Summer Fun in Westchester County: Day Trips

Take a trip to match your risk tolerance.



Sure, we believe that we have every type of activity right here in Westchester. But we also recognize that sometimes you just have to get away. Day trips, though, can mean different things to different people. Some are just looking for a lazy afternoon with some beautiful scenery. Others want to test their physical limits and get their hearts pounding. Here, we present one-day options for whatever level of adrenaline you’re looking for.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Thrill Factor: Mild
(Bring the Kids)

Go Beyond​ the Bronx Zoo

We love crossing the County border to go to the Bronx Zoo. It’s one of the best in the world, after all. But how many times can you make faces at the same set of monkeys? If you’re looking to make new furry (or scaly) friends, check out one of these alternatives.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS)
Since opening in January of 2001, the CAS, located on 110 acres in Saugerties, New York, in the heart of the Catskills, has rescued more than 2,000 animals. It’s also worked to find healthy, happy homes for some of its horses and farm animals, and has joined with local authorities to ensure that animal abusers are rightfully punished. CAS staffers educate people and rehabilitate neglected and abused animals. In addition, CAS offers a number of programs, including vegan cooking classes, tours, and a summer day camp. Admission is $12 for teens and adults (12 and older), $8 for seniors and kids under 12, and free for CAS members.

The Staten Island ZooThe Staten Island Zoo
Often referred to as New York City’s “biggest little zoo,” the Staten Island Zoo was actually the first zoo to have—of all things—all 32 kinds of rattlesnakes living in the United States on display. Didn’t know there were that many? The zoo has always had a mission to inform and educate at its core, no matter the age of its visitors. It also has a children’s center with hands-on activities for the little ones, which has made it quite popular for families with small kids. You can stop in for a bite to eat and some souvenirs at the Zoo Café, or you can bring your lunch and store it in the office at the entrance to the zoo if you don’t feel like carrying your coolers around. There are tables on the grounds at which you can sit and eat, as well as a covered pavilion. It offers a wide range of weekend programs, some free of charge with paid admission, as well as free parking. Admission is $8 for adults and teens (15 and older), $6 for seniors (60 and older), $5 for children (3 to 14), and free for children under 3 years of age and for all members.

Trailside Museums & Zoo. photo by elaine brownTrailside Museums & Zoo
There are so many great things to see and do at Trailside’s spacious property, located in Bear Mountain State Park. At the zoo, you can find birds, such as the largest of the North American Woodpeckers (the Pileated Woodpecker), as well as numerous mammals that are native to New York State, like the Eastern Coyote. Animal lovers will also want to visit the Herpetology House for turtles, snakes, and frogs. But that’s not all you can do in the park. There are other museums, including the History Museum, the Geology Museum, and the Nature Study Museum. You can also hike on one of the many trails, swim in the pool, ride the carousel, and rent a paddleboat or rowboat. There’s no official admission for the zoo, but donations are appreciated (suggested donation: $1 per visitor), and it costs $8 to park your car at Bear Mountain State Park.

The Staten Island Zoo
614 Broadway
Staten Island, NY
(718) 442-3100; statenislandzoo.org
Time from White Plains: 1 hour

Trailside Museums & Zoo
Seven Lakes Dr, Bear Mountain
(845) 786-2701; trailsidezoo.org
Time from White Plains: 40 minutes

Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS)
316 Old Stage Road
Saugerties, NY
(845) 336-8447; casanctuary.org
Time from White Plains: 1 hour, 30 minutes
 


Thrill Factor: Mild
(Bring the Grandparents)

Hunt for the Perfect Prize

Shop at the Stormville Airport Antique Show & Flea Market 
Located on the grounds of the old Stormville private airport in Stormville, New York, is a one-of-a-kind menagerie that attracts families year after year.

What started as a small concept back in 1970—an antiques show with a mere six tables—has grown dramatically to more than 600 vendors selling virtually everything you could imagine, from clothing to comic books.

They offer six shows a season, with the summer shows taking place July 6 and 7, and August 31 and September 1.

Larchmont resident Sara Goldberg loves making the trip. “Stormville is an incredible flea market,” she says, “because it has a fantastic mix of items—from the usual New York City street-fair ‘stuff’ like spices sold in bulk, discounted gym socks, and kitchen utensils, to really unusual antiques like entire sets of beautiful china in pristine condition or one-of-a-kind, handmade belt buckles.”

Another Westchester resident, Francis Spedafino, also admits to being a repeat attendee. “I’ve been going to Stormville for years now,” he says.  “I’ve always loved going to flea markets or garage sales because you never know what you’ll find—thrill of the hunt, I suppose.”

“The main highlight for me when I first started going was the pickle stand,” he adds. “I couldn’t get these types of pickles in Southern Westchester, so heading up was a treat.”

There’s no charge for parking or attendance; they only ask that you leave your furry friends at home. Just make sure to bring a few empty totes for all your purchases!

Stormville Airport Antique
Show & Flea Market
428 Rte 216, Stormville
(845) 221-6561; stormvilleairportfleamarket.com
Time from White Plains: 1 hour


Thrill Factor: Medium

Put the Pedal to the Metal

Summer means putting the top down, cranking the radio, and heading out for a drive. Here, our suggestions for scenic routes—because, even if you’re whizzing by (under state-approved speed limits, of course), you’ll want a nice view.

Route 9 to Route 202/6 from Croton-on-Hudson to Bear Mountain
This road travels parallel to the Hudson River for the entire length of the drive, affording some spectacular views. Along the way, you’ll pass a great look-out spot, and, if motorcycles are your passion, this road is a great option. Not ready to call it a day? Continue by taking the Perkins Memorial Drive all the way to the top of the mountain.

The Taconic Parkway to Albany
Named for the Taconic Mountains along which it traverses, this stretch of highway is known for its winding and hilly passageways and was actually designed by a landscape architect to provide the most scenic views of the neighboring regions. Everything about it was meant to be aesthetically pleasing, even down to its service areas. Franklin D. Roosevelt was instrumental in ensuring that this roadway was built with the main focus of providing accessibility to nearby state parks, so you’ll have plenty of places to pull over for lunch.

Route 301 from Carmel to Cold Spring
To travel along this picturesque roadway, spanning approximately 20 miles of lush greenery, is pure bliss. But for real nirvana, be sure to stop in for a visit at the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York, which boasts the largest indoor statue of the Buddha (37 feet tall) in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Route 22 from White Plains to Brewster
This is the longest north-south route in New York State, measuring 341 miles. What’s most enjoyable about the drive along its roadway is that it primarily passes by small villages, so it’s quaint as well as scenic.


The Cliffs at Valhalla Thrill Factor: High

Test Your Arm Strength While Bouldering

For those who have not yet been initiated, bouldering is essentially climbing boulders, usually under 20 feet high, without the use of a rope. The rocks are referred to as “bouldering problems,” because the activity is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. Bouldering is all about shorter climbing and dynamic movement, which requires a lot of strength and is very gymnastic in style.

Before you head out into the real world, you’ll need some training. There are two indoor locations where you can go bouldering in the area. One is The Cliffs at Valhalla and the other is The Rock Club in New Rochelle. Both offer 2,500 square feet of bouldering terrain for all levels of experience.

According to Kary Williams, an employee at The Cliffs, “While bouldering has been around for awhile, it is becoming more mainstream and people seem to love the community aspect of it. It also teaches you how to move your body better and actually challenges your brain, because you have to not only figure out how to get from here to there, but also the most efficient way to do so.”

People seem to be drawn to it for a number of reasons. First of all, because you don’t need to use a rope, it requires a lot less equipment and is therefore less expensive. It’s also a social activity, because you can talk with other climbers and get advice and problem-solve together.

Meghan McDonald, programming director for The Rock Club, says, “It’s a lot of fun, but at the same time is a power activity that gives you a full body workout. We’re constantly changing the problems in order to keep things fresh and interesting for our climbers.”

Having the luxury of an indoor facility is great,  but once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to head outdoors. Enthusiasts in the area head straight to The Shawangunks (also referred to as “The Gunks”) in New Paltz. The mountain range is the biggest climbing range in the Northeast, with more than 250 boulder problems to tackle.

The Cliffs at Valhalla
1 Commerce St, Valhalla
(914) 328-7625; thecliffsclimbing.com

The Rock Club
130 Rhodes St, New Rochelle
(914) 633-7625; climbrockclub.com

Shawangunk Ridge
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour, 30 minutes
For more information: gunksclimbers.org or gunks.com
 


► For more from the June issue, click here.
► For more Summer Fun, click here.

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