By John Bruno Turiano
Exploring and playing in Westchester‘s outdoors, from the lakes and nature centers of south county to the preserves, farms, and trailways of north county.
The longest of the four connected rail-trails repurposed from the defunct New York Central Railroad’s Putnam Division line, this 22.1-mile section runs from Eastview in Mount Pleasant to the Putnam County border. It’s part of a paved 40-plus-mile bike path stretching from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to Carmel in Putnam County—to the south it connects with the South County Trailway and to the north the Putnam Trailway. Ride this paved former rail bed with the Saw Mill River Parkway on your right and woodlands on the left. Enjoy gorgeous views of the Croton Reservoir along the way.
Multiple entry & exit points (914) 865-7275;
visit parks.westchester.gov for more detailed information
A dairy farm owned by the Hopkins family until 1967, when Westchester County purchased the property, Muscoot has since been used to preserve and interpret the agricultural, cultural, and natural heritage of a Westchester County farm, circa 1880 to 1930. Farm animals, numbering approximately 125, are the main attraction—cows, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, pigs, horses, and donkeys. Also popular are hayrides and seasonal events like Sheep Shearing and Meet the Baby Animals in May or the Autumn Celebration and Halloween’s Boo Walk in the fall.
51 Rte 100, Katonah (914) 864-7282;
Three hundred feet high and 1,843 feet long, the the dam was completed in 1915 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It forms a magnificent backdrop for the park at its base, which includes paths and picnic areas. A popular spot for concerts, heritage celebrations, a Winter Wonderland event, and this magazine’s Wine & Food Festival, it‘s also the home of the The Rising, the county’s 9/11 memorial.
1 Bronx River Pkwy, Valhalla (914) 231-4033;
On the shores of the Long Island Sound sits this 280-acre Art Deco amusement park opened in 1928. There are a variety of attractions, from full-scale thrill rides (the Dragon Coaster is the most famous) to the ever-popular Kiddyland to a Ferris wheel. It also has a boardwalk, ice rink, beach, and pool. (There’s also an adjacent children’s museum and wildlife sanctuary.) Owned and operated by the county (though plans are underway to transfer management of the park to Standard Amusements by March 31, 2016), Playland is open from May to September. Check out the calendar of events for fireworks, concerts, and more.
100 Playland Pkwy, Rye (914) 813-7010;
Charters, rentals, and lessons are offered at this school operating at Haverstraw Bay, the widest section of the Hudson River. Don’t know the difference between a mainsail and a jib? Beginners are welcome at Croton Sailing, where lessons for all skill levels are offered on 24-foot Rainbow sailboats. Adults can register for lessons where most classes are just two to three people. Children and teens ages 9 to 15 can do the same or enroll in EAST Sailing Academy, the school’s summer camp, to learn small-boat sailing and racing.
2 Elliot Way, Croton-on-Hudson (914) 271-6868;