34—Count ‘Em—Hidden Gems Of Westchester County
For the record, we can keep a secret—but what fun would that be? Instead, we’re spilling the beans on 34 of our favorite off-the-beaten-track locations.
Fish cakes, dried seaweed, burdock root, cuttle fish sashimi—okay, so not the usual things at the top of most county residents’ shopping lists. But there’s a surprise in store on the shelves at Japanese supermarket Daido in White Plains: French creampuffs. Yes, on Sundays they have French creampuffs ($1.50). They are unbelievably soft and delicious ones, too: not overly sweet, and filled-to-order at the small bakery in the corner beyond the checkout lanes. Remember, Sundays only!
522 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 683-6735; www.daidomarket.com
2. Lighthouse Ice Cream Kompany
While there is a fine ice cream place on the main thoroughfare in Tarrytown, if you travel down Main Street and over the train tracks to Hudson Harbor there’s another, albeit lesser known, licks shop: Lighthouse Ice Cream Kompany (aka L.I.C.K.) serves high-quality, handcrafted ice creams, gelatos, and sorbets. Lighthouse uses Battenkill Valley Creamery milk (Cornell University Department of Food Science awarded BVC the highest quality New York State milk) and in-season fruits from Basis Foods, a Manhattan-based farmer-to-chef program. Added highlights: a European-style patio with fountain; plus it’s a short walk to the Tarrytown Metro-North, RiverWalk trail, and the Hudson River.
127 W Main St at the Tarrytown Harbor
(914) 502-0339; www.lighthouseicecreamkompany.com
3. The Beverly E. Smith Butterfly Garden
Butterflies and birds may not be what you expect to find right off busy North Broadway in Yonkers—but they are both there in droves at the 40-acre Lenoir Preserve: a tranquil, oft-missed park that borders Hastings-on-Hudson. Past the park’s more standard fare (fields, gazebo, nature center) is the Beverly E. Smith Butterfly Garden, created and maintained entirely by volunteers from the Hudson River Audubon Society. Dozens of species of butterflies are seen every year; visit in summer for peak viewing. The Preserve is also a prime place to observe hawk migrations (spring and fall), check out a dragonfly pond, spot unusual specimen trees and shrubs, and enjoy stunning Hudson River and Palisades views.
19 Dudley St, Yonkers
(914) 968-5851; parks.westchestergov.com/lenoirpreserve
Most of us have paid a visit or two to Lyndhurst, the historic former estate of railroad tycoon Jay Gould (the biannual Crafts at Lyndhurst is a perennial favorite). But far fewer are aware of the priceless works of art that hang in the home’s third-story gallery (above and previous spread). Some of the 35 paintings now on display, all part of the Gould family’s collection, were languishing in storage for a decade—and two, “Entrance to the Harem” by Addison Millar and “Cattle Resting” by Constance Tryon, had never been displayed before—prior to last winter, when the gallery underwent significant changes (walls restored, paintings repaired by conservators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and frames doctored by the renowned Eli Wilner & Company). The result? A chance to enjoy the works of art in the same accessible manner Jay Gould did more than 120 years ago.
635 S Broadway, Tarrytown
(914) 631-4481; www.lyndhurst.org
5. Smart Arts Events
You might think you need a student ID and a schedule of classes to get access to Westchester Community College’s Smart Arts Events, but they’re open to anybody. Reasons you should take a ride to the school’s Valhalla campus this semester: The National Players’ production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird (January 24), a life-sized puppet show by The Cashore Marionettes (February 21), and a girls’ night of standup with the Ladies of Laughter (May 23), in addition to foreign films, dance performances, and discussions of great works of literature with WCC professors.
75 Grasslands Rd, Valhalla
(914) 606-6600; www.sunywcc.edu/about/smartarts
6. Akané Salon
Does a $55 haircut from a stylist-to-the-stars sound too good to be true? It’s not at Akané Salon, a small no-frills Japanese hair studio in Hartsdale where you’ll find Junya Nakashima (Wednesdays through Sundays), who is a regular fixture at New York Fashion Week. He’s done hair for the Hermes, Diesel, and Badgley Mischka fashion shows; editorial work for Vogue and Elle magazines; and commercials for national brands including Coca-Cola. The salon’s other talented stylists also charge just $55, and blowouts can be yours for a mere $30. (This is Westchester, folks; that’s quite a bargain!)
7 E Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale
(914) 948-0216; www.akaneny.com
7. V.E. Macy Park
Everything about the Woodlands Lake section of V.E. Macy Park feels like a secret. If you’re traveling by car, the only way to get there is by turning off the northbound side of the Saw Mill River Parkway. Once you find it, you can walk around the picturesque pond, but way in the back, there are more hidden treasures to uncover. At first, the monolith you see in the distance looks like one of Westchester’s stone walls, albeit one in a perfect A-frame shape. If you peek behind the wall, you’ll find sculptor Eamonn O’Doherty’s “Great Hunger Memorial,” which commemorates the Irish Potato Famine. The stone wall represents the homes that people were forced to leave, and the memorial also includes a sculpture of a fleeing family.
V.E. Macy Park, Saw Mill River Parkway, Irvington
(914) 946-8133; parks.westchestergov.com/v-e-macy-park
8. GiacoBean Coffee
There’s not a Starbucks to be found in Hastings (nor any other chain, hurrah!), so what’s a javahead to do? That’s easy—go to Antoinette’s Patisserie, a cozy breakfast and lunch coffeehouse serving its own small-batch-roasted GiacoBean coffee (roasted in a nearby Yonkers facility) plus house-made muffins (banana chocolate almond, cranberry orange), blueberry waffles, and a killer chocolate croissant.
417 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
9. North Star
How many of you have actually ever tried to drive to Pound Ridge? (And to the 17 people who live there, you don’t count.) It’s a drive worth taking, however, as it’s the location of a pearl of a restaurant: North Star. Executive Chef Franz Fruhmann—European trained and once executive sous chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns—dazzles with a menu of contemporary American dishes including seasonal soups, house-made ravioli, soy-glazed Chilean sea bass, and his celebrated butter-poached Maine lobster with sunchoke purée, coconut spinach, and Concord grape lobster sauce.
105 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge
(914) 764-0200; www.northstarny.com
10. Esposito's Ristorante
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing Esposito’s Ristorante as just another counter-service pizzeria on Mamaroneck Avenue. Well, okay, the street-level dining area is a counter-service pizzeria. But walk up the stairs to the second floor and through a more formal dining area to…the only rooftop dining spot in White Plains and one of a precious few in the county. Dozens of planters, pergolas, plus lounge chairs around a firepit make for a cozy meal of house-made mozzarella, gnocchi, and Limoncello under the stars. 359
Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 368-8366; www.espositosristorante.com
11. Leatherman's Loop
Today, sightings of a mute homeless man clad fully in leather would warrant 911 calls, but during the Civil War era, the itinerant wanderer known as the Leatherman was a frequent, and harmless, fixture in Westchester. You can retrace some of his steps—and see one of the caves he slept in—on the 1.25-mile Leatherman’s Loop trail in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. The trail climbs to a panoramic lookout over the Cross River Reservoir and is part of the Leatherman’s Loop 10K trail race each April.
Route 35 and 121 South, Cross River
12. The Garden of Remembrance
Tucked in next to the hulking Michaelian Office Building on Martine Avenue in downtown White Plains is an unexpected find: the Garden Of Remembrance, devoted to the memory of those lost in the Holocaust. The highlight is the “Gates of Remembrance,” created by sculptor Rita Rapaport to memorialize the suffering and death of millions during the Nazi era. The walls of the garden—a tiny oasis for reflection—are inscribed with the names of 26 places where Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution were tortured and murdered.
1410 Martine Ave, White Plains
13. The Newington-Cropsey Gallery of Art
Don’t count on your GPS to navigate to the Hastings-on-Hudson site devoted to famed Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey. (We did, and ended up in some random driveway.) Instead, look for the little blue sign directing you past the Metro-North parking lot and under the Warburton Avenue overpass to the Newington-Cropsey Foundation, where you’ll find the stunning Gothic Revival-style Gallery of Art. The building houses the majority of the Foundation’s collection of Cropsey’s scenic oil paintings. Call ahead for appointment-only guided tours of the Gallery, as well as Ever Rest, Cropsey’s former home and studio on nearby Washington Avenue.
25 Cropsey Ln, Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-7990; www.newingtoncropsey.com
14. The Huddle
This run-of-the-mill-looking bar is the place for beer aficionados. No, The Huddle doesn’t have 100+ taps, nor does it brew on premises. But, according to bartender Mike Redmond, The Huddle purposely selects beers no other bars carry. So, on tap you’ll find gems like Ommegang Rare Vos and Victory Golden Monkey. Behind the bar, you’ll find a few holy grails of the beer world: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (15-20% ABV) can be yours for $20 a bottle; Sam Adams Utopias (up to 210% ABV)—yours, for $32 a shot. And that’s just scratching the surface.
92 Beekman Ave, Sleepy Hollow
15. G&K Sweet Foods
Good friends Kecia Palmer-Cousins (Peekskill) and Gay Wheeler-Smith (New Rochelle) have turned Wheeler-Smith’s great-grandmother’s sweet potato pie recipe into the signature product of G&K Sweet Foods, a Southern desserts business. Their Grandma’s Momma’s Legacy ‘Licious Sweet Potato Pie is a creamy version made with organic eggs in a handcrafted butter crust that will make you forget all about pumpkin pie. The pies, along with sweet potato tarts and kosher oatmeal raisin and chocolate-chip cookies, are sold at just a few select county spots: C-Town Supermarket (Mount Vernon), Chocolations (Mamaroneck), and Hudson Valley Hospital Center Farmers’ Market (Cortlandt Manor), and online, too.
(914) 788-3697; www.gksweetfoods.com
16. Twin Lakes Park
Think you need a trust fund and a 10-acre spread in Bedford to join Westchester’s horsey set? Not so. The surprising site for Westchester’s largest equestrian center is the county-owned Twin Lakes Park on the Eastchester-Bronxville border, the home of Twin Lakes Farm. This 112-stall riding academy and competitive show stable boasts two indoor rings, four outdoor rings, and miles of trails that are perfect for learning to ride. For more experienced riders, Twin Lakes also offers drill teams, interscholastic teams, trail lessons, horse showing, and summer leasing or year-round boarding.
960B California Rd, Bronxville
(914) 961-2192; www.twinlakesfarm.com
17. The Balanced Rock
If you can’t make it to Stonehenge, Westchester has its own mysterious, gravity-defying rock that’s worth a visit. Known as the Balanced Rock, it is literally just that: a huge rock perched on top of several much smaller rocks. According to the sign from the North Salem Historical Society, the rock—which lies a short distance from Keeler Avenue—weighs an estimated 60 tons and is thought to have been deposited there during the glacial period.
Routes 121 and 116, North Salem
18. Rye Roadhouse
Wouldn’t it be a nice change of pace from Italian and sushi if Westchester had a Cajun roadhouse? A place where your crew could get loud and chow down on hearty, soulful dishes such as gator nuggets, deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese, shrimp po’ boy, and Southern fried chicken? Well podna (Cajun for friend), there is—the Rye Roadhouse. It’s a bit hard to find, located down a bumpy, one-way residential street in a less-than-tony section of Rye (yes, Rye has one of those). But if you happen to know someone who works at our magazine, be sure to ask them for directions. Our office is next door!
12 High St, Rye (914) 925-2668;
Crawfish at Rye Roadhouse
19. Turkish Cuisine
Burger/wing/beer menus run aplenty up and down Mamaroneck Ave in White Plains; so does pizza and cheap Chinese. Amid this stretch of ubiquity is Turkish Cuisine, an ethnic standout that’s never quite as crowded as its authentic and flavorsome fare merits. What constitutes Turkish cuisine? Eggplant, yogurt, lamb, sheep milk cheeses, grilled fish, lentils, chickpeas, olives and olive oil, pomegranates, figs, pears, paprika, mint, and oregano are common ingredients. There’s hardly a clunker on the menu; zucchini pancakes, falafel sandwich, the red kidney bean-based barunya, rice pudding, and baklava are must-haves. And after a few visits, you might well forget the name of the neighboring pub you used to frequent for a burger and a pint.
116 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 683-6111; www.turkishcuisinewhiteplains.com
20. Beyond Costumes
Seeking a mariachi outfit? Some leiderhosen? Or maybe Marie Antoinette, Fat Bastard, Cleopatra, or a gorilla in a grass skirt (hey, we won’t judge) is more your style? You’ll find all of those options among the 20,000 costumes at Beyond Costumes, housed in an unassuming 21,000-square-foot warehouse on a dingy strip of Nepperhan Ave. The store, which has been going strong for 40 years, also boasts a huge selection of wigs, hats, props, masks, prosthetics, and jewelry.
21. Hartsdale Pet Cemetery
When our beloved Fidos and Fluffys depart for pet heaven (or the euphemistic “farm upstate”), many of us simply grab a shovel and dig a plot in the backyard. But if you want a more permanent resting place for your pet, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is as good as any. More than 100,000 pets (mostly cats and dogs, but also birds, reptiles, and even a Hungarian princess’ lion cub) are buried in this serene 5-acre spot—and nearly 700 humans too. It’s also home to The War Dog Memorial, a monument honoring military dogs that served in World War I.
75 North Central Park Ave, Hartsdale
(800) 375-5234; www.petcem.com
22. The Dining Lab
You could travel to the CIA way up in Dutchess County to get a culinary student-prepared multi-course meal or…try something closer-to-home—The Dining Lab Restaurant at Monroe College in New Rochelle. Seatings (6:30, 7, and 7:15 pm) are Tuesday through Friday, and a quite reasonable price of $21.95 snags a three-course dinner of farm-to-table contemporary American dishes. The menu changes twice in a 10-week semester, but expect plates such as New York State cider-brined pork loin carved tableside with potato pancakes; panko-crusted farm-raised striped bass; and pan-seared farm-raised salmon. By the way: Tips go to a scholarship fund, so don’t be a cheapskate!
434 Main St, New Rochelle
(914) 740-6421; www.thedininglab.com
23. George Washington's Old HQ
History buffs aside, most Westchesterites know nothing about the tidy red-shingled house that sits at the end of a bend in the road on Park Ave in White Plains. It’s the circa-1721 Jacob Purdy House, thought to be George Washington’s primary headquarters during the Battle of White Plains in 1776. Arrange for a tour of the home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to see artifacts from the battle, copies of letters Washington wrote while at the house, as well as period artwork, furniture, and household tools—and experience the cool juxtaposition of Colonial history against the expanding skyline of modern downtown White Plains.
60 Park Ave, White Plains
(914) 328-1776; www.whiteplainshistory.org
24. Ardsley Curling Club
With a mailing address in Ardsley-on-Hudson, a GPS address in Dobbs Ferry, and its physical location nestled within the Ardsley Country Club (which is located near the Irvington border), it’s easy to struggle to find the Ardsley Curling Club. But if you want to learn the Olympic sport of curling, this is the place to do it. The club offers men’s, women’s, seniors’ and mixed league competition as well as instructional programs for newcomers (that’s most of us) and a kid’s program. Relax after the game at the cozy fireplace in the club lounge.
100 N Mountain Dr, Dobbs Ferry
(914) 591-8019; www.ardsleycurling.com
Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary
25. The Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary
If your trip to Rye Playland is leaving you feeling a little dizzy, take a break and head out the gates by the Crazy Mouse ride, then take a right-hand turn. Just down the path you’ll find the 179-acre Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary—recognized by the national Audubon Society of New York as an Important Bird Area—featuring three miles of trails, a half-mile of accessible shore, and diverse marine and plant life. (Bonus: no screaming kids or long lines.)
Playland Parkway, Rye
(914) 967-8720; parks.westchestergov.com/read-wildlife-sanctuary
26. The Church of St. Barnabas
If the idea of $30 YSL leather jeans, $20 cashmere sweaters, and a $30 Badgley Mischka evening gown piques your interest (and if it doesn’t, it should!), get to The Church of St. Barnabas in Irvington for each of its thrice-yearly clothing and thrift sales. Now in its 20th year, the sales (in November, May, and July) feature some of the best bargains you’ll find in Westchester on gently used high-quality clothing and accessories for women, men, and children; as well as linens, housewares, furniture, and sporting goods (May only); and vintage clothing and accessories (July only).
15 N Broadway, Irvington
(914) 591-8194; www.stbarnabaschurch.org
27. Lincoln Depot Museum
In October 2007, a life-sized statue of Abraham Lincoln appeared at an old rail depot situated between Peekskill’s Riverfront Green Park and Homestyle Desserts Bakery. A sign promised that a museum dedicated to Lincoln and his stop at the depot on February 19, 11061, would someday emerge. This past October, the Lincoln Depot Museum finally opened, providing us with a refurbished 3,000-square-foot collection of art and artifacts from and about the 16th president.
10 South Water St, Peekskill
(914) 402-4318; www.lincolndepotmuseum.org
28. Before “Fore!”
Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Trump National… and 4100 North Broadway? Yes, the address belongs in the same mention as those hallowed grounds of Westchester golf because it is where golf in the United States actually began. In 1101010, Scottish-born businessman John Reid and some friends used the site (which, at the time, was part of a cow pasture) to layout and play a three-hole golf course. Soon after, they founded The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club. (Still operational and now located in Ardsley, The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club prides itself as America’s oldest golf club.) The historic blue plaque is the only remaining hint of the former meadow, which brought the world’s most frustrating hobby to the United States.
4100 N Broadway, Yonkers
29. The Girl AGain Boutique
If you’ve endured a daughter’s incessant pleading for American Girl dolls and all the must-have, overpriced accessories ($110 doll spa chair, anyone?), you’ll thank us for this one: The Girl AGain Boutique in White Plains stocks gently used American Girl dolls, clothing, furniture, accessories, books, and craft kits at discounted prices. And it gets better. The shop—which recently moved to Martine Avenue from an even more hidden location inside a spa in Hartsdale—is operated by the nonprofit group Yes She Can Inc. and employs young women with autism to help them develop job skills.
4 Martine Ave, store 2B, White Plains
(646) 833-8315; www.girlagain.com
30. The Yellow Brick Road
Peekskill’s very own yellow brick road (which may or may not have inspired L. Frank Baum, who attended the Peekskill Military Academy, to write The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) is actually not a road anymore. It’s a small parking lot behind Dylan’s Wine Cellar on Hudson Avenue. If viewing a patch of yellow Dutch bricks is not your idea of fun, you can combine this homage to Oz with a trip to the newly opened 4.4-acre Historic Peekskill Landing Park, Peekskill Brewery, or Homestyle Desserts Bakery.
South Water Street, Peekskill
31. The Arnold Bakery Outlet
Okay, admit it: Sometimes your sweet tooth calls for something in the realm of a lowdown sugar fix (artificial ingredients be damned!). The Arnold Bakery Outlet in the Elmsford Staples Plaza sells those preservative-filled classics from childhood at steep discounts. (Entenmann’s desserts are three for $6!) There’s also discounted assorted Arnold breads and bagels (three for $4), Thomas’ English Muffins (buy one get one free), and 16-oz bags of Stauffer’s Animal Crackers (two for $5). Get in early, as it’s slim pickings as the day wears on.
323 E Main St, Elmsford
32. Cranberry Lake Preserve
The Kensico Dam gets all the love, but it wouldn’t be there without the early 20th-century quarry where the stone used to build the dam was mined and cut. You can see the quarry remains and other historic artifacts at Cranberry Lake Preserve, an under-appreciated 190-acre park about a mile away. Hike the History Trail (marked with purple trail markers) and gaze at Cranberry Lake, an ancient lake rimmed with cranberry bushes. The Preserve also houses cliffs and scrubland, mixed hardwood forest, and vernal pools.
1609 Old Orchard St, North White Plains
33. Napoli's Pizza & Restaurant
There are a litany of places in Westchester that claim to produce Neapolitan-style pizza, but how many of them have a man from Naples proper spinning pies behind the counter? Napoli’s Pizza & Restaurant in Mohegan Lake does. Two men, actually—Tony and Joe. They’ll call you “Bossman,” invite you to sit in one of three Formica booths, and, most importantly, serve you a slice that fuses the best of Italian and American ’za. A New York-sized pie with thick-at-the-edges, slightly chewy Naples crust—what could be better?
1012 RT 6, Mohegan Lake
34. Joseph G. Caputo Community Center
While an actual Sing Sing museum doesn’t exist yet (funds are being raised to build one), you can study up on the history of Ossining’s most famous address at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center. There, at the Sing Sing Prison Exhibit, you can see a replica of an electric chair, get the feel for what it’s like to be in a prison cell, and view confiscated weapons. And (as we discovered when we tried to visit at the end of October) at Halloween, it turns into a haunted house!
95 Broadway, Ossining