The NYC suburbs are diverse—with more than 500 towns within a commutable distance from the city, there’s truly something for everyone, whether you’re craving an urban-inspired outpost or want to relax in the more laid back NYC suburbs. And that’s what makes it so important to dig in and find the right town for your family. Because, at the end of the day, finding that perfect place to call “home” matters most.
For many families that “right fit” means something a little more casual. It makes sense—if you’re ready to truly get out of the hustle, bustle, and who-wore-it-best of it all, finding a community that’s more sneakers than stilettos could be in the cards. So where to go if you’re all about laid-back NYC suburbs? Start here.
#1. Sea Cliff (Long Island)
Sea Cliff has long been a community of artists and creatives. From the unique waterfront Victorian homes that line the streets to the bustling weekend farmers market to the live music, family-friendly restaurant, and bar scene to the fairs, festivals, and pub crawls that seem to happen around the clock, Sea Cliff is anything but cookie cutter.
While it’s always been popular and decidedly laid back. thanks to a recent—and massive—influx of Brooklynites, Sea Cliff feels more on-the-map than ever. But what draws many is the sense of community, overt friendliness and relaxed vibe. Many have dubbed Sea Cliff a more “chill” Soho and a Bohemian outpost out east—either way, it’s a great go-to if your family craves a laid-back lifestyle
#2. Glen Head (Long Island)
Just down the road—and sharing the same A+ North Shore School District—Glen Head is a small community of just over 4,000 people. With a small “downtown”—a quick hit of pizza, burgers, green juice and Italian ice, for starters—plenty of parks, Tappan Beach and a saltwater community pool, Glen Head checks a lot of boxes. Personality-wise, though, Glen Head is as laid back as they come—think sweats-and-sneaker wearing working moms, families hanging on Glen Cove Avenue eating ices at night and kids riding bikes around the town’s ample cul-de-sacs. If you’re not about putting makeup on before hitting Starbucks, Glen Head is for you.
#3. Hastings-on-Hudson (Westchester)
A quick walk through Main Street in Hastings will give you a sense of why NYC families flock to this laid-back community. Here, you’ll find everything, but not in a big city or big box kind of way. From a quaint general store to jewelry and classic toys and games paired with a popular farm-to-table cafe and French bakery that draw endless young families, this area truly anchors the community—a community that’s been dubbed part of “Hipsturbia” in recent years thanks to its influx of Brooklynites and other artsy transplants.
That said, despite the decidedly hip and youthful vibe, Hastings is a go-to for casual-seekers. On the weekends look for the local farmers market with amazing river views, plus live music, kids activities and a sense of community that can’t be denied. And with schools that promote arts in education and ensure ample opportunities for kids to roll up their sleeves and get involved, this trendy, artsy vibe will no doubt carry on for future generations.
#4. Port Washington (Long Island)
This waterfront hotspot has long been popular with NYC families, and with good cause. Not only is the commute one of the shortest in the area—as fast as 28 minutes during rush hour—but there’s just something about living in a true beach town. Who doesn’t want access to sought-after Barr Beach, plus the immediate access to Manhasset Bay, where residents dock boats, rent kayaks and, simply, kick back and enjoy the sweeping views from the local ice shop or Louie’s porch-side seating.
Maybe it’s the waterfront vibe or the sense of community that permeates “Port,” but this town is calm, casual and laid back, which is a huge draw for many. Don’t be surprised to see families in jeans and sneakers hitting Main Street for a quick gift or bite at one of the seemingly endless downtown eateries—think anything and everything from seafood to French to Mediterranean to bistro fare and more. And with local theater drawing national headliners, opportunities to experience unparalleled arts and culture and, again, a waterfront feel that’s omnipresent in Port, there’s no reason to leave once you’re here—and no sense of keeping up with the Joneses.
#5. Dobbs Ferry (Westchester)
More than 20 years ago Dobbs Ferry introduced a new international baccalaureate program for high school juniors and seniors, putting it on the map for many city families who, before, had considered everything but this laid-back community. With that, more construction led to more housing opportunities and—fast forward to today—Dobbs Ferry is one of the must-sees for many families considering the Rivertowns.
With river views and a very “village” vibe, many report, there’s lots to do in Dobbs Ferry from great restaurants and shops along Cedar and Main Street to the swimming and sports options in Gould Park. But, again, it’s all about family and community here—casual comfort is the pervasive vibe, and no one’s looking at what (or who…) you’re wearing when you head out for weekend brunch.
#6. Fairfield (Connecticut)
One part commuter hideaway and one part college town, Fairfield is a unique blend of several powerful forces which, together, create a relaxed, casual and cultured community many are eager to call “home.” Not surprisingly, Fairfield often finds its way onto “best places to live” lists from outlets like Money, The Patch and more—and one drive-through and it’s easy to see why. While the 75-minute commute can be long for some, the trade-offs are massive—think relaxed weekends hanging in downtown Fairfield, easy beach access and lots of laid back family fun from farmers markets to live music to outdoor activities. In short, grab your sneakers and get ready to dive into all things Fairfield—and, as you’ll quickly see, that’s a lot.
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