Grown-up pleasures in the Rivertowns include romantic estates, artsy downtowns, sumptuous restaurants, and intimate entertainment venues. What’s not to love?
In a region packed with art-filled old-money estates, one little house in Hastings-on-Hudson deserves a viewing. Ever Rest (49 Washington St 914-478-7990; www.newingtoncropsey.com) was home to Jasper Cropsey, a prolific Hudson River School artist and architect from Staten Island who moved to Hastings in 1885. The charming Carpenter Gothic home is filled with period décor, mementos, and Cropsey-designed furniture, but the highlight is the studio Cropsey designed and built, a soaring temple to the creative spirit. Below the house, tucked away under the Warburton Bridge just off the commuter parking lots, the Newington-Cropsey Art Gallery showcases hundreds of Cropsey’s pastoral paintings. Constructed in 1994, the Gothic Revival-style gallery building only looks like it’s been there for 100 years. Its lovely gardens are open to the public on weekday afternoons, but Ever Rest and the gallery are open for free tours on weekdays only, by appointment.
The industrial-chic Village of Hastings is a little bit Brooklyn and a whole lot of fun, especially on weekends. Start by browsing the vintage goods at the Hastings Flea near the train station (www.hastingsflea.com), held the second Sunday of every month from April to November. Stroll uphill for brunch at Saint George Bistro (155 Southside Ave 914-478-1671; www.saintgeorgebistro.com). From there, shop for antiques, funky gifts and clothes, organic candy, vintage vinyl, and gluten- and dairy-free cupcakes. End your excursion with an early dinner at burger-centric The Prime (19 Main St 914-478-1147; www.theprimeamericangrille.com) or BYOB New American Juniper (575 Warburton Ave 914-478-2542; www.juniperhastings.com) and live music at The Purple Crayon, a performance space in a renovated church (52 Main St 914-231-9077; www.purplecrayoncenter.org).
The Irvington Town Hall is a 1902 Colonial Revival gem where the police department shares space with a spectacular Tiffany-designed reading room and an equally lovely 432-seat theater on its third floor. Patterned after Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, the Irvington Town Hall Theater (85 Main St 914-591-6602; www.irvingtontheater.com) features an ever-shifting cast of shows, from musicals by the resident Clocktower Players, film festivals, cabaret nights, and Irvington Stage Door, a reading series of new works destined for Manhattan stages. Before the show, enjoy dinner at any one of the restaurants within walking distance of the theater, including Italian at Mima Vinoteca (63 Main St 914-591-1300; www.mimarestaurant.com), Indian at Chutney Masala Indian Bistro (4 W Main St 914-591-5500; www.chutneymasala.com), and stone-fired pizza at Stone Fire (76 Main St 914-591-5800; www.stonefireirvington.com).
Croton Point Park is home to the annual Clearwater Festival, the Pete Seeger-founded multi-stage event celebrating the Hudson and raising funds for environmental causes.
Lyndhurst, the Gothic Revival masterpiece in Tarrytown (635 S Broadway 914-631-4481; www.lyndhurst.org), is famous for its twice-yearly craft shows, but romance is its stock in trade. After touring the limestone manor house, which was constructed in the mid-19th century (its most famous owner was Wall Street robber baron Jay Gould), stroll the gardens, catch a sunset jazz concert or lecture, or tour the vast greenhouse (once the nation’s largest). Christmas here is a Dickens dream come true. If all this romance goes to your head—or her ring finger—you can even have your wedding here.
The Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown (400 Benedict Ave 914-631-1980; www.castlehotelandspa.com) is the grandest place to stay in the Rivertowns, if not all of Westchester. Several years ago, Japanese owners gave the hotel property a multimillionaire facelift, with clean, elegant European décor and 31 sumptuous rooms and suites. A stay doesn’t come cheap—the Tower Suites start at $1,200 per night—but for special occasions, why skimp? The Castle also boasts the only THANN Sanctuary Spa in the US. Book a couple’s massage in the VIP suite, or a private yoga class or a day package. Complete your stay with a three-course brunch at Equus, the hotel’s top-flight restaurant. Better yet, you’re only a short drive away from Tarrytown’s bustling restaurants, bars and the famous Music Hall.
Wings made from soda can pop tabs is but one of the imaginative pieces on display at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art.
Croton Point Park (1A Croton Point Ave, 914-862-5290; parks.westchestergov.com/croton-point-park) is best known for the annual Clearwater Festival, but if you want to go out on the river, this is the place. Hudson River Recreation (914-682-5135; www.kayakhudson.com) offers standup paddle-boarding (SUP) lessons and kayak rentals at the beach. While the swimming area is teeming with little kids, you can be paddling out on open water, enjoying the view. Hudson River Recreation also offers lessons and rentals at Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown Lakes. For romance on the river, book a Moonlight or Sunset Tour.
Housed in an unassuming warehouse, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill (170 Main St 914-788-0100; www.hvcca.org) feels like a small-scale DIA:Beacon inside. The big, white space is filled with provocative, clever, and breathtaking conceptual art (yep, that’s a giant pair of angel wings made from thousands of soda can pop tabs) that challenge our notions of social, sexual, and moral life in the 21st century. Try to go the first weekend in June, when artists open their lofts to visitors for Open Studios weekend (www.peekskillartists.org). End your artsy day with drinks, dinner, and live music at 12 Grapes (12 N Division St 914-737-6624; www.12grapes.com) or Hudson Room (23 S Division St 914-788-3663; www.hudsonroom.com) or sample the craft beers at Peekskill Brewery (47-53 S Water St 914-734-2337; www.peekskillbrewery.com), sponsor of the popular Hudson Hop and Harvest waterfront festival in October.
Finally: Is it happy hour yet? You can’t beat sipping cocktails while drinking in the rosy sky at sunset. In Yonkers, Peter Kelly’s X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (71 Water Grant St 914-965-1111; www.xaviars.com), housed in the historic Victorian pier, pours Martinis with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Palisades. In Irvington, the rooftop bar at Red Hat on the River (1 Bridge St 914-591-5888; www.redhatontheriver.com) has sweet breezes and a resort getaway vibe. In Tarrytown, where the river widens and the sky seems to get bigger, Sunset Cove’s tiki bar (238 Green St 914-366-7889) rocks out at happy hour. But the finest views may be in Ossining’s Boathouse Restaurant (800 Westerly Rd 914-923-6466; www.ossiningboathouse.com), where you can sip your drink on an outdoor deck while watching bobbing boats silhouetted against a fierce crimson sky.