campus of SUNY Purchase is a great way to get kids outside. There are 11 obstacle courses, with everything from zip lining to climbing and swinging. Courses are tailored to specific age groups and levels, but kids have to be at least 7 years old to participate.
22. Family-Friendly Food Tour — Throughout Westchester
Westchester is home to plenty of great restaurants—many of which are kid-friendly—and what better way to try some favorites then with a DIY food tour? Our picks: A hot dog at Walter’s Hot Dog’s stand in Mamaroneck, which has been there for more than 100 years. (If the line is too long, consider its White Plains location); pizza from Johnny’s Pizzeria in Mount Vernon; and pretty much anything from diner-style The Beehive in Armonk.
23. Family-Friendly Dessert Tour — Throughout Westchester
What would a food tour be without dessert? We suggest heading out solely for sweet stuff, since there are plenty of amazing dessert spots to check out. A few favorites: Have ice cream at the Instagram-worthy Ice Cream Social in White Plains (Another local ice cream institution: Longford’s in Rye and Larchmont), try a pop tart or chocolate chip cookie at The Snackery Bake Shop in Rye, or go for the cake at Beascakes Bakery in Armonk.
24. Garcia’s at the Capitol Theater — Port Chester
While shows at the iconic Capitol Theater in Port Chester are usually not of the kid-friendly variety, those hosted by The Rock and Roll Playhouse are. Held at Garcia’s, a smaller on-site offshoot of the larger venue, shows introduce kids to the music of artists like Queen, Phish, David Bowie, and more.
25. Downtowns to Explore — Throughout Westchester
There are so many wonderful communities in Westchester—and a stroll through their downtowns is always a great way to spend some time. A few of our favorites: Tarrytown, where you’ll find cute, kid-friendly coffee shops along Main Street; Katonah, where a stop at The Katonah Reading Room is a must; and Bronxville, which is home to Candy Rox, Slave to the Grind, and Womrath Bookshop.
Unless noted, photos are courtesy of the venues.