Westchester: Things to do on a day trip and an overnight stay
Walking amid the bamboo groves, lily pond dotted meadows and stone sculptures at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden in North Salem you may wonder if you’ve wandered beyond Westchester, New York City’s putative sixth borough.
But at this non-profit oasis for Asian art, outdoor meditation and tea ceremonies, you’ve merely discovered Westchester’s rural northeast corner tucked into the Connecticut border. It’s a region of sport-fishing lakes, horse farms and roadside stands like Hayfields Market, a bucolic but trendy stop for flowers and lunch, say, of avocado toast and vegan muffins. (1 Bloomer Rd., North Salem, 914-669-8275, hayfieldsmarket.com)
That’s the charm of a day trip or weekend in Westchester, the Hudson on the west with its bustling cities, giant spans and historic sites, and, on the east, upscale Long Island Sound with its enclaves where legendary comedienne/fashionista Joan Rivers spent her “fabulous childhood.” The picket-fenced Colonial where Rivers grew up still stands near downtown Larchmont.
Can we talk — about Westchester — where exploring the 450-square-mile suburb’s many pleasures still leaves gas for the ride home.
Arts and culture
A lively arts scene thrives on SUNY Purchase’s 500-acre campus near White Plains ( (735 Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase, 914-251-6000, purchase.edu). Modern, contemporary and African art exhibitions fill the campus’ Philip Johnson-designed Neuberger Museum of Art. Music and theatre can be enjoyed at the Performing Arts Center’s four venues, including a 1,400-seat concert hall (artscenter.org).
Outdoor summer events are a specialty at The Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (149 Girdle Ridge Rd., Katonah, 914-232-1252 caramoor.org), so pack a picnic basket and lawn chair for open-air concerts in the former estate’s Spanish Courtyard and gardens.
Nostalgia’s on tap at the historic Tarrytown Music Hall with a schedule of tribute bands, standup comics and singer-songwriters (13 Main St Floor 2, Tarrytown, tarrytownmusichall.org). Grateful Dead fans can go truckin’ to The Capitol Theatre for cocktails and concerts at (Jerry) Garcia lobby bar (914-937-4126, thecapitoltheatre.com).
Westchester’s growing network of trails can be trekked on a bike, hiked or, for individuals living with disabilities, explored in an All-Terrain Trackchair provided free in Westchester County Parks’ new Adaptive Hike Program (thewpf.org).
The recently completed 750-mile Empire State Trail runs through Westchester’s Old Croton lake and farm country on the way to the Canadian border (empiretrail.ny.gov). And a new 3.6-mile bicycle and pedestrian path on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (it replaced the Tappan Zee), offers panoramic views of the river and Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, shady rest stops, restrooms and free parking at the welcome center in Tarrytown (mariomcuomobridge.ny.gov).
Westchester also hosts a short trek tradition: Bicycle Sundays, when a woodsy 13.1-mile loop of The Bronx River Parkway from White Plains to Yonkers is closed to auto traffic so thousands can take to the open road afoot and on wheels (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 4, 11, 18 and 25; Sept. 10, 17 and 24 (914-231-4600, thewpf.org).
Breweries, wineries and must-try dining
Hungering for culinary adventure? Westchester’s ready to serve. Start your day with baked goods and beverages from the Pleasantville Farmers Market, hosted by a local not-for-profit on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 10 Memorial Plaza (the Metro North parking lot), Pleasantville. (pleasantvillefarmersmarket.org).
Staying for lunch or dinner? Dig into the multiethnic scene in Port Chester, White Plains or New Rochelle, where Dubrovnik (721 Main St., New Rochelle, 914-637-3777, dubrovnikny.com),was among the county’s first Michelin-listed eateries. This year’s guide added Augustine’s Salumeria (213 Halstead Ave., Mamaroneck, 914-315-6541, augustinesny.com), La Crémaillère, set in a 1750s farmhouse (46 Bedford-Banksville Rd., Bedford, 914-234-9647, lacremny.com) and Town House (559 Main St., New Rochelle, 914-278-9278, townhousenewro.com).
Peekskill is emerging as one of the county’s sweet (or hoppy) spots for all that’s ale. Pair a pint from the ever-changing craft brew chalkboard with a house-made sandwich in the breezy beer garden at Birdsall House (970 Main St., Peekskill, 914-930-1880, birdsallhouse.net). Peekskill Brewery’s handcrafted Hudson Valley beer goes with wings and pizza from its onsite kitchen. (47 S. Water St., Peekskill, 914-734-BEER (2337), peekskillbrewery.com). For a brew with a view, The Factoria at Charles Point features a craft brewery, a seafood restaurant and an entertainment area with an arcade, ax-throwing, ropes course and laser tag, all fronting the Hudson River (5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill, 914-788-4555, factoriacp.com).
Westchester’s 50-mile Hudson shoreline boasts a number of popular river towns, among them the hip, racially and ethnically diverse Dobbs Ferry. Stroll an eclectic collection of downtown shops and relax at recently updated Waterfront Park’s playground, fishing pier, boat dock and picnic area (dobbsferry.com). If you plan to drive, check village websites for information on meter parking, which may require downloading an app or billing through your license plate number.
As one of the nation’s oldest settled areas, Westchester offers history buffs a bonanza of local sites. The newly expanded Hudson River Museum offers tours of a Gilded Age home (tours: $16 for adults, $12 for seniors, students with ID and veterans, $10 for kids 3-18, free under 3) as well as a planetarium, art and history exhibitions, and hands-on science programs. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 3-18, $7 for seniors, students with ID and veterans, $10 for kids 3-18, free under 3. (511 Warburton Ave., Yonkers, 914-963-4550, hrm.org)
Follow the county’s African American Heritage Trail to such notable sites as the statue of jazz great Ella Fitzgerald and the Enslaved African’s Rain Garden, both in Yonkers, and the Foster Memorial African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, a stop on the Underground Railroad in Tarrytown (visitwestchesterny.com).
The Tarrytown area on the Hudson River is another historic hotspot. For a gilded window into the lives of the rich and powerful, take a guided tour of Kykuit, the Rockefeller’s hilltop estate and gardens (381 N. Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, 914-366-6900, $25-$65). Get inside the mind of another New York original at “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” author Washington Irving’s Sunnyside home, where wisterias he planted in the 1850s still bloom. (3 W. Sunnyside Lane, Irvington, 914-366-6900, tours through September, $8-$10.) Lyndhurst, 19th century railroad tycoon Jay Gould’s magnificent mansion, was a go-to filming location for HBO’s “The Gilded Age” (635 S. Broadway, Tarrytown, 914-631-4481, lyndhurst.org). Take a Classic Mansion Tour (one hour) on various dates through September. Tickets range from $18-$25.
The eight-sided Armour-Stiner Octagon House, built in the late 19th century to replicate an ancient temple with a dome and wraparound veranda, is indeed a gem, albeit still a private home. The current owner permits tours by appointment from April through December. Tours are $29 (45 W. Clinton Ave., Irvington, 914-817-5763, armourstiner.com).
On a budget? Admission is free at 234-acre Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial, where amenities include a dinosaur statue garden, a military trail of honor, and grassy meadows for romping kids (2610 Route 35, Katonah, 914-864-7268, parks.westchestergov.com).
Also affordable: a day at 1,000-acre Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, picnicking, swimming in a double Olympic-size pool (open in late June) or fishing from a rental rowboat on Lake Mohansic (2957 Crompond Rd., Yorktown Heights, 914-245-4434, parks.ny.gov). $10 vehicle use fee, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends and holidays, May 21 to June 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekends and holidays, June 25 to Sept. 5 ($3 pool entrance; rowboat $20/2 hours, paddleboat/$10/half hour).
If you're looking to stay overnight, the choices include The Tarrytown House (49 E. Sunnyside Lane, Tarrytown,
1-914-591-8200, tarrytownhouseestate.com) with nightly rates starting at $209 and the recently renovated Courtyard by Marriott Rye near the Playland Amusement Park (631 Midland Ave., Rye, 800-321-2211, marriott.com). Nightly rates start at $185.