Croton

10 Great Family Campgrounds in and Near Westchester

If camping is on your summer bucket list, you’re in luck: There are lots of campsites both in and around Westchester and the Hudson Valley, which means you’ll never be at a shortage for places to pitch your tent for a few nights.

Next time you’re ready to pack up your sleeping bag and s’mores provisions, consider staying at one of these area campgrounds, some of which offer even more fun activities for kids, like playgrounds and beaches.

Prefer something a little different? Check out these alternative camping ideas—and our entire summer activity guide!

Where Westchester Kids Can Find FREE Drop-in Storytimes

Getting into a storytime group can be nothing short of cutthroat in some places. While the registration-only programs ensure you a seat on the carpet, drop-in programs can provide some much-needed flexibility. Who hasn’t suddenly found a morning with nothing planned (or plans abruptly canceled) and a burning desire to just get out of the house? 

We’ve rounded up 15 places with drop-in storytimes—and, best of all, they’re all FREE! Looking for more things to do with your kids in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley? Take a look at our Event Calendar and sign up for our FREE newsletters.  

Best Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Events for Westchester Kids

Think shelling out big bucks for a babysitter, staying home, or navigating massive crowds are your only New Year’s options as a parent? Think again! We’ve identified fun ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve for kids of all ages—from noontime countdowns to later nights for the older set. Read on for some of the ways we’ve identified to ring in the new year, family style.

Our Event Calendar also includes other activities happening on December 31. To stay in the know about all this and much more, sign up for our newsletters and follow us on Facebook

Top Haunted Houses and Halloween Events for Westchester 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 the 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 2018 shows begin Friday, September 28, and run through Saturday, November 24—thus extending the Halloween season straight through to Thanksgiving. 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 several new features. Looking for more fall and Halloween fun? Be sure to sign up for our newsletters!

Best Places for Apple Picking with Kids in Westchester and the Hudson Valley

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 the Hudson Valley. Remember to contact the farms before heading out. Many are family-owned and -operated, and hours may change with little or no notice.

Looking for even more fun fall activities? Sign up for our newsletters.

Canoe, Kayak, and Paddleboat Rentals for Westchester Families

Westchester County and the Hudson Valley boast plenty of pools and spray parks to keep kids and adults splashing their way through the sticky summer months. But for New York families seeking a more active outdoor adventure, paddling down one of the state's many natural local waterways can't be beat.

Novices can take guided tours or lessons offered by kayak companies, and children as young as 3 can help power a paddleboat with some of that energy they never seem to burn off. More adventurous paddlers can take on half-day tours of the Hudson River and its aquatic ecosystems or conquer stand-up paddleboarding.

Read on for nearby spots where you can flex those rowing arms with canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, rowboats, rafts, and more. And for even more water fun, check out our list of the best lakes and rivers for swimming in Westchester and the Hudson Valley.

Top Swimming Lakes and Rivers for Westchester Families

Pools in Westchester: check. Splash Pads to take the kids: check. Here's one more fun option to add to your list: lakes. While you won’t find many in Westchester, the Hudson Valley in general offers plenty of places to jump in and go for a swim, including some that merit a day trip—or even an overnighter. Here, we’ve rounded up several options, from the Hudson River to Lake Taghkanic.

Looking for even more fun in the sun? Check out our full summer guide for great ideas for the whole family.

15 of the Best Party Places for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Westchester

As adorable as first, second and third birthday parties can be, the idea of my toddler and 10 to 15 of her closest friends wreaking havoc on my living room and our unsuspecting cats is enough to make me consider just skipping the festivities until she is old enough to lend a significant hand in the post-party clean up. Luckily, there are professionals all across Westchester County who have mastered the delicate science of toddler birthday parties.

If you prefer to party at home, check out our post on in-house party entertainers and stand back as little ones are delighted and amazed. For those of us who opt to leave the work entirely in the hands of the professionals, read on for our top picks for celebrating yearly milestones with the 4-and-under-crowd.

(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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