One of the county’s least densely populated towns, North Salem is a collection of hamlets best known for tony pursuits like equestrian competitions and fox hunting, and for its famous faces (David Letterman, among others, has called North Salem home). But come September, it’s the quintessential fall escape, with apple picking, leaf peeping, and cozy autumnal cuisine.
It’s not fall until you’ve hit the orchards, and North Salem is the spot to do just that. Start at Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard (130 Hardscrabble Rd; 914.485.1210) for a bag of craggy, still-hot cider donuts. Pick up pies and apple butter at the farm store; find a perfect (or delightfully imperfect) pumpkin in the pick-your-own patch; and grab a few bottles of local hard cider at on-site Hardscrabble Cider. Then make your way across the street to Outhouse Orchards (139 Hardscrabble Rd; 914.277.3188), where Westchester residents have picked bags of McIntosh and Red Delicious for generations.
On your way to lunch, make a quick detour to visit Lift Trucks Project’s Drive By Gallery (3 E Cross St), where a few pieces are always on display in the window, so art-savvy drivers can get in some culture without ever leaving their vehicles.
You can’t go wrong with lunch at local institution The Blazer Pub (440 Rte 22; 914.277.4424). The too-big-to-get-your-mouth-around burgers, cups of rich beef chili, and thick-cut steak fries haven’t changed in 46 years, and that’s exactly the way loyal customers like it. Looking for something a bit lighter? Try Hayfields (1 Bloomer Rd; 914.669.8275) where sandwiches, salads, and wraps share with the menu with slices of juicy fruit pie.
Walk off lunch — and try to snap that perfect shot of the foliage reflected in the water — with a hike around Spruce or Hemlock Lake at Mountain Lakes Park (201 Hawley Rd; 914.864.7312). For something a bit more relaxed, head to the Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden (28 Deveau Rd; 914.669.5033) for a calming walk through the gardens.
Make a quick stop at Balanced Rock (667 Titicus Rd) and marvel at how this 60-ton granite boulder — a local landmark — is perfectly perched atop smaller stones (and come up with your best explanation of how it got there).
Browse the eclectic home décor — everything from furniture, fine art, and tabletop pieces, to nautically inspired wares and unique equestrian finds — at BB Abode (2 Keeler Ln; 914.485.1339) in the historic Union Hall building.
Let cocktail hour bleed into dinner at one of North Salem’s farm-to-table restaurants. It’d be a mistake not to start with a few cocktails and a plate of briny oysters at Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish (100 Titicus Rd; 914.617.8380), where the seafood-and-produce-heavy menu revolves around what’s currently growing on its surrounding four-acre farm. Or choose between the thin-crust pizza and elegantly plated New American cuisine at One Twenty One (2 Dingle Ridge Rd; 914.669.0121) and hope it’s not too chilly to settle into a chair on the charming veranda.