When one thinks of New York, the mind often drifts to the iconic Manhattan skyline or Brooklyn’s cultural melting pot. However, just a short drive north lies a treasure trove of attractions often unnoticed by the typical tourist: Westchester County. With its rich history, lush landscapes, and vibrant arts scene, Westchester is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the diverse offerings of the Empire State.
- Sleepy Hollow: Immortalized by Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” this quaint village is steeped in lore. Visit the Old Dutch Church and its adjacent graveyard, where you can find the resting places of many historical figures, including Irving himself. October is an especially magical time to visit, with haunted hayrides and lantern tours setting the spooky mood.
- Philipsburg Manor: Step back at this 17th-century Dutch farming, milling, and trading complex. With interactive exhibits and costumed interpreters, a firsthand history lesson is fun for the whole family.
- Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate: This grand residence was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. The estate boasts stunning architecture, world-class art collections, and beautifully manicured gardens. The panoramic views of the Hudson River from Kykuit are simply breathtaking.
- Kensico Dam Plaza: Located in Valhalla, this massive dam is surrounded by a vast park, perfect for picnicking, jogging, or simply soaking in the views. The dam lights up during special occasions, making it a picturesque evening spot.
- Bronx River Parkway Reservation: This linear park, running alongside the Bronx River, offers a peaceful escape with its walking trails, waterfalls, and ponds. It also has the county’s first playground and the historic Leewood Bridge.
- Ward Pound Ridge Reservation: As the county’s largest park, it offers a variety of activities, from hiking and camping to cross-country skiing in the winter. The park’s Trailside Nature Museum is a treat for kids and adults alike.
- Paramount Hudson Valley Theater: Located in Peekskill, this historic venue has entertained audiences since the 1930s. From music and comedy to theatre and film, something always happens here.
- Neuberger Museum of Art: Situated on the campus of Purchase College, this museum boasts an impressive collection of 20th-century American art, African art, and ancient art. It is a cultural gem that art enthusiasts should not miss.
- Playland Park in Rye: A throwback to amusement parks’ golden age, Playland has entertained families since the 1920s. Its wooden roller coaster, the Dragon Coaster, and the old-time Grand Carousel make it a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Westchester is also a food lovers’ paradise. From the waterfront restaurants in Mamaroneck and Rye, offering fresh seafood, to the diverse culinary scene in cities like White Plains and Yonkers, there is something for every palate. Try local specialties like fresh apple cider from one of the county’s many orchards.
Shopping and More
For those who love to shop, The Westchester in White Plains offers a luxury shopping experience with brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Tiffany & Co. For a more local shopping experience, towns like Katonah and Tarrytown offer boutique stores with unique finds.
With its blend of historical sites, natural beauty, and modern attractions, Westchester County offers a comprehensive travel experience. Whether you are exploring the legends of Sleepy Hollow, admiring the Hudson River’s beauty from Kykuit, or enjoying a show at the Paramount, Westchester promises memories that will last a lifetime. So, the next time you are in New York, detour from the city’s hustle and bustle and discover the wonders of Westchester. You will not be disappointed!