Croton

Westchester's Top Haunted Houses and Halloween Events for Kids

Think you can handle the Creepy Morgue at Playland or survive the Haunt at Rocky Ledge? Whether you’re local or a daytripper, Westchester is a hot spot of exciting and fun (and terrifying!) Halloween happenings for children. We've collected some of the best frights, a couple ideas better suited for the younger ghouls, and a few fun parades in the Lower Hudson Valley.  

Keep in mind that the listed age minimums are suggested by the event producers. You know your kid best—what’s no big deal to one grade-schooler could cause nightmares for weeks to another.

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The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze Rises in Hudson Valley Again

There are some experiences every family should try once. Then there are annual events that, after you try them, you vow to do every year forevermore. The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson,  a Hudson Valley Halloween staple with thousands of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns, falls firmly in the latter category.

The downside of the Blaze is that tickets start selling out way in advance ... like early September. The 2017 shows begin Friday, September 29, and run through Saturday, November 25—a longer run than planned in years past. They are not held every day, so start checking the calendar now. Our NYC readers should know that the Blaze is definitely worth splurging on, even if you need to rent a Zipcar. It's also accessible via public transportation.

Read on for what you need to know about this Halloween spectacle, including details about this year's installations (including the timely Pumpkin Zee Bridge). Looking for more fall and Halloween fun? Sign up for our newsletters

Best Places for Apple Picking with Kids in Westchester and Rockland

Apple picking season is here! I used to look forward to apple picking every year as a child, and now I have just as much fun watching my little ones run through the orchards—not to mention the fresh-pressed apple cider and hot, delicious cider doughnuts! Many farms also have family-friendly entertainment and activities including live music, corn mazes and more. Apple picking is also a great farm-to-table teaching opportunity and a wonderful way to ease out of summer.

So get your apple recipes ready and read on for our top picks for apple picking with kids in Westchester and Rockland County. (Remember to contact the farms before heading out. Many are family owned and operated, and hours may change with little or no notice.)

Also see our top picks for apple picking in Dutchess and Orange and sign up for our newsletters.

(Do) Fence Me In: 6 Great Playgrounds for Toddlers in Westchester

There are lots of great parks and playgrounds in Westchester, no matter which city or town you live in. But finding a playground that’s suitable for the under-5 set can sometimes be a challenge: You want them to be safe—and they want to try that giant, twisty slide with a group of wild 7-year-olds on it.

No need to worry. Turns out there are a number of toddler-friendly playgrounds throughout the area, with plenty to do to keep them occupied and having fun. We've rounded up a few of our favorites.

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New Playground Review: Croton's Sunset Park Now Open

From saucer swings to cool climbing ropes to great picnicking spots, there are so many fun and innovative things to do at area parks and playgrounds this summer. But if you’re looking for something new—and happen to be a Croton-on-Hudson resident—head to the recently renovated Sunset Park, located between Lexington Drive and Sunset Drive.

Not a Croton resident and want to check out what other Westchester and Hudson Valley playgrounds have to offer? We’ve got you covered. For even more family fun, see what’s happening in our Event Calendar.

Westchester's Free Outdoor Summer Concerts in June & July

Grab a blanket, picnic dinner, and maybe event a glass of wine because whether you go to work or drive the camp carpool, a free concert in the park is just the thing to end your day on a relaxing note. Here in Westchester, we're lucky enough to have many of our parks on the waterfront, and you'd be hard-pressed to beat that view at sunset.

This summer, towns around the county are hosting bands playing everything from rock to jazz to country to Cuban. How's that for variety? While most of these are completely free, a few do charge a small fee for parking.

Looking for more summer fun? Consult our Event Calendar and our Summer Activity Guide, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter.  

Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival is a Family-Friendly Music Festival

Since its inception over 50 years ago, Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival (a.k.a. the Clearwater Festival) has grown from a small nomadic folk gathering into a massive annual environmental celebration. Founded in 1966 by Toshi and Pete Seeger, the Clearwater Festival draws thousands of visitors to the shores of the Hudson River for a family-friendly weekend of music, dance, storytelling, theater, hands-on learning, water activities, arts and environmental education in Croton-on-Hudson's Croton Point Park.

All proceeds from this groundbreaking festival—which made our June GoList—go directly to protecting, preserving and sustaining the river through the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. nonprofit organization. After taking last year off, the 2017 fest is returning June 17-18, and it's a great way to teach kids about protecting our planet while having a lot of fun.

Looking for even more summer festivals? We've got you covered! Be sure to follow us on Facebook too.

FREE Bilingual Story Times for Westchester Kids

Because a public library’s mission is to serve the varying interests of its community, it’s fitting that many offer bilingual programming for children, especially in towns with diverse communities. Bilingual programming for Westchester families, however, is often attended not only by native speakers but also by those wishing to expose their children to a second language from an early age. One local mom we know strategically hired a Spanish-speaking nanny for her toddler and brought him to Spanish story time to increase this exposure.

Beyond the 30 to 60 minutes of weekly immersion, these programs can also provide a cultural hub—an opportunity for families to connect with others from their heritage and socialize both within and outside of the library setting. And since most are intended for young learners accompanied by a caregiver, you're sure to pick up some new phrases yourself!

We’ve explored the bilingual programs offered by Westchester libraries to round up some highlights. Though Spanish-language programs are the most abundant, a variety of languages are in focus—and one in particular offers a smattering of more than 20 languages, from Dutch to Urdu and Ashanti! One note: Although we confirmed with the libraries that these are ongoing programs, be sure to check before you go because dates can change.

Rock n Roll Classes: Where Westchester Kids can Unleash Inner Jaggers & Joplins

So your child wants to a be a rock n roll star? Then listen now to what we say ...

In response to a growing demand, several music schools here in Westchester have either added rock to their repertoire or opened to exclusively teach the sound to a new generation of aspiring artists. The schools differ in their approaches but all offer both group and individual instruction. Some also encourage public performing or offer opportunities for recording.

Read on to learn about places in our area that offer rock lessons for budding musicians with either amateur or serious aspirations. Looking for more classes in Westchester? Consult our Classes Guide and sign up for our newsletters

Ahoy! 5 Sailing Camps for Kids in Westchester and Rockland County

Before you commit your kids to a traditional camp for the entire summer, you may want to explore some specialized programs. Learning to sail is a great way for children to become self-reliant, learn a life-long sport, and make lasting friendships and memories. Being able to pilot his or own craft will certainly earn your kids bragging rights, so set them on the right course with one of these full- or half-day programs.

For even more activities and classes this season, check out our Summer Camp Guide, and be sure to sign up for our newsletters

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