Best of Westchester 2012: Kids
Fashions and fun, services and sports
Lagond Music School
9 Haven St, Elmsford
This Elmsford-based school is known throughout Westchester, since many students use it as a launching pad before going on to prestigious conservatories. Focusing on contemporary musical styles like rock, funk, Latin, and jazz, the school takes a creative approach to music education. It applies the same rigor that is used in classical training, but aims it toward a contemporary environment. Students work hard, but develop a strong passion while at the school. And that’s music to most parents’ ears.
Pleasantville Barber Shop
5 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville
Though this quaint little barbershop, located in the heart of Pleasantville just around the corner from the Burns Film Center, may look a bit old fashioned on the outside, it offers high-quality, stylish haircuts of every imaginable style, flawlessly rendered by owner Gabriel Yakubov and his friendly team of pros—and at great prices. Savvy parents who don’t want to spend a fortunre on their kids’ haircuts know that this full-service shop caters not only to men—styling, cuts, shaves, fades, and trims—but to boys (and even some girls) of all ages, including squirmy toddlers. No, there aren’t any race-car-shaped seats or video terminals featuring Yo Gabba Gabba, but tykes get clipped and coiffed so quickly and painlessly, they don’t have time to whine. And, as many boys know, it’s the go-to place for cool teens, who often come by after school for a trim or a “tape-up.” (Another plus: You don’t need an appointment!)
Larchmont Public Library
121 Larchmont Ave, Larchmont
What makes this library great for kids is the children’s librarian. Rebecca Teglas is young, energetic, and super enthusiastic about books—and it’s contagious. Plus, the Burchell Children’s Room is shiny and new (it opened in September 2010), and it offers a number of classes to keep moms and kids busy. The “Young and Restless” and “Rhythm and Rhyme” targets the 3-year olds and under set through songs, movement, and brightly colored books. For older kids, there are chess classes, a LEGO club, and music with local artists. All that, plus books galore for all ages, make this children’s library tops in the county.
Groovy on Grand Design Studios
122 Grand St, Croton-on-Hudson
For kids who love to sew, dye, and appliqué, Groovy on Grand Design Studios is DIY heaven. Not only can youngsters make their own clothes and accessories, there are workshops, classes, and summer camp sessions devoted to budding crafters who want to learn funky and fancy techniques. It’s also starting a boys’ camp this year, as well as a digital design class. Co-owner Andrea Andrews, a Croton-on-Hudson mom, she gives the studio a groovy, hip feel.
Eyebrow Shaping for Teens
at Ellen Marie Day Spa
1875 Palmer Ave, Larchmont
(914) 833-7800; ellenmariedayspa.com
Teens come from far and wide to have their brows shaped by Maggie Brower, eyebrow-shaper extraordinaire. Brower, who hails from Brazil, has been with the spa for nine years.
Saxon Woods Park
1800 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 995-4480; parks.westchester gov.com/saxon-woods-park
What doesn’t this park offer? Saxon Woods Park packs 700 acres of fun; after all, it has the county’s largest swimming pool and a spacious children’s aquatic playground. There’s also an 18-hole golf course, a miniature golf course, hiking trails, and plenty of picturesque picnic areas. Even better, it has a wonderful playground full of bells and whistles, and it’s fully accessible to the disabled. What’s not to love about that?
Kids’ Skincare Line
Buttercup & Jake
Sold at Whole Foods Market in
White Plains and Yonkers
It feels good to go green and nobody knows that better than Buttercup & Jake, makers of all-natural, organic, and nontoxic skincare products for kids. The company even uses local ingredients in its products; the Calendula flowers found in its skin creams are grown on local organic farms and its honey is produced right here in the Hudson Valley. In fact, the products are so safe, you can even eat them—but then your skin will miss out.
New Rochelle Public Library
1 Library Plz, New Rochelle
(914) 632-7878; nrpl.org
There’s no shortage of activities and events at this library. The summer means outside fun on the patio—ping-pong, badminton, relay races, and arts and crafts are just some of the activities held each week. Indoors, there’s a summer reading program, international dance and music series, and family fun days complete with scavenger hunts. For a continually revolving list of events, check the library’s website. You’re bound to fill up your calendar quickly.
Photos by Cathy Pinsky
World Cup Gymnastics
170 Hunts Ln, Chappaqua
(914) 238-4967; worldcupgymnastics.com
This mega facility—it’s 19,000 square feet—is the place for gymnastics. The staff is made up of former competitive gymnasts and award-winning coaches, making this the ideal place for your child to learn the ropes. World Cup takes kids as young as four months—that’s right—and offers special equipment tailored to them. Warning: Once your child starts, she’ll be hooked for years to come.
United Martial Arts Centers
528 N State Rd, Briarcliff Manor
Chris Berlow and his wife, Kathy, started this Briarcliff Manor center. What makes it such a success is the dedication and positive attitude of Master Berlow. His 28 years of training shows in his interaction with the kids. Whether preschoolers, after-school children, or summer campers, kids learn valuable skills including how to focus and coordination. This can-do attitude makes Berlow (and his center) a Westchester star.
Playground at Kensico Dam
1 Bronx River Pkwy Rd, Valhalla
Talk about great places for a play date. The Kensico Dam Plaza is a 98-acre marvel. It’s not only beautiful to look at—the dam is 300 feet high and more than 1,800 feet long—it’s also a national treasure; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Come for a picnic and stay for the many activities: biking, fishing, hiking, in-line skating, and, of course, the great playground. There are swings galore, a great jungle gym, and a beautiful walking path.
Photo by Cathy Pinsky
1910 Palmer Ave, Larchmont
This brightly lit, airy women’s shoe store has a fabulous kids’ selection, so Mom can bring in the whole family for one-stop shopping. Younger kids are entertained with temporary tattoos, stickers, and Nickelodeon cartoons while trying on crib crawlers and first walkers, while older kids will love the selection of ballet flats from Bloch, sandals from Stuart Weitzman, and sneakers from Asics (to name a few). Owner Ellie Devito and her staff often greet customers by name. With more than 200 styles for kids and moms, it’s hard to leave this store empty-handed.
Harbor Island Park
123 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck
This 44-acre site is the largest park in Mamaroneck and the perfect place to be on a hot summer day. The beach is packed with kids, many of whom head straight for the nicely padded sprinkler/spray area. It’s safe, it’s cool, and it’s tons of fun. For the smaller set, it’s the perfect self-contained area. Of course, there’s also a fabulous, newly renovated playground nearby and plenty of recreational activities to be had (boating, concerts, and ball fields, to name a few). Pack a lunch and plan to spend the day.
Private Piano Teacher
(914) 793-3207/(914) 787-9538; email@example.com
Rada Petrovich has been teaching piano for more than 30 years to kids as young as 3—and adults as old as 80. Not only does she have the knowledge, experience, and background to teach that keyboard, but she has a special rapport with her students conveying to them and instilling in them enthusiasm for those black and white keys.
Custom Prom Dresses
Photo Nathan Macias
marteal & Estrada
512 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (619) 459-1908; hausofestrada.com
Don’t want to look like everyone else at the prom? Head to Estrada for a custom-created dress by identical twin brothers Jesus and Antonio Estrada. You may remember Jesus from season seven of Project Runway. He and his are20-something designers who are creative, cutting-edge, and profoundly talented. The front of the store showcases their ready-to-wear fashion, but head to the back for one-of-a-kind creations. Mom is sure to find something, too.
Shop for Tweens
Yogi’s Paw Unique
325 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 630-4700
141 Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 864-0386; yogispaw.com
If your tween is looking for the perfect party, bar mitzvah, or special-event dress, Yogi’s Paw is the place to shop. It has a great array of trendy party dresses and it doesn’t stop there. Tops, jeans, jewelry, accessories, handbags—there’s quite a selection. Owners Leslie Bijoux and Eric Sussman have a knack for knowing what tweens and teens want—and they deliver. Plus, the store is a fun place to shop and it’s moderately priced. Who doesn’t love that?
Gina Olivieri of Aqua Babe
Gina Olivieri has no website for her business, Aqua Babe, and does no marketing, yet she’s one of the most sought-after swim instructors in the county. What makes her so great? Her absolute love of the water and her soothing, gentle demeanor with kids (she also teaches adults). Clients hear about her from raving fans, and she teaches about 50 students per week, making her business 100-percent referral-based. She starts with kids as young as 9 months old and helps children of all ages get over their fear of the water, learn basic strokes, and have fun.
99 Dock St, Yonkers
(914) 375-2151; groundworkhv.org
This floating science experiment is a must for kids. The barge, a greenhouse that produces a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, melons, and greens, boasts zero net carbon emissions, zero pesticides, and zero runoff. Solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels generate the energy required to power it. It’s docked in Yonkers, so there’s no excuse not to rush over with the kids, ASAP.
These kids’ parties are so happening, even big kids (i.e., adults) will join in on the fun.
19 Lecount Pl, New Roc City
Looking for big? Then head to this mega-entertainment complex with five distinct amusement venues. There is no shortage of options for a don’t-miss birthday party: mini golf, bowling, go-karting, a full-size carousel, laser tag, and more. There’s eating, singing, dancing, and plenty of fun for kids, from tykes through teens.
The Cliffs at Valhalla
1 Commerce St, Valhalla
Want to take your next party to new heights? Then head over to this 13,000-square-foot climbing terrain for a rocking good time. Parties here cater to kids 6 and older and include a private climbing wall, all the necessary gear, and instructors. You supply the adrenaline and adventurous kids.
Grand Prix New York and Spins Bowl
333 N Bedford Rd
spinsbowl.com and gpny.com
The Spins Bowl center has 19 lanes of bowling fun and has been referred to as the Bentley of bowling alleys. There are 12 family lanes and seven VIP lanes. Next door, the go-kart racing center makes Grand Prix a perfect spot for high-energy birthday parties—it’s the only indoor gas go-kart track in the Northeast. Parties can be half- or full-day for added fun.
Life the Place to Be
2 Lawrence St, Ardsley
Like lots of choices? This is your place. There are many different options for birthday parties including bowling, laser tag, rock climbing, inflatable slides, and bouncy houses as well as many theme parties: craft, dance, runway glamour, and more. Basically, the options are nearly endless at this 29,000-square-foot flexible event space.
Luisa New York
660 Columbus Ave
Want something a little different for your child’s next birthday party? How about having it at the only soap-making workshop in the New York metro area? Kids will learn the secret to creating the sweet-smelling and artistically creative soaps in the store’s own studio and will learn directly from owner Gili Zilca. Kids get to take home their creations, too, so the memories will last scrub after scrub. How’s that for good, clean fun?
157 Larchmont Ave
What more could a child want than a birthday party in a candy store? This one-stop-shopping birthday party includes everything—pizza, drinks, crafts, and goodie bags. Sweet Teez has catered parties for kids as young as 3 and as old as 16. Some of the crafts include making sugar scrubs, candy bracelets, blending perfume, decorating cookies, and sugar art (boys particularly love the bugs and aliens). Whether your child likes Gummy Bears, lollipops, licorice, Life Savers, or sour chews, he’ll be sure to satisfy his sweet tooth here.
No Stone Unturned
96 Kraft Ave, Bronxville
For a truly unique birthday party, try No Stone Unturned, where kids get to create their very own jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. There’s even a doll birthday beading party, where girls make jewelry for themselves and their dolls. Owner Lisa Bellacero brings the party to you, so you can have it at your house, nearby event space, or your favorite restaurant.
826 Scarsdale Ave, Scarsdale
Targeting kids 12 months through 6 years, this fun play space is a great open-gym party experience. Parents love it because the 90-minute birthday package is all-inclusive: pizza, juice boxes, paper supplies, balloons, and dedicated party staff. Just bring the kids and Tumble Bugs supplies the fun (and cleans up afterward).
Want the party to come to you? Lavish Events is the way to go. Owner Lisa Lombardi supplies the custom-made décor, activities, paper goods, crafts, and party favors and the parents supply the space—a house or event space—and the food. There are 14 fun-filled options to choose from including dance, ballerina, princess, superheroes, racecar, and more.