Situated on more than 200 acres in Somers, Lasdon Park offers a beautiful backdrop for a family picnic or a walk along the colorful gardens blooming with flowers. Summer is the perfect time to visit, although Lasdon offers special events catering to families throughout the year. The newly opened Conservatory featuring exotic flowers and plants is drawing visitors from all over the county and outdoor concerts are planned this summer. Below are highlights from the park that are sure to please the littlest nature lovers to history buff ’tweens.
During our trip to the park, the Dinosaur Garden was a hit. Little ones can see real plants from more than 65 million years ago and look at small-scale dinosaur replicas. If you have a tech-savvy member of your family, be sure to download the free app, Zappar on your phone so you can scan the signs located throughout the garden to find out more about both the dinosaurs and the plants that lived in pre-historic times.
So maybe you don’t feel like taking a transcontinental flight to China with your kids but you still want to show them some traditional Chinese architecture. Then head on over to the Chinese Pavilion and Friendship Garden located in the western end of the park. This peaceful area of the park is a perfect spot for a picnic or sky gazing.
If your kids are getting too hot or bored, make sure you include a stop at the Conservatory. Opened last year after more than a decade of construction, the 2,500 square foot Conservatory houses botanical exhibits and currently showcases tropical treasures of the rainforest including exotic plants and flowers. Smaller in scale than the Bronx Botanical Garden’s conservatory, little ones can feel at home here and admire the serene waterfalls and lush greenery while listening to the sounds of birds native to the tropical rainforests.
The park plays host to several special events throughout the summer. Be sure to mark your calendar for these upcoming, not-to-be-missed events.
• Andes Manta Music Performance: June 22, 7 to 9 p.m.
This musical performance includes more than 35 traditional instruments used by the Andes people. From the sounds of an Andean flute to the six-foot long panpipes, the music of Andes Manta is joyful and encourages audience participation. Families get the chance to hear Andean music, which is one of the few authentic prehistoric culture forms to survive for more than 500 years. Plus, dancers don colorful costumes to perform traditional dances from the region. Fork in the Road food truck offers delicious treats if you forgot to pack a snack or dinner for the kids. Tickets for this event are $10 per person.
• Historical & Military Vehicle Show: Aug. 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
My children love car shows and the older and bigger the vehicles are, the better. But this vehicle show throws in a bit of history with exhibits showcasing our nation’s conflicts along with military vehicles dating from WWI to Desert Storm. Tickets for this event are $10 per adult and $5 for children under 12. The ticket fee that day also includes admission to the Conservatory. If your kids still haven’t got their history fix, there is also the Westchester Veterans Museum on-site where visitors can view many artifacts from our nation’s conflicts donated by Westchester-based veterans, or stroll along the statues in the Military Walkway known as the Trail of Honor. The statues portray soldiers from every American war, from the Revolutionary War through Desert Storm.
Lasdon Park also plays host to a great Halloween event with a haunted house each October. This year instead of a traditional corn maze Lasdon hopes to build a Halloween-themed challenge course for the kids. The park also hosts a holiday train show that is a big hit with the little ones. Ted Kozlowski, the park manager is planning to have many events and nature-based classes catering to families in the coming months.
Stacey Pfeffer is a writer and editor based in Chappaqua.
2610 Amawalk Road, Rte. 35, Katonah, NY
Park Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Free and open to the public.
Conservatory Hours: Open six days, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. CLOSED MONDAYS (except during events). Tickets for the Conservatory are sold at the on-site Gift Shop 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. except Mondays.
Weekday: Adults $5, children 12 and under, $2
Weekend: Adults $7, children 12 and under, $3
Note: Lasdon is located in Somers, but their postal address is Katonah.