Free and Cheap
With the terrible trifecta of soaring gas prices, a lethargic economy, and a weak dollar, it’s time to start looking for fun that won’t guzzle gallons or deplete dollars.
Despite our county’s rep for being an often expensive destination, you literally can throw a dart at a map of Westchester and find some cheap thrills. There’s no way to mention everything local and economical, but here’s a primer for planning the best getaway you can ever have— without leaving home.
Check out the Glenview Mansion at the Hudson River Museum. Its $5 admission fee is a quarter of the price you’d pay to get into the Rockefeller Estate, and it’s right near the Glenwood Metro-North station. The museum has art gallery exhibits on Yonkers history, and interactive Hudson River ecology. On weekends, it hosts its popular planetarium shows and offers arts and crafts for kids.
Have a stroll in—and stroll in free to—Untermyer Park, also in Yonkers. The park is a French garden with fountains, beech trees, mosaics, roofless Greco-Roman gazebos, and a view of the Palisades.
Head toward the revitalized Yonkers waterfront where French/Cuban restaurant Belle Havana has its frequent no-cover Saturday-night salsa dances. From there, if you really can’t give up the Big Apple, you can take the new ferry to the World Financial Center or Wall Street for $12 each way. The trip takes about 45 minutes.
Go spook hunting (and robber-baron stalking) at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow. It’s actually quite cheery, and the adjacent Old Dutch Church is a 323- year-old gem. For free, you can go searching for the graves of Rockefellers, Carnegies, Astors, Helmsleys, Washington Irving, and, according to myth, the restless spirit of his ghoulish (and headless) creation from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. There also are weekend tours and a real treat around Halloween when it hosts its yearly recreations of the Headless Horseman’s ride.
Paddle around at Wampus Pond in Armonk. Boat rentals are as cheap as $5.
Find peace and serenity in North Salem at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden. Look at the fine galleries or make a reservation for a garden party-style lunch under its tent. The entrance fee is $5 for adults.
Sneak away from the office on a Wednesday afternoon and head over to Grace Church on Church Street in White Plains. No, not for Mass, silly; you can do that on Sunday. Instead, catch one of the free 30-minute concerts held every Wednesday from September to May.
Visit the award-winning Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Pleasantville. It has tours and free tastings of its beer on Fridays and Saturdays.
So find the pretty neighborhoods on Mapquest, unearth those running shoes, and plan to be gone all day—unlike gas, walking is always free.
// Ben Brody