For a mini vacation that’s mere miles away, take a car or train to Westchester County for a dose of nature and history, and also some solid eats.
In between meals, head to New Rochelle to see the preserved 18th century home of Thomas Paine, the father of the American Revolution, meander through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller are buried, or take a gander at one of the numerous picturesque farming villages along the countryside.
Here, the best five reasons to explore Westchester.
Moderne Barn Owned by the restaurant-loving Livanos family, Moderne Barn offers a refined dining experience only 10 miles from the Metro-North White Plains train station. Here, chef Ethan Kostbar uses seasonal and local ingredients to whip up elegant American fare with a Mediterranean twist. This includes plates of fried French onion soup dumplings, Long Island duck breast with five-spice blood orange jus, the house-made mint pici pasta with lamb ragu and feta and their signature Barn Salad with black ceci beans, chickpeas, olives, orange, pistachio, eggs and blue cheese. The wine list is substantial too, and they will pair your meal with vino for an overall dining experience. With tall ceilings and fantastic chandeliers, the setting is elegant enough for a special occasion, but comfortable too, so it also works for a casual dinner. 430 Bedford Rd., Armonk, 914-730-0001, Modernebarn.com
Bedford Post This eight-room inn was rescued and renovated a few years ago by actor Richard Gere and his partners. Now, the serene space maintains its original colonial structure and period-appropriate decor, but offers modern luxuries including fireplaces and large, comfy beds. Come to walk around one of their many hiking trails; then stay for chef Jeremy McMillan’s contemporary American cuisine at Farmhouse. Guests receive a complimentary yoga class in the airy yoga loft, breakfast in bed and a gratis wine happy hour. Before heading out, get lunch at the casual cafe The Barn, and grab some fresh pastries for the road. Rates start at $395. 954 Old Post Rd., Bedford, 914-234-7800, Bedfordpostinn.com
Racanelli’s New York Italian Sure, the city has plenty of Italian food to choose from, but making the trek to Racanelli’s proves worth the journey. Originally, John, Alex and Marty Racanelli’s father owned the space, and it was a popular shop called Pizza & Brew, which he opened in 1974. After a recent renovation, they have brought in Florence native Patrick D’Andrea to helm the kitchen and turn out artisanal pizzas, house-made fresh pasta and various cutlets like veal, chicken and eggplant that diners can get many ways including Milanese, Parmigianino and on top of a salad. All this can be had in their exposed brick space while cuddling up in a lush leather booth or at a table, enjoying the fresh Westchester air pouring in through the large, open doors. 851 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, 914-472-1032, Racanellisnewyorkitalian.com
Blue Hill at Stone Barns People flock to this charming estate to get a taste of chef and co-owner Dan Barber’s local, organic and seasonal cuisine. The majority of the food is grown and raised at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and to keep it as close to home as possible, Barber doesn’t have a menu per se, but rather presents guests with a list of dozens of ingredients that showcase the best produce and offerings from the market. They also have a cafe that caters to hikers, travelers or people coming up to walk around the farm for a breath of fresh air. 630 Bedford Rd., Pocantico Hills, 914-366-8600, Bluehillfarm.com
Crabtree’s Kittle House The elegant dining room at the centuries-old inn serves new American fare with a local and seasonal bent (of course). Try their blini topped with house-smoked sustainable Norwegian salmon and Meyer lemon crème fraîche, the Berkshire pork chop with Okinawa potato puree and a blood orange reduction and the cream cheese carrot cake with bourbon toffee sauce. And with more than 65,000 bottles in the cellar, it’s not surprising this enchanting restaurant has won awards for its epic wine list. When you stay at the connecting Kittle House Inn, you can try as many types as you want before stumbling off to sweet slumber. The beds are modern, but the building keeps its original 18th century form. Rates start at $147. 11 Kittle Rd., Chappaqua, 914-666-8044, Kittlehouse.com