We all love our own little cozy corners of Westchester. There are so many things to do and see, places to eat, parks to visit. We love exploring the county and “finding” the kid-friendly gems! Even if you have lived here your entire life, you can still find new fun things to do all the time. It is our mom-bloggin’ duty to highlight some of those awesome places so that other moms can take advantage too! With each installment one or two new towns/cities will be highlighted to give you a glimpse into the awesomeness that is Westchester! Be sure to read all posts in our Spotlight on Westchester Series.
Katonah is a hamlet in the town of Bedford in Northern Westchester about 44 miles north of Manhattan. It is conveniently located off I-684 and the Saw Mill Parkway and has its own stop on the Metro North as well. The railroad lets you off right onto to Katonah Avenue where you’ll see a variety of shops and restaurants in immediate walking distance.
The town has a pretty neat history. In 1893 Katonah was scheduled to be demolished to make way for the Croton Dam and a reservoir to be built for New York City’s expanding water system. Instead of losing their town, they chose to move it. Many buildings and houses were physically moved to a new plot of land. The “new” Katonah is actually made up partially from those moved structures.
What to Do
Muscoot Farm is a perfect way to spend a family day. Over 50 animals live on the farm, including cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigs. You can walk right up to their pens or in their barns. Muscoot has historic buildings to visit such as the milk house, the ice house, and the carriage house. Alternatively, if you are up for a hike, there are six miles of scenic trails. Muscoot runs special events and educational programs, like sugaring, bird walks and “Run the Farm,” which is a five mile trail race and/or a children’s race held each October. Farmer’s Markets are present every Sunday from May through November.
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the admission is free to families and individuals. You can bring in food or visit the concession stand, which is opened seasonally. Another great aspect about a visit to Muscoot is that it doesn’t have to be an all day commitment, as a typical visit lasts about 1 to 2 hours.
Katonah Museum of Art is an awesome venue for art enthusiasts of all ages and also offers many educational programs. The museum has a “Learning Center” that has hands-on activities and workshops geared towards children ages 3 and up. It’s an activity space for children to enjoy art projects; create their own sculptures, paintings and collages; make wearable art and read stories about art. The children learn about art through games, puzzles and other activities. The museum even exhibits creations by local elementary school students. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The admission fee is $10 adults; $5 seniors; $5 students and children under 12 are free. Guided tours are fee with admission.
Caramoor is such a neat place! I wasn’t even aware of it until my daughter went there on a field trip with school. Caramoor is essentially a 90 acre estate given to the public as a center for music and art by Walter Rosen, a philanthropist, and his wife Lucie Rosen. They wanted a place to entertain their friends from around the world – and as a result, Caramoor was born. There are three main venues where concerts of many genres of music, like classical, opera, jazz, folk, blues, country, and swing are featured. They also hold performances in gardens and fields.
Caramoor offers tours of their historic houses, lectures, scavenger hunts for kids, picnicking, lounging and other activities. There are plenty of family friendly concerts and events throughout the year, including the I Spy tour. The I Spy is a 30-minute tour of a historic house on the premises that introduces Renaissance and Asian art and culture by using an illustrated booklet that prompts kids to look for various objects and images in the rooms. Another family event is the Afternoon Tea & Tour, which sounds adorable! It’s a lovely place to spend time relaxing with friends where you can enjoy a formal tea service that includes a variety of teas and tea sandwiches and desserts. The grounds are open year-round Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission to the gardens and grounds is included with the cost of your concert ticket.
Where to Eat
If you know Katonah at all, you must know King Kone. King Kone is no doubt a staple in Northern Westchester. Finish up a softball game? Let’s go to King Kone. Finished up a family day at the pool? Let’s go to King Kone. Nothing to do at night? Let’s go to King Kone. Generous servings of yummy soft serve ice creams and a huge variety of scooped ice cream, including a few sugar free and low-fat flavors. Oh and if you’re in the mood for some tasty fried food? Let’s go to King Kone. Lots to choose from in this category too. My son is obsessed with the fried pickles. Don’t get overwhelmed by the lines – these guys know what they are doing and the lines move quickly. They close in the winter months, but rest assured King Kone – we’re waiting for you!
Katonah is known for wanting to keep their town homey, artsy and casual – and history shows that they are not interested in bringing in large chain stores and restaurants, especially downtown. While Tazza Café does have a local presence in other Westchester towns, it is a stand out in Katonah. My daughter and I stumbled upon Tazza Café as we were strolling around town killing some time as my son was attending an event at the local library. As it was in between meals, we just had a snack and coffee. They offer a great variety of coffee and hot beverage specialties including crème brulee and chai tea lattes. All baking is on the premises, with no shortage of choices. Tazza Café has a nice breakfast menu, with omelets, oatmeal, pancakes, acai bowls, as well as a full lunch menu, with sandwiches, wraps, salads – and a children’s menu. Low-fat and gluten free available.
Katonah’s first library operated out of the building where the Katonah Reading Room is today. This was one of the structures that was moved in the late 1800s to make way for the new reservoir. With their shelves full of books, newspapers and magazines, it’s a neat place to stop in for all day breakfast, salads, soups, and pastries. A children’s menu is available too. It’s a great place to meet up with a friend, hang out in the comfy seats, chat and snack. While you are more than welcome to stay as long as you want, there are only 16 seats so be mindful of others that might be waiting. Katonah Reading Room also sells gourmet goods, dinner ingredients, cheeses, meats, chocolates, to-go. Easy enough to grab up for your dinner prep!
And a quick shout to out La Familia Katonah. Most towns in Westchester have local pizza and Italian food eateries, but La Familia, which has a number of locations, has pizza that is SO good. Dine in, take out, or local delivery is available.
Where to Shop
Pop Katonah opened in 2016 and has quickly become a go-to place to shop for fun and unique gifts (and candy and sodas too!). They can customize pajama pants, tees, sweatshirts, or even socks. Pop Katonah is a fun resource when shopping for party favors too, as they’ll make a mix of your favorite candies in bags, jars or a Chinese food container.
Little Joe’s is the sister store to Katonah Reading Room (referenced above). A quote on their website says: “We want to be your community book store and feed your love of reading.” Besides 1000s of books for all ages, Little Joe’s sells toys, games and gifts and even hosts in-store story times for children. Their titles range from board books for young readers through adult reads – fiction, non-fiction, etc. Little Joe’s sells fair trade and organic coffee, specialty teas, cappuccinos and lattes and delicious baked goods like rolls, brownies, muffins, cookies, and scones. There have gluten free options and many of the baked goods are from local vendors. Sitting right across the street from the Katonah stop on the Metro North, commuters can stop by for their morning coffee and breakfast to go before hopping on the train into NYC. With candy, milkshakes, ice cream and shaved ice too, Little Joe’s has that feel of the bygone neighborhood stores. Come by for a snack and to chat with the owners about books – they welcome it!
The history behind Kelloggs & Lawrence is so neat that it is tough to talk about Katonah without mentioning it. This building opened in 1902 and the owners lived right upstairs, but the roots of the business may go as far back as 1838. At one time, the town Post Office was even located in the building. Over the years, it has changed hands, but always remained family owned, customer service oriented and a true partner in the community. Kelloggs & Lawrence covers your full scope of hardware needs, but also sells a huge range of goods and services, such as automotive needs, office supplies, pet supplies, storage and organization, gardening, sporting goods, electronics, and fireplace expertise. The store also sells a full line of outdoor camping gear, including apparel, tents and sleeping bags. Also selling indoor and outdoor toys and games, food and snacks, Kelloggs & Lawrence is very much like a General Store – perfect for one-stop shopping for your family and house needs.
Katonah has really become a destination in Northern Westchester for shopping, dining, and has a welcoming vibe. For the most part, the stores in the downtown area of Katonah do not burn the midnight oil, so keep an eye on those hours of operations. Stop by any of the stores, restaurants and venues and you’ll be received with open arms.