56 Things Every Westchester Resident Must Do

All the things you absolutely must see, do, taste, and experience to earn your 914 bragging rights.



1. Attend the Caramoor Summer Music Festival

Haven’t been to one yet? Well, make this the year that you pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and spread out on the lawn at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts to enjoy wonderful music outdoors. Caramoor’s summer festival is a genuine treat—a collection of some of the world’s finest classical, jazz, and popular musicians making harmonious, melodic sounds in a dazzling setting. It’s as much about the experience as the music. Do spend the day—wander through the gardens (there are 90 acres of woodlands, manicured grounds, and jewel-like formal gardens), tour the Moorish manse, and stay for an evening concert. Lucie and Walter Tower Rosen once used  Caramoor as their “summer home” and started the festival to entertain their seasonal guests. Lucky us, we can visit year round.

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, 149 Girdle Ridge Rd, Katonah

(914) 232-1252, caramoor.org

2. Read Washington Irving’s Short Story

 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow isn’t just any ghost story—it is Westchester County’s very own ghost story, and every card-carrying, SUV-driving, four-buck-latte-sipping resident should read it at least once (watching Johnny Depp in the 1999 movie version, as cute as he is, doesn’t count). In his story, set in the sleepy little town of Sleepy Hollow (née North Tarrytown, until the town rightly decided to capitalize on its literary heritage),  Washington Irving vividly describes the encounters between the awkward Ichabod Crane and the frightening specter of the Headless Horseman. You get bonus points for making a pilgrimage to the town to see the Old Dutch Church, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (with gravestones dating back to the 1600s), and the Pocantico River—all mentioned in the book—along with Sunnyside, Irving’s Tarrytown home. (FYI: Irving is credited with coining the term the “almighty dollar”—rather fitting for our county, no?)

3. Visit the Tarrytown Lighthouse

Our poor little lighthouse. It hasn’t any function anymore, thanks to the Tappan Zee Bridge, whose  navigational lights rendered our red lighthouse

useless. But with so few mementos of our early marine history around anymore, who cares if it’s on duty or not? It’s so cute and cozy and there are ecological exhibits inside explaining the importance of preserving our river—and that is enough for us. The best place to see it is from Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow. Periodic visiting hours  allow the public to go inside; otherwise, the lighthouse is open for group tours by appointment only (with a fee of $150 for a group of up to 25 people).

1883 Lighthouse at Sleepy Hollow

Kingsland Point Park, Sleepy Hollow

(914) 366-5109

4. Visit "Hollywood on the East Coast"

Tom Cruise in Pelham? Yep. Sean Penn? Michael Douglas? Yes indeedy. Credit Rolling Stone film critic and Mamaroneck resident Peter Travers, a film advisory board member of the Pelham Picture House, with helping bring megawatt celebs to the southern reaches of the county. The 1920s theater is still a work in progress, so if you haven’t visited yet, get there quick so you can say you knew the place before it became known as “Hollywood on the East Coast.”

Pelham Picture House, 175 Wolfs Ln, Pelham, (914) 738-3161

5. Listen to The Peak

While you’re tooling up the Taconic, tune in to the county’s own world-class rock station, 107.1FM The Peak. Listen in the morning for the famous “10 @ 10,” DJ Rob Arrow’s collection of songs, commercials, film clips, and other snippets from years past, or tune in Wednesday and Sunday nights for “Next,” Chris Bro’s preview of the Next Big Thing starring such cool new artists as Vampire Weekend, The National, Okkervil River, and Let’s Go Sailing. Because it’s cool.

6. Visit the Rockefeller Home

Even if your great granddaddy didn’t start Standard Oil, you can still experience a taste of the über-good life by visiting Kykuit, the family’s palatial, six-story Beaux Arts mansion in Pocantico Hills, which has panoramic views of the Hudson. It’s spectacular indoors and out, so opt for the three-hour Grand Tour, which gives you the best of the shorter tours plus entry to the second floor. The terraced gardens (including the Inner Garden with its Roman Tea House, the Morning Garden, and the oh-so-fabulous Brook Garden with its gorgeous perennial borders and grotto) are graced with 70 fountains and 90 sculptures by Noguchi, Calder, Picasso, Moore, and more. The house is jam-packed with antiques and fine ceramics including four seventh-century Tang Dynasty pieces and a rare seventh-century sculpture known as Bodhisattva. Even the basement here is chock-full of art: pieces by Motherwell, Nevelson, Segal, Warhol, and a whole slew of enormous Picasso tapestries. The clan that worked hard played hard, too. So naturally, they had their very own golf course (a reversible nine-hole affair) along with a “playhouse”—complete with a bowling alley, billiard room, gym, and croquet field. Did you expect anything less from the Rockefellers?

Kykuit, (914) 631-9491, hudsonvalley.org

7. Catch a Broadway Show—in the County

We Westchesterites do have a sense of entitlement (well-earned, of course), so we like it when Broadway comes to us, rather than vice versa (with the attendant $100-plus seats and exorbitant parking fees). While the food is hardly haute and the décor a tad tired  (may we suggest a complete facelift?), we enjoy the shows produced at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Many of the actors hail from Broadway or touring companies; those who don’t—well, you can always brag that you saw them here before their big break on the Great White Way.

Westchester Broadway Theatre

75 Clearbrook Rd, Elmsford

(914) 592-2222

broadwaytheatre.com

8. Admire Chagall Windows (and a Matisse, too!)

Union Church, a quaint old chapel on Route 448 in Pocantico Hills has nine—count em—Chagall stained-glass windows and one by Chagall’s esteemed peer, Henri Matisse. We can thank those deep-pocketed and well-connected Rockefellers for those windows. Nelson, to be specific, commissioned the Matisse “rose window” above the chancel to honor his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art and a huge Matisse fan (she collected his work and even entertained him in her New York City home).  The design for the rose window was completed just two days before Matisse died. David and Peggy Rockefeller commissioned the Chagall windows, the only cycle of Chagall church windows in America.

The Union Church of Pocantico Hills, Rt 448, Pocantico Hills, (914) 631-8200, hudsonvalley.org

9. See the Stars

Where else in the county can you kick back in comfy chairs and gaze at the stars—no matter the weather or time of day—other than at the Andrus Planetarium in the Hudson River Museum, the oldest museum in the county? Not a single place. With a flick of a switch, the 40-foot dome becomes the night sky right over Westchester…or Mars. There are also lots of fun, informative shows to explain the mysteries of the heavens to all ages. After you’ve had your fill of stars, amble over to the nearby Glenview Victorian home, where six turn-of-the-century rooms are open for viewing. Of course, you’ve seen the wonderful collection of about 500 Hudson River School paintings in the museum’s permanent collection, inspired, naturally, by our very own Hudson River.

The Hudson River Museum

511 Warburton Ave, Yonkers

(914) 963-4550, hrm.org

10. Stroll Through PepsiCo’s Sculpture Garden

Sometimes, the best things in life really are free, so there is no reason not to have strolled through the outdoor art gallery that is the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden at PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase. (It’s stroller and wheelchair accessible too, so honestly, no excuses!) Get up close and personal to 45 sculptures by such luminaries as Auguste Rodin, Henri Laurens, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Arnaldo Pomodoro, and Claes Oldenburg. The lush landscaping (168 perfectly manicured acres, to be exact) is as stunning as the artwork. The grounds are open to the public, and a visitors’ booth is open during the spring and summer. Don’t miss Hats Off  by Calder and Girl with a Dolphin by David Wynne, which stands at the garden’s entrance.

Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden at PepsiCo, 700 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase, pepsico.com

11. Play with Clay

We may not be pottery connoisseurs, but when Judith Schwartz (art curator, critic, associate professor of art and art professions at NYU, and one of the top art collectors in the country) touts the Clay Art Center as a county gem, we listen. This unpretentious and bustling center is a wonderful place for learning how to spin a wheel, and also for buying some of the prettiest pots and pitchers, all fired in the gallery’s four huge gas-powered kilns. Gallery exhibits change every month, and there are workshops and lectures by renowned artists for those looking to perfect their craft.

Clay Art Center, 40 Beech St, Port Chester

(914) 937-2047, clayartcenter.org

12. Ride Metro-North’s Hudson Line

Perhaps you’ve become jaded commuting on Metro-North, but put down the latest Grisham novel and look out the window. See that great expanse of water up against those majestic cliffs? That, pal, is the Hudson River and, believe you me, there are thousands of people who would—and do—pay lots and lots of money for that riv-vu.  And you get it free with your train ticket. Take advantage of it. Every Westchester resident should—at least once. 

13. Bike the Bronx River Parkway

We don’t know of any other parkway that bans four-
wheelers just for the benefit of two-wheelers (and now bipeds). The Bronx River Parkway does just that every Sunday between 10 am and 2 pm in May, June, and September (except holidays), prohibiting cars between Yonkers and White Plains. Never done it? And you call yourself a Westchesterite?

westchestergov.com/parks

14. Catch a (Movie) Star and an Indie Movie

It’s so much fun to spot celebs and rub elbows with industry insiders that seeing a movie at the Jacob Burns Film Center can almost be an afterthought. Michael Moore was in the audience when his controversial Fahrenheit 9/11 was shown, Hilary Swank was at the advance screening of the recent P.S. I Love You, filmmaker Jonathan Demme spoke after a screening of 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. You don’t have to have a membership to be an authentic resident, but it helps (and it’s smart, too—you’ll get the invites to screenings and celeb-hosted discussions in advance and pay $4 less at the door). When the Spanish mission-style landmark building was renovated into the Jacob Burns Film Center and opened in 2001, critics scoffed that Westchester wouldn’t support such highbrow fare. We’re glad they were wrong. A recent showing of Helvetica—a documentary about a type face, for heaven’s sake—was sold out. Who knew there were so many type geeks in the county? Two thumbs up for the popcorn, too.

Jacob Burns Film Center, 364 Manville Rd, Pleasantville, (914) 747-5555, burnsfilmcenter.org

15. Sled Down Dead Man’s Hill in Eastchester

When we dream of a White Christmas, we’re dreaming of Dead Man’s Hill (right next to the cemetery—get it?) on the Lake Isle Town Park Golf Course in Eastchester. You haven’t had a real Westchester winter until you’ve slid your sled, saucer, tube, or toboggan down this bad boy after a snowfall. But do get to the hill early—we’re hardly the only ones who know to head here when Joe Rao predicts a winter snowstorm or a “thunder snow,” or other wintery weather unique to Westchester.

16. Hike Along the Aqueduct Trail

The Aqueduct Trail is the state’s longest, narrowest, and, in our opinion, prettiest public park. It’s a mostly flat, fairly easy, ramble following the underground masonry tunnel running the length of the county that used to bring water to Manhattan. In addition to taking in the Hudson River views, you can enjoy back-door peeks at some of the top county landmarks: the Octagon House, Lyndhurst, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Croton Dam Plaza, and plenty of river-town Main Streets, where you can grab a cuppa and a little nosh.

aqueduct.org

17. Visit Our Own Modern Art Museum

MoMA, SCHMoMA. We’ve got the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (and it costs just $5—not $20—to get in). Weird, wild, and wooly things by young cutting-edge artists (Damien Hirst, Francesca Dimattio, Folkert De Jong, Yan Pei-Ming) reside in this 12,000-square-foot white gallery. Think of it as Dia:Beacon’s little sibling—same concept sharing similar DNA, but in a much smaller, more intimate space. Current exhibits are Size Matters XXL, large-scale paintings, and intricate paper sculptures by Chris Jones from London. You can thank local collectors Livia and Marc Straus for sharing their vision with all of us.

Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, 1701 Main St, Peekskill

(914) 788-0100, hvcca.com 

18. Attend the Clearwater Festival

It’s kind of a mini Woodstock year after year (and some years, about as muddy). The Clearwater Music and Environmental Festival, the oldest and largest environmental festival in the country, is a funky, laid-back, come-as-you-are music festival that’s held to benefit the mighty Hudson River. Folk hero Pete Seeger, one of the festival’s founders (it originated in 1966), is still a mainstay supporter today. Expect to see lots of Birkenstocks and tie-dye (this is definitely a Frisbee crowd) and booths offering vegan wraps, arts and crafts, and hippie bumper stickers and pins. And of course you’ll hear lots and lots of music—reggae, blues, bluegrass, funk, folk. This year’s celebration, which is expected to draw 15,000 visitors (plus you and yours—right?), will be held, fittingly enough, on the Summer Solstice, June 21 and 22.

19. Visit the Great Pumpkin(s)

Since this is just a two-year old event, we’ll give you a pass if you haven’t yet been to the annual Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor. But man oh man, you’re in for a treat this October. Thousands(!) of intricately carved and illuminated pumpkins are on display, posing in fields, hanging from trees, perched on the porch, mounted on stakes. Wind your way along candlelit paths, while spooky music plays, and oooh and aaah over the cemetery of ghosts, the patch depicting dead musicians, even a replica of our very own Headless Horseman. Grab a kid (or your inner child, if you don’t have one) and get crackin! Reservations are necessary—and tickets sell out fast.

Van Cortlandt Manor, South Riverside Ave Croton-on-Hudson, (914) 631-8200

hudsonvalley.org

20. Eat a Pie at Johnny’s

We’re not going to argue which is the best pizza in Westchester. We are going to insist that to live here, you’ve got to try a Johnny’s pie at least once (and it is pie; no slices here). But don’t worry too much about your waistline—the crust is ultra-thin, so consider it low-carb.

Johnny’s Pizzeria, 30 W Lincoln Ave

Mount Vernon, (914) 668-1957

21. Drink Beer at Lazy Boy Saloon

Not a beer drinker? Maybe you’ve just been exposed to Budweiser and Corona. Which is why every true Westchester resident should stop by Lazy Boy Saloon and sample one of its 500-plus beers. Bet you’ll find one you’ll like. Besides, this is where most of our 21-year-olds go to order their first legal drink. So if you’ve missed that rite of passage at the Saloon, make up for it by toasting your good fortune at having found your favorite beer at what will undoubtedly become your favorite saloon.

Lazy Boy Saloon, 154 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, (914) 761-0272

lazyboysaloon.com

22. Go to the Outhouse

If you’re still giggling at the name, you are decidedly not a true Westchesterite. The Outhouse family has been farming this land since the 1890s, and their orchard, with its sweeping views of Northern Westchester, is the place to pick apples, and more, each fall. Little ones love the hayrides high up in the hills, the petting zoo, and the pumpkin patch where they can “pick” their own. Everyone loves the donuts and cider; it’s wise to bring home a pie (or two) for later.

Outhouse Orchards, 130 Hardscrabble Rd, North Salem, (914) 277-3188

23. Revisit Your Favorite Fairy Tales—at Lyndhurst 

Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown— railroad magnate Jay Gould’s summer retreat—is spectacular in any season, but at Christmas, it is that much more special. Each of its rooms is decorated to the nines, representing a different fairy tale fantasy. Prepare to be wowed. Gould’s study, where he cornered the gold market in 1869 on what is now known as Black Friday, is the perfect setting to recreate the tale of Rumpelstiltskin.  A glittering golden mantel display and a tree covered with golden ornaments contrast sharply with the straw on the floor and the simple spinning wheel. A life-size Sleeping Beauty rests on a canopied bier, completely surrounded by white poinsettias. Snow White’s tree, simply decorated with red apples, natch, is viewed through the queen’s magic mirror on the wall. You can imagine Beauty and the Beast waltzing into the baronial dining room with the enormous golden chandelier and table set for a king. Hard to tell who enjoys it more—the parents or the kids.

Lyndhurst, 635 S Broadway

Tarrytown, (914) 631-4481

lyndhurst.org 

Photo courtesy of Rye Playland

24. Ride the Dragon Coaster

Playland is more than just an amusement park—it is part of our collective childhood. Who doesn’t love the art deco designs and old-fashioned boardwalk? And who among us hasn’t learned to skate at the iconic Ice Casino or gorged himself sick on the sticky cotton candy and hugely caloric funnel cakes? Besides, for many of us who grew up in the county, riding the rickety wooden Dragon Coaster for the very first time was a rite of passage, when we graduated from Kiddyland to the real deal. It’s a rite we happily pass on to our children—and to you. Screaming is optional.

Exit 19 off I-95 Rye

(914) 813-7000 ryeplayland.org

25. Walter’s Hot Dogs

This Chinese temple of an architectural oddity has been slinging split and griddled dogs to loyal area fans since 1928. While Walter’s has appeared in both the New York Times and Gourmet magazine, that’s not why exiled locals mail in their postcards from all over the world. These travelers know that when Walter’s posts the greetings (which they always do), absolutely everyone in the county will see it. 

937 Palmer Ave, Mamaroneck

(No Phone)

waltershotdogs.com

26. The Kneaded Bread Bakery

Jennifer and Jeffrey Kohn’s artisanal bread bakery is as irresistible as they come, with a cheerful tile-and-marble shop offering soul-stirring breads, homey iced cakes, and luscious pastries. Saturday morning is the must-go time for dropping in—not only are you sure to meet someone you know, but with a Kneaded Bread sticky bun and hot chocolate in hand, there’s absolutely no weekend chore you can’t face.

 181 North Main St, Port Chester

(914) 937-9489

27. Galloway’s Country Kitchen Bake Shop

This local, family-run pie palace has been in business since the Fifties, and even though the shop’s opening hours are spotty (it's open only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), locals are willing to put up with it because Galloway’s pies are just that good. And what could be better than a great, house-made apple pie? Galloway’s also fries up some of the lightest, chewiest, homiest jelly donuts in the world.

 69 Harney Rd, Scarsdale

(914) 725-4074

28. A&S Fine Foods

While Philly has its hoagies, New England has its grinders, and Manhattan has its subs, only in Westchester County do we tuck into wedges. These long, hot sandwiches—overstuffed with red-sauce faves like eggplant and chicken parm and meatballs—are an old-school Italian deli standard, and one that’s getting harder to find in these days of Subway and Quizno’s. To taste a real-deal Westchester county wedge, pull into A&S Fine Foods of Millwood. You’ll never eat a mere sub again.

 238 Saw Mill River Rd, Millwood
(914) 923-8485

29. X2O

Westchester’s newest must-dine restaurant comes to us from Chef Peter Kelly, Rockland County restaurant all-star, Iron Chef challenger (and winner), and Yonkers native. His flagship, X2O, is located in the once-decrepit Yonkers Recreational Pier, now transformed by a multi-million dollar restoration that leaves the cast-iron structure gleaming like a glorious ocean liner. Look for great, innovative food enjoyed in one of Westchester’s best vantage points: the pier juts out over the river offering lavish views of the Hudson.

71 Water Grant St, Yonkers

(914) 965-1111

30. Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Blue Hill Café

Stone Barns is a revolutionary experiment in ethical farm-to-table eating, with most of the restaurant’s produce grown right on-site. Chef Dan Barber won the James Beard foundation’s Best Chef—NYC foodie Oscar in 2006. Blue Hill at Stone Barns can be a bit of a splurge, so savvy locals hit Blue Hill Café, a simple, cafeteria-style spot for lunches and snacks made with the same homegrown ingredients as Blue Hill at Stone Barns—but at a fraction of the main restaurant’s price.

 630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills

(914) 366-9600

bluehillstonebarns.com

31. The Blazer Pub

It’s the endless foodie debate—which Westchester burger reigns supreme? Despite regular challenges from Eastchester’s Piper’s Kilt and that upstart in Byram, Burgers Shakes and Fries, our local gold standard has always been the Blazer Burger. Huge, juicy and seared to perfection, this sublime, drippy two-hander puts run-of-the mill patties to shame­—it’s the burger for burger-philes. Plus, you’ll find it one of our last great roadhouses, accompanied by cold beer and hot, live Dixieland jazz.

 Purdys

(914) 277-4424

32. Port Chester Food Crawl

Thanks to the diverse immigrant communities in Port Chester, this once-derelict inner-ring suburb has morphed into a densely packed foodie’s paradise. The chevron formed by Main Street and Westchester Avenue contains a lively world of restaurants, dishing up most of the comfort foods of Latin America: look for Salvadoran pupusas, Peruvian grilled chicken, Mexican carnitas and paletas, Brazillian churrasscos, Colombian arepas, and Uruguayan churros. Park and follow your nose for an afternoon of exotic treats; just save room for a reviving snack at Kneaded Bread and an All-American dinner at Q.

33. Sleep Under the Stars

Yes, we’ve camped out in the Rockies, admired those great big trees in Yosemite, and whitewater-rafted through the Grand Canyon. But, we’ve got plenty of awe-inspiring natural beauty on this side of the continent. Become one with nature by renting a lean-to and camping overnight at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Roll out your sleeping bag, light a fire, roast marshmallows, make s’mores, and gaze at the stars. There are  more than 4,300 acres of meadows, streams, and woodlands, and miles of trails, so you can stake claim to your own little piece of paradise. The park is open 8 am to dusk every day; the museum from 9 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday.

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

Entrance on Rte 121, just off Rte 35

Cross River, (914) 864-7317 

34. Shop The Westchester

Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive don’t have diddly on The Westchester, a shopping mecca so exalted it doesn’t deign to have the word “mall” in its moniker. The Manolos click on marble floors here; the Benzes and Bimmers are valet parked. Giant palm trees bask in the sun streaming through all the skylights. And the shops? Well, let’s just say there is a reason Westchester is known as the Golden Apple: Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, Gucci, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Bailey, Banks & Biddle.
And since we Westchester­ites so love to be pampered, there’s an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Spa for après-shopping
indulgences.

The Westchester

25 Westchester Ave

White Plains, simon.com

35. Take a Roman Holiday (Right Here)

Untermeyer Park in Yonkers not only has amazing views of the Hudson and the Palisades, but also its very own Roman Gardens where notorious serial killer Son of Sam, in keeping with the grisly ancient Roman theme, was said to have performed animal sacrifices. Not interested in the macabre? How about free music? Every Saturday in July and August, the park puts on a free concert; this year, appropriately enough, will have an international theme. While showtime isn’t until 7:30, those in the know show up as early as 4:30 to set up picnics on the large meadow and settle in for their very own Roman Holiday.

Untermyer Park, North Broadway, Yonkers, untermyer.org 

 

36. Shop at the Country’s Biggest Crafts Fair

If you were on the road and learned that the biggest crafts fair in America was just a few turns from your hotel, wouldn’t you go check it out? We thought so. Well, the nation’s biggest crafts fair takes place at Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown twice a year, every year—and you haven’t been? The spring show runs May 2 to 4. See you there.

Lyndhurst, 35 S Broadway, Tarrytown

(914) 631-4481, lyndhurst.org

 

37. Ponder the Mysteries of the Universe

How did a massive granite boulder indigenous to New Hampshire and Canada come to rest in North Salem, perfectly balanced upon five small limestone pillars? Was it deposited by a glacier during the last Ice Age? Is it a Celtic dolmen, a ceremonial stone erected for religious purposes? A fluke of nature? Evidence of UFOs? No one knows for sure, but it sure is cool.

Route 121 near the

junction of Route 116

 

38. Hear the New Maestro

Sure, we were saddened when we learned that Paul Lustig Dunkel had decided to put down his baton and leave the helm of the Westchester Philharmonic, a group he founded 25 years ago. But we nearly swooned when we learned that violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman was filling his shoes as artistic director. Perlman has performed solos with every major orchestra in the world, has won four Emmys, 15 Grammys, is a recipient of the National Medal Award, and is an all-around nice guy. Bravo Westchester!

The Westchester Philharmonic

(914) 682-3707; westchesterphil.org

39. Have a Sicilian Slice at Sal’s

This isn’t your typical cake-dough-disguised-as-pizza Sicilian slice. It’s made with real cheese (the kind that stretches for yards, rather than breaking after an inch), yummy sauce, and golden dough. But expect to wait: the lines are long. After all, Westchester knows a good thing when it tastes it.

Sals Pizzeria, 316 Mamaroneck Ave Mamaroneck, (914) 381-2022

40. Fly to the Moon at New Roc City

Feeling really adventurous? Then take a ride on the Tower Space Shot, happily now back in commission. This thriller ride is so tall (even taller than the Double Shot at Playland), you can see it from I-95. Count on the scariest few seconds of your life. Chicken? Know that there are still 18 movie screens including an Imax, plus a video arcade, a billiards room, glow-in-the-dark bowling and miniature golf, an ice-skating rink, a race track, laser tag, and an old-fashioned carousel.

New Roc City, 33 LeCount Pl New Rochelle, (914) 637-7570

newroccity.com 

41. Catch Some Culture

Some people, impressed by the caliber of artists who have performed at the Performing Arts Center, a modern four-theatre complex designed by noted architect Edward Larabee Barnes, call PAC a “mini Lincoln Center." Among its previous performers: Audra McDonald, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Emanuel Ax, and Branford Marsalis. PAC is the largest regional arts center between New York City and Toronto, each year presenting 80 dance, music, theater, and family events. Surely, you and your family can attend one.

Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase

(914) 251-6200, artscenter.org 

42. Get to Know the Rockefeller State Park Preserve

We can’t stop gushing about the Rockefeller largesse. Can you blame us? The family donated the 1,200-plus acres that make up the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, complete with a 22-acre lake (one Manhattanite who spied little turtles sunning themselves on the rocks was overheard exclaiming, “Look, they even have little turtle statues here!”) and miles of old carriage roads and stone bridges. It looks remarkably as it was about a century ago, when the Rockefeller family started buying up land. You can walk your dog (on a leash), hike, jog, cross-country ski, snowshoe, ride your horse (with a permit), or fish for bass (in-season, with a license).

Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Tarrytown, (914) 631-1470

nyparks.state.ny.us/parks 

43. Stop and Smell the Wildflowers

Teatown Lake Reservation, an 834-acre nature preserve and education center near Ossining, covers all the scenic bases, with a 33-acre lake, streams, a gorge, hardwood swamps, mixed forests, meadows, and hemlock and laurel groves crisscrossed with more than 15 miles of hiking trails.  But now through summer, Wildflower Island is the place to be, with its 230 rare and native wildflowers. Even the names are lovely: Nodding Ladies’ Tresses, Toadshade Trillium, Pink Lady’s Slipper. Guided tours are offered at 10 am every Saturday from July through September, but private tours can be arranged on weekdays for groups of six or more.  In any case, reservations are a must and children under 14 are not allowed on the island. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 to 5.  Only Wildflower Island charges a fee (a paltry $4 for members, $6 for non-members), but donations are graciously accepted.

Teatown Lake Reservation

Spring Valley Rd, Ossining

(914) 762-2912, teatown.org

44. Watch the 4th of July Fireworks at Harbor Island Park

Oooh! Aaah! Want more? From the waterfront, you can also see the fireworks at neighboring Rye Playland, making it twice as nice.

Harbor Island Park, Mamaroneck

(914) 777-7784

 

45. Browse Through the Neuberger Museum of Art

Georgia O’Keeffe. Jackson Pollock. Edward Hopper. Willem de Kooning. Romare Bearden. You can see their work, along with other prominent artists’ works, at the Neuberger Museum of Art. Need we say more?

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Rd

Purchase, (914) 251-6100, neuberger.org

 

46. Shop at Stew Leonard’s

Even friends from Manhattan shop at Stew’s. Can you blame them? This isn’t your typical supermarket. Stew’s is…different, more like Disneyland than a dairy store. Outside there’s a petting zoo with cows, goats, chickens, and ducks; inside costumed characters Wow the Cow, Daisy Duck, and Cynthia Chick chat up customers while the animated Chiquita Banana, Clover the Cow, and Larry the Lobster sing and dance over food displays. Of course, all the entertainment in the world wouldn’t matter if we didn’t love the food. Eighty percent of the products sold in the store are brought in daily or prepared directly in-store—bagels, artisan breads, croissants, muffins, cakes, and cookies; fresh mozzarella, sushi, soups, smoked salmon; fresh-squeezed juice and roasted coffee; custom-cut and trimmed meat. Not sure what to buy? Then snack on the free samples of the best-selling items in every department. Who knew food shopping could be this entertaining?

1 Stew Leonard Dr, Yonkers,  (914) 375-4700, stewleonards.com

47. Go to an Outdoor Movie

There are plenty of reasons to visit the Kensico Dam. Concerts and festivals are offered all summer long (Indian Heritage celebration on August 10, Yiddish festival on August 17), and the dam itself is a thing to behold—at 300 feet high and 1,830 feet long, it looks like a Roman architectural masterpiece. But we love any opportunity to see a movie under the stars, now that drive-in theatres have gone the way of the dinosaur. For the fifth year, Kensico will be hosting movie nights on July 10 and August 21. Roughly 10,000 people come for these free events, arriving early to picnic on the grounds and enjoy local entertainment before showtime on a 65-foot projection screen at dusk. We suggest you join them.

Kensico Dam Plaza, Bronx River Pkwy Valhalla, (914) 328-1542

westchestergov.com/parks

48. Take in the Scent of Cherry Blossoms

You don’t have to go all the way to Japan or even to Washington, DC, to take pleasure in cherry blossoms in all their splendor. Harbor Island in Mamaroneck has 150 Kwanzan Double Flower Pink cherry trees that are blooming their little heads off right now as you are reading this
article. So put down the magazine and hightail it over before the show ends.

49. Bike the North County Trailway

The county’s got 22 miles of paved, off-road trails running from Mount Pleasant to Somers, open year round. There's no excuse not to take advantage of them.

westchestergov.com/parks

50. Have Drinks at the Tarrytown Boat Club

Cheap drinks, pricey views: drink them in all the way down river to Manhattan. If you get the munchies, chow down next door at Sunset Cove restaurant.

38 Green St, Tarrytown

tarrytownboatclub.com 

51. Express to Impress 

Real Westchester residents are never at a loss for words. This is Westchester: land of the free, home of the bravado. And when we, the true Westchesterites, attend an inebriant-fueled shindig, we view those around us as much as competitors as company; everyone seeking to be the belle of the ball, the hit of the hangout. Ending up as the highlight of the nightlife in this county takes skill, guile, and smarts. And since it’s test season for all the young ‘uns out there, we figure the best way to get you in shape for your next catered affair is through some good old-fashioned practice situations. Study up, and you will be a true county cocktail party connoisseur (and a bona-fide Westchesterite).

The subject: Transportation

The crowd: 30-somethings

The scenario: Brad, the boss’s son (who just became the boss), recently moved to Westchester and is dying to know how do people ever get into Manhattan from here. He wants to know your transportation of pleasure. 

Your choices:

(A)  Helicopter

(B)  Car

(C)  Train

(D)  Who needs Manhattan? I telecommute!

The answer: If you picked A, you’ve got “poser” written all over you. Only Donald Trump can get away with taking a chopper to the City, and you don’t have the hair.  Cars are
so pre-Inconvenient Truth.
And, as for telecommuting, it reeks of hermit status. The answer is (C)  train. We’ve got the most on-time transportation system in the country. And just ask Joe Simonetti, who bikes
to Manhattan twice a week
(and was the subject of our “Pound Ridge Peddler” story in the February issue, westchestermagazine.com), what happens
if you make fun of the strap-
hangers on Metro-North. He ended up as a target of
trainjotting.com and has to
ride the 8 am to Grand Central hidden in the bathroom car. 

The subject: Drinking

The crowd: Your golf buddies

The scenario: Jim, who was the best man at your wedding 20 years ago, brings Bob and Fred over to you at a luncheon. Jim’s got a 50-year-old bottle of Scotch. What’s your next move?

Your choices:

(A)  Sneak outside for a quick three fingers

(B)  Take swigs out of the bottle

(C)  Not now…wifey might see

(D)  None of the above

The answer: (A) is incorrect.  You don’t “sneak” Scotch. (B) is incorrect. You’re not 22 and your inebriant wasn’t made somewhere on a Caribbean island. (C) is incorrect. And if you picked it, please send your bottle of Scotch to the address at the front of the magazine; you’re not worth it. The answer is (D) none of the above. Three words for you: NYC Cigar Club. If you hustle, you can sprint to Eastchester and back and enjoy a nice stogie with your drink. That’s how the highlanders would want it. And please, your wife’s got mingling to do without you.

The subject: Vacation

The crowd: Friends from work

The scenario: It’s the holiday party and all your favorite cubicle mates are sharing notes on where they are going to be spending their time off: Aspen, the Caribbean, Prague! But, you blew your vacation wad on your favorite Presidential candidate and a few too many trips to LuLu’s in Scarsdale. What’s your excuse for hanging around the house this holiday?

Your choices:

(A)  Play the family card

(B)  Play the environmental card

(C)  Play the “too busy” card

(D)  Play the money card

The answer: (B), since the en-
vironmental card is king in our left-leaning ‘burb. A simple,
“Oh well, I think I’ll just minimize my carbon footprint by staying close to home this year,” will
get you nods all around. 

The subject: Sports

The crowd: The PTA

The scenario: Guess what?  Everyone else’s kid just had a monster year on the gridiron/frozen pond/hardwood. But your young ‘uns inherited their father’s two, or perhaps three, left feet. What’s your move?

Your choices:

(A)  Lie…a kid who can’t kick or catch can’t be cool

(B)  Change the subject

(C)  Talk up their academic achievements

(D)  Reminisce about your glory days on the soccer field

The answer: If you chose (A), shame on you. Westchester may be a little stereotypically suburban, but we don’t live in some 1950s only-jocks-are-cool America. If you chose (B), sorry; there’s more pride to be had than that. If you went with (D), try and remember that no one cares about your glory days. The answer is (C). Books are bodacious these days. This is Westchester, baby! Show pride in your offsprings' talent off the field. 

The subject: Food

The crowd: Your foodie friends

The scenario: Everyone in the room seems to have checked out the newest astronomic gastronomic except for you. In fact, without your handy Westchester Magazine dining guide by your side, you’re clueless as to where to eat. Now everyone wants you to pick the restaurant for the next night out in town, but you totally are at a loss. What do you say?

Your choices:

(A)  “Who eats in Westchester? It’s NYC or bust for me”

(B)  “That H20 place in Yonkers sounds good”

(C)  “I’d rather just cook.”

(D)  Just ask what everyone else thinks is good.

The answer: If you chose (A)
(B) (C) or (D), you…are…wrong! None of the answers are correct. You should have our dining guide memorized or at least have Zagat loaded on your iPhone for easy reference at all times. But if you dared choose (A), please don’t bother looking for our next issue; it won’t be coming. (B) is just sad; it’s X20. And (C) and (D) give you about as much foodie cred as suggesting a nice trip to the Bronx for White Castle (actually, that might give you more).

52. Spend a Day on the Farm

Old MacDonald had nothing on Muscoot Farm in Somers, an authentic, working 19th-century farm.  Muscoot is always bustling with sheep shearing, chick hatching, planting, harvesting, and demonstrations of farm life from the olden days. On weekends, there are often special events and hayrides, but it’s just fun to explore the old barns and outbuildings and watch the pigs roll in the mud and the horses frolic in the fields. Hike up to the gazebo at the top of the hill—you can see forever.

Muscoot Farm, Rte 100, Somers, (914) 864-7282

53. Celebrate the Harvest

There’s no better way to show kids the relationship between the farm and the food they eat than at the annual Harvest Festival at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture. After they delight in the sight of those cute little piggies rooting for acorns back in the woods during the hayrides, they can see them roasting o’er an open fire—and have a taste of them, too. There are plenty of activities for vegans too: tours of the greenhouse, arts and crafts, music—fun for the whole family. This year’s festival is October 4. Reserve early; this event sells out.

Stone Barns Center for Agriculture, 630 Bedford Rd

Pocantico Hills, (914) 366-6200, stonebarnscenter.org 

54. See Hoops Stars of Tomorrow—Today

Mount Vernon High School sends more athletes to top colleges and to the pros than any other in the area. Guys like Ben Gordon, star of the Chicago Bulls, and former NBA players Gus “The Wizard” Williams of the Seattle Supersonics, Ray Williams of the New York Knicks, Earl Tatum of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Rodney McCray of the Houston Rockets got their starts at Mount Vernon.  Also, current college stars such as Jonathan Mitchell from  the University of Florida, Kevin Jones from West Virginia University, and Dexter Gray, who plays right in our backyard at Iona College, cut their teeth there. Go team!

55. Tee Off at Tillinghast-Designed Courses

Golf is our county’s passion and Westchester is home to some of the best courses in the nation.  Among them are Quaker Ridge Golf Course in Scarsdale and Winged Foot’s East and West Courses in Mamaroneck, all three designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the I.M. Pei of golf-course design. Don’t have a membership to these clubs?  Buy your way in, at least for a day, by attending one of dozens of charity golf outings that take place every summer. Or better yet, befriend a member.

Quaker Ridge Golf Club, 40 Griffen Ave, Scarsdale, (914) 725-1100

Winged Foot Golf Club, 51 Fenimore Rd, Mamaroneck, (914) 698-8400

56. Buy Wine at Zachys

It’s a national treasure. If wine lovers from around the country know Zachys’ stock, why shouldn’t you?

Zachys Wine and Liquor

16 East Pkwy, Scarsdale

(914) 723-0241 

Did we miss something you feel is integral to the Westchester experience?

Let us know at Comments@westchestermagazine.com 

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