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.
Katonah is a hamlet in the town of Bedford in Northern Westchester, about 44 miles north of Manhattan. It is conveniently located off I-684 and the Saw Mill Parkway and has its own stop on the Metro-North. The railroad lets you off right onto Katonah Avenue, where you’ll see a variety of shops and restaurants in immediate walking distance.
The town has a pretty neat history too. In 1893 Katonah was scheduled to be demolished to make way for the Croton Dam and a reservoir to be built for New York City’s expanding water system. Instead of losing their town, they chose to move it. Many buildings and houses were physically moved to a new plot of land. The “new” Katonah is actually partially made up of those moved structures.
What to Do
Muscoot Farm is a perfect way to spend a family day. Over 50 animals live on the farm, including cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigs. You can walk right up to their pens or in their barns. Alternatively, if you are up for a hike, there are six miles of scenic trails. Muscoot runs special events and educational programs, like sugaring, bird walks, and “Run the Farm,” a five-mile trail race and/or a children’s race held each October. Farmer’s Markets are present every Sunday from May through November.
Muscoot has historic buildings to visit, such as the milk house, the ice house, and the carriage house. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, these buildings at Muscoot Farm remain closed, but hopefully, this changes soon enough. However, the hiking trails and grounds are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free to families and individuals. You can bring in food or visit the concession stand, which is open seasonally. Another great aspect about a visit to Muscoot is that it doesn’t have to be an all-day commitment, as a typical visit lasts about 1 to 2 hours.
Katonah Museum of Art is an awesome venue for art enthusiasts of all ages and offers many educational programs. The museum has a “Learning Center” with hands-on activities and workshops geared towards children ages 3 and up. It’s an activity space for children to enjoy art projects, create their own sculptures, paintings, and collages, make wearable art and read stories about art. The children learn about art through games, puzzles, and other activities. The museum even exhibits creations by local elementary school students. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The admission fee is $10 adults; $5 seniors; $5 students, and children under 12 are free. Guided tours are available too. The museum has strict COVID-19 protocols in place, including timed visits. Please make sure to read here to plan your visit.
Caramoor is such a neat place! Caramoor is essentially a 90-acre estate given to the public as a center for music and art by Walter Rosen, a philanthropist, and his wife, Lucie Rosen. They wanted a place to entertain their friends from around the world, and as a result, Caramoor was born. There are three main venues where concerts of many genres of music, like classical, opera, jazz, folk, blues, country, and swing, are featured. They also hold performances in gardens and fields, although in light of COVID-19 protocols, most concerts are currently being live-streamed.
Much is on hold due to the pandemic, but in regular times the grounds are open year-round Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission to the gardens and grounds is included with the cost of your concert ticket. When fully open, Caramoor offers tours of their historic houses, lectures, scavenger hunts for kids, picnicking, lounging, and other activities. There are plenty of family-friendly concerts and events throughout the year, including the I Spy tour. The I Spy is a 30-minute tour of a historic house on the premises that introduces Renaissance and Asian art and culture by using an illustrated booklet that prompts kids to look for various objects and images in the rooms. Another family event is the Afternoon Tea & Tour, which sounds adorable! It’s a lovely place to spend time relaxing with friends where you can enjoy a formal tea service that includes a variety of teas and tea sandwiches, and desserts.
Where to Eat
If you know Katonah at all, you must know King Kone. King Kone borders Katonah and Somers and is no doubt a staple in Northern Westchester. Finish up a little league game? Let’s go to King Kone. Finish up a family day at the pool? Let’s go to King Kone. Nothing to do at night? Let’s go to King Kone. Generous servings of yummy soft serve ice creams and a huge variety of scooped ice cream, including a few sugar-free and low-fat flavors. Oh, and if you’re in the mood for some tasty fried food? Let’s go to King Kone. Lots to choose from in this category too. My son is obsessed with the fried pickles. Don’t get overwhelmed by the lines. These guys know what they are doing, and the lines move quickly. They close in the winter months but just reopened for the season!
The Whitlock and Jay Street Cafe are both owned by the Safarowics. The Whitlock is a restaurant with a relaxing and welcoming ambiance of a modern farmhouse. It has a true sense of community connection to Katonah and Westchester County, as supporting local vendors is an important focus of the restaurant. There are plenty of options on the menu that catch the eye, including the Grilled Chicken Sandwich (with apple, cheddar, bacon, honey mustard, whole-wheat toast, and crispy potatoes) for lunch and the Salmon (with jasmine fried rice, vegetable stir fry, and house-made kimchi) for dinner. The Whitlock has a special brunch menu on Sunday afternoons. PS – Their drink menu has tremendous variety!
Jay Street Cafe serves coffee, teas, milkshakes, and other gourmet drinks. Also offered are breakfast and amazing baked goods, including the specialty donuts. And as the daughter of a Brooklyn boy, the “NY Egg Cream” found me right away. The description reads, “the must use U-bet chocolate syrup, half & half, and club soda.” Yes! U-bet is the must-have! And specialty donuts include cookies and cream, salted caramel pretzel smores, creamsicle, rootbeer, and cherry Pepsi! Jay Street Cafe has trivia night each Friday, too, with limited and socially distant seating.
Katonah is known for keeping their town homey, artsy, and casual, and history shows that they are not interested in bringing in large chain stores and restaurants, especially downtown. While Tazza Café does have a local presence in other Westchester towns, the Katonah one is my fave. They offer a great variety of coffee and hot beverage specialties, including crème Brulee and chai tea lattes. All baking is on the premises, with no shortage of choices. Tazza Café has a nice breakfast menu, with omelets, oatmeal, pancakes, acai bowls, and a full lunch menu, with sandwiches, wraps, salads, and a children’s menu. Low-fat and gluten-free options are available.
And a quick shout to out La Familia. La Familia does have various locations in Westchester, and I cannot speak to the other locations, but the pizza at the Katonah location is SO good! Dine-in, take-out, or local delivery is available.
Where to Shop
Charles Department Store is a family-owned and operated small business located in the heart of downtown Katonah that opened up in 1924. They pride themselves on a highly curated product selection and impeccable customer service. The shop sells apparel, footwear, and accessories for both men and women and original homeware products, and some outdoor goods and furniture. Kelly Ranieri recently become the first female sole proprietor of the store, which was discovered originally by her great-grandfather! What a great story of legacy!
Kelloggs & Lawrence covers your full scope of hardware needs. He sells a huge range of goods and services, such as automotive needs, office supplies, pet supplies, storage and organization, gardening, sporting goods, electronics, and fireplace expertise. The store also sells a full line of outdoor camping gear, including apparel, tents, and sleeping bags. Also selling indoor and outdoor toys and games, food, and snacks, Kelloggs & Lawrence is very much like a General Store – perfect for one-stop shopping for family and house needs.
This store literally fits in every category – What to Do, Where to Eat, and Where to Shop!
For a little history, the Katonah Reading Room and Little Joe’s, both owned by the Menzies family, have been mainstays and favorites in Katonah for many years. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, The Katonah Reading Room shut its doors in Spring 2020. Little Joe’s did remain open, yet in a turn of events, The Menzies family decided to combine their operations in the former Katonah Reading Room location.
In March 2021, the Reading Room re-opened its doors as a new space, which included the best of Little Joe’s. All the faves came along – ice cream, milkshakes, candy, snacks, slushies, smoothies, and shaved ice – and of course, books, toys, and gifts. Katonah Reading Room is now officially a bookstore for all ages with a full coffee bar. The baked goods are prepared on-premises, and they offer a daily choice of specialty sandwiches, soups, and salads. There is no seating; therefore, everything is “grab and go.” If you don’t see the item you are looking for, don’t hesitate to ask the owners about special orders. Diverse Voices Story Time is a new book series event (via Zoom) recently launched to promote diverse books, stories, and faces within the community.
The town of Katonah truly fosters the importance of community. Katonah Village Improvement Society and the Katonah Chamber of Commerce sponsor “Katonah for the Holidays” annually. This includes a fun and festive parade, late-night shopping, live music, and treats throughout town. This all culminates with Community Day, which is all about giving back. Keep an eye on their websites for events in November and December each year.
Katonah has really become a destination in Northern Westchester for shopping, dining and has a welcoming vibe. For the most part, the stores in the downtown area of Katonah do not burn the midnight oil, so keep an eye on those hours of operations. Stop by any of the stores, restaurants, and venues, and you’ll be received with open arms. Katonah is a great town with fun for the whole family.