With 13 acres of prime waterfront, Manor Park is like a mini version of Newport’s impressive Cliff Walk. The park’s sweeping swath of striated rocks is fully accessible at low tide, so even the smallest child can negotiate the flat walkable rocks to search for marine life in the temporary tide pools. Gulls and cormorants swoop overhead. Sailboats bob in the breeze. Most charming of all are the benches carved into the actual rocks where one can while away the hours, no matter the season. Manor Park is privately owned, but is open to the public from dawn to dusk.
From swirly marble benches and intricately carved chairs to a circular group of white stone stools looking a lot like chess pieces, The Sculpture Meadow, with works by local artists, is a stone interpretation of rooms in a house. Pick your abode and settle in for arresting views of the George Washington Bridge, the Manhattan skyline, and the green Palisades. A stone embankment surrounds the walkway—and it’s great for scaling rocks and getting even closer to the water. Charming lampposts light the way along this lovely addition to an up-and-coming town.
There’s a snack bar, changing rooms, rest-rooms, and a grassy park with 11 rolling acres, all with water views. Then there’s the beach itself for strolling, sunning, swimming, and watching the seabirds. And if you want a little more action, the roller coaster and rides at Rye Playland are right around the bend. Oakland Beach is open year-round.
The walk begins on a wooded path where huge, decomposing trees make wonderful balancing walkways for kids. Sculpted formations of branches give this section a wondrous, storybook feel. Wooden walkways take you over little streams to a huge meadow with tall grasses and a view of the historic Jay House. On a warm summer day, the meadow smells of the season. Breathe it in as you make your way down to an intersection at which two different paths lead to the water across a salt marsh that often is filled with scurrying crabs, tall waving grasses, and views that make you feel you are miles away from Westchester. At the shoreline, there’s a bench to rest on, rocks to climb on, and a pretty view across the water to several Rye yacht clubs. Enjoy Marshlands Conservancy, but as the staff there will tell you, take only your memories. This piece of heaven—and every leaf, stick, and stone inside it—should be left exactly as is. Open dawn to dusk 365 days a year; entrance is free.