Summer is a great time to live in Westchester County. While many residents do set off on summer vacations, there is also plenty to do in the area for a fun, family staycation.
Last August, we decided to forego our usual Cape Cod getaway and used our time off from work and camp to explore areas closer to home. We challenged ourselves to do one thing per day that we had never done before. Within less than two hours of driving, we planned activities that were the type of thing we’d do on a family trip. It was awesome! And memorable! Everything you can hope for out of a vacation or, rather, staycation.
Here are a few of the things we did on our staycation, as well as other great ideas in and around Westchester.
Rent a Boat
At Mahopac Marine, you can rent a pontoon and spend the day on Lake Mahopac in Putnam County. We did this in 2020 and had such a great time that we booked a rental for 2021 with friends. Directly off the pontoon, you can swim and fish. There are drive-up dockside restaurants in the area, or you can bring a picnic on the boat.
Hike to a Waterfall
Less than two hours from Northern Westchester in the Catskills Mountains is a hike like nothing you’ll find closer to home. Kaaterskill Falls offers an abundance of hiking trails and scenic waterfalls. Stay on the marked paths and be careful of slippery rocks, but otherwise, it’s a worthwhile adventure.
Sky Blue Stables in Cortlandt Manor is a safe, relaxed, and fun atmosphere to introduce your children to horseback riding. They offer a variety of lessons as well as short pony rides. Our children really enjoyed visiting Sky Blue Stables, and they still talk about the horses they rode and the commands they learned.
Hop in the Other Kind of Saddle
Westchester’s North County Trailway boasts over 20 miles of rail trail running north-south from the Putnam Trailway at NY 118/Tomahawk Street in Baldwin Place to Old Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford. This asphalt path is excellent for biking as a family.
More Thrilling Rides
A staple from my childhood, Playland Amusement Park has rides and games for all ages, a beach, and miniature golf. With many local annual carnivals on hold due to COVID-19, we plan to spend a day at Playland this summer.
I remember going to Splash Down Beach in Fishkill with my day camp as a child and having a blast. I can’t wait to share the experience with my kids. Splash Down Beach refers to itself as “America’s Biggest Little Water Park,” offering water rides and attractions for all ages from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Surf and Sand
A couple of beaches in nearby Connecticut are open to non-residents and are worth a visit. Sherwood Island State Park on the Long Island Sound in Westport offers daily parking for a fee ($22 for a weekend, $15 for a weekday), lifeguards, bathrooms, and food concession. Visitors should wear water shoes due to sharp shells and rocks.
Jennings Beach in Fairfield is free and open to the public, with parking fees of $50 for weekends and $40 for weekdays. This beach offers lifeguards, a concession stand, bathroom facilities, “Sand Castle Playground,” and a skate park. We visited Jennings during our August staycation, and it was enjoyable and not crowded.
Dine Like an Out-of-Towner
There are many great dining establishments throughout Westchester, and a staycation is a prime opportunity to explore new restaurants outside of your immediate area. Several places remind me of vacation.
King Kone in Somers feels like the ice cream shop you’d visit during a vacation. Order at the window and choose from a large selection of homemade ice cream flavors. The roadside picnic benches are plentiful.
Sample Westchester’s finest homegrown beers at local breweries like Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, with locations in Elmsford and Mount Kisco, and Yonkers Brewing Co. Outdoor seating and delicious food make it fun for the entire family.
For a special occasion meal that feels like a getaway, Harvest on Hudson in Hastings is a waterfront fine dining experience. As your wait for your table with a cocktail in hand, the kids can play on the adjacent playground (a win for everyone!), or you can all take in the beautiful views.