November is here and it’s time to start thinking about holiday gift giving…..and receiving. I’m starting to write out my list of family and friends that I need to buy presents for. I’m also preparing my answer to the often asked question of, “What do you want for Christmas?” If you are like me, your house is inundated with “stuff.” I much prefer experiences over things and am trying to avoid the accumulation of additional “things.” I realize that I am fortunate to live in Westchester County, where there are a wealth of experiences to enjoy. When family members ask what we would like for Christmas, I have the following list of holiday gift ideas for the family ready to refer to. Hopefully, other Westchester County families can also benefit from this list, not just during the holidays, but for any time throughout the year when gift ideas are needed.
Westchester magazine subscription – For as little as $14.97, you can give or receive a one year subscription to Westchester magazine. This magazine has all the info you need on the important people, places, art & culture and food & dining in Westchester County.
Empire Passport – For those Westchester County residents who travel throughout New York state, the Empire Passport may be a great gift choice. A 2017 annual pass costs $65 and is available for purchase beginning in December. The pass is then good until March 2018. This pass is a sticker that gets placed on the window of your vehicle. It allows admission to over 125 state parks throughout New York. In our area, this includes Bear Mountain State Park, Fahnestock , Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park and Harriman State Park. Passports can be ordered in-person, online, telephone or via mail.
Westchester County Park Pass – Westchester County Parks offers a family park pass. For $150, two adults and any children (ages 12 – 18) living in the same household will receive individual passes. (Individual passes cost $75 each). This pass is good for three years and entitles you to discounted admission to all county-owned parks, pools and beaches, where a pass is required. You also have access to the tennis courts at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers and the boat launch at Glen Island Park. You also get discounted parking fees, where parking is charged, except Playland Park and the Westchester County Center. This is an especially great gift idea for those Westchester families that enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, park passes are photo IDs, so all family members need to be present when purchasing. Check this listing for where to purchase passes.
Family memberships to local museums and other area attractions are great holiday gift ideas and provide family fun throughout the entire year. Plus, most of these memberships are tax deductible!
Please note, this list is not exhaustive. If you know of any additional area family attractions that offer family memberships, please let me know so I can update this list.
Bronx Zoo – A basic family membership costs $155 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children). The basic membership allows unlimited general admission to all Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) facilities (Bronx Zoo, NY Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the Queens Zoo). For $195, a premium family membership includes unlimited access to all premium attractions at the Bronx Zoo as well as free parking at the Bronx Zoo and NY Aquarium.
Historic Hudson Valley – A family membership to the Historic Hudson Valley costs $160 for a family of five (2 adults, 3 children). This membership includes general admission to historic sites including Sunnyside, Philipsburg Manor, Van Cortlandt Manor and Union Church. Free admission to special events including The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, Sheep to Shawl, CORNucopia and more. Plus, you get a discount on admission to Horseman’s Hollow, Irving’s “Legend”, Dickens’s “Christmas Carol” and other premium priced events.
Hudson River Museum – A family membership to the Hudson River Museum costs $60 for immediate family living at the same address. Membership includes unlimited admission to the museum, Glenview, the Planetarium and the environmental gallery, Hudson Riverama. In addition, you also get a reduction in program fees and priority registration for programs, lectures and concerts.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk – Technically not in Westchester County, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a quick car ride for those families living on the Eastern side of the county. A family membership to the aquarium costs $170 for a family of two adults and their children. Membership benefits include unlimited admission for one year, special members’ previews, discounted tickets for guests as well as admission to an IMAX movie each visit and more.
New York Botanical Gardens – A Family Community Grounds Membership costs $70 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children up to age 16). Membership includes year-round admission to the gardens, access to outdoor specialty gardens and collections. A regular family membership costs $135 for a family of four. In addition to year-round admission to the gardens and special exhibitions, it also includes 8 parking passes, 4 guest passes and more.
Restaurant Gift Certificates:
There are hundreds of restaurants throughout Westchester County and the surrounding area. If your family has a favorite restaurant or there’s a new place that you have been wanting to try, suggest receiving a gift certificate. As a gift giver consider giving a gift certificate to your favorite local restaurant. This gives friends and family the opportunity to enjoy it as well.
Tickets to a Show:
Westchester County is home to several theaters including The Capitol Theatre (Port Chester), the Paramount Hudson Valley (Peekskill) , Tarrytown Music Hall (Tarrytown) and the Westchester Broadway Dinner Theater (Elmsford). We are fortunate to have so many opportunities to see live music, theater and comedy. Not only are these theaters close to home, they are also affordable. You can have your gift receiver peruse the upcoming show listings and pick one that they’d like to attend. This is also a great gift for your family. All of the venues offer family friendly programs. Pick one that your family will enjoy and works with your schedule and let your gift giver know!
What are your favorite holiday gift ideas for families?
*Please note that this post is intended to be informative. All pricing and information was accurate at the time of posting. However, please check directly with the website/attraction for complete and up-to-date pricing and information.