Insider's Guide to Westchester

Westchester Magazine has been dishing about the county for more than a decade now, so we know more than our share of insider secrets about how to best navigate the dining, shopping, and overall living-in-the-county scene. So here we tell you how to nab a table when no one else can, dine at the finest restaurants at a fraction of the cost, score tickets for sold-out concerts, get your hair cut and colored (for free), find the easiest DMV for road tests, and much more.



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[entertainment]

Mingle with Bestselling Authors

At just $25, Spoken Interludes (spoken interludes.com) is possibly the cheapest intellectual night out in the county, where not only can you listen to the latest works from such authors as Alice Sebold, Arianna Huffington, Michael Connelly, and Jay McInerney, but you can mingle with them afterwards, too. Plus, there's a buffet dinner at Chutney Masala (4 W Main St, Irvington 914-307-1683; chutneymasalabistrocom). On April 12, bestselling writer Frank Delaney reads from his new book, The Matchmaker of Kenmare, and New York Times writer David Itzkoff reads from his memoir, Cocaine’s Son. Michael Korda and Alexandra Styron (daughter of William) are on the roster for May.
Dine at a Michelin Three-Star Restaurant—And Help a Cause

Once a year, the Copland House in Mount Kisco throws a fundraiser like no other. The galas are always held at the most exclusive New York City restaurants: Daniel, Le Bernardin, Del Posto, the Four Seasons—with music provided by the Copland House, of course. And the party is open to anyone—well, anyone who can fork over the $500 or so introductory price for the night. But given that it can cost that much just to eat at one of these restaurants, it’s a bargain. Helping out the Copland House? Priceless. For more info: coplandhouse.org.

Be a Voyeur

We’re all voyeurs, and, for just a $5 admittance fee, anyone can venture behind the hallowed gates into some of the most beautiful private gardens in the county through the Garden Conservancy Open Days Program (gardenconservancy.org). Dates for 2011 are: May 1, 7, 22, 28; June 5, 18, 26; July 31; September 11; October 22; and November 5. The gardens are always free for kids.

Get Tickets to the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Photo by Bryan Haeffele

 

Membership has its privileges. If you spring for the $350 Premier Family Historic Hudson Valley Membership, a family of three adults and five children, plus two guests, can go to the Blaze without a reservation. Too pricey? An individual membership is $60, and you’ll get one free ticket to the Blaze and access to an early reservation. Details: hudsonvalley.org.
 

 

Catch Spring Blooms at Their Peak

Lasdon Park and Arboretum

So where are the best places to take in spring’s bounty?  Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Somers has a continuing display of azaleas, lilacs, magnolias, and Kousa dogwoods all spring long. Rockefeller Park has 300 Japanese tree peonies that strut their stuff from late April to early May, and Kwanzan Double Flower Pink cherry trees are all abloom on Harbor Island in Mamaroneck in May. Weather conditions determine the peak times, so call ahead

Find the Halloween costume

Whether you have a hankering to dress up like an English king, a French maid, or even a geisha girl, two words: Beyond Costumes (530 Nepperhan Ave #2, Yonkers 914-963-1333). Choose from 20,000 theatrical costumes along with wigs, hats, masks, and accessories for a complete transformation.

Get Tickets to a Sold-Out Concert

StubHub.com, baby.

Spot Celebs

Willie Sutton famously said, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.” Same principle works here, and you’ll have the most significant sightings of celebs and industry insiders at the Jacob Burns Film Center (364 Manville Rd, Pleasantville 914-747-5555; burnsfilm center.org), including Jonathan Demme (who is a board member—he was there for the Q&A with Michael Moore); and at The Picture House (175 Wolfs Ln, Pelham 914-738-3161; thepicturehouse.org) with Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Gabriel Byrne, and Charles Grodin making appearances. To increase your odds, become a member—you’ll be the first to know which celebs are going to appear.
Don’t want to see a movie but do want to see a star? No problem. Find these folks where they dine or play:

Photo by Pat Arnow

Andrew Cuomo—Mount Kisco Diner or Café of Love in Mount Kisco (His girlfriend, Sandra Lee, lives in a house right on the Mount Kisco/North Castle border)
David Rockefeller—Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills (after all, it’s his money that built the restaurant)

Will Shortz photo courtesy of Will Shortz

Will Shortz—the crossword king plays Ping-Pong at Rivertowns Table Tennis Club, usually in Tarrytown branch. On Thursday nights, he may be at the Burke Table Tennis Club at the Burke Rehabilitation Center, White Plains.
Joseph Abboud—The Meeting House in Bedford Village (right across from his elegant office)

Joseph Abboud photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Richard Gere—Bedford Post Restaurant in Bedford (he co-owns the joint—and eats there pretty much whenever he’s home)

Seema Boesky—TJ Maxx in Mount Kisco (just because she’s as rich as Croesus doesn’t mean she doesn’t love a bargain)

 Seema Boesky photo by Chris Ware

 photo by jpfilo©2001World Wide Inc.


David Letterman—Jogging along North Salem roads


Martha Stewart—The Meeting House in Bedford Village (just down the road from her tony estate)

 

Take a Free Music Break

It’s been going on for 23 years, and, if you haven’t yet treated yourself to a bit of jazz or other great live music during your lunch break, well, there’s no time like the present to start. Since 1988, Downtown Music in White Plains (dtmusic.org) has offered free weekday and weekend performances in genres from classical to ethnic music. Noonday Getaway Concerts are held at Grace Church (33 Church St, White Plains 914-949-0384) on Wednesdays from May through September, starting at 12:10 pm.

Pray Like (or with) A Rockefeller

The Union Church (555 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills 914-631-8200; hudsonvalley.org) has been the Rockefeller family church since John D. finished his mansion in 1913, and there are still a few family members in the neighborhood. While it’s not exactly free (a $5 donation is requested to visit), it’s worth it to gaze upon the stained-glass windows there—nine by Chagall and one by Matisse, commissioned by the Rockefellers. These windows represent the only cycle of Chagall church windows in America and the last completed work of Henri Matisse.

 

Get into Museums for Free

Photo by Margaret Fox

Katonah Museum

Visit the Katonah Museum of Art (134 Jay St, Katonah, 914-232-9555; katonahmuseum.org) on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to noon and pay…nothing (there’s never a charge for kids under 12).

Zero cents: two different art experiences in one visit at back-to-back institutions—the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase 914-251-6100; neuberger.org) and the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden at PepsiCo (700 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase; pepsico.com). See works by Rodin, Calder, Moore, and others, scattered over the 168-acre sculpture garden at PepsiCo’s corporate headquarters. Be sure to pick up free passes at the information booth for the Neuberger Museum just across the street at Purchase College. Admission to the Neuberger is also free the first Saturday of every month; children under 12 always are admitted free.

Admission to the Hudson River Museum (511 Warburton Ave, Yonkers 914-963-4550; hrm.org), the oldest museum in the county, is free to children under five at all times. The museum also has frequent free kids’ programs on weekends. While visiting, be sure to stop by the nearby Glenview Mansion, where six turn-of-the-century rooms are open for viewing.


 

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