The Quick Guide to Westchester’s Communities

Hamlets of Katonah, Bedford Village, and Bedford Hills
Bedford is one of the most affluent communities in the nation. Well-kept Colonial residences remain in Bedford Village, which also features such historical structures as the old schoolhouse and 1787 Court House. The hub of the 39-square-mile town is Bedford Hills, with its Metro-North train station surrounded by businesses and restaurants. Grand estates and horse farms are found in the outlying areas. The hamlet of Katonah, known for its collection of Queen Anne and Victorian houses, has a lovely downtown, with boutiques, galleries, and cafés. Bedford also offers a new age experience, including wellness consultants, astrologers, numerologists, and reflexologists. Popular cultural spots are the Katonah Museum of Art and the Caramoor performing arts center.

Villages of Croton-on-Hudson and Buchanan
Scenic beauty stems from 15 miles of riverfront overlooking the Hudson Highlands, reservoirs, woodlands, wetlands, and more than 2,000 acres of parks and preserves. Croton-on-Hudson is the larger and wealthier village. Buchanan has a small business district, but most of its 1.4 square miles are made up of single-family houses tucked away on quiet streets. Indian Point power plant is the area’s chief source of revenue. Residents enjoy concerts and events in the riverside parks, relaxing afternoons at the Croton Point Park beach, or a paddle trip down the Croton River. Other attractions include Van Cortlandt Manor and the Croton Dam, the second-largest, hand-built, stone structure in the world.

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Villages of Tuckahoe and Bronxville
Eastchester’s open spaces, award-winning schools, numerous recreational outlets, and proximity to Manhattan provide the perfect environment for families working hard and playing hard. Downtown Bronxville has a lot of charm, too, with boutiques, restaurants, and a movie theater. With nine boutiques and additional retailers, Bronxville is a walkable alternative to car-oriented shopping centers. The village of Tuckahoe has been described as the best-kept secret of Westchester, combining a small-town vibe with contemporary luxuries.

Villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, and Tarrytown
Situated on the Hudson River, the villages of Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, and Tarrytown feature inviting downtown areas with Victorian buildings that house shops and galleries. Dobbs Ferry offers a variety of entertainment options with an artistic bent. The village boasts several opportunities to explore the outdoors, too: Hikers and bikers love the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway. Hastings-on-Hudson is a history-lover’s dream come true, since the entire village has been turned into a living museum. Starting downtown in Boulanger Plaza, historical walking tour features more than 30 locations. In Irvington, handsomely restored factory buildings now house up-market businesses and restaurants, while the four-acre Scenic Hudson Park has ball fields and playgrounds. Tarrytown, with its views of the Tappan Zee Bridge and picturesque lighthouse, has a main street full of small shops and businesses. Tarrytown Music Hall offers concerts and performances. The one-square-mile village of Elmsford has industrial and business parks, malls, a multiplex cinema, and eateries. Slightly larger in size (but not population), the village of Ardsley boasts a small commercial district, championship golf course, and beautiful views of the Hudson from Ardsley Country Club. Greenburgh’s Central Avenue entertainment options include tennis courts, parks, nature preserves, swimming pools, a fitness center, and free programs frequently offered by the local Arts and Culture Committee.

Hamlet of Purchase
The Platinum Mile—a stretch of Interstate 287 that runs through Harrison—is the site of posh corporate offices. Meanwhile, the hamlet of Purchase has some of the highest-priced real estate in the county. In addition, the 500-acre campus of Purchase College offers cultural riches, such as the Neuberger Museum of Art and the Performing Arts Center. The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden at PepsiCo’s headquarters, when available in mid-2015, will provide a chance to see magnificent works of art in a beautifully landscaped setting.

Hamlets of Goldens Bridge, Cross River, Waccabuc, South Salem, Lewisboro, and Vista
With its parks, woodlands, preserves, reservoir, seven lakes, and low population density, Lewisboro is the epitome of country living. The area is largely residential, with many styles of single-family houses as well as newer homes at more affordable rates than in other parts of the county. Locals nowadays meet at county fairs, arts and crafts shows, and the town park, where there’s a playground, a picnic pavilion, basketball and tennis courts, a ball field, and a pool.

Villages of Mamaroneck and Larchmont
Sailing and water sports enthusiasts have a common love for Mamaroneck, which rests on a stretch of Long Island Sound coastline. Hiking trails and golf courses provide landlubbers ways to enjoy the outdoors, and there are plenty of shops, galleries, bistros, and cafés downtown. An attractive village of up-market condominiums called Sweetwater (a loose translation of the word “Mamaroneck”) is near the train station, offering the convenience of an easy commute to Manhattan.

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Mount Kisco
It’s not only a commuters’ hub, but also a magnet for shoppers and diners. Mount Kisco’s downtown district mixes chain stores with a multitude of boutiques, specialty shops, and antiques stores. More than 40 eateries, from posh restaurants to a popular Main Street diner, serve all kinds of fare. A major draw is the Grand Prix go-kart track and conference center, which also offers bowling, an arcade, and an arts garage offering everything from pottery and beading to glass fusing and cupcake design.

Mount Pleasant
Villages of Sleepy Hollow and Pleasantville; hamlets of Hawthorne, Pocantico Hills, Thornwood, and Valhalla
True to its name, Mount Pleasant has a lot to offer inhabitants of the villages and hamlets found amid its rolling countryside. Hawthorne and Thornwood are mainly residential, apart from a few executive parks. Victorian-style lamps light downtown streets.  The Rising, a visually stunning memorial to the 109 Westchester residents who died during terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, sits in Kensico Dam Plaza, a 98-acre park popular for hiking, picnics, concerts, and festivals.

Mount Vernon
Served by three parkways, two subway trains and three railroad lines, Mount Vernon offers easy commuting to and from New York City, a fact that probably accounts for the long list of notables who have lived here. It has also been used as a backdrop for several movies and TV shows. Willson’s Woods Park is home to the 23-acre aquatic wonderland Willson’s Waves, which has a wave pool, two 18-foot water slides, a spray deck, and a water playground. The park also offers fishing and picnicking.

New Castle
Hamlets of Chappaqua and Millwood
From its simple origins as a Quaker farming community, New Castle has gradually evolved into one of Westchester’s most exclusive townships. Light industry flourished for a while, with manufacturers turning out shoes, hardware, furniture, and eyeglasses. More than one-third of New Castle’s 24 square miles are residential, with homes ranging from charming, 18th-century stone cottages to attractive condos and townhouses. Plenty of open space and a 150-acre public golf course add to the otherwise suburban vibe.

New Rochelle
Downtown is where it’s happening in New Rochelle, a first-tier suburb of New York City with its own vibrant city life, as well as desirable neighborhoods. The walkable downtown, filled with restaurants and shops, boasts a central commons, Library Green. Just steps away is the Grand Market, which features farm-fresh products, an enhanced selection of gourmet items and specialty foods, and an al fresco dining area. New Rochelle’s beautiful residential areas are intermingled with pockets of neighborhood commerce and light industrial areas. The kid-centric neighborhood of Beechmont is known for its emphasis on education and families.

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North Castle
Hamlets of Armonk, Banksville, and North White Plains
Armonk is the place for food lovers to find themselves, for within this hamlet is an eclectic range of food industries, ranging from restaurants using only Hudson Valley farm ingredients to organic wineries. Banksville has higher-priced homes together with a rural ambiance, while more modest single- and two-family houses can be found in North White Plains.

North Salem
Hamlets of Purdys, Croton Falls, and Peach Lake
With so many horse farms, riding trails, and national equestrian events, there may be some truth to the idea that more horses than people live in pastoral North Salem. A few restaurants are found in the hamlet of Croton Falls, along with the Schoolhouse Theater, which presents readings and plays. Another cultural favorite is the Hammond Museum, with exhibits of Asian art and a three-acre Japanese Stroll Garden.

Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor
One of Westchester’s more affordable towns, Ossining was once a busy port community. Retail districts, mini-malls, and the crescent-shaped downtown area now serve shoppers and diners. Several Victorian buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. On the waterfront, a public-private plan to transform four acres of once-industrial space into recreational and residential property has resulted in a public boat launch, canoe club, and other amenities. The Village of Ossining is the place for architecture junkies in Westchester. Briarcliff Manor recreational opportunities are found amid 180 acres of parkland and open space, as well as on the fairways of the swanky Trump National Golf Club.

The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Arts, Peekskill’s large exhibit space showcasing all kinds of modern works, is emblematic of how this small riverside city is enjoying a rebirth. Once-boarded-up industrial buildings now provide living and workspace for artists. Galleries, boutiques, and cafés add a decidedly artsy, urban air downtown. Along the waterfront, high-priced condominiums have been snapped up amid ambitious revitalization projects. Riverfront Green Park has a children’s playground and lovely views of the Hudson Highlands, while the 60-acre Depew Park has basketball and tennis courts, horseshoes, and bocce ball, as well as a pond and trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor­
Pelham has all the friendly ambiance of a small town together with the benefits of suburbia. Its wedge-shaped, two-and-a-half square miles include a commercial district, a small waterfront, and all sorts of shops and restaurants downtown. In the residential neighborhoods are Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, and Mediterranean-style houses, many built in the 1920s. A few signs of the town’s long history remain, including the 1843 Christ Church and two 18th-century houses linked to the Pell family. Among Pelham’s cultural attractions is the restored 1921 Pelham Picture House (motto: “Life. Art. Popcorn.”). It now shows “the best in independent and classic cinema.”

Pound Ridge
About one-third of the residents of this affluent northeast Westchester town are weekenders, as Pound Ridge is known as an ideal retreat. Pound Ridge Reservation, with its meadows, wetlands, ravines, and woods, occupies a large portion of the town’s 23 square miles, and 88 acres of the Mianus River Gorge Preserve also fall within its boundaries. The Town Park offers 40 acres of ball fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, and picnic areas.

City of Rye
Set on Long Island Sound, the City of Rye has a protected harbor, rolling hills, tree-lined streets, and established residential neighborhoods. Waterfront mansions overlook country clubs and marinas along the 14-mile coastline. Open space includes the Marshlands Conservancy and the Rye Nature Center, which features a bird sanctuary. Art exhibits and theatrical and musical performances take place at the Rye Arts Center, housed in a Colonial building. But Rye’s most famous landmark is the 1928 amusement park Playland, which survived a blow from Hurricane Sandy that destroyed its boardwalk. During the 2013 season, visitor’s were able to enjoy Playland’s art-deco buildings and more than 50 rides. A children’s museum is expected to open at the amusement park in 2015.

Town of Rye
Villages of Port Chester and Rye Brook
This eclectic “Restaurant Capital of Westchester” has come a long way from its start 300 years ago as a tiny community revolving around a sawmill. A rebirth was sparked by the arrival of newcomers who opened small businesses, specialty shops, and eateries. Today, the Waterfront at Port Chester complex beside Byram River draws crowds to its multiplex movie theater and well-known stores. New residential construction includes an upscale apartment complex that is convenient to all of the village’s amenities. Lakes, beaches, golf courses, parks, country clubs, and a Youth Theater provide leisure-time opportunities.

Spacious homes on landscaped grounds predominate Scarsdale, although a few upscale co-ops are a favorite of professionals making the 35-minute commute to Manhattan. Aptly described as “A Village in a Park,” Scarsdale’s six-and-a-half square miles include 167 acres of parkland and nature preserves. Ball fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, an open-air swimming pool, two golf courses, and an equestrian center provide plenty of opportunity for recreation. During summer, art exhibits and other events on the common give locals a chance to mingle.

The town retains a country feel, with miles of open meadows and woodlands. Lasdon Park Arboretum is a popular spot year-round, offering 234 acres of beautiful scenery, gardens, and trails. Muscoot Farm, which dates back to the 1880s, is a functioning restoration with animals, hiking trails, milking demonstrations, hayrides, and a chance to stroll through the original, 100-year-old barns. Reis Park has ball fields, tennis courts, and a playground. The historic 654-acre Angle Fly Preserve, found right in the middle of town, provides a range of recreational activities.

White Plains
White Plains is home to several large corporations. More than 1,000 retail establishments range from select boutiques to large indoor malls. The Westchester, an enormous plaza with statues, fountains, and palm trees, houses some 150 fine stores, including Neiman Marcus and Tiffany, as well as popular new-technology providers such as Apple and Microsoft. The Galleria offers a shopping experience that accommodates all budgets, with two department stores and 130 specialty shops and restaurants. Shoppers can also patronize City Center, a residential-entertainment-shopping complex with popular chains and a 15-theater multiplex. There is also a sizeable library with a 300,000-book collection. With dozens of sports bars in the area, “game day” brings plenty of patrons. For sporting events, lectures, concerts, and trade shows, the 3,000-seat Westchester County Center is a willing host.

Covering more than 18 square miles, by far the largest of Westchester’s cities, this “City of Vision” is enjoying the fruits of a multi-million-dollar makeover of its downtown and four-and-a-half-mile waterfront. Though among Westchester’s most densely populated cities, Yonkers has one of the lowest crime rates of any city its size in the nation Housing is a mix of high-rises, luxury towers, townhouses, lovely Victorian homes, and more modest, city-style houses. There are also condominiums and apartments by the Hudson River, which serves as a beautiful backdrop for attractions year-round, including Recreational Pier, the Hudson River Museum, the Trevor Park amphitheater, Andrus Planetarium, and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. More than 100 parks and playgrounds offer people a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The conveniences of modern living are balanced with rich historical heritage and scenic beauty in this town that lives by the motto “progress with preservation.” Woodlands and farmland make up much of the town’s idyllic 40 square miles, while each hamlet from Mohegan Lake to Yorktown Heights boasts its own business district with major retailers, specialty boutiques, and many restaurants. Parks such as Teatown Lake Reservation and Crom Pond provide excellent opportunities to fish, boat, and socialize. Turkey Mountain, a 125-acre preserve, offers views of the New York City skyline and Bear Mountain. There is also a museum, a 600-seat amphitheater, two 18-hole public golf courses, and, in late summer, “Westchester’s only true county fair.” Reasonably priced, single-family homes have long brought working families to the town, while recent construction includes ritzier housing. Shrub Oak, a walking community, features a high-achieving school system, Shrub Oak Memorial Park, and the treasured J.C. Hart Library.

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