The Incoming Student's SUNY Purchase Survival Guide
What to do, where to go, and how to find the best eats around Purchase College and Manhattanville.
Campbell, Dylak, DeOliveira, Ferry, Grimaldi, Humphries, McKee, Pereira, and Markwalter | Wikimedia Commons
If there’s one joke universally told by Purchase College students, (or Manhattanville students, for that matter) it’s that you better make a friend who has a car, because there isn’t actually anything to do in Purchase, NY.
Well, obviously that isn’t fully the case since Purchase College is also recognized as one of the hippest, artsiest schools in the whole of the state university system. But in case you’re dreading freshman orientation, we thought we’d help clue new students — and perhaps their visiting friends and family! — on all the great things there are to do in and around Purchase College.
What to Do for Fun
Take in a Show
It almost goes without saying that the first thing on this list has to be The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. (Almost.) You don’t have to be a theater major to enjoy the dance, music, and other performances regularly books at PAC. Nearby you’ll also find Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre and the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, so be prepared to drop way too much on concert tickets on a fairly regular basis.
For a little retail therapy, Purchase is spitting distance from both The Westchester and the Galleria malls, two of the biggest shopping destinations in the county. Both offer a huge variety of stores, snacks, restaurants, and diversions that make them a weekend’s entertainment in and of themselves, but if you’re just looking for a new pair of pants or some cell phone repairs, you’re still in the right place. For gently used items absolutely perfect for furnishing a dorm room, definitely check out the Salvation Army Thrift Store located at 34 North Main St. in Port Chester. Is strapping a couch precariously to the roof of your buddy’s Subaru a good idea? No, but it is a right of passage.
If you prefer to do your grocery shopping a little more local, one of the most comprehensive farmers’ markets around is the Port Chester Farmers’ Market, open every Sunday between May 13 and November 18. Rather walk? The Farmer’s Market At PepsiCo [sic] is located right next to the Pepsi building at 800 Anderson Hill Rd. They’re currently closed for the season, but check back in for their Autumn Harvest Market, just in time for the new semester.
Enjoy the Greenery
Golf, in the oft-quoted but apocryphal quote, is a nice walk spoiled by a small white ball. Purchase covers all its bases, sporting a half-dozen golf courses and country clubs within a two-mile radius of campus, as well as the exquisite trails of the Silver Lake Preserve. Grab your cleats or your hiking shoes, and head out for an afternoon of fun in the sun!
Where to Eat
Let’s get one thing straight off the bat: Purchase is a college town and there is some great food to eat! Of course, being so close to White Plains and Port Chester, there’s also some world-class grub basically down the street that we would never poo-poo. Below you’ll find some of our favorite recommendations for each area, basically divided by how much you don’t feel like driving.
Right in the town of Purchase you’ll find a few mainstays. The Cobble Stone is within walking distance of campus and has been serving up cozy atmosphere and some solid burgers/pub food since 1933. Purchase Country Market is also nearby and is probably going to end up being your go-to deli for sandwiches and prepared meals that didn’t come from a dining hall. Although Belle Fair has some good overlap on its menu, their pizza and pasta will likely be what draws you in. Also, while we can’t tell you it’s within the typical college student’s weekly meal budget, Tredici North is practically sitting on top of campus and is some of the best upscale food in the area. We recommend reserving this option for dates you really want to impress and maybe visiting parents who offer to buy you dinner.
A brief addendum: Though it’s technically in West Harrison, Great Wall Restaurant is going to be your Chinese place of choice. Aside from serving all your favorites at reasonable prices, Great Wall delivers directly to campus, which is perfect for sick days and “I don’t even want to put on real clothes” kinds of lazy weekends spent watching Netflix in your pajamas and, well, ordering Chinese food! Thus, we totally count it as being available in Purchase.
We could write an entire article on all the amazing places to eat in Port Chester. In fact, we have. (See above.) But we’d be remiss not to toss in a couple cap-and-gown favorites. Paleteria Fernandez offers icy treats to get you through long summer classes (or winter classes; we’re not going to judge you, these things are delicious). Additionally, if you matriculate at Purchase College and/or live in the area, we are required by law to ensure you stop by Hubba’s at least once during your stay. Once known as “Pat’s Hubba Hubba,” this late-night greasy spoon has been serving up chili and “Hubba water” for the better part of a century. Seriously, if you don’t know they might confiscate your student ID card.
Right off the bat, nothing beats a good late-night diner run. White Plains will probably be your go-to, as the home of both the White Plains Coach Diner and City Limits, which combines the hearty, cheap eats of your neighborhood diner with the ambiance of a fairly upscale bar and sit-down restaurant. City Limits is open until 10 or 11 p.m. every night, while the Coach Diner is a classic 24/7 joint. Both offer online ordering if you just want to pick up something quick, and at just 10-15 minutes away they’re also perfect for grabbing a quick lunch.
Speaking of lunches, you’ll definitely want to hit up Melt Sandwich Shop on a fairly regular basis. Open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and lunch Saturdays, this spot doesn’t just do hot sandwiches, but also grilled pizza, flatbreads, salads, soups and even chili. You’ll also definitely want to check out Westchester Burger Co., which despite it’s name offers a full range of dining options in a cozy sit-down atmosphere. (That being said, they also offer some incredible burgers.) We highly recommend stopping in for brunch, featuring everything from breakfast tacos and loaded French toast to eggs benedict burgers and classic brunch cocktails sure to cure whatever party you went to the night before.
Until you’re familiar with the area it might sound insane to recommend you go to another state for good food near Purchase. Still, because of the campus’ location less than a mile from the Connecticut border, popping over to enjoy all the amazing food in Greenwich is surprisingly easy. Just 6 minutes by car from campus (about 1.65 miles as the crow flies), you’ll find Rebecca’s. Listen, we’re not going to lie, eating here might leave you munching dry ramen for the rest of the term. But if you can find a tasting event or your family is paying, or if you just really really love food, we can’t tell you that Chef Reza’s creations won’t be some of the best things you’ve ever put in your mouth. Critically praised, the menu displays French influences on international classics, with a flair for modern twists in its presentations.
Where to Drink
Here at Westchester Magazine, we understand that not every student will be a fan of less-tan-subtle dorm drinking and the off-campus house party competitive beer pong circuit. Whether you’re a transfer, grad student, or just a big fan of continuing education, we know that sometimes you’ll want to grab a nice drink after class at the end of a long week. Here are a few excellent choices for more relaxed places to enjoy your adult beverage.
White Plains will be where you want to head for a night out. With its bevy of bars, lounges, clubs, and pubs, it’ll have something for every taste. Executive Billiards is an excellent choice for grabbing a few drinks with friends over games of pool; just try not to hustle the regulars. You’ll also find Lazy Boy Saloon and Ale House just down the street, featuring classic American pub food, grilled pizza, specialty burgers, and more craft beer than you can shake a stick at. (Please don’t shake sticks in the bar. Many of the delicious beers are bottled and also that’s just rude.)
For dinner and a drink in an environment full of raised glasses and belly laughs, there really isn’t any beating sister sites the Brazen Fox and Ron Blacks Beer Hall (get your townie cred now: there’s no apostrophe). Both are staples of the downtown scene and offer delicious meals to go along with their boozier selections. Brazen Fox tends more towards the restaurant side of things while Ron Blacks leans into its beer hall vibe with close to 40 beers on tap, but both also include some solid elevated pub-grub, craft cocktails, and dynamite brunch menus.
Some days you may just need to pick up a bottle of wine (or Scotch, or case of craft beer, etc.) on your way home from class. For a quick fix, depending on which way you’re driving we recommend stopping by Silver Lake Wines & Liquor in West Harrison, Port Chester Beer Distributors, or Glenville Wine & Spirits in Greenwich. Val’s Putnam Wines is practically next door to Glenville, and specializes in a wider variety of wines than you might find in a typical liquor store, so oenophiles may prefer this over our other recommendations. For a great overall selection and prices that won’t have you hocking your textbooks, nothing will be more convenient than Connecticut Wine & Liquor. Situated right on Route 120A, it’s just barely a mile from Purchase’s Anderson Hill Rd. exit, and not even that from the Lincoln Ave. exit if it’s open. Definitely walking distance.
All right, short of reviewing your professors and getting you out of that 8 a.m. group discussion that’s everything we here think you’ll need to know to survive your studies at Purchase. Work hard, take plenty of breaks, try to get to bed early, and always remember to wear your flip-flops in the shower!