UPDATED JULY 2015: Plan an exciting winter in Rockland County with these 20 fun things to do, from Ramapo to Nyack, Orangetown, Clarkstown, and Haverstraw. Our top picks will have you skating through to spring!
1. Take a trip to outer space.
Join a Public Space Mission at the Town of Ramapo Challenger Center on the third Sunday of every month, when kids can go on simulated, interactive missions to Mars, the moon, and a comet.
2. Lace up your skates and go ice skating.
Hit the ice for some classic winter fun at Bear Mountain State Park Ice Rink. The rink is typically open early November through mid-March (weather pending). Find more indoor and outdoor ice rinks in the area.
3. Take in a holiday tra(in)dition.
Hitch a ride to the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show, which boasts replicas of area landmarks made entirely from plants and is definitely worth the drive to the Bronx. The show typically runs mid-November through mid-January. Find a full list of nearby train shows and exhibits that you can visit throughout the year at nymetroparents.com/trains.
4. Cut down your own Christmas tree.
Make this Christmas special with an early December trip to cut your own Christmas tree at Emmerich Tree Farm in Warwick (Dutchess County), where you can also enjoy wagon rides to fields, hot chocolate, and cookies by the bonfire. Search for more tree farms in the area.
5. Meet jolly old St. Nick.
The Historical Society of Rockland County opens the doors to the 1832 Jacob Blauvelt House in New City to welcome children of all ages to celebrate St. Nicholas Day in early December (a 50-year tradition!). Each child receives a special treat in his/her shoe from St. Nicholas, and everyone can visit with St. Nicholas and his horse, enjoy refreshments, and view the society’s current exhibition.
6. Ignite your holiday spirit at a community celebration.
Kick off your Hanukkah celebrations at a local menorah lighting at locations across the county. Most of these lighting festivals also feature kids’ entertainment and holiday-themed refreshments. Check nymetroparents.com/calendar for a lighting near you.
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7. See visions of sugar plums on stage.
Rockland Youth Dance Ensemble presents that classic Christmas tale, The Nutcracker ballet, at SUNY Rockland Community College in early to mid-December. If you plan to head into the city for a Christmas show, too, check out our top picks.
8. Hunrgry for holiday cheer?
Join Bear Mountain Zoo for a Beary Merry Holiday in mid-December and make some tasty holiday snacks for the black bears, then watch as they “unwrap” their gifts.
9. Shake off the humbugs at a special performance.
TheatreworksUSA presents a family-friendly version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ, usually a few days before Christmas. The show typically stops by for only one performance, so be sure to buy tickets early.
10. Hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding.
Grab your gear and pack up the kids for a day of skiing or snowboarding at one of the area’s family-friendly resorts.
11. Celebrate a snow day with downhill sledding.
When the flakes start to fly, pull out your Flexible Flyer and get set for some snowday fun. But before you head out to your local sledding hill, be sure to check out our sledding safety tips.
12. See a favorite local band live.
The Bossy Frog Band’s Holiday Show features everyone’s favorite frog in a seasonal, non-denominational, end-of-December celebration full of music and dancing. The show has been held at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern and the Nyack Center; check our calendar for location details closer to the show. Before you go, see tips from Bossy Frog’s Rockland-based bandleader Jeffrey Friedberg (who is also a certified music therapist) on how to make the most of your child’s concert experience.
13. Volunteer in your community.
Give back to the community on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in mid-January. Learn more about volunteer opportunities in the Rockland area.
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14. Cheer on our New York girls.
Cheer on the hundreds of young ladies competing to be called Miss New York USA and Miss New York Teen USA at the Purchase Performing Arts Center in nearby Westchester County in mid-January.
15. Travel to LEGOLAND.
Escape from the cold and head to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester in nearby Yonkers. Among its attractions, LEGOLAND boasts several themed building stations, rides, and MINILAND, a miniature re-creation of the New York metro landscape.
16. Watch a movie on the big screen.
What’s better on a cold winter weekend than some warm popcorn and a family movie? Head to the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack to catch the latest films in IMAX. Or if you have a family member with sensory issues, opt for a sensory-friendly matinee where the lights stay up, the sound is turned down, and audience members are encouraged to get up and make as much noise as they please.
17. Cure your cabin fever at Bounce!
Keep the kids active in the cold months at Bounce! Trampoline Sports, an indoor play space in Valley Cottage that has tons of fun trampolines and foam pits.
18. Start planning for summer camp.
Start planning the perfect summer for your child at the indispensable Westchester Camp & Summer Activities Fair at Crowne Plaza in nearby White Plains (Westchester County), typically held in early February. Meet directors, learn about a wide variety of programs, and even win a prize or two.
19. Get a dose of spring in the depths of winter.
When you’re craving spring in the depths of February, head to World of Wings in Teaneck, NJ, and spend some time in the Butterfly Atrium, an indoor tropical oasis featuring flowers, waterfalls, and hundreds of fluttering—you guessed it—butterflies!
20. Find out where maple syrup comes from.
Do you love syrup on your pancakes? See where the sweet stuff comes from during a maple sugaring event at The Nature Place Day Camp in Chestnut Ridge. You’ll learn how to tap a tree and boil down sap into syrup. Find more details, plus other locations that host maple sugaring events in February and early March.
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MORE SEASONAL FUN IN ROCKLAND COUNTY