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. Who doesn’t love exploring the county and “finding” the kid-friendly gems! 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! Read all posts in our Spotlight on Westchester Series.
Yorktown is the kind of small town idyll that I dreamed of as a city kid growing up in the crowded cement and brick tracts of my middle-class Queens neighborhood. It has the comfortable homes, manicured lawns, small-town storefronts, and friendly vibe of many a suburban town, but it has the benefit of being within driving distance of frequently-visited stores that are not in the town itself.
Just off the main artery that is the Taconic, Yorktown is vast in terms of area covered, but it retains that small town feel. Go anywhere in Yorktown, and you are sure to bump into a neighbor, co-worker, teacher, fellow sports parent, cheer family, or local government representative. People in this town are close, communal, and helpful to one another. It is no accident that many of those that grew up in Yorktown have chosen to stay on to raise their own families. It is a wonderful place full of conveniences and activities, at every turn of the season. Let’s explore the best of what Yorktown has to offer:
Yorktown is home to many beautiful parks where families can picnic, play, or hike. Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park (or FDR Park, as it is known to locals), is an oft-frequented place for events and day-long jaunts. It has plenty of places for little ones to bike or play freely, and is bucolic enough that one hardly realizes that the Taconic State Parkway is just down the road. Downing Park is a popular place for ball sports and winter sledding, and Jack DeVito Park hosts most of the town’s biggest activities (besides bordering the Yorktown Stage, where excellent youth and adult performances are showcased).
For those wanting to do a pretty, local day hike, Turkey Mountain has gorgeous scenic views that even offer a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, when the weather is clear enough. Bike paths crisscross Yorktown, and stretch through some of its loveliest spots. Be sure to walk or bike the Croton Reservoir walking trail (bordering the Kitchawan Preserve), as it affords a gorgeous meander with breathtaking river views and piney wooded trails. There are paved paths for road bikers, and more challenging trails for mountain bikers.
Yorktown has a skate park by its Town Hall, which is perfect for kids while their parents shop at nearby Meadows farm stand for local produce or get pampered at Angel Face Day Spa. Nearby Sparkle Lake is also a great spot to bring children for a mini beach experience, as there is sand on the shore and shallow waters for wading. People love to fish along the shoreline, and those wanting to try deeper waters take their rowboats onto the lake for a peaceful day of trawling for carp and bluegill. Sparkle Lake is multi-seasonal, as you can ice skate on it in the winter, and fish or swim in it throughout the rest of the year. If being lakeside is not in the cards, being poolside is just as splendid, and Yorktown offers two beautiful pools for residential use: the Junior Lake Pool at Memorial Park, and the Brian J. Slavin Aquatic Facility. Both have clean, large pools with water slides and picnic areas, and are a favorite gathering place for children to see their friends.
Eats and Treats
Yorktown is growing in its gastronomic offerings. New restaurants are constantly appearing amidst the old tried-and-true staples. A relative newcomer to the town is G&G Euro Café, where traditional food items from fifteen-plus countries around the world are available for your table at home. The store has a warm, friendly vibe, and there is a café area that serves aromatic Turkish coffee and burek stuffed with a variety of savory fillings. Oscar’s is my typical go-to for really amazing pizza, as their homemade pizza sauce is a phenomenal standout. Their restaurant offers excellent pasta dishes, and their truffle fries are addicting, particularly when paired with mussels or clams.
A little gem off the beaten track in Yorktown is Furci’s, where you can get an amazing beet salad and hearty pasta plates, and if you walk to the back of their store, you can buy the yummiest gelato and eat it at their quiet tables set in a garden-like open space. For those with a palate for the exotic, the Jewel of Himalaya restaurant offers wonderfully spiced dishes such as Himalayan Aloo (a potato and vegetable curry) or Himalayan Makhini (beef and chicken in a tomato-based sauce). The Yorktown Diner is a great stand-in for nights when you don’t feel like cooking, and its casual, homey atmosphere makes it the perfect place to bring children.
The Yorktown Bakery is definitely worth a peek (since you are shopping downtown Yorktown), and it would be hard to leave without some of their delicious cookies and treats. The Stone Rose opened its doors this year, and while you might be attending for some of their Meet & Greets with reality TV personalities like Theresa Giudice, the food is the real star. They have a delicate whitefish sushi appetizer that is both beautifully plated and easy to devour. Their Surf & Turf is a familiar favorite, but their branzino dish and their seared duck breast are also winners.
Lastly, no foodie visit to Yorktown would be complete without a stop at Izla, a Puerto Rican restaurant that serves a not-to-be-missed Churrasco steak, with sides such as tostones, pink beans, plantains, and yucca. Their Arroz Con Pollo tastes homemade, and they offer tasty pasteles as well.
One of the biggest benefits of living in Yorktown is the proximity of the Jefferson Valley Mall, which has a multitude of stores to appeal to every age, and is a lifesaver when you need something but don’t want to run down to White Plains for it. However, for excellent shopping at local storefronts, Wishes is an elegant boutique with artsy sparklers for jewelry and tastefully exquisite gifts. When I want a truly special gift, that is where I head. Or to my absolute favorite shop, Celtic Aer, which sells imported Irish food, clothing, jewelry, and gift items that are unique and authentic. Their imported Irish sweaters and capes knit in traditional Aran designs are both beautiful and affordable. They also sell seasonal plants and flowers, as well as sheds and gazebos.
When shopping for daily life, Yorktown boasts the convenience of having stores that supply every need, from a BJ’s gas & grocery, to a Party City, Staples, TJ Maxx, and Kmart, to add to the landscape of banks, grocery stores, pet stores, and pharmacies.
Part of what makes Yorktown such a wonderful place to live is the variety of special events that take place in the heart of town, without having to travel to further locales for a day of family fun. Yorktown has its very own ball drop and fireworks display to ring in the New Year, the benefit of which is your proximity to home once the fireworks are over, and everyone wants to be in bed.
There is a Christmas tree lighting ceremony that follows the town’s Parade of Lights in December, and a sweet train show at Lasdon Park & Arboretum. In the spring, the annual Yorktown Heights Fireman’s Carnival, the House & Garden Tour, the Antique Car Show, Yorktown’s Community Day, and Yorktown’s Relay for Life are favorites to attend after a long winter.
Summer heralds the best of Yorktown’s outdoor recreational life, but when folks are not kayaking, swimming, boating, hiking, or barbecuing, there are Sunday concerts at Jack DeVito park as well as movies under the stars at the same location. Once fall hits, the town has its local grange fair, and hosts its own Feast of San Gennaro, where an original statue of San Gennaro is featured, on loan from the Most Precious Blood Church in Manhatten. Sprinkle in the multitude of parades to commemorate holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, and Yorktown has something for every family to enjoy on a year-round basis.
There are many places around beautiful Westchester to live and raise a family, but Yorktown has to be one of its jewels. With a strong school system, a dedicated Board of Education, an incredible police department (perusing their FaceBook posts is akin to reading the Sunday funnies), a responsive fire department and EMT squad, a Parks & Rec Department that offers a variety of classes, a vibrant senior community, and childcare options spread throughout the town, Yorktown is a place that is rich in resources and community. It is a lovely place to put down roots, but even if you are only here for the day, immerse yourself in all that it has to offer!