Westchester really shines in autumn — so get out there and enjoy!
Things That Go Bump in the Night
During the month of October, Westchester’s dark-and-spooky side comes out to play. If you’ve got a kid who loves to be scared, it’s frightfully fun. WARNING: some of these harrowing (big-kid) happenings are not for the meek!
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
(Sept to mid-Nov) Croton-on-Hudson
Meander the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor, and you’ll be mesmerized by the 7,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns sculpted into monsters, dinosaurs, underwater creatures, and so much more — accompanied by sound effects and synchronized lighting. Perfect fall fun for the whole family.
For the month of October, the idyllic Philipsburg Manor is transformed into a chilling landscape ruled by the undead. Featuring haunted trails, ghostly figures lurking in the shadows, a town full of people driven mad by the Headless Horseman, a twisted maze of horror, and the Headless Horseman’s lair. (Open on weekends; not recommended for children under 10.)
Scared by the Sound
Rye Playland, Rye
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October, Rye Playland is transformed into a 12,000 sq ft haunted house and cemetery. It’s an interactive experience with a creepy cast of characters waiting to jump out and scare unsuspecting guests. (Not suitable for children under 10.)
Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival
(October 14) Chappaqua
If the secret to raising avid readers is making reading fun, then the Chappaqua Book Festival at Chappaqua’s Robert E. Bell Middle School is key. There are more than 90 popular authors expected to participate this year, with many of them reading and signing excerpts. It’s a day of literary fun with food, entertainment, kids’ activities, and, of course, books.
Westchester Knicks Games
(season starts in mid-November) Westchester County Center, White Plains
Head on down to the County Center and check out the Knicks farm team, which is part of the NBA’s developmental league. Get up close and personal watching some serious basketball without leaving the county.
Whether you think you have the next Serena Williams on your hands or just want to expose your kids to tennis as a lifelong sport, head to The Play Place for their kids’ tennis program. There are permanent “red ball” courts (which is the first level in the USTA’s 10-and-Under Tennis program) and classes geared for kids aged 1.5 to 10 years old. Sign up for a semester-long program (Sept to Jan) or drop in midseason.
(Year-round) 2nd NatureSkatepark, Peekskill
Think outside the box with these group lessons aimed at developing young skaters. Group lessons run every Saturday morning, from 9 to 11 a.m.; appropriate for kids ages 6 and up.
(Nov 25 – Jan 2) Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla
As fall gives way to winter, there is no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to visit the Winter Wonderland festival. Skate against the backdrop of beautiful Kensico Dam Plaza, hop on the winter-themed rides, all while enjoying Christmas lights choreographed to holiday favorites. Then, buy a snack or a hot beverage at a selection of food trucks and vendors. When it gets too cold, warm up in the Holiday Spirits warming tent.
(November 26) Armonk
Think of this as the kickoff to winter: It starts with horse-and-wagon rides; giant, automated polar bear rides; and train rides. There’s also a plethora of kids’ activities, including face painting, music, and crafts. The culmination is an authentic hometown parade (along Main St and Maple Ave) welcoming Frosty the Snowman. Frosty brings up the rear of the parade and invites parade-goers to gather around the town gazebo for the lighting of the menorah and Christmas tree.
Orchard Roundup: Pick Your Own Apples & More
Delightful aromas, tantalizing tastes, and apple picking — nothing says autumn like an annual trip to the orchards, which are in full swing from about mid-September to mid-November. Here’s a roundup of our favorites in and around Westchester:
Fall Festivals at Harvest Moon Orchards
Beyond pick-your-own apples, these festivals (held every weekend from Labor Day to Halloween) include apple-shooting cannons, pony rides, mazes, face painting, music, and a smorgasbord of seasonal treats, like pumpkin cheesecake, kettle corn, maple candy, cider donuts, and smoked turkey legs.
Located directly across the street from Harvest Moon, Outhouse is a smaller, quieter venue offering a corn maze, hayrides, and lots and lots of apples ripe for picking. Perfect for kids and families who prefer to skip the festival atmosphere for a quieter day among the apple trees.
Barton’s famous five-acre corn maze, interactive haunted house, and “fun park,” filled with games and mazes for children, make the orchard a favorite fall tradition for many families.
Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm
Take a hay-wagon ride to the orchard of your choice. Then, once you’ve filled your sack full of apples, grab the ride back to shop for more goodies at the market, bakery, and winery — all located on the premises.