The city of Yonkers, the largest in Westchester County, offers beautiful Hudson views, divine food, and plenty to do. As a recent NYC defector, I found Yonkers to be the perfect compromise between city life and suburbia. I have more space for cheaper rent and I can still use my MetroCard on the bus.
Family Friendly Fun:
Stew Leonard’s: Open seven days a week Stew Leonard’s is equal parts grocery store and amusement park. Each aisle offers an animatronic delight to distract your children as you pick up the freshest, most affordable meat, seafood, and produce you’ve ever seen. They host amazing holiday events like Trick-or-Treating on Halloween, Friday night family movies you can watch under the stars on hay bales, and a free petting zoo. You can even host your child’s birthday party here. Honestly, if you’ve never been you’re missing out – not just on the free samples (which rivals its neighbor Costco) – but on a spectacular shopping experience. And, if you spend $100 on groceries you get a free ice cream with your receipt (might I suggest the Pistachio Frozen Yogurt).
Tibbett’s Brook Park: Known for its fabulous pool this 161-acre park offers year-round fun. You can cross country ski in the winter, go for a fall hike, float on the lazy river in the summer, play miniature golf, or rent the soccer fields during the spring to throw an inexpensive birthday party. The only catch is that you need to have an ID from Westchester County (and $10) to enter. I suggest getting a yearly park pass for a fee of $150, two adults and any children (ages 12 to 18) living in the household get their own individual Park Pass which offers discounted access to this gem as well as many others throughout Westchester.
Legoland Discovery Center: I suggest reserving a time and using a coupon or discount code when you go. There are so many reasons why we love Legoland! It is always a win for my son and his friends as they can build, play, and climb around.
Rockin’ Jump: A great place to get the kids’ energy out (naptime after a day here is always heaven). They have traditional trampoline park offerings (including dodgeball, basketball, and jousting) at the cheapest rate I’ve found in Westchester. Again, reserving a time online and filling out the needed paperwork from home is always preferable but this is the easiest drop in, of the kid-friendly activities I’ve mentioned.
Muse Paintbar: This requires planning as it has limited seating and is frequently sold out ahead of time – plus you want to paint something you enjoy. Their website offers a preview of what you’ll paint whether you go with friends at night to sip (sans kids) or you catch one of their Family Day events. It’s another great place to host a birthday party or create lasting memories with loved ones. The hosts are charismatic and will assist anyone from beginners to art majors in mastering their painting technique.
Untermyer Gardens: If you want the perfect, cheap day date with accompanying Instagram worthy, #nofilter pictures; I suggest a visit. Talk and take a walk around the grounds which are equal parts Secret Garden come to life and Historical Reenactment. While there you can feed the Koi fish in the fish pond, sneak away with a blanket to get some alone time, or just admire the architecture. I promise this place is beautiful and interesting.
Alamo Drafthouse: Looking for a nighttime adventure – then catch dinner and a movie. If you’ve never been, then get ready because it is an experience! Everything from the previews to bathroom breaks are fun. Arrive early because when you enter there is a full bar to enjoy. Ask the bartender for a sample of one of their local brews or wine before deciding on your poison. Then, take it inside to enjoy the carefully cultivated previews which range from YouTube videos to foreign commercials hand chosen to fit your movie’s theme and usually to make you laugh. You order your food on slips of white paper that are stealthily picked up by your waiters. The menu offers something for everyone from boozy milkshakes to kale salads. Not in the mood to eat a full meal? Get a bottomless bowl of popcorn topped with fresh, clarified butter.
What to Eat:
Eileen’s Country Kitchen: Brunch is a craze that will never die (I blame hangovers and a hatred of doing dishes). If you are looking for the best in Yonkers, I suggest Eileen’s. It is inexpensive, quick, home-cooked Irish-American food. What does this mean? Get the Irish Breakfast because the sausage is amazing! I don’t recommend delivery but instead squeezing into this small restaurant whenever need be. You will be greeted with old-timey diner atmosphere and a basket of soda bread; all this plus really good food. Is your brunch more like a lunch? Then definitely get the pot pie or any of their specials.
Pizza Barn: If you’ve tuned into the Travel Channel recently, you may have seen Food Paradise’s feature on this hot spot, home of the super slice. I don’t always subscribe to the phrase, bigger is better, but in this case – it’s true. Pizza Barn offers a two-foot slice fit for a family of four, with toppings that range from traditional (Margherita) to unique (Cheeseburger and Fries). I warn you – weekends the line is out the door but if you can catch them when it’s not so busy (or call for delivery) this great little restaurant in Yonkers offers not just the biggest, but also the best, slice in town. With a chewy crust, sauce distribution that’s just right, and – if you’re adventurous – Macaroni and Cheese as a topping; Pizza Barn is Yonkers’s go to for Pizza night.
Yara’s Middle Eastern: Looking for something unique that will still appeal to kids? The restaurant itself has only a few small tables but the food is delicious; so, either order takeout and rush home (so it’s hot) or squeeze around one of their small tables. Must haves are shawarma of your choice (over freekeh if you’re adventurous) and definitely some kibbie!
If you are in town in the fall the Yonkers Film (YoFi) Festival is something you should definitely check out. Walking around the waterfront this summer? Let The Science Barge drop some STEM knowledge on you. And if you’ve ever eaten at a Shake Shack, then you know all about the potato buns slathered in shake shack sauce, frozen custard and milkshakes, and beer. You’ll be happy to know there is one located in the Cross County Mall.