A guide to local happenings in and around the county.
In town this holiday weekend? Consider yourself lucky. Say goodbye to summer with one of these sunny day ideas.
Head to Katonah for a Labor Day Antiques Fair at Lasdon Park from 10am to 5pm on Monday, September 3. See the wares of several dozen antiques dealers selling everything from vintage costume jewelry to fine Persian rugs and pillows. There’s also a plant sale and live music. Another big draw: Lasdon Park itself. The 234 acre park is definitely worth a stroll. There are lovely hedged gardens, fountains and trails meandering through, making this park perfect for restless children — and adults. Admission is $7 for adults; free for children under 13. Lasdon Park and Arboretum, 2610 Amawalk Road, Katonah; 914-273-4667, cordshows.com. [...]
A simple Starbucks outing is transformed into high fun.
I’m a big fan of finding activities that I enjoy as much as my toddler. When I first moved up to Westchester, I discovered the balcony at the Scarsdale Starbucks and it’s become a staple in our arsenal of activities. Here’s why: I go in, order a drink and then take it out to the “train balcony,” as we call it, with my son. It’s one of the best spots to watch trains.
From this perch, we can watch Metro North trains speed by all day long. Scarsdale has a steady stream of express and local trains coming and going, and if you time it right, you can see as many as five trains in one half hour period. Here’s the real secret: The deck is elevated and 100 percent gated off, which makes it a very safe place to contain young children, while still giving them the pleasure of waving hello and goodbye to trains. [...]
Apparently mid-August means festival season! Check out these road trip worthy events taking place this weekend…
(Photo credit: Nathan Turner)
Returning to its stomping grounds at the Goshen Fairground in Goshen, CT, the Litchfield Jazz Festival will be held outdoors on August 10-12. A moderate road trip north (roughly an hour and a half from the County Center),“The Litchfield” is not just a festival — it’s a jazz family. The focus is quality across the boards — music, art, food, artist talks and kids activities. Listen, learn and love this music with your family and celebrate 17 years of Litchfield Jazz. [...]
This market isn't just about vegetables -- it's a gourmand's go-to spot.
As soon as you turn on to Irvington’s Main Street and head down the hill to the school parking lot, you know the Irvington Farmers Market is serious business: There’s a crossing guard helping to direct traffic. The sleepy little river town is suddenly alive with families pushing strollers, sweet old couples holding hands and just-off-the-train singles stopping at the market on their way home.
With about two dozen vendors, the Irvington Farmers Market is plenty stocked with fruits, veggies and baked goods. But it offers something many of the other markets around the area don’t: Magazine quality styling. Most vegetables are presented in straw baskets!! — and there are lots of prepared foods to sample along the way. The market is open from 3:30 to 7:30pm on Wednesdays, which makes it the perfect spot for a dinner date with the kids.
This tiny park in Pleasantville is the stuff of little boys' dreams.
I spotted Roselle Park while house hunting a year ago, and I never forgot it. Roselle is a community park in a charming little neighborhood in Pleasantville, but it was the sandbox that moved me: A large 40′ x 11′ rectangle filled with diggers and wheel loaders, bull dozers and dump trucks. Truck broke down? No worries, grab a tow truck. There are probably 30 or so trucks in the sandbox at any given moment; they’ve all been donated by local families whose kids have outgrown their use.
Little boys kinda go ballistic here. Take my 2-year-old. As soon as we pulled up, he made a beeline for a large metal crane and pretended to lift a smaller tractor, then he found a shiny red bulldozer he couldn’t part with for the next 15 minutes. Other little boys were busy driving big-wheeled trucks through the sand. One was hunting around for a wheel that had broken off a cement mixer truck. Little girls were playing in the sandbox too — but they had taken the sand buckets and shovels aside and were making a pretty row of castles. [...]
Unique flavors and locally-sourced ingredients sweeten up this Croton ice cream shop.
When you find a good ice cream parlor, you’ll always find your way back to it — no matter where it is. Croton’s The Blue Pig Ice Cream shop isn’t just homey and welcoming, but the ice cream is homemade, all-natural and about as creamy as I’ve ever tasted. (The shop is also a good pitstop if you’re heading upstate on Route 9A for the weekend.)
No additives or preservatives here: The ice cream is made from a mix of milk and cream sourced from a Hudson Valley dairy cooperative founded to preserve several family-owned dairy farms in Dutchess and Columbia counties.
Owner Lisa Moir bought the longtime ice cream shop in 2010 and reopened it soon after as a gourmet ice cream parlor. She tries to locally-source as much of her ingredients as she can. The Strawberry ice cream is flavored with strawberries from her rooftop garden. She uses her own lavender and Croton Beekeepers honey in her Honey Vanilla w/Lavender ice cream; it’s one of their most popular flavors. [...]
Yumminess in every flavor of the rainbow.
It’s hot. It’s really hot. When I think about taking my kids anywhere, I imagine us sweaty, cranky and thirsty. But we’re not staying home today. I have a plan. I wake my three-year-old from her nap and before the usual “I’m tired” crying starts I make her an offer she can’t refuse.
Do you want to get an icy?
On a hot day like today, Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ices in Eastchester are a little cup of heaven and the perfect afternoon activity. With over 40 flavors, you can create the Italian ice of your dreams. My girls both ordered rainbow and cotton candy. I had watermelon and coconut and my mom had chocolate and mango. Get your icy in a Styrofoam cup (better for little ones) or paper cup, just like ices were sold in the good ol’ days. And if you prefer ice cream, Louie G’s also serves over 20 flavors of ice cream as well as sundaes, milk shakes and ice cream cakes.
Seating is limited at the Eastchester location; there is another Louie G on Midland Avenue in Yonkers. We took the two small tables and four chairs inside. Everyone else who came into the store took their ices outside, but even on this hot day, they didn’t seem to mind. It’s amazing how a frozen treat can cool you off. Guess what? It’s going to be hot all week. Go get your icy!
Check out their website to see their other tri-state area locations.
Uncle Louie G’s: 439 White Plains Road, Eastchester
Pack up the sand toys. The beach is closer than you think.
Part of the reason I moved to Westchester from NYC a year ago was the water. I was tired of having to schlep out of the city to dig my toes into the sand and go for a swim. Lucky for us Westchester folks, we can take a dip in the Hudson — or head to one the region’s many beaches in Mamaroneck or Rye. (If you’re lucky enough to snag a spot at the oh-so-private Larchmont Manor Park Society’s Manor Beach, then you’ve got it made.) But for the rest of us, the nicest public beach is actually in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Our friends in Greenwich took us to Greenwich Point Park for the first time in the spring. We were wowed by the Hamptons-like beach houses on Shore Road along the way, but it was the long sandy stretches that thrilled us. After driving over a one-lane bridge built of riverstone, we found ourselves on a peninsula surrounded by the calm waters of the Long Island Sound. The beach itself is expansive, even if the sand is soft in parts, pebbly in others.
Still, we’ve gone several times this summer. Swimming is perfect for young children since the water gets deep gradually, and there are lifeguards on duty. [...]
Katonah's Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts may be Westchester's Best Kept Secret.
The fireflies are out, and I’m walking through a stand of cedar trees. The path curves around and spits me out in front of a grand stone gate. My 2-year-old runs through with two of his pint-size buddies, and they turn around and grin. We’ve found a secret garden. There are neat rows of hedges and perennial borders overspilling with white hydrangeas; they climb up a Medieval Mount, a stepped-garden that offers views of the Sunken Garden below.
We’re at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, and the grounds aren’t just beautiful, they’re exquisite. We came for “Dance at Dusk,” a family music event held at the art center a few Wednesdays this summer; you can also enjoy family concerts on Sundays during Al Fresco Sundays. We brought along several of our neighbors and their kids, camping out on blankets for a potluck picnic until the music started up. On the night we’re there, there is a Flamenco band, Flamenco Vivo Carlos Santana, and a Flamenco dancer to inspire the kids to wiggle their hips.
Long Island's North Fork prides itself on being different from its tony neighbors to the south.
I’m walking through rows of cabernet sauvignon. The vines stretch out as far as the eye can see, and in a few minutes I’ll be sipping a glass of the cab at Martha Clara Vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork. My 2-year-old pulls me toward the farm animals; there are goats, pigs, turtles and horses.We take a walk through the vines to a gazebo. And our day is just beginning.
Long Island’s North Fork is home to about 36 wineries and 3,000 acres of vineyards, which makes it an ideal spot for vineyard hopping. But there’s so much more to do on this small 25-mile spit of land bordered by the Long Island Sound to the north and the Peconic Bay to the south. On your drive out, you’ll pass through charming villages with white-steepled churches, wide swaths of undeveloped farmland, farm stands selling locally-grown fruits, veggies and cheeses, plenty of beaches, and yes, rows upon rows of grape vines.
I’ve been spending summers on the North Fork of Long Island since I was a kid — I’m here as I type these very words. And I can promise you this: It’s worth the 90-minute drive.
Frozen fun with fresh strawberries, blueberries and yogurt
It’ll be 87 degrees on July 4th; not quite as hot as this weekend, but hot enough to want something cold and sweet like homemade ice pops. Whip them up a few hours before and tell your kids you made something special for an afternoon snack. Firecracker Pops. (Thank you, Martha Stewart!)
I tested out the recipe and they are just sweet enough with all the nutritional value of fresh fruit and the fun of patriotic colors. [...]
An explosion of options in Westchester County this week
There will be dozens of firework displays all over the county this week, but here are a few that might be extra spectacular. Happy Birthday, America!
The annual Kensico Dam Music Fest will take place this Tuesday, July 3, featuring the Bensen-Scott Big Band. Pre-show festivities will commence at 6pm, so come early to set up your blanket, picnic and enjoy the entertainment. The band will perform at 8pm followed by fireworks at approximately 9:15pm. Admission & parking free. The Kensico Dam Plaza is located at the north end of the Bronx River Pkway in Valhalla.
The Ossining Fireworks Show will take place on July 3, kicking off with an outdoor concert featuring band “Over the Top” at 7:30pm. The sky will illuminate with lights at 9:15pm followed by music by Phil Ismaels band at 10pm. Food vendors will be on hand including Carvel Ice Cream, Lonnies Fish and Chips, Wobble Cafe, and Tommies Food Trucks by the Ossining Boat and Canoe Club. This year, seating will be plentiful at the Harbor Square property – first come, first serve, as is parking at no charge. [...]