We all love our own little cozy corners of Westchester. There are many things to do and see, places to eat, and parks to visit. Who doesn’t love exploring the county and “finding” the kid-friendly gems! We are spotlighting some of those awesome places so that other moms can take advantage and get a glimpse into Westchester’s awesomeness! Read all posts in our Spotlight on Westchester Series.
Yonkers is the largest city in Westchester County and the fourth largest city in New York. Yonkers is a fabulous city to live in due to its proximity to Manhattan and its elaborate views of the Hudson River. With an array of diverse restaurants, schools to choose from, and parks to explore, there is something for everyone here. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Yonkers so special!
Bicycle Sundays occur on the Bronx River Parkway on, you guessed it…Sundays in May, June, and September from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s a 13.1-mile loop from White Plains to Yonkers, and you are welcome to bike, skate, walk, or jog on the BRP. If you have plans to travel during the aforementioned times, be prepared to find an alternate route due to the parkway closure.
The Bronx River Path is a picturesque trail that runs parallel to the BRP and is a nine-mile trail from Valhalla to Yonkers. I love running on the path during the fall and springtime when the foliage is breathtakingly beautiful. It can be easily accessed via the Crestwood, Tuckahoe, or Bronxville Train Stations. A word of caution, the path can get a little treacherous at times with ice, mud, and floodwater from the river, so be mindful on days surrounding inclement weather.
Untermyer Gardens Conservatory is a public garden that overlooks the Hudson River. The horticulture and architecture are spectacular to experience, and the conservatory includes a walled garden, an amphitheater, a great gate, and a sundial garden, to name a few. This would be a great spot for family photos! Special events mainly occur on the weekends.
The Dog Park at Ridge Hillis located adjacent to Whole Foods. It is open from dawn to dusk, allowing dogs to roam freely in the fenced-in area. Bring your pup for fun and get to know other local dog owners.
Schultze Field, located in Crestwood, features an open playground with eight swings, basketball courts, tennis courts, and a baseball and softball field. On spring afternoons, you will likely hear the tune of the Mr. Softee truck and find a line of children waiting for their ice cream and shakes. The Crestwood Community Fund is a nonprofit started by a group of mothers who have raised funds to rebuild the playground in memory of Annie and Allie, two beloved Crestwood natives. We can’t wait to see this new playground come to fruition! The expected rebuild is Fall 2023.
For all things sports related, the Hillcrest Lakersis a nonprofit sports organization that serves boys and girls residing in Yonkers. Hillcrest provides year-round programs, including flag football, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball. The ages of children in Hillcrest programs range from three to eighteen. Games and practices occur on various fields and gyms throughout Yonkers. Hillcrest also hosts a wonderful Opening Day Ceremony at Schultze Field in April. Go Hillcrest!
The Yonkers Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K races occur every September. This scenic yet hilly race starts and finishes in downtown Yonkers, travels through the hills of Yonkers, and runs along the majestic Hudson River. This race is perfect for beginners and seasoned runners alike. Yonkers Marathon is even a Boston Marathon 2024 Qualifier!
Tibbett’s Brook Park, located on the west side of Yonkers, was one of the first parks developed by Westchester County. The park features a large aquatic complex, including a lazy river, a splash zone for toddlers, and an area for swimming laps. Entry lines can get long, and the pool can get crowded as this is a Westchester County Park and not limited to just Yonkers. Tibbett’s also has a playground, tennis and pickleball courts, an outdoor fitness area, mini golf, trails, playing fields, and a large lawn that is host to various activities throughout the year.
A brand new Chuck E. Cheese recently opened up a new location on Central Park Avenue. If you download the app, you automatically get 500 free E-tickets to use towards prizes. You can also find awesome deals on the app, such as Pizza & Play weekdays or one hour of unlimited play on Wednesdays for $17.99. If you have a preschool-aged child, the best time to go is right after morning pickup! You will have the place to yourself and won’t have to worry about crowds.
I highly recommend the Alamo Drafthouse on Central Park Avenue if you want to see a movie. It is a stylish movie theater with creative cocktails and bites to eat that will be served directly to your seat. That’s right! You do not have to get up in the middle of the movie to order more popcorn or another beverage. And speaking of the popcorn, I’m pretty sure it’s the best movie theater popcorn I’ve ever had. I’m not a big movie-goer, but my husband is, and I swear I’ve tagged along solely for the popcorn and chocolate peanut butter milkshake.
Ice Skating at Murray’s is a staple of childhood! Murray’s offers open skating, hockey programs, figure skating lessons, and special events like birthday parties and group events. The rink features bleacher seating for spectators, a snack bar, and skate rentals. There is also an outdoor skate park on the premises.
You must check out the Yonkers Aquatics Program for swimming lessons or competitive swimming.Swimming lessons are through Starfish Swim Instruction and the Condors Youth Swim Team. Lessons take place at Mark Twain Pool on Woodlawn Avenue, occur once a week, and run for eight weeks. The sessions are half an hour long. This is by far the most affordable lessons in the area. You need to have your child get swim tested before the program begins to determine which level class to enroll them in. Class enrollment fills up EXTREMELY fast, so be on the lookout for the registration dates and times. Getting your child into the swim class you want can be like trying to score Taylor Swift tickets. (I am not exaggerating when I say that they fill up ONE minute after the classes have been released).
The Crestwood Library is one of three of the Yonkers Public Libraries (the other two being Riverfront and Will Libraries). Crestwood Library is so special because it is nestled in the adorable community of Crestwood. The library staff is always welcoming and friendly. My four-year-old wrote his own book and proudly brought it to the library. One of the librarians read his book with him, and they even featured his book in the local authors’ section. Miss Judy is there on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 for Music and Merriment. The library offers many other programs for all ages, including Chess, Lego Fridays, daily Homework Helper, Yoga, Green Thumb Gardening, and Senior Talk.
Frank Pepe’s Pizzeriaon Central Park Avenue is for sure a crowd-pleaser. The coal-fired pizza produces a crispy, slightly charred, yet chewy crust. It’s the perfect combination! The Margherita Pizza is a classic with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil—bonus points for the spacious booths and family-friendly atmosphere.
Rory Dolan’s Restaurant and Baron McLean Avenue gets a spot on this list since I named my child after this establishment! Rory’s does it all, including indoor and outdoor dining, large and small gatherings, brunches and happy hours, house DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday music sessions. I love the large, square bar with plenty of seating and the option to eat in a booth or at a table. The seasonal décor is always on point. They also throw one heck of a St. Patrick’s Day party!
The Grassy Sprain Dineris a low-key diner with a very friendly and kind waitstaff. The kitchen is very efficient, and everything always comes out promptly, warm, and as expected. This is probably the one restaurant I feel comfortable taking my three young children to alone.
X2O Xavier’s on the Hudson is a great spot for date night with its views of the Hudson, including both the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges. Dishes are elegant and inspired by various cultures, including French, Italian, Spanish, and Asian. I highly recommend visiting during Restaurant Week for the three-course prix fixe menu. Valet parking is available.
Louie and Johnnie’s, across from Empire Casino, is a traditional Italian restaurant. The menu has a lot to choose from, the portions are very generous, and the waitstaff is always attentive. The shrimp francese is my go-to dish, and despite wanting to finish my entire plate, there are always leftovers to take home to enjoy.
Other mentions:Don Jose for something Mexican on Central Park Avenue, En Lai for Chinese on Tibbetts Road, Namastey New York for Indian Cuisine on McLean Avenue.
Ridge Hill is a staple of Yonkers. It has it all, from restaurants (Texas de Brazil, The Cheesecake Factory, Yardhouse, Little Buddha) to shopping (Gap, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Dick’s, Forever 21, Apple) to indoor play areas for the kids, such as Monster Golf, Hapik, iFly, Rockin Jump, and Lego Discovery. These are all great options for birthday parties. Let’s not forget the movies and Whole Foods either! Ridge Hill has something for everyone; you could easily spend all day here.
The Cross County Center is another open-air mall between the NYS Thruway and the Cross County Parkway. With over 100+ stores, you are sure to find whatever you are looking for. And let’s not forget about the good eats like Chipotle, Carvel, Aunt Annie’s Pretzels, and Shake Shack, to name a few. Other amenities include Blink Fitness, Showcase Cinemas, Super Stop and Shop, and the Hyatt Place Hotel. Parking is free and easily accessible via public transportation.
Where is your favorite spot in Yonkers?
To read all posts in our Spotlight on Westchester series, click here.