Greetings from Your Perfect Summer

The 23 best ways to get the most out of summer in Westchester



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Throw Your Kids Down a Water Slide

Your kids have waded in the pool. They’ve swum in the pool. They’ve played Marco Polo (a thousand times). They’ve even gone to the beach. Now they’re looking for something more exciting. So, pack them in the car and take them to one of these nearby water parks.

Great Wolf Lodge
Scotrun, PA
(570) 688-9899
Distance from White Plains: 2 hours
You needn’t wait for a sunny day to schlep the clan here; this 550,000-gallon operation is indoors. Though more family-focused, with a blissfully static “Fort Mackenzie” water playground, there are a few rides here for daredevils.

Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Resorts

Great Wolf Lodge's indoor water park


Six Flags New England
Hurricane Harbor
Agawam, MA
(413) 786-9300
Distance from White Plains: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Though the Six Flags of choice in these parts may be Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, Six Flags New England is almost equidistant and has a bigger selection of water rides. The Tornado takes you and two of your nearest and dearest through a funnel that’s 60 feet in diameter—talk about dizzying. Or, try to ride the crest in the 500,000-gallon wave pool—one of the largest in the country.

Splish Splash
Calverton, NY
(631) 727-3600
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Budget Travel chose this as one of the 15 greatest water parks in the United States—probably because it aims to be a little more thrilling than your average water park. Try the Tunnel of Terror: you’ll be taken on a series of twists, turns, and loops—all in total darkness.

Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom
Allentown, PA
(610) 395-3724
Distance from White Plains: 2 hours, 15 minutes
When you’re riding the Aquablast, you’re 70 feet up in the air—this is one of the longest elevated water slides in the world, according to the park. Competitive? Try the Patriot’s Plunge, where you choose either the red, white, or blue slide and see who gets to the bottom first.

 

Introduce Your Kids to Fine Theater

If the thought of taking your kids to a show conjures up images of squirming in seats, remember that “fine theater” can also mean “fun theater.” Take, for example, the production of Seussical the Musical, opening at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. The show has Broadway pedigree, coming from Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once On This Island) and earning a Tony nomination itself for Best Actor in a Musical (Kevin Chamberlin). Filled with Dr. Seuss’s colorful characters and set to a poppy score, there should be no fidgeting from your progeny. Start them off early on this, and work them into Ibsen gradually. The American Family Theatre’s stage production of Seussical will run from June 16 to July 31; for more information, call (914) 592-2222 or visit broadwaytheatre.com.

Go to a Drive-In SIT-In

Every year, we lament, rue, bemoan, and otherwise curse our lack of a drive-in movie theater. The closest one is about an hour away—the Fair Oaks Drive-In in Middletown, New York, if you’re wondering—and factoring in the price of gas along with skyrocketing movie ticket prices, the financials just don’t work out. Woe is us.

Until now. Consider “Screening Under the Stars” at the Kensico Dam. It has (almost) everything you could want in a drive-in experience. You can spread a blanket, unfold a lawn chair, and take in a movie alfresco. (If you want to fog up some windows making out with your date, though, you’ll have to go back to the parking lot.) Arrive early and a DJ will provide music to serenade your BYO picnic dinner. Best of all? It’s totally free.

This year’s Screening Under the Stars will take place on July 7. The movie hadn’t been announced as of press time, but since when was the drive-in experience about the movie you were seeing anyway? For more information, call the Westchester County Parks Department at (914) 864-7275 or visit parks.westchestergov.com.

Barbecue Redux

Sure, summer means fresh vegetables and ripe, local fruit—but we really just crave pulled pork, Carolina ribs, and brisket slathered in barbecue sauce. Don’t feel like manning the grill? Last month, we surveyed our local barbecue dining scene. If you missed it—or, heaven forbid, didn’t save the issue—here are the highlights. Bring wet-naps at your own discretion.

AJ’s Burgers
New Rochelle
(914) 235-3009
Though this may look more like a diner than a smokehouse, its super-secret barbecue sauce makes it rival any BBQ joint.

Bob-B-Q’s
Shrub Oak
(914) 214-8239
If you don’t have the time to make it to Bob’s Shrub Oak location, keep your eyes peeled on the road for its flame-detailed mobile food truck.

House of Soul
Mount Vernon
(914) 663-7685
The former owners of Yvonne’s make their barbecue with old family recipes before heaping large portions onto your plate.

Memphis Mae’s
Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 271-0125
CIA-trained chef Andreas Nowara, or “Ace,” packs just as much flavor into side dishes as he does in the entrées.

Piri-Q
Mamaroneck
(914) 341-1443
An unusual fusion, the name Piri-Q stands for piri-piri—or Portuguese hot sauce—mixed with barbecue.

Q Restaurant and Bar
Port Chester
(914) 933-7427
Take the family to Q: On Wednesdays, kids eat free (with the purchase of an adult meal), and they’ll love drinking iced tea out of a mason jar, which they get to keep.

Sherwood’s
Larchmont
(914) 833-3317
If the ribs and wings here are your favorites, it’s because Sherwood’s has had a lot of practice—the restaurant has been in business since 1989.

Smokehouse Grill
New Rochelle
(914) 813-8686
Grab some suds to wash down that barbecue—the bar is stocked with local and craft beers.
—with Jeanne Muchnick

Go for a Swim

Air conditioning may make us cool, but it doesn’t always make us happy. Sometimes we feel trapped, like hamsters in a habitat. Swimming can cool us off and help us celebrate our self-determination. Shake off the shackles of climate control by heading to one of these oases—and don’t forget your swimmies.

Beaches

The best places to dip your toes in the waves between here and the Hamptons

Playland
Rye
(914) 813-7010; ryeplayland.org
Distance from White Plains: 15 minutes
Fees: $3 (seniors); $3 (children 5 to 11; for pool, add $1); $4 (adults; for pool, add $2).
Open: Wednesdays through Sundays, except holidays.
After taking a spin on the Dragon Coaster, come to this beach to set out a blanket and relax.

Oakland Beach
Rye
(914) 967-0965
townofryeny.com
Distance from White Plains: 15 minutes
Fees: Beach access is $7 on weekdays and $8 on weekends and holidays for residents, and $9 and $10 for non-residents. In addition, there is a parking fee for residents ($8 to $9) and non-residents ($10 to $15).
Open: Daily, 9 am to 5 pm.
After a day of sunbathing, towel off and head to Seaside Johnnies, also located within Rye Town Park.

Croton Point Park Beach
Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 862-5290
parks.westchestergov.com
Distance from White Plains: 25 minutes
Fees: Parking fees only—$4 with park pass, $8 without park pass.
Open: Wednesday to Sundays, and holidays only, from 11 am to 6 pm.
For something different, eschew the ocean and take a dip in the Hudson River (it’s safe here, we promise).

Glen Island Park
New Rochelle
(914) 813-6720; parks.westchestergov.com/
Distance from White Plains: 25 minutes
Fees: Must have a Westchester County Park Pass or picture ID, plus $2 (seniors Monday to Friday), $3 (children 5 to 11), $4 (adult); $10 (adults without a park pass); season swim passes range from $75 to $200.
Open: Wednesday to Sundays, and holidays only, from 11 am to 6 pm.
Stake out a spot near the boat launch; there are 65 to 70 launchings per weekend.

Orchard Beach
Bronx, NY (718) 430-1825
nycgovparks.org/parks/orchardbeach
Distance from White Plains: 30 minutes
Fees: None—as with many New York City beaches, admission and parking are both free.
Open: Daily from 7 am to 7 pm.
This mile-long, 115-acre beach was once called the “Riviera of New York.”

Calf Pasture Beach
Norwalk, CT
(203) 854-7806; norwalkct.org
Distance from White Plains: 35 minutes
Fees: $15/car on weekdays; $20/car weekends.
Open: Every day from Memorial Day through September.
Practice your putting—there’s mini-golf on-site.

Compo Beach
Westport, CT
(203) 341-1000; westportct.gov
Distance from White Plains: 35 minutes
Fees: $20 per person on weekdays; $40 per person on weekends.
Open: Daily, 4 am to 10 pm.
Compo gives you reason to keep visiting even after the summer ends: dogs are allowed off-leash in designated areas after October 1.

Sherwood Island State Park
Westport, CT
(203) 226-6983
friendsofsherwoodisland.org
Distance from White Plains: 35 minutes
Fees: Weekdays: $9 for in-state vehicles and $15 for out-of-state vehicles ($6 after 4 pm); weekends: $13 for in-state vehicles and $22 for out-of-state vehicles ($6 after 4 pm).
Open: Daily, 10 am to 6 pm.
Bird-watchers can ignore the gulls and visit the birdhouse in the park’s nature center.

Jacob Riis Park
Rockaway, Queens
(718) 318-4300
nyharborparks.org/visit/jari.html
Distance from White Plains: 45 minutes
Open: Daily, 9 am to 5 pm.
Fees: None.
This beach—known as “The People’s Beach”—is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and features an art deco bathhouse.

Jennings Beach/Penfield Beach
Fairfield, CT
(203) 256-3191
fairfieldrecreation.com
Distance from White Plains: 45 minutes
Fees: $15/car weekdays; $25/car weekends.
Open: Daily, dawn to 11 pm.
Jennings Beach is Fairfield’s largest, but the Penfield Beach Café is a better place to score a beachside snack.

Brighton Beach/Coney Island
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 373-5862
coneyisland.com
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: None.
Open: Varies but often daily, 12 pm to 12 am.
Head to Coney Island for a chance to check out the new rides at the new “Luna Park,” or choose Brighton Beach if you want to sample some Russian delicacies at one of the boardwalk eateries.

 

Jones Beach State Park
Wantagh, NY
(516) 785-1600; nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/10/details.aspx
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: $10/car.
Open: Varies. At the Central Mall: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 7 pm; weekends and holidays, 9 am to 8 pm.
Check out who will be playing at the amphitheater before you go; you can hear concerts from the beach.

 

Long Beach
Long Beach NY
(516) 431-3890; longbeachny.org
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: Beach passes are $12 and required for
visitors 13 and older.
Open: Daily, 9 am to 6 pm.
The historic boardwalk here was built in 1914 and was once frequented by the likes of Clara Bow and Flo Ziegfeld.

Long Beach/Short Beach
Stratford, CT
(203) 385-4052; townofstratford.com
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: $10/car.
Open: Every day.
Both of these Stratford beaches are known to birders and are mating areas for piping plover and the least tern (as well as horseshoe crabs).

Rockaway Beach
Queens, NY
(718) 318-4000
nycgovparks.org/parks/rockawaybeach
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: None.
Open: Daily, 10 am to 6 pm.
Surf’s up—this is one of the only places to go surfing in New York City.

Robert Moses State Park
Babylon, NY
(631) 669-0470; http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/7/details.aspx
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Fees: $10/car.
Open: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 7 pm; weekends and holidays, 9 am to 8 pm.
Feel free to really spread out; there are five miles of usable beach here.

County Public Pools

Hate all the coarse, gritty sand? Stay close to home and try one of these county pools.

Saxon Woods Pool
White Plains
(914) 995-4480; parks.westchestergov.com/
County Park Pass: Required.
Open: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm.
This is the county’s largest public swimming pool—conveniently located near one of its nicest golf courses, so there’s something for everyone here.

Playland Pool
Rye
(914) 813-7010; ryeplayland.org
County Park Pass: Not required, but fees range from $3 to $6, plus $1 for lockers.
Open: Daily 11:30 am to 6:30 pm, with no admittance after 6 pm.
The best of both worlds: You can stroll on a boardwalk with a view of the Long Island Sound, then swim in water that’s not salty or sandy.

The Brook at Tibbetts
Yonkers
(914) 231-2865
parks.westchestergov.com/
County Park Pass: Required
(residents only).
Open: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm.
The county’s newest “aquatic center” has everything from spray grounds for little ones to in-pool basketball courts.

Wilson’s Waves
Mount Vernon
(914) 813-6990
parks.westchestergov.com/
County Park Pass: Required
(residents only).
Open: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm.
For those seeking a little bit more action, the water slides and wave pool here offer more than your typical wading and splashing around.

*Note: Sprain Ridge Pool is closed for 2011.

 

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