Fun & Leisure Editors' Picks 2016


Published:

Star- and Planet-Gazing 

Westchester Amateur Astronomers 

(877) 456-5778; www.westchesterastronomers.org

No simulated starscapes here—the Westchester Amateur Astronomers go for the real deal, hosting Saturday-night Star Parties (weather permitting) at Ward Pound Ridge in Cross River. Just bring your telescope for spectacular, unobstructed, and unlit night-sky viewing. Next Star Party: July 30 (rain date: August 6).


Turnkey Rent-a-Party 

The Great American BBQ Co.    

54 Gedney Way, White Plains

(914) 686-2277; www.thegreatamericanbbq.com

Wanna throw a fantastic barbecue but don’t have the time or energy for all the prep, cooking, and cleanup? The Great American BBQ Co. will dispatch one of their teams to your home, business, or other location and do it all for you. They bring everything—the grills, the sides, the tables and chairs, the utensils and paper goods, the beverages and ice—even lawn games, if you want them.


Avant-Garde Community Arts Organization

Embark Peekskill 

1008 Main St, Peekskill 

(914) 671-7772; www.embarkpeekskill.org

A melting pot of artistic celebration, this multicultural alliance champions socially conscious self-expression. Founders Katie Schmidt Feder and Sol Miranda (who’s in the cast of the Tina Fey Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) shepherd an ambitious array of workshops, professional performances, dance classes, ambient music ensembles, improv/open-mic/storytelling slams, and more. 


LGBT Initiative  

Forks, Corks & Cocktails     

www.bjornandcompany.com/signatureevent    

Launched in 2013, the annual springtime Forks, Corks & Cocktails (FC&C) has quickly grown to become the county’s signature LGBT social event of the year. Combining food from some of our trendiest restaurants, plus seasonal wines, signature cocktails, and music, FC&C—which was held this year in May at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester—is an elegant, Manhattan-style night of socializing, dancing, and fun.


New Speaker Series 

Castle Conversations at Manhattanville College

2900 Purchase St, Purchase 

(914) 323-1277; www.castleconversations.org

The spectacular Reid Castle on Manhattanville’s Purchase campus plays host to a modern-day salon, where luminaries like Arianna Huffington, Dan Rather, Steve Wozniak, Danny Meyer, and others share insights and analysis on some of today’s most compelling topics.


Bowling Alley

Bowlmor White Plains

47 Tarrytown Rd, White Plains

(914) 948-2677; www.bowlmor.com/location/bowlmor-white-plains

Bowlmor is the furthest thing you can imagine from the grimy, smoky AMF bowling alley that previously occupied this space. It’s a nightclub with a DJ and a fireplace; it’s an arcade with all of the latest games; it’s a restaurant with food that’s an upgrade from the typical bowling alley. And if you won’t take our word for it, ask Justin Bieber: He stopped by to check out the lanes and games in January.


Fishing Charters 

Klondike IX

78 Fort Slocum Rd, New Rochelle

(914) 738-4593; www.klondike9.com

Klondike IX’s expert crew will take you to lots of hungry and battle-worthy fish during their exciting New Ro-based launches into the Sound. They also offer educational cruises, plus a 110-foot vessel you can charter for your next floating party or event.


Movie and a Dinner Option

Picnic in the Park at The Picture House Regional Film Center

175 Wolfs Ln, Pelham

(914) 738-7337; www.thepicturehouse.org

Only in Westchester (or maybe Hollywood) could you go to dinner and a movie and be treated to a Q&A with A-list actors and directors who also might be your neighbors. Last year’s Picnic in the Park (which is an annual fundraiser for The Picture House) featured a screening of the Ryan Reynolds film Mississippi Grind, followed by a Q&A with the Bedford resident, plus a gourmet picnic dinner provided by BOW winner Alvin & Friends, dancing, an auction, and a raffle. It sold out last year, so get your tickets early for the September event.


High Tea in Your Home 

The British Biscuiteer

Briarcliff Manor

(914) 512-4007; www.facebook.com/thebritishbiscuiteer

In a nod to her British heritage, gifted, self-taught baker Nicki Thorogood caters exceptional, authentic afternoon teas and high teas replete with mouthwatering scones, Victoria sandwiches, sausage rolls, trifle, and homemade clotted cream, beautifully plated and delivered with proper leaf tea at a reasonable $25 per person.


Grownup Dance Night

Tango Night at Alvin & Friends

14 Memorial Hwy, New Rochelle 

(914) 654-6549; www.alvinandfriendsrestaurant.com

Hit the dance floor in style with this monthly evening event, during which couples or those flying solo can enjoy fine dining, Argentine tango dancing, special performances, and raffles. Dance maestro Mayte Vicens offers a tango class for all levels of experience, followed by an open dance floor where participants can show off their fancy footwork.


Limo Service

Armonk Limousine

200 Business Park Dr, Ste 108, Armonk

(914) 273-4466; www.armonklimo.com

From stem to stern, Armonk Limousine has you covered. Competitive rates, pristine rides, punctual chauffeurs…just book a time (online, if you prefer) and be there when they pull up. There’s a good reason Armonk Limo has been a multi-year Best Of Westchester winner.


Budding Artist Night Out 

Muse Paintbar

84 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 506-5900 

265 Market St, Yonkers (914) 618-5400 

www.musepaintbar.com

Get in touch with your inner Picasso at this fun and informal White Plains paint bar, where you can kick back with a few close friends and some potent drinks as you paint your next masterpiece. Knowledgeable teachers, a laid-back attitude, and a range of beverages and snacks all make for one artsy and gratifying outing. 


Live-Music Venue 

Downtown Music at Grace

33 Church St, White Plains

(914) 949-0384; www.dtmusic.org

This nonprofit performing-arts organization holds its popular Noonday Concerts at Grace Episcopal Church on Wednesdays, September through June. The repertoire showcases 30 minutes of world-class music (classical to contemporary), featuring first-rate musicians (many from The Met) in an intimate setting with amazing acoustics. Feed your soul for your next Wednesday lunch! 


Repurposed Historic Landmark

The Winery at St. George  

1715 E Main St, Mohegan Lake 

(914) 455–4272; www.thewineryatstgeorge.com

There is a remarkable contrast between the unassuming stone facade of this century-old Normandy-style church and the warmth and openness within. Much was preserved in the conversion to a wine lover’s venue, including its original name (the chapel was dedicated to George L. Heins, a famous architect and late husband of the original owner). There are 40 wines offered by the glass, plus seasonal tapas and entrées, as well as wide-ranging live entertainment. 


Jazz Festival

Jazz Fest 

Mamaroneck Ave and Martine Ave, White Plains

(914) 428-4220, ext 315; www.artswestchester.org/2015-jazz-fest

The annual White Plains Jazz Fest sponsored by ArtsWestchester spans six days (this year, September 20 to 25) with live music from both emerging and established acts. Listen to everything from traditional Dixieland and swing to blues, Latin, smooth, and African jazz. The fest culminates in a free, open-air five-act celebration headlined this year by Malian singer/songwriter Awa Sangho, whose influences include African, Brazilian, and jazz music.


Tarot Card Readings 

Awakenings

215 Katonah Ave, #3, Katonah

(914) 232-0382; www.awakeningskatonah.com

Awaken your soul at this music-and-incense-filled sanctuary. It’s part bookstore, part gift shop, and wholly unique; head here for an eye-opening card reading with Ann-Marie. Learn that the “death” card is usually nothing to fear and how your past influences your future. You can even record your session.  


Outdoor Excursions 

Hudson River Expeditions

1 Annsville Cir, Peekskill

(914) 737-1202; www.hudsonriverexpeditions.com

Perched along the world’s most beautiful river, Hudson River Expeditions offers kayak, canoe, paddleboard rentals, tours, and expert instruction for everyone from the novice to the veteran paddler. Launch from bucolic locations in Peekskill and Cold Spring for a grand tour of the Hudson Highlands.


Place for Bird Watching

Marshlands Conservancy 

220 Boston Post Rd, Rye

(914) 835-4466; parks.westchestergov.com/marshlands-conservancy

This picturesque sanctuary on Long Island Sound offers 147 magnificent acres and five habitats luring 300 bird species, particularly shore and migratory types. Common sights: ospreys, blue herons, snow egrets, and, on occasion, bald eagles and warblers. Open daily, dawn to dusk.


Place for Vinyl

Bruised Apple Books and Music

923 Central Ave, Peekskill

(914) 734-7000; www.bruisedapplebooks.com 

There aren’t many spots in the county with as wide a selection of vinyl as Bruised Apple. Stop by this quaint little shop on a walk through funky downtown Peekskill to find records from Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and anything in between. 


Historic Cocktail Bar 

Iron Vine

992 Main St, Peekskill

(914) 930-8507; www.ironvinepeekskill.com 

Nearly everything in this tapas bar and restaurant—from the ceiling to the fixtures to the ironwork—was sourced from Peekskill, dating back to the 1830s. The craft-cocktail menu, however, is delightfully modern (with a nod to vintage drinks), featuring house-made ingredients and clever combinations. 


New Boutique Hotel

Cambria Suites

250 Main St, White Plains 

(914) 681-0500; www.cambriasuiteswhiteplains.com

If The Ritz is too, well, ritzy for your budget, but you want a stay that’s considerably above the basic hotel experience, consider the new Cambria Suites, located within walking distance of everything in downtown White Plains. The hotel offers 130 modern, spacious suites ($189 to $249). Additionally, there’s a terrace meeting space for up to 85, free airport shuttle, and guests get complimentary access to Planet Fitness next door. 


Place to Spend a Saturday Afternoon

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company

444 Saw Mill River Rd, Elmsford 

(914) 741-2337; www.captainlawrencebrewing.com 

Make the most of a lazy Saturday in the beer garden at Captain Lawrence Brewing Company. Grab a pint of one of several award-winning craft beers and settle in for a full afternoon of free music. You can also try your hand at Jenga, bocce, or learn about the art of beer-making on one of their tours. 


Foodie Night Out

A Taste of Westchester Cooking Demos/Tastings by Westchester Community College  

(914) 606-6830; www.sunywcc.edu/ce

Since Westchester Community College started teaming up with local restaurants to offer these interactive and entertaining chef-led “culinary adventures” in 2002, the number of courses has gone up from 20 to more than 80. From foraging in the woods for morels and ramps with Jon Pratt of Peter Pratt’s Inn to crafting your own vegetable samosa with Navjot Arora of Chutney Masala, you’ll find both your social life and cooking knowledge increasing appreciably. 

Rainy Day Activity

iFLY Indoor Skydiving at Ridge Hill

849 Ridge Hill Blvd, Yonkers

(914) 449-4359; www.iflyworld.com/westchester

Want to go skydiving but have cold feet? Try iFLY—indoor skydiving that even 3-year-olds have done. Flying around in an air tunnel is exhilarating, and your instructor provides continuous guidance for controlling your movements. At the end of the “flight,” you get a sweet flight certificate to show off your inner daredevil.

 

 

 

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