Summer getaways: Sound Shore fun along the waterfront

Seaside Johnnies on Oakland Beach in Rye. (June Seaside Johnnies on Oakland Beach in Rye. (June 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Faye Murman

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Newsday Westchester's Summer Getaways series will examine a new seasonally friendly Hudson Valley destination every week through Labor Day. For the first edition, we offer a closer look at great places to eat, drink, play and stay on Westchester County's Sound Shore.

With a shoreline stretching about 36 miles from New Rochelle to Port Chester, Westchester County's communities along Long Island Sound offer some of the Hudson Valley's top options for a summer weekend getaway.

Locals refer to this region as the Sound Shore, which is made up of New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye and Port Chester, with some incorporating nearby Pelham as well. And it's not just a popular place among county residents, either. It's also a convenient destination for New York City dwellers, who can hop on Metro-North's New Haven Line at Grand Central Terminal and hop off at any of the communities mentioned above.

Warm weather on the Sound Shore means trips to beaches and waterfront restaurants, as well as to Rye Playland amusement park, whose season kicked off May 11; Port Chester's Capitol Theatre, whose summer concert lineup includes Alabama Shakes, Cyndi Lauper and Robert Randolph; and the Larchmont Yacht Club, whose annual Race Week sets sail in July.

Put them all together, and you can understand why Westchester County Parks spokesman Peter Tartaglia touts the appeal of these shoreline communities, especially during summer months. "The Sound Shore happens to be one of the most beautiful areas in New York state," he told Newsday Westchester.

Ready to go? Take notes, then slap on some sunscreen. You're heading to the Sound Shore.

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EAT | DRINK

Seaside Johnnies (94 Dearborn Ave, Rye, 914-921-6104, www.seasidejohnnies.com) provides a casual beach escape, just a few flipflop steps away from Playland. Fried seafood and fruity cocktails are menu highlights, but what you eat and drink is almost incidental when the weather's perfect and the sun is setting on Long Island Sound.

Literally a national landmark, Walter's Hot Dog Stand (937 Palmer Ave. Mamaroneck, www.waltershotdogs.com) limits its toppings to ketchup and a family recipe for mustard, but Walter Warrington's original combination of pork, beef, veal and spices yields perhaps the best hot dog ever to be offered atop a toasted bun. Split lengthwise, the simple frankfurter is paired beautifully with any number of summer beverages, including egg cremes, cider, sweet tea, lemonade or 7-Up freezes mixed with fresh-fruit-infused Italian ices.

For a more refreshing alternative to traditional ice cream, head to either branch of Paleteria Fernandez (33 N. Main St., Port Chester and 350 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck, 914-939-3694, www.paletasfernandez.com). Order a Mexican take on popsicles with and without fruit chunks, yielding flavors both reliable (like vanilla and strawberry) and incredible (avocado, rice pudding, cantaloupe and hibiscus flower, to name a few).

EXPLORE

From Bob Dylan to The Roots, The Capitol Theatre (149 Westchester Ave., Port Chester; 914-934-9362; www.thecapitoltheatre.com) is perhaps the Hudson Valley's premier destination for top-notch, year-round concert acts. With an audience capacity of 1,800 seats and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, the theater that opened in 1926 and reopened last fall after millions of dollars of renovations appears to be paying off for local music fans.

If you prefer film over music, The Pelham Picture House (175 Wolfs Lane, Pelham, 914-738-7337; www.thepicturehouse.org) showcases independent, international, documentary and classic movies in a restored theater that was built in 1921. Check the schedule in advance, as certain screenings include conversations with notable actors, directors, screenwriters, producers and critics.

If you're up for one-stop shopping and entertainment, look no further than New Roc City (19 Le Count Place, New Rochelle, 914-637-7575; www.newroccity.com). A short walk from the New Rochelle train station, New Roc City features a movie theater with IMAX screens, bowling lanes, arcade games, a billiard hall, an electric-car racetrack, an 18-hole glow-in-the-dark mini golf course, and retail and restaurant chains.

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SUMMER FUN

The Sound Shore's most popular destination, Rye Playland (1 Playland Parkway, Rye, 914-813-7000, www.ryeplayland.org) is home to the legendary Dragon Coaster, as well as carnival games, beach access, fireworks and outdoor concerts -- including Mamaroneck's own Carly Rose Sonenclar on June 29. Part of the park's appeal is the boardwalk, which, in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, was renovated and reopened in time for the park's May 11 opening.

From July 13-21, Larchmont Yacht Club (1 Woodbine Avenue, Larchmont, 914-834-2440, www.larchmontyc.org) will present the 115th Annual Larchmont Race Week, a nine-day event with hundreds of sailors facing off on Long Island Sound in a quest for nautical glory.

WORTH A DRIVE

History buffs should find some time for a Founding Father at Thomas Paine Cottage (20 Sicard Ave., New Rochelle, 914-633-1776, www.thomaspainecottage.org), where they'll find a cast-iron stove given to Paine by Ben Franklin, the 1689 deed that purchased 6,100 acres of land that would become New Rochelle, and other historical artifacts. The site also is home to the Sophia Brewester One-Room Schoolhouse, the oldest free-standing school in the city.

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Harbor Island Park (Mamaroneck Avenue and Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, 914-381-7865, www.village.mamaroneck.ny.us) is one of the region's hidden treasures, with 44 acres of playground equipment, 700 feet of saltwater beach, a tennis club, picnic tables and occasional concerts.

OVERNIGHT OPTIONS

The Rye Town Hilton (699 Westchester Avenue, Rye Brook, 914-939-6300, www.hilton.com) offers high-end hospitality and rooms with panoramic garden views.

Another sophisticated option is Doral Arrowwood (975 Anderson Hill Road, Rye Brook, 914-939-5500, www.doralarrowwood.com), which offers a health club, a pool, golf and tennis, as well as three on-site restaurants: Atrium, The Pub and Mulligan's Outdoor Café.

The Radisson New Rochelle (1 Radisson Plaza, New Rochelle, 914-576-3700, www.radisson.com) is developing its social skills. The on-site NoMa Social hosts regular events celebrating pop-culture personalities ranging from Perez Hilton to cast members of VH1's "Mob Wives."

FUN FACT

The Emmy Award-winning AMC series "Mad Men" has made multiple references to summer fun on the Sound Shore. The character Crab Colson once told Don and Betty Draper he was planning on bringing his sloop to Larchmont Race Week, and Betty's second husband, Henry Francis, once claimed he spent so much money with his daughter in Rye, he "probably paid for a building in Playland."

TAKE THE TRAIN

New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Pelham, Rye and Port Chester all have stops on Metro-North's New Haven Line, but some of the destinations mentioned above -- including Playland, Thomas Paine's Cottage and Harbor Island Park -- are destinations that would likely require an additional bus, cab or car ride from the station. For Playland fans who insist on taking the train, Metro-North offers a deal on fares to Rye's train station and subsequent bus rides to and from the amusement park at www.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways.

MORE INFO

For more information, visit the official websites for Westchester County Tourism (www.visitwestchesterny.com), Metro-North (www.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways) and each of the Sound Shore communities.

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