The Best Free Things to do
with kids in Westchester (or w/o kids)
Looking for some FREE things to do with kids in Westchester County? You’ll find all sorts of attractions and activities to do that are kid-friendly, but you don’t necessarily need kids to have fun at any of the places on this list.
After a year of pandemic-related challenges and closures, it became very challenging to keep kids and adults entertained safely. But now that things have changed for the better, it is time to get out and see what Westchester County has to offer.
Westchester County offers countless ways to keep yourself and others busy during school breaks and on weekends; without breaking the bank.
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Where is Westchester County?
Westchester County is the southern-most county in the Hudson Valley and is conveniently located close to New York City. This large and diverse county sits along the Hudson River and is full of wonderful things to do.
Features include bustling cities and towns. Also located along the Long Island Sound, there are so many things to do with or without kids.
How Do I Find Great Deals in Westchester County?
I am all about saving money while out and that’s why this list is essential.
But, to be honest, it’s very difficult to have a completely FREE day, unless you pack for the day, as if you’re packing for a Road Trip.
For times when you don’t have the time to pack the car up, here are some great resources where you WILL find deals on everything from other activities to dining.
- I love using LocalFlavor.com to find deals on restaurants and fun things to do.
- When researching for this article, I found amazing deals for restaurants in Yonkers, Dobbs Ferry, New Rochelle, and so many more places.
- I also found discounts on other local attractions to fill the day
Best Free Things to do with kids in Westchester
– Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway (Seasonal)
Although people driving along the Bronx River Parkway are often annoyed that the roads are closed, Bicycle Sundays in Westchester County is a tradition loved by many.
Typically taking place between May through October, Bicycle Sundays are time to explore Westchester County without the intrusion of cars.
During Bicycle Sundays, the parkway is open exclusively for bicyclists, in-line skaters, scooters, walkers and joggers from Exit 22 at the Westchester County Center to Exit 4 at Scarsdale Road in Yonkers. This is a great place to not only bike ride, but also to learn how to ride.
The round-trip distance is 13 miles. It’s no easy feat but is a great goal for those who love the outdoors.
– Blue Door Art Center, Yonkers
This not-for-profit organization prides itself on bringing the best of art to local communities that lack art enrichment. Blue Door Art Center has also initiated a number of public art projects including installation of sculpture throughout the city of Yonkers, decorating of outdoor planters and receptacles and the creation of a series of ‘art banners.’
The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday for your enjoyment and admission is free, although a donation is always appreciated. Visiting Blue Door Art Center is a great way to spend an afternoon. Because of it’s location, exploring Yonkers is a great day trip from New York City.
– Bronx River Pathway & Reservation, Bronxville to Valhalla
The Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Westchester’s oldest park, is an 807-acre paved linear park that was created as an adjunct to the Bronx River Parkway opened in 1925.
The first linear park in Westchester County and in the country, Bronx River Pathway and Reservation is a unique place to visit.
The pathway recently joined two segments together to make a continuous paved path from Palmer Road in Bronxville to the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. The combined distance now spans 11.2 miles long.
Click below to see some items you should have during your Hudson Valley Outings
and you will be guaranteed a successful outing:
- Because ‘you never know’ when an accident happens, you need a small, portable First Aid Kit, like this product in your life. This is a great buy for under $15
- If you’re going to be out all day exploring, you never REALLY know what the weather will be like. Even if you think you do know, it can start raining at any time, so this small life-saver is an essential item. This is another great buy on Amazon for under $15.
- My favorite walking shoes, by far, are these because they are soft and the memory foam feels great on my feet. See the color and size choices here.
- Looking great during your Hudson Valley outings is essential and this Hudson Valley Merchandise is perfect for any outing!
– Caramoor Center for Music and Arts, Katonah (Seasonally)
Open seasonally, Caramoor is a former estate that showcases the best of live music of many different genres. The is one of the best places to catch a concert. The surrounding beauty adds to how special this place is.
Best known for concerts featuring:
- Opera music
- Chamber Music
- American Roots music
- and Jazz Performances
In addition to the array of live music concerts, tours of the Rosen House are also available, as well as, access to the many acres of majestic grounds. The grounds are open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm through the end of September.
– Cranberry Lake Preserve, White Plains
Cranberry Lake Preserve is a 190-acre park operated by the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation.
The Nature Center offers family-oriented nature programs on weekends and houses a variety of interactive, educational displays and live animals.
– Farm Visits
Do you know about the Westchester Farm Trail?
This is one of the best things to do with kids in Westchester. These family fun places offer so much for the senses.
This is a state-designated route connecting 13 farms and orchards from Sleepy Hollow to North Salem. Along the 17-mile trail, there’s no shortage of things to do. Hands-on experiences such as making maple syrup, interacting with livestock and even doing the farm chores let you immerse yourself in a day in the life of a farmer. Don’t miss the great tours, demonstrations and seasonal events each farm offers.VisitWestchesterny.com
– Greenburgh Nature Center, Scarsdale
Although they charge an admissions fee for the Manor House (Adult: $7 and Child: $5), the ground of the Greenburgh Nature Center are always free.
With an abundance of trails, meadows, gardens and open space, this is the ideal place to visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of life.
There are also many outdoor animal habitats that surround the Manor House. In addition there are also animals at the Barnyard. The sheep, goats and chickens are always welcoming to visitors.
If you have a Westchester County Parks Pass, you are entitled to half-price admission to the Manor House
– Kensico Dam, Valhalla
Centrally located near the Westchester County Center in White Plains, Kensico Dam is a great place to visit. The majestic Dam overlooks an expansive park. This place is perfect for having a picnic, inline skating, biking and walking. With a playground and play area, this is one of the best things to do with kids in Westchester.
Home to The Rising, Westchester County’s September 11th Memorial, this makes Kensico Dam even more special. The open structure is visited by many and can be viewed, as well as, walked through.
Kensico Dam has hosted special events and festivals in the past. Check their website for updated information.
– Mario Cuomo Bridge Walkway, Tarrytown
With a distance of 3.6 miles each way and having 3 miles of that be over water, walking across the Mario Cuomo Bridge Walkway is something that everyone should do!
Westchester Landing in Tarrytown is where you can park your car during your visit. The highlight of visiting the Walkway are the 6 overlooks with different information at each one. There are also two free audio tours, one for walkers and one for cyclists.
My opinion is that this is one of the best things to do with kids in Westchester when the weather is cool, but not very hot, very cold or very windy.
KEEP IN MIND:
The Mario Cuomo Bridge Walkway is a “shared” space and pedestrians and cyclists of this 12-foot wide path should be considerate of each other and the space.
– Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase
Located on the campus of SUNY Purchase, the Neuberger Museum of Art has exhibitions of modern, contemporary and African art for all to enjoy for free.
Roy R Neuberger founded the museum in 1969 and promised a gift of 300 works, one of the greatest private collections. Tour are offered with a docent for a fee.
– Pelham Art Center, Pelham
The Pelham Art Center does not only provide an opportunity for visitors to experience the arts in its gallery but also provides the opportunity for art appreciation in the community.
Their public art installations are incredible. Check their website for locations and dates of these installations.
It’s Better to Be Over-Prepared Than Under-Prepared
These items are essential for a successful outing:
- I love Cross Body Bags but some can be bulky and uncomfortable, but not this one. The sleek design is stylish and can be worn every season.
- When you’re out with your dog, these dog harnesses can be your best friend.
- When you’re out for a long period of time, it’s always a good idea to have essential gear, like these items.
– Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville
This huge park preserve located in Pleasantville boasts more than 1,700 acres of adventure. From horseback riding, to fishing, the activities that you can do here are abundant.
Most visitors enjoy walking, jogging, running and nature watching. This wonderful place was added to the New York State Register of Historic Places in 2018.
– Untermyer Park & Gardens, Yonkers
This amazing ‘walled garden’ is part of 43 historic acres that can only be accessed from North Broadway in Yonkers.
Seeing is believing because this park and beautiful garden are so majestic and its hard to believe this place sits in the middle of Yonkers.
– Visit Farmers Markets
Typically an event that happens from Spring to Autumn, Westchester County Farmers Markets show off the pride of local farms and makers.
This is one of the fun things to do with kids in Westchester. Children can learn about farms and homemade products by speaking to the vendors. Some markets also offer special events and activities for children.
– Explore a Favorite River Town and City
- Dobbs Ferry
- Sleepy Hollow
- New Rochelle
- Port Chester
– Visit a Westchester County Park
One of the best things to do with kids in Westchester, visiting a Westchester Park are the treasures of the county. Just like other state parks, amenities include a picnic area and some have educational programs.
Lasdon Park, for example, has a dinosaur park. A visit to this public park is one of the best things to do with kids in Westchester. I found the dinosaur park endearing and adorable. It’s well worth the visit and fun for people of all ages.
There are several nature preserves and places to see animals in their natural habitats. See the FULL List Here.
Some others include:
- Blue Mountain Reservation
- Croton Gorge Park
- Harbor Island Park
- Lenoir Preserve
- Edith G Read Wildlife Sanctuary
- Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
– Westchester RiverWalk
The Westchester RiverWalk is an astounding 32.9 miles long and will be a total of 51.5 miles when completed. It stretches from Yonkers to Peekskill. A complete map is found on their website.
Consisting of paved portions, grassy areas and an “eco-corridor” filled with native plants. Connecting to the Old Croton Aqueduct, exploration of the Riverwalk gives you access to village centers, historic sites and parks along the way.
More Things to do with Kids in Westchester
Places/Events you may not know about
– Free Admission at Hudson River Museum
Typically taking place during the summer months, Hudson River Museum offers free general admission in Friday and Saturday evenings from 5pm – 7pm.
– Marine Education Center at Harbor Island Park, Mamaroneck
The Marine Center invites both long time residents and enthusiastic newcomers to explore developing programs, projects and exhibits related to the Village’s unique marine environment.
THE facility now has multiple aquariums and a large touch tank stocked with animals from the Harbor.
Admission is free. People of all ages are welcome and information is suited to all age levels.
– Museum in the Streets, Hastings-on-Hudson
This walking tour is a unique way of exploring Hastings-on-Hudson. By downloading the pamphlet on their website, Hastings Historical Society offers their visitors a choice of 34 sites of local historic interest.
Many sites are located within a few blocks of downtown Hastings and some are a little bit of a walk away, while others require you to drive. This is a one of the best ways to spend an afternoon and one of the great things to do with kids in Westchester, although you don’t necessarily need kids to take this free walking tour.
– Rye Playland Boardwalk
Although a visit to Playland Amusement Park is NOT free, walking along the boardwalk is and is always a great idea.
Children under 13 years are free to get onto the beach and it is also free for everyone to walk on the beach after 7pm.
Until the Next Adventure…