Wish They Were Here
Photo by John Rizzo
A whopping 1.6 million people visit our county each year. Helping to entice them here and put Westchester on the map tourism-wise is Tarrytown resident Kim Sinistore, who joined the county’s Department of Tourism in 2001 and has served as its director since last August. “Even being a resident, you can still be a tourist in your own neighborhood,” Sinistore says. Here she tells us how.
What is the number one hurdle to selling Westchester to out-of-towners? People think major cities, like New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, and Washington, DC, when they want to get away, rather than your off-the-beaten-path suburban destination.
How about the fact that there isn’t really any public transportation here? I disagree—we have good train and bus systems, and people can always rent a car.
What’s the number-one most visited tourist attraction in the county? Playland; between eight-hundred-fifty-thousand and one-million people visit it each year. The second is all of our historical mansions and castles.
What county tourist attractions are most popular with Westchester residents? Playland, Muscoot Farm, and the Greenburgh Nature Center, because they are so family-
oriented. And the circus when it comes to town.
What would you say is the most interesting “under-the-radar” county tourist attraction? We have a lot of African-American history here that probably is not well known; we offer an African-American Heritage Trail Guide that highlights some of these relevant sites. Some, like Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, go all the way back to the seventeenth century. There, the lives of enslaved individuals are dramatized through vignettes and costumed interpreters.
What would be your ideal fantasy vacation? I’d love to go on a photographic safari in Kenya.
Should Westchester set up its own zoo? Well, we do have animals at Muscoot Farm and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. But I guess any type of new attraction could be a wonderful benefit to Westchester.
Is there one of those Visitors Information Bureaus in Westchester? We actually have two. There’s the Visitors Center in the Office of Tourism in White Plains, and there’s another Visitors Center right on the northbound side of the Bronx River Parkway in Eastchester.
What questions do visitors ask most frequently? Many ask for directions.
Do many visitors want to see the Clintons’ house? No. We actually haven’t gotten any requests about it.
If you were to ask someone from Nebraska or Idaho where Westchester is, what do you think he or she would say? Hopefully, they would say north of New York City and that it’s the gateway to the Hudson Valley. Some might mention it’s where the Clintons live.