Spotlight on Westchester :: Armonk

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We all love our own little cozy corners of Westchester. There are so 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 the awesomeness that is Westchester! Read all posts in our Spotlight on Westchester Series.Armonk

Armonk is a quaint rural hamlet in the town of North Castle. Quiet, family-oriented, and school-focused, this community is all about the kids. As the home to numerous restaurants, shops, seasonal festivals, and family-friendly activities, Armonk is an amazing place to raise children. Here are some of the best things about this central Westchester community!

The Schools

While neighboring Chappaqua often receives the attention of a top-notch district, Byram Hills in North Castle is a quiet contender for one of the best districts in the country (see here, here, and here). Often recognized for private school quality in a public district, Byram Hills offers competitive STEAM education in a small academic community. The Byram Hills Educational Foundation helps fund several initiatives that bring incredible resources and programming into the district. Byram Hills serves Armonk, as well as portions of Chappaqua, Pleasantville, and Bedford.

What to Do

Seasonal Festivals: Armonk is home to several excellent festivals throughout the year. During the summer, the Armonk Outdoor Art Show is a community staple for art lovers, while Fol De Rol Carnival is a beloved family stop. During the winter, the Frosty Festival is a must-attend (Armonk is, after all, the home of Frosty the Snowman!).

Byram Hills Preschool Association: Book club, school cohort playgroups, seasonal festivals, and more! The Byram Hills Preschool Association offers programming to help families connect and socialize during the challenging years before children enter the public school district. When I moved to the community, this was the number one recommendation for meeting other moms and keeping my child busy with friends and activities.

North Castle Community Facilities (Community Center, Library, and Pool): Like many other Westchester communities, resident taxes go towards amazing community resources. Armonk is home to a branch of the North Castle Library, which offers tons of family-friendly programming. During the summer, the pool is a popular stop. And the community center has programming for all ages, all year long. Anyone living in North Castle or the broader Byram Hills community can sign up for pool memberships and community center activities.

Fishing: Not what you expected to read? It may be surprising, but it is true! With the many reservoirs in Armonk (Kensico and Byram Lake are the two big ones), great fishing is only a few minutes away. Both are very popular stops with local (and not so local) fishing fanatics.

Shopping: Shopping and restaurants abound in Armonk’s quaint downtown shopping district. Some of the many unique shops in town include Hickory & Tweed, Sugar Hi, Beascakes Bakery, and Gumdrop Lane. After shopping, a coffee at one of the local cafes, and walk to Wampus Brook Park!

Halloween: In such a quiet community, you might think that Halloween would be a drag. I grew up in a fairly rural community, and after living for a time in the city before my years there, trick or treating was boring. I got about half the candy, with quadruple the work. I also can’t believe my parents let my friends and me walk down the twisty, woodsy roads around our home, given there were no sidewalks or lights. Armonk is an even smaller community than the one I grew up in, and yet, Halloween is far better. The densely-settled neighborhood near the Wampus and HCC Schools accepts the massive task of hosting the entire hamlet/school district for trick or treating each year. As proof of how much this community loves their kids, everyone pitches in to donate candy and Teal Pumpkin trinkets. The entire neighborhood goes all out with decorations, and families start arriving sometime in the late afternoon/early evening for a night of fun. This event truly highlights the Byram Hills community’s spirit; it is all about the kids, and the adults will go big to make sure childhood is truly special.

Summer Camp at Breezemont:  While many families in the area opt to send their children to sleepaway camp, Armonk is home to the super-popular Breezemont Day Camp. Conveniently located near downtown, many families choose this option for their children to ensure they can enjoy the summer months as a family while keeping their children occupied and out of the house during the week.

Get Outside

Cranberry Lakes Preserve: Cranberry Lakes is located south of the Armonk Business District, between North White Plains and Armonk. This beautiful preserve offers a wide range of hiking opportunities.

Whippoorwill Park/Glazier Arboretum: These parks are technically in Chappaqua but right on the Armonk line. Both are popular hiking spots for families and pet parents. Glazier offers easier trails than Whippoorwill, so if you have little kids, this would be the better choice!

Wampus Pond Park: Picnicking, boating, fishing, skating, and more are all available at this park. A dramatic cliff towers over the lake, making for a beautiful and dramatic environment to get out and enjoy nature.

Wampus Brook Park: This quaint local spot is right downtown and the epitome of a bucolic town square. The park also hosts events throughout the year.

Betsy Sluder Nature Preserve: Located on the southeast side of the business district, this preserve offers convenient hiking right in the heart of Armonk.

Athletic Fields and Playgrounds: Armonk doesn’t just offer nature trails and preserves! Lombardi Field and North Castle Community Park (also called IBM Park and Field) offer athletic fields and playgrounds for more traditional outdoor recreation.

Where to Eat

Armonk’s restaurants have a ton of competition from surrounding communities, but there are several places with food you can’t find elsewhere. Here are three of our family’s favorites!

Mekari Taverna: Mekari offers delicious Greek food in downtown Armonk. This new restaurant has competition from county staple Lefteris, but our family thinks their menu is slightly more elevated, setting it apart from what was already located nearby. As former residents of Greek food hub Astoria, my husband and I are picky when it comes to Greek cuisine, and Mekari has passed our test!

The Beehive: Beehive is a family-friendly stop with all the basic diner staples. As former NYC residents, we are huge brunch fans, and Beehive has become one of our favorite stops. Despite having a child with food allergies, they have always accommodated our family and ensured my child had a safe and delicious meal. I’m a huge fan of their brioche French toast, but the entire brunch menu is amazing.

Moderne Barn: Modern Barn serves up modern American fare in a trendy, equestrian style atmosphere. With a massive wine selection, this is a great stop for date nights!

There are many other great restaurants in town. Based on community input, here is a list of other amazing local spots:

  1. Fortina (Pizza/Italian served up at a trendy establishment) 
  2. Koku (Asian Fusion Cuisine) 
  3. Indi-Q (Indian Bistro and BBQ) 
  4. Bagel Emporium (bagels and more are served up at this family-owned establishment and Westchester staple.

Where is your favorite spot in Scarsdale?

To read all posts in our Spotlight on Westchester series, click here.

{I would like to thank fellow contributor Jessica for her input on this article. It would not have been this comprehensive without her feedback. As a relative newcomer to the Westchester community, I am still learning about everything that makes our area great (and the pandemic has meant that I’ve only really had about a year to live in the community during normal times). Jessica is a Westchester native and was an invaluable source of information. Be sure to check out her piece on neighboring Bedford!}
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Erin is the mother of one sweet, rambunctious toddler and wife to a talented chef. Professionally, she is a former special educator and preschool teacher, and is currently a cognitive neuroscience researcher and Ph.D candidate in Cognitive Science in Education with specializations in neuroscience, cognitive development, and neurodiversity/autism. She holds masters degrees in cognitive science, and neuroscience in education, from Teachers College, Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in special education (with an additional concentration in elementary education and a minor in English) and early childhood education. As the wife of a chef, food is a huge part of her family culture, and she enjoy both cooking and baking. Some of her other hobbies include hiking, traveling, jogging, meditation, animal rescue, playing piano and guitar, crafting, reading, and of course, writing. You can follow her parenting journey and pick up tips on great kids activities here on Westchester Moms Blog, as well as her website (www.themindfullyscientificmama.com), Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.

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