September 2019
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52 Free Things to Do for FREE in Westchester

Brooklyn Paper
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Whether you’ve just moved to Westchester (yes, moving can be expensive) or have been here for a bit, entertaining the family can be costly. Fear not, there are so many absolutely great things to do here that cost nothing. That’s right - zero, nil, nada, all for free! Read on for these thrifty, keep-everybody-happy, finds.

If you are looking for even more free fun be sure to check our daily Calendar of Events in print or online at westchesterfamily.com. We always offer free and low-cost activities for families.

1. Visit Muscoot Farm in Katonah to see the baby animals or participate in a family craft class. Admission and many events are completely free.

2. Westchester Library System. There are 38 library branches in Westchester all with amazing free programs for families. Find library storytimes, craft programs, movie days, live performances, and a wide variety of special events. Check out your town’s library and several others too!

3. Stop by the Barnes & Noble Storytime in Yonkers for Toddlers’ Tuesday Morning Storytime where kids hear a story and enjoy a coloring activity. In the Mohegan Lake store enjoy Storytime with Mr. Ben for stories, songs, and crafts.

4. The Home Depot Kids Workshop lets kids build a project (think birdhouse, putting green, frame) for free! Stores in Mt. Pleasant, Nanuet, New Rochelle, Port Chester, West Nyack, and Yonkers participate.

5. Ride the North and South County Bike Trail. Walk, scooter, or bike along these 36.2 miles of paved, multi-use trails that are ideal for families.

6. Bezak Science Barge in Yonkers hosts free Arts & Science Sundays from July through October. Kids ages 5 to 12 can participate in hands-on workshops such as Pirate Day, National Fossil Day, or Miniature Pumpkin Painting.

7. While many libraries have exceptional programming, The Trove, the children’s library at the White Plains Public Library is a treasure chest of activity finds including age-appropriate storytimes, movies, drop-in art events, multi-lingual storytimes, and tech offerings.

8. Wave Hill in the Bronx offers free grounds admission from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Saturdays! Stroll the 28-acre botanical garden that includes an herb garden, aquatic garden, conservatory, and flower garden.

9. Bicycle Sundays are a great Westchester tradition. Bike, jog, or skate a 13.1-mile loop on the Bronx River Parkway when it’s closed to vehicular traffic on select Sundays in May, June, and September.

10. Hilltop Hanover Farm & Environmental Center is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. See their Explore the Farm 3.5-mile trail map on their website.

11. St. Paul’s Historic Church National Historic Site in Mt. Vernon hosts a variety of special programs celebrating local history including Revolutionary War encampments, holiday music concerts, and educational talks.

12. Play Days@Jay allows kids to explore the Discovery Centers, walk the grounds, and participate in a hands-on activity at the John Jay Homestead in Katonah.

13. Visit Kensico Dam in Valhalla. Take in the amazing dam and enjoy the park and Plaza. Good areas for toddlers biking with training wheels, a nice playground, picnic areas, bathrooms, and there are free Heritage Festivals throughout the summer.

14. Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary in Rye hosts many nature-themed programs ideal for family entertainment. Park at Playland. May through October, parking fee $10.

15. Each year the Yonkers Philharmonic, Young Artists Concerto Concert presents a program performed by the High School winners of the Annual Young Artists Concerto Competition as they perform with the Yonkers philharmonic – yes, enjoy it all for free in Yonkers.

16. Local Farmers’ Markets are a great place to pick up fresh veggies and fruit, but many also feature family entertainment. The Pleasantville Market offers live music and kids’ events and the market at Muscoot Farm gives kids an opportunity to see the animals.

17. Kathyrn W. Davis RiverWalk Center, a 1926 riverfront bathhouse turned river-based education and recreation center, offers a place to picnic and free programs like Beachcombing at the RiverWalk Center with nature educators.

18. PepsiCo Sculpture Garden. Marvel at the more than three-dozen large works of sculpture as you walk the lightly-pebbled paths through the well-tended landscape. Picnic tables and bathrooms are onsite.

19. ArtsWestchester is an amazing resource for many fun and cultural events throughout Westchester – many of which are free. Look for the new ArtsMobile schedule – a mobile van equipped with art supplies that brings free art programs to kids all over Westchester.

20. The Trailside Nature Museum at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation hosts many nature-themed events that are free. Examples include Vernal Pond Exploration, Firefly Festival, and Turtle Day. Parking $10. With Westchester Park Pass, $5.

21. Philipse Manor Hall Historic Site offers free family programs that teach about Colonial Life. At the free Colonial Games Day kids get to try on reproduction clothing and play popular games from the Colonial period.

22. Teatown Lake Reservation allows families to get up close and personal with nature with a wide variety of free programs including Butterfly Count and Moth Magic.

23. Lakeshore Learning Store in Scarsdale offers drop-in craft workshops every week. Materials and templates are provided.

24. Pelham Arts Center hosts an annual Chinese New Year’s Celebration and other cultural events throughout the year – all for free.

25. Stop by Cranberry Lake Preserve and meet the animals in the Nature Center.

26. Untermyer Park & Gardens in Yonkers offers plenty of green paths to stroll as well as a free Outdoor Music Concert Series each summer and their Grand Holiday Illumination festival of 80,000 holiday lights each winter.

27. Hike Turkey Mountain in Yorktown for some wonderful summit views at 831 feet to the Croton Reservoir and dam, the Hudson River and the New York City skyline as well as Bear Mountain and the Hudson Highlands. The climb can be steep at times so it’s best for older kids.

28. Jefferson Valley Mall has reinvented their free public events. There’s now Sunset Markets with food trucks, vendors, and a Kids’ Fun Action Area plus a Kids’ Corner Book Nook, Free Hatha Yoga classes, a free Summer Science Program, and more to come.

29. Check for free museum passes at your library branch. If you are a member you can score tickets to a variety of locations, some branches have free passes to MoMa, Bruce Museum, Intrepid, Hudson River Museum, Stone Barns, Neuberger Museum of Art, Katonah Museum of Art, and discount tickets to Maritime Aquarium.

30. The Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase is free to all the first Saturday of every month. (There may be a $6 parking fee.) The Museum itself is always free for children ages 12 and under and adults pay $5.

31. The Westchester, the mall in White Plains now has Play, a children’s play area. Located on the top floor near the Food Court and Connect tech center, this free activity center offers families a place to stop and play. Parking costs $3 for up to three hours. The Mall also hosts free seasonal events throughout the year.

32. Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture distributes free weekend passes at 31 Westchester libraries. Check to see if your library participates.

33. Walkway Over the Hudson is located just north of Westchester County in Poughkeepsie. This 1.28-mile long walk on an old railway bridge offers great views. You can bike, walk, or scooter along and strollers are welcome as are dogs on-leash. Expanded wooded trails beyond the Walkway are now also open. In the summer, family-friendly Movies Under the Walkway are also free.

34. There’s a lot to do at Bear Mountain State Park. Visit the Trailside Museums and Zoo ($1 donation suggested), take a spin on the merry-go-round, take a hike or have a picnic. Parking fee $10 per car.

35. Katonah Museum of Art hosts a Free Admission Day each year, look for their announcement. And the Museum has a drop-in Learning Center with art projects set up for kids in connection with the exhibit. Children under age 12 always enter for free, there is a $10 adult admission.

36. The Bronx Zoo offers free general admission all day on Wednesday! It’s a huge venue with lots of animals and attractions so plan to spend the entire day. Not all attractions are free. The parking costs $15. But with an adult ticket generally going for $22.95 and a child’s ticket $14.95, a family of four going on a Wednesday would save $75.80.

37. Nature’s Discovery Playground at Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale is open from dawn to dusk and admission is free to the playground and the grounds of the Nature Center. The ongoing weekend program Teaching Trails: Weekend Walks for All Ages is a free guided walk by specially trained “Trail Ninjas” that share information on trees, plants, wildlife, and seasonal changes. Story Walk is another free program ideal for young children, stroll through the Native Plant Meadow and then hear a story and take a short hike.

38. The New York Botanical Gardens is free all day Wednesday and from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, this does not include the Conservancy, or special exhibitions. Picnics are allowed on Daffodil Hill and the Clay Family Picnic Pavilions.

39. North Kensico Christmas Light Show, located from 19 to 25 N. Kensico Avenue in White Plains, is a neighborhood, computerized light show with more than 10,000 lights on 144 channels all synchronized to music.

40. Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers has plenty of free fun for families. Meet Santa Claus, enjoy a free Children’s Storytime on Wednesdays, see Summer Films outdoors and take in the Outdoor Concert series – all for free!

41. Lasdon Park & Arboretum is home to a small Veterans Museum, which is free and open to the public. Stroll the grounds and explore several of the marked trails. The Trail of Honor features sculptures that take visitors through our nation’s history.

42. Apple Stores provide free tutorials and lots of techy equipment to try out for free. Find Apple stores at The Westchester Mall in White Plains and Ridge Hill in Yonkers.

43. Hudson River Museum in Yonkers hosts a variety of free events and programs. In the summer there are free evening hours on Friday and Saturday featuring a free planetarium show.

44. Stop by Scattered Books in Chappaqua and meet the bunnies Acorn, Oatmeal, and Pumpkin. Storytimes with the bunnies is offered every Tuesday.

45. Go sledding! In your back yard, at your local park, or some golf courses allow families to sled for free. Gedney Park in Millwood has a popular slope. There’s also a nice playground there.

46. Croton Point Nature Center houses exhibits of flora and fauna, information on local Native American history and hands-on activities for kids. There are four miles of Hudson River shoreline to explore. You can even see Bald Eagles here in the winter. Parking $10. With Westchester County Parking Pass, $5.

47. National Park Fee-Free Day allows families to visit National Historic Sites for free on five days in 2019 - Jan. 21, April 20, Aug. 25, Sept. 28 and Nov. 11. These venues participate: Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site; Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site; Martin Van Buren National Historic Site; Sagamore Hill National Historic Site; Saratoga National Historical Park; and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

48. Free Fireworks extraveganzas abound in Westchester. Come July Fourth the County can’t get enough of them. See fireworks shows for free at Kensico Dam, Cross County Shopping Center, the White Plains Independence Day Celebration, the Ossining Independence Day Fireworks, the Mamaroneck Fireworks Spectacular as well as other celebrations in Tarrytown, Peekskill, and New Rochelle.

49. Ridge Hill Shopping Center offers tons of free fun. Try Family Gardening Days and let the kids get their hands in the dirt and have fun, or attend the free Movie Mondays, an outdoor movie series in the summer. You can stop by the children’s play sculpture any day. Parking from $3 to a maximum of $9.

50. Watch a parade! Take up the old-fashioned fun of watching a live parade. Westchester features parades on Memorial Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day and others like the Bedford Fire Department Annual Parade – for kids who like fire trucks this is a big hit!

51. Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie designates the third Saturday of each month as Family Free Night so families can visit and have fun for free from 5 to 8 p.m. The evening is intended for children up to age 6, and children must be supervised at all times by their parents.

52. Playgrounds! Every city, town, and hamlet in Westchester has a playground. Visit neighboring towns and explore what they have to offer. Leonard Park in Mt. Kisco, Reis Park in Somers and Saxon Woods Park in White Plains are well regarded.

Posted 12:00 am, September 20, 2019
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