Like never before, people all over are rejoicing in the natural wonder of the Great Outdoors. With Westchester’s 104,000 verdant acres of outdoor space springing back to life — including 18,000 acres of parkland alone — exploring Westchester without walls is sure to be one of the best prescriptions you can give yourself and your family.
Serenity found! Discover an oasis of rich woodland at this wildlife and botanical preserve. Enjoy over five miles of narrow trails, specifically designed so visitors could immerse them-selves in nature’s bounty. With a mission to protect its natural treasures, dogs, bicycles, and motorized vehicles aren’t permitted. Open from Apr 1 through Nov 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
167 Mianus River Rd; mianus.org
The headquarters of Saw Mill River Audubon, Pruyn Sanctuary protects 92 lush acres. While strolling the trails, you’ll encounter mixed habitats. Wander through a boardwalk system that traverses Gedney Swamp — a 57-acre wetland — or witness the splendor of the butterfly-and-hummingbird garden. The Plants for Birds section highlights native flora that benefit wildlife, and the demonstration meadow presents an impressive display of greenery.
275 Millwood Rd; sawmillriveraudubon.org/pruyn.html
Located at the base of the Croton Dam is 97 acres of green space ideal for picnicking, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits. Come winter, the park is a top spot for cross-country skiing and sledding. But every season ensures stunning vistas of the dam and its dramatic 200-foot spillway of cascading waters. The Croton Reservoir has a capacity of approximately 34 billion gallons of water and has a watershed that spans 177 square miles. Croton Gorge Park also offers direct trail access to New York State’s Old Croton Aqueduct.
Rte. 129, 35 Yorktown Rd; parks.westchestergov.com/croton-gorge-park
Set sail! Beyond offering lessons for all ages, Croton Sailing School has rentals and charters. Cruise out of Haverstraw Bay — the widest part of the Hudson River — and you’ll float past the dramatic cliffs of the Palisades Parklands and part of the Hudson Highlands. Hooked? Membership in the Croton Sailing Club ensures the pleasures of boating without the hassle of ownership.
2 Elliott Way; crotonsailing.com
Regardless of the season, there’s plenty to do at Hillside Park. Take a dip in the pool, play tennis, hike, or go fishing. On frosty, winter days, bundle up and ice skate on the pond or indulge in an invigorating winter hike. Adjacent to the park, Hillside Woods attracts a variety of birds, including the scarlet tanager and rose-breasted grosbeak.
Farlane Dr and Hillside Ave; hras.org/wtobird/hillside.html
Recently billed as “Westchester’s Public Garden,” nature enthusiasts will find a 30-acre arboretum boasting lush gardens and brimming with trees, colorful blooms, and shrubs. Cardinals, bluebirds, and woodpeckers are often spotted here. Lasdon Park is also home to rare American chestnut trees, one of the largest lilac collections in the county. There is also a lovely Chinese Friendship Pavilion and Cultural Garden, and history buffs can visit the Westchester County Veterans Museum and Memorial, dedicated to all of the county’s military members who served from the American Revolution through Desert Storm.
2610 Amawalk Rd, Rte 35; lasdonpark.org
Although the beach is only open to Larchmont residents who undergo the application process, all are welcome to spend time at the beautiful, waterfront park. Those in need of a respite from meandering the paths can relax on one of the benches along the way. Due to heightened popularity during the pandemic, it’s wise to get an early start because the parking lot fills up quickly.
108 Park Ave; larchmontmanorpark.org
There’s lots of opportunity for family fun at this green space, which sprawls across nearly 60 acres. Entertain the kids at the playground, engage in child-friendly activities, participate in a nature walk, or pitch in at the annual cleanup event. After exploring the woods, lay a blanket by the pond and curl up with a book.
685 Weaver St; sheldrakecenter.org
A saltwater beach is among the top attractions at Harbor Island Park. Before splashing around, work up a sweat by playing tennis, soccer, or baseball at the facilities. In addition to the water-side pavilion, there’s a fun spray park and play area. A public boat launch and fishing dock are available.
123 Mamaroneck Ave; village.mamaroneck.ny.us
Nature buffs are enticed by this three-mile stretch of coastline along Long Island Sound. A fusion of seaside waters, marsh, wooded wetlands and uplands, vernal pool, and edge habitats make this a significant haven for marine life, insects, migratory birds, and beyond. More than 100 bird species have been recorded here. Get a good workout in at the ¾-mile loop.
Taylors Ln; westchesterlandtrust.org
There’s plenty to do at this waterfront park overlooking the Hudson River. Hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, and boating are a few ways to enjoy some leisure time here. Birdwatchers flock to the park during the winter, since it’s a favored spot for watching eagles soar the skies. A trail network links to the Hudson River Greenway.
Dutch St; parks.westchestergov.com/georges-island-park
Play Frisbee in the grassy area or listen to the sounds of water lapping at sunbather’s beach. An idyllic place for walks, entertaining the kiddies at the play area, and dining alfresco, on-site perks include barbecue pits, an outdoor amphitheater, and a fishing dock. A pedestrian bridge links Little Harrison Island and Big Harrison Island with Oakwood Island.
LeFevre Ln; newrochelleny.com
Take to the foot trails, frolic in the open meadows, or plant some seeds at the Ward Acres Community Garden, which fosters a sense of unity while growing veggies and feeding the hungry. Registration is required. With a Ward Acres dog permit, pooch parents may let Fido run free at the Paws Place pup park.
Quaker Ridge Rd and Sussex Rd; newrochelleny.com/facilities/facility/details/wardacres-18
Experience all the sensory nuances of a Japanese garden as you ramble its carefully orchestrated paths. With a shared mission to promote global awareness and understanding, the museum and gardens intermarry Eastern and Western cultures. Check hours and times before visiting or drop in on curator Bibiana Huang Matheis’ monthly virtual exhibitions on the first Saturday of every month.
28 Deveau Rd; hammondmuseum.org
This lakeside preserve features 15 miles of all-season trails. Journey over to Wildflower Island, home to 280 species of blooms, trees, and more. Access to the island was restricted during COVID-19, so check in before planning your visit. On-site programs include outdoor activities, classes, and lectures. The “Animal Ambassadors” are always eager to teach the community about critters.
1600 Spring Valley Rd; teatown.org
Stroll or sprint along the 12-mile linear park that runs from Ossining to Peekskill’s Blue Mountain Reservation. The unpaved pathway offers a view of the falling waters of the Croton Dam spillway and a glimpse of the Hudson River from atop the 560-foot-high Spitzenberg Mountain.
Multiple on & off points; visitwestchesterny.com/things-to-do/outdoors/trailways/briarcliff-peekskill-trailway
Spend some time by the river at this lovely park, which is set against the backdrop of the Hudson Highlands. Picnic, kayak, or listen to the sweet sound of your children laughing as they romp around the play area. Easy to access, the park is a quick walk from the Peekskill Metro-North station.
50 Hudson Ave; cityofpeekskill.com
Ultimately, the RiverWalk is a planned 51.5-mile pathway that will run along-side the Rivertowns of the Hudson in Westchester. Upon expected completion, trails, esplanades, and boardwalks will unite village centers, historic sites, and access points at various parks and waterways. Currently spanning 14 municipalities, the RiverWalk features nearly 40 miles that are publically accessible.
This scenic area sits on property once home to the Pocantico Hills and Rockwood Hall estates of the John D. Rockefeller family and William Rockefeller. Its 45 miles of carriage roads are suitable for walking, jogging, and carriage driving. Meander through forested hills, valleys, and pastoral fields. Visit Swan Lake and the Pocantico River, which is dotted with bridges and gurgling streams. For a glimpse of the Hudson and Palisade cliffs, retreat to Rockwood Hall. The park offers fun events, too, like stargazing, historical tours, themed walks, and plein-air painting.
125 Phelps Way; parks.ny.gov/PARKS/59
Explore an array of habitats at this wildlife sanctuary, which features a half-mile of shoreline along the Long Island Sound and three miles of trails. Witness the scenery shift from coast and salt marsh to forests and meadows. Due to the conservancy’s location along the Atlantic migratory flyway, more than 230 bird species have been sighted here.
220 Boston Post Rd; https://parks.westchestergov.com/marshlands-conservancy
Revelers of all ages have been flocking to the iconic Playland since 1928 for its good old-fashioned fun. Beyond its family-friendly Kiddyland section and thrilling Crazy Mouse, Double Shot, Sky Flyer, and the newest pulse-pounder, the Dragonator, the Art Deco amusement masterpiece appeals to the leisurely strollers, fitness buffs, and beachgoers who gravitate to the boardwalk, beach, and lake areas. Wander the bamboo grove or trek through deciduous forest at The Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary.
1 Playland Pkwy; playlandpark.org
Learn how to better navigate the outdoors by participating in nature and science-study tours or environmental-education opportunities, such as preschool programs, after-school classes, and summer camps. Offering over two miles of hiking trails, this forest-and-wildlife sanctuary also has ponds and streams.
873 Boston Post Rd; ryenaturecenter.org
Since 1908, Rye Town Park has been a favorite spot for beachgoers. During summer weekends, splash around, or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard on-site through Hudson River Recreation. Off-season, enjoy free cultural events, from story-times to concerts, movie nights, outdoor performances, beach clean-ups, and the Fall Festival.
95 Dearborn Ave; townofryeny.com
Nature reigns at this center, which has a barn-yard filled with roaming sheep, goats, and chickens. A seasonal organic garden, pond, and meadow are also on-site. Many non-releasable, native New York birds of prey are cared for on the center’s premises. While there, trek unpaved trails embellished by wildflowers or explore the wigwam and dugout canoe at the Native American Replica Village.
99 Dromore Rd; greenburghnaturecenter.org
Since 1958, this serene spot has been luring outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, picnicking, and observing critters. Home to graceful deer, woodchucks, woodpeckers, slithery snakes, and leaping frogs, the grounds also have a sanctuary that cares for rescued squirrels that were orphaned or injured. Trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset.
455 Mamaroneck Rd; weinbergnaturecenter.org
Situated on the eastern shore of the Hudson River in the village of Sleepy Hollow, Kingsland Point Park offers magnificent vistas from its overlook areas. Take in spectacular views of the mighty river, historic Tarrytown Lighthouse, and beyond. Picnic areas, ball-fields, hiking, fishing, and playgrounds are all available at this fun spot.
299 Palmer Ave; parks.westchestergov.com/kingsland-point-park
Once regarded as the “Old Put,” this former railroad line provided passenger-and-freight service between the Bronx and Putnam County from 1881 to 1958. Reimagined as an outdoors destination, the North County Trailway features a paved pedestrian/bike trail that stretches 22.1 miles and is part of a longer trail that extends more than 40 miles.
Multiple entry & exit points; visitwestchesterny.com
A three-mile, twin-span crossway, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge connects Rockland and Westchester counties. Crossing one of the widest parts of the Hudson River, it’s regarded as the longest bridge in New York State. Runners, bikers, and walkers are invited to enjoy the 12-foot-wide, shared-use path, which claims to be the longest of its kind in the entire nation. Located on the northern side of the westbound span, The Path boasts six scenic overlooks, interpretive displays, and public artwork created by New York talents. The path offers panoramic vistas of Westchester, Rockland, and the majestic river. It’s also ideal for strollers who yearn to revel in its picturesque views.
Rte 9 (Broadway) & I-287; mariomcuomobridge.ny.gov
Soaring 307 feet into the sky and spanning 1,843 feet, this dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Festivities include concerts, fitness classes, cultural celebrations, outdoor films, and Westchester Magazine’s famous Wine & Food Festival. In addition to the fitness course, picnic spaces, trails, nature study, and in-line skating, it’s home to The Rising 9/11 memorial.
1 Bronx River Pkwy; parks.westchestergov.com/kensico-dam-plaza
Ebersole Ice Rink is the main attraction of this 18-acre park, which boasts tennis courts, a paddle-tennis wall, baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, a playground, and grills. There’s no need to head out when the sun dips down, the skating rink, tennis courts, and baseball fields are all illuminated after dark.
110 Lake St; cityofwhiteplains.com/facilities/facility/details/Delfino-Park-37
Hikers, cross-country skiers, and horseback riders practice their sports and hone their skills at this 700-acre park. An ideal family destination, it has a pool, children’s aquatic playground, and picnic areas. The grounds are also home to the 18-hole Maple Moor Golf Course and a mini-golf course for the wee ones.
1800 Mamaroneck Ave; parks.westchestergov.com/saxon-woods-park
Pay your respects at Ribbons of Remembrance — a new display dedicated to Westchester residents who lost their lives to COVID-19. Find some solitude at the 40-acre preserve, which has sugar maple trees, red oaks, hemlocks, firs, and ginkgoes. Formerly home to two estates, Lenoir also draws birdwatchers and features a butterfly garden and dragonfly pond.
19 Dudley St; parks.westchestergov.com/lenoir-preserve
This oasis offers an escape from city life. Explore its woodlands, tranquil lakes, playing fields, playgrounds, and swimming complex. On a steamy day, glide down the water slide or cool off at the spray playground. Play some ball at the in-pool basketball or volleyball net, swim the lap lanes or just float the day away at “lazy river.” Year-round activities are offered.
355 Midland Ave; parks.westchestergov.com/tibbetts-brook-park