Westchester’s Artistic Venues Are Hubs for Creativity and Culture

With venues varying from performance spaces, museums, and galleries to historic locations, Westchester is a one-stop shop for things to do.

Bedford

Bedford Playhouse

Bedford Playhouse exploded on the scene with appearances by the likes of Kerry Kennedy, Clive Davis, Glenn Close, Paul Schrader, and Chazz Palminteri. Today, three theaters, a café, and the Tasting Room turn movie releases, music performances, speaker events, and more into unforgettable experiences. The playhouse’s Summer Series includes viewing alfresco. 633 Old Post Rd; bedfordplayhouse.org

Chappaqua

Ars Antiqua

This period-instrument ensemble comprises some of America’s finest baroque music specialists, offering dynamic performances that receive both critical and popular acclaim. The core ensemble explores 17th- and 18th-century music yet expands to include guest artists in performances of larger-scale Baroque repertoire. The programs, which are held at the Gothic-style Church of St. Mary the Virgin, often feature a guest speaker and an illustrated program book. 191 S Greeley Ave; ars-antiqua.org

Chappaqua Performing Arts Center

Ensconced in the former home of Reader’s Digest, ChappPAC, as it’s known to locals, boasts a 425-seat venue to promote a unique blend of national, regional, and local artistic and cultural events. Comedian Robert Klein, singers Edwin McCain, Rickie Lee Jones, Jessica Lynn, and the Off Center Dance Theatre are just some of the gifted artists who have appeared there. Expect to also find other dance troupes, masterclasses, film screenings, and panel discussions about topics of global relevance. 480 Bedford Rd; chappaquapac.org

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Croton-On-Hudson

The Edge VR

Croton-on-Hudson’s The Edge VR offers an exhilarating alternative to everyday video games. Proprietary magnetic tracking combined with wireless streaming, lightweight full-body tracking, and physically interactive props allow the gamer to be fully immersed in an exciting multiplayer experience. Players become a part of a storyline, narrated by a staffer who administers rules and advice throughout the game. Participants can even select their own avatars for the next-level adventures and visualize themselves, head-to-toe, as their chosen characters. 33 N Riverside Ave; theedgeunreal.com

Dobbs Ferry

LOOK Dine-In Cinema

New to Dobbs in 2022, this 32,000-square-foot high-tech cinema aims to combine a luxury dining experience with the comfort (you’ll love the premium-quality leather recliners!) and affordability of a community cinema. Order some craft cocktails, wine, or beer to wash down a robust menu that ranges from snacks and shareables, pizzas, sandwiches, and wraps to seven different mains, desserts, and a kids menu. 1 Hamilton St; lookcinemas.com

Irvington

Irvington Theater

This Classical Revival theater was built in 1902 and modeled after the Ford’s Theatre in Washington. Today, it hosts concerts, plays, dance performances, family shows, and musicals, such as Frozen Jr. and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Other programs include an annual film festival and a series of social justice events. 85 Main St; irvingtontheater.com

Katonah

Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Caramoor presents live music performed by world-renowned artists from classical to jazz, global, opera, and American roots music. The summer festival features 40-plus concerts in the outdoor Venetian Theater, the intimate Spanish Courtyard, gorgeous Sunken Garden, casual Friends Field, and year-round in the Music Room of the historic Rosen House. Come early to explore Caramoor’s 80 acres of landscaped gardens and sound art. Don’t forget the pre-concert picnic before seeing artists like Sutton Foster, Rhiannon Giddens, Richard Goode, Wynton Marsalis, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. 149 Girdle Ridge Rd; caramoor.org

Caramoor
Photo by Gabe Palacio

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site

This historic house and formal estate grounds were once the home of Founding Father John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, the 1800s house, along with an 1820s schoolhouse and an 1830s barn, often host tours, lectures, and special events. Its annual Barn Dance and Herb Fair have been anticipated yearly events, along with the summer farmers’ market. 400 Jay St; johnjayhomestead.org

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Katonah Museum of Art

Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the modernist gray-stucco building that is home to the Katonah Museum of Art, and it is no less impressive within. As a non-collecting institution, the museum offers a wide variety of offerings. Exhibitions have included the work of painter Mark Rothko and quilt artist Bisa Butler, and sculptors Ronald Bladen and Michele Oka Doner. Speaking of sculpture, be sure to check out KMA’s outdoor sculpture garden, mingled among 100-year-old Norwegian spruce trees. 134 Jay St; katonahmuseum.org

Larchmont

Mamaroneck Artists Guild

The Mamaroneck Artists Guild is the oldest artists’ cooperative in the county (founded 1953). Today, the co-op maintains a nonprofit gallery with approximately three-week rotating exhibitions for its hundreds of members to enjoy. After moving around the corner, MAG is looking forward to hosting its recurring children’s workshops, demonstrations, lectures, and yearly Small Works show, as well as a holiday-time art show and sale, with pieces priced for gift giving. 1987 Palmer Ave; mamaroneckartistsguild.org

Mamaroneck

Emelin Theatre

You can find a little of everything at this 275-seat performance-art mainstay. Music performances range from classical to bluegrass, and there are series devoted to theater, comedy, dance, film, and children’s events. Past performers include the grammy-nominated, all-female Mariachi band Flor de Toloache, George Winston, Leo Kottke, and Hollis Brown. 153 Library Ln; emelin.org

Sandbox Theatre

This innovative theater and Best of Westchester winner puts on a few mainstage productions each year, including regional premieres of musicals such as Next to Normal, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Avenue Q. But its real emphasis is on shows, classes, and camps for kids and teens, hosting shows for young people throughout the year. 300 Waverly Ave, 2nd fl; wstshows.com

Mount Kisco

Copland House at Merestead

For the last 30 years of his life, celebrated composer Aaron Copland lived and worked at Rock Hill, a hilltop house in Cortlandt Manor. Copland House, Inc. is the organization charged with keeping his legacy alive, which it does by hosting performances at nearby Merestead, a 130-acre estate with a 26-room Georgian Revival mansion designed by famed architects Delano & Aldrich. Composers such as John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, David Amram, Stephen Schwartz, and Steve Reich have all appeared at Copland House to conduct, play, and/or discuss their work. Lovers of contemporary American music will delight in the crowd-favorite “Late Night With Leonard Bernstein.” 455 Byram Lake Rd; coplandhouse.org

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Katonah Art Center

With more commodious facilities in its new Mount Kisco location, KAC’s focus is on its classes, including its more than 200 visual-arts classes. Students come for instruction in Theatre and Dance Arts (TADA), visual art, music, and even fitness and yoga. There are also special events, such as exhibitions, moonlight jams for adults, and open houses. Parents also can rent out the center for birthday parties. 40-2 Radio Cirle Dr; katonahartcenter.com

Mount Vernon

St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site

St. Paul’s Church is notable for its role in the Revolutionary War, when it served as the site of a wartime hospital after the Battle of Pell’s Point; graves in the church’s cemetery date back to 1704. Today, you can see living-history interpretations, take a tour that climbs a wooden staircase to see the 1758 bronze bell in the church tower, or hear a history lecture or organ concert. 897 S Columbus Ave; nps.gov/sapa

New Rochelle

New Rochelle Museum of Arts & Culture

A program by the Fund for Educational Excellence, The Museum of Arts & Culture at New Rochelle High School stands out as being the only museum in Westchester located on a high school campus. In fact, it’s the only Regents-chartered museum in a school in New York State. Exhibitions often have a local focus, such as the inaugural exhibition centered on Norman Rockwell (who lived in New Rochelle for a time) or another about Ragtime, which included a visit from writer E.L. Doctorow. 265 Clove Rd; nredfund.org/museum

New Rochelle Opera

The New Rochelle Opera was started in the early 1980s by singer Camille Coppola as a way to bring opera to Westchester and foster an appreciation of the live art form. The company continues in that mission today, staging productions of favorites like La Boheme, The Merry Widow, La Traviata, Tosca, and others. PO Box 55; nropera.org

The Symphony of Westchester

This professional orchestra started off as the Westchester Chamber Orchestra and grew until the name no longer applied to the full symphonic works it was presenting in its programming. Guest soloists, like pianist Alon Goldstein, flutist Carol Wincenc, and pianist Adam Kent, have joined founder/artistic director Maestro Barry Charles Hoffman for the symphony’s four-concert season. Performances are held at the Christopher J. Murphy Auditorium at Iona University in New Rochelle. PO Box 207; thesymphonyofwestchester.org

Thomas Paine Cottage Museum

The unassuming white saltbox house in New Rochelle looks like it could belong to any family, but in the early 1800s, it belonged to Thomas Paine, the Revolutionary War author of Common Sense and The American Crisis. Today, it’s set up as a museum, and visitors can learn about 18th-century life and see local historical artifacts. It also hosts a farmers’ market June through November. 20 Sicard Ave; thomaspainecottage.org

North Salem

Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden

The Hammond Museum features a gallery with a rotating series of exhibitions. But the art continues outside on the grounds, where a quaint garden path takes visitors through a variety of landscapes, from a pond with lily pads to a tea garden to a bamboo grove. The garden also hosts special events in addition to its tai chi and yoga classes, including a yearly moon-viewing concert. 28 Deveau Rd; hammondmuseum.org

Schoolhouse Theater

Located in the old Croton Falls elementary-school building, the Schoolhouse Theater is ostensibly the longest-running professional not-for-profit theater in the county, presenting plays like The Crucible, Nora (both of which have also been launched Off-Broadway), and Driving Miss Daisy. The theater also puts on live music productions, art galleries, slam poetry, and other creative programs. 3 Owens Rd; theschoolhousetheater.org

Peekskill

Hudson Valley MOCA

Livia and Marc Straus have turned a massive, 12,000-square-foot former paneling factory into a space for cutting-edge contemporary art. Much of 2019 and 2020 was dedicated to How We Live, an exhibit that used sculpture and video to explore the creativity and production of humanity across a multitude of geographies, cultures, and times. How We Live Part 2 launched in 2021 and is a continuation of exploring humanity through response to the pandemic. Last year saw the return of Through the Eye of the Needle, which showcases handcrafted works that comment on a variety of social issues. The Strauses were included as part of the “Top 100 Collectors in America” by Art & Antiques magazine.1701 Main St; hudsonvalleymoca.org

Various artworks in Address: Earth exhibition
Various artworks in Address: Earth exhibition. Photo by Bibiana Huang Matheis.

Paramount Hudson Valley Theater

Paramount Pictures built this grand all-talkie movie palace in 1930, and it operated for more than 75 years before closing in 2012. But it’s back — rechristened Paramount Hudson Valley. During its reincarnation, it has hosted performers such as Darlene Love, Buddy Guy, Belinda Carlisle, Herman’s Hermits, and Michael McDonald of Steely Dan. There are also a variety of cultural programs, master classes, and fine arts at the theater. 1008 Brown St; paramounthudsonvalley.com

Pelham

Pelham Art Center

The Pelham Art Center regularly hosts free art events that focus on some aspect of world culture. The center also stages exhibitions, classes and workshops, and music concerts.155 Fifth Ave; pelhamartcenter.org

The Picture House Regional Film Center

A group of concerned citizens saved this 1920s theater from the wrecking ball in 2002. Now, it operates as a Pelham-based art-house cinema that specializes in documentaries, international and classic cinema, family films, and notable curated series, such as the Westchester Italian Film Festival. Classes are also offered for students through 12th grade. In 2022, The Picture House expanded, having taken over the former Bow Tie Cinemas in Bronxville, adding three 200-seat theaters in the process. 175 Wolfs Ln; thepicturehouse.org

Pleasantville

Axial Theatre

The Axial Theatre was founded by playwright, director, and acting teacher Howard Meyer with a mission to produce and present new plays. The Theatre presented Meyer’s Radiance, for example, which was a two-time semifinalist at the esteemed O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference. Performances usually take place at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow; there is also the opportunity to take acting classes. St John’s Episcopal Church, 8 Sunnyside Ave; axialtheatre.org

Jacob Burns Film Center

Expect top independent, documentary, and foreign films to play here, often with their directors in tow, ready to answer questions at a post-screening Q&A in any of its five theaters. In addition to first-run features, the center hosts ongoing film series. Past series have focused on nature, horror and cult classics, and Jewish film. The center also offers classes for students, along with a residence and fellowships for international filmmakers. 364 Manville Rd; burnsfilmcenter.org

Pocantico Hills

Historic Hudson Valley

Historic Hudson Valley maintains and runs programs at a number of historic properties in Westchester’s Rivertowns: Kykuit, part of the Rockefeller estate, houses a world-class collection of art; Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, a cottage that belonged to the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow;” Philipsburg Manor, an 18th century Anglo-Dutch farming, milling, and trading center; the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, which features stained-glass windows by Matisse and Chagall; and Van Cortlandt Manor, a 17th century house and property that served as a place of retreat during the Revolutionary War. Several festivals and other special events take place at these sites throughout the year. 639 Bedford Rd; hudsonvalley.org

Port Chester

Clay Art Center

For those who appreciate the ceramic arts and all things pottery, the Clay Art Center, founded more than half a century ago, has a gallery with a rotating exhibition of sculptural and functional ceramics, as well as The Shop at CAC, where invited guest artists from around the nation sell their wares. For those who aren’t content just to look at the works, there are also classes, workshops, and demonstrations for all ages and skill levels. 40 Beech St; clayartcenter.org

The Capitol Theatre

The 1926 Thomas W. Lamb-designed Capitol Theatre was a haven for touring artists like the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd in its heyday during the ’60s and ’70s and, after a period of disuse, came roaring back in 2012 with a grand-reopening Bob Dylan concert (he returned in 2021). Today, when the biggest names in music come to the county, they come here. Since its reopening, Billy Idol, Phil Lesh, Al Green, Bright Eyes, John Fogerty, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age, and Garbage have performed here. 149 Westchester Ave; the-capitoltheatre.com

Purchase

Neuberger Museum of Art

Located on the campus of Purchase College in a building designed by Philip Johnson, the Neuberger Museum of Art showcases the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. African art is a large part of the museum’s collection, with a special focus on the arts of Central Africa. Rotating exhibitions in the recent past have focused on Andy Warhol, Yotashi Jackson, Nina Chanel Abney, Yto Barrada, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Engels the Artist, Cleve Gray, Ignacio Iturria, Isaac Julien, and Alex Katz. 735 Anderson Hill Rd; neuberger.org

Visitors viewing artworks in Nicolás de Jesús: A Mexican Artist for Global Justice Exhibition
Visitors viewing artworks in Nicolás de Jesús: A Mexican Artist for Global Justice Exhibition. Photo by Aria Isadora.

Performing Arts Center at Purchase College

Boasting a carefully curated yet stimulating mélange of classical, popular, and cutting-edge performance art, PAC, as it’s known to patrons, is arguably the major professional, nonprofit arts presenter in the southeastern NY-southwestern CT region. The complex comprises four theaters, and each is optimized for a different type of live performance (some of which are world premieres). Performances range from orchestral and choral to jazz and cabaret, to international and roots music, as well as solo artists, dance, and acrobatics. K-12 students can also participate in productions. 735 Anderson Hill Rd; artscenter.org

Rye

Westchester Children’s Museum

This year-round facility offers a vibrant, colorful, and interactive venue for preschoolers through middle-schoolers to play and discover. Whether it’s Museum Mini, Pajama Night, or Hungry Caterpillars, your kids are likely to have a great time. 100 Playland Pkwy; discoverwcm.org

Rye Arts Center

Head to the gallery at the Rye Arts Center to see works by local, national, and international artists. Once inspired, you can register for one of the center’s classes, which focus on art, music, theater, and dance. For those more scientifically minded, there’s a STEM+Arts program, which has classes with a scientific, technological, engineering, or math component. 51 Milton Rd; ryeartscenter.org

Sleepy Hollow

Hudson Valley Writers Center

Located right on the banks of the ethereal Hudson, in the former Philipse Manor train station, the center offers writing classes in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, in addition to hosting readings, open-mic nights, and other literary events, many with authors published by the HVWC’s Slapering Hol Press. 300 Riverside Dr; writerscenter.org

Tarrytown

Lyndhurst

This Gothic Revival mansion has been home to a number of prominent New York families, including New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt, and railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Visitors are invited to walk the landscaped grounds, which overlook the Hudson River, tour the mansion during one of its special events, or333 bring their own blankets and chairs for the summer concerts. 635 S Broadway; lyndhurst.org

Tarrytown Music Hall

Designed by the same architects who built NYC’s Grand Central Palace, this 843-seat theater earned the right to be a National Landmark building for its mix of Queen Anne, Victorian, and Art Deco architectural elements. Its programming is no less diverse, with a year-round lineup of music, dance, comedy, film, and family events. Recent presentations have included Jason Isbell, Air Supply, The Monkees, and Ballet Hispánico. 13 Main St; tarrytownmusichall.org

Tuckahoe

Westchester Italian Cultural Center

This is where to go for all things Italia, from language classes and lectures to films and (our favorite!) cooking demonstrations. Professors sometimes stop by to give a lecture in their areas of expertise and sometimes even lead trips to Italy. 1 Generoso Pope Pl; wiccny.org

Valhalla

The Cliffs at Valhalla

You can really hang tough — alone or together — anywhere on the 13,000 square feet of rocky indoor terrain in the heart of the county. The Cliffs offer not only daily rock climbing, roped climbing, bouldering, private belays, and auto-belays but also monthly passes, classes, and a gear shop. The venue promises good, healthy fun with a bonus adrenaline rush for family members and “social climbers” ages 6 and up. 1 Commerce St; valhalla.thecliffsclimbing.co

White Plains

ArtsWestchester

Since 1965, ArtsWestchester has been working to support the arts in the county and make the arts accessible to all. Its home, a former bank building now known as the Arts Exchange, hosts exhibitions, live performances, and classes. It’s also a haven for those who want to create art, with studios and rehearsal spaces for rent. 31 Mamaroneck Ave, 3rd fl; artswestchester.org

ArtsWestchester
Photo by Lou Vaccaro

Westchester Philharmonic

Led by executive and artistic director Joshua Worby, The Phil has been drawing crowds with great lineups, which have included violinists Robert Chausow and Martin Agee, and trumpeters Lowell Hershey and Lorraine S. Cohen, as well as a host of other acclaimed classical performers. The Philharmonic is based in White Plains, with most performances now taking place at the city’s Grace Church. Various performance venues. 170 Hamilton Ave, Ste 350; westchesterphil.org

Downtown Music at Grace

Members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and other ensembles — along with professional singers and members of the West Point Brass Quintet — form the core of three resident ensembles dedicated to bringing a variety of music to White Plains. With more than 4,000 attendees at events each year, the cornerstone of Downtown Music at Grace’s programming is its Noonday Getaway series, consisting of free, 45-minute concerts, designed to fit within a lunch hour. 33 Church St; dtmusic.org

White Plains Performing Arts Center

Look for big-name musicals to make regional stops at the White Plains Performing Arts Center, where past productions have included The Prom, Rent, Jersey Boys, and Miss Saigon. In addition to bigger main-stage shows, the venue hosts one-night-only special events, including live music, comedy, and family events. They also offer a popular Summer Theatre Academy for kids 7 to 17 years old. 11 City Pl; wppac.com

Westchester County Center

Opened in 1930, the Art Deco Westchester County Center is known to host big happenings, like sporting events (it’s home to the Westchester Knicks G-League development team) music concerts, and trade shows. There are cultural offerings, too, including an annual performance of The Nutcracker by the Westchester Ballet Company. 198 Central Ave; countyceter.biz

Yonkers

Hudson River Museum

Overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades, the museum’s exhibitions often highlight the connection to the river; many Hudson River School artists are represented in its collection. The on-site Andrus Planetarium, the only public planetarium in the county, underwent a significant technological upgrade in 2013. In 2022, a 12,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar west wing was added to the complex, bringing even more art and culture to the county. 511 Warburton Ave; hrm.org

Hudson River Museum
Photo courtesy of The Hudson River Museum

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Food made fresh on-site plus drinks, including a large selection of local and craft beers, are served at your seat while you watch a movie. The cinema shows first-run features and indie movies, and hosts special events, like a Ghostbusters quote-along, ’80s dance party, or movie quiz night. 2548 Central Ave; drafthouse.com/theater/yonkers

Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts

Entertainment can be had in the county on more than 4,600 games, including electronic roulette, video poker, and keno at this “racino.” There’s also a half-mile standardbred-harness-racing dirt track operating five nights a week, live entertainment, and four separate dining options. 810 Yonkers Ave; empirecitycasino.mgmresorts.com

iFly

Over at iFly Westchester, adrenaline junkies of all ages can experience the thrill, without the risk, of a skydive. Kids as young as 3 can take the plunge, but this is also a great locale for birthdays, corporate events, and private parties. Instructors teach participants all they need to know, so no experience necessary. The Ridge Hill site remains the only in NYS. 849 Ridge Hill Blvd; iflyworld.com/westchester

Philipse Manor Hall

Dating all the way back to the 1600s, the manor house has had many lives; it was, for example, Yonkers’ first City Hall until it was acquired by NYS in 1908. Today, the site offers self-guided tours (be sure to check out the 1750s papier-mâché rococo ceiling), a museum of art and history, and space for special events, like lectures, book signings, and festivals. 29 Warburton Ave; parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/philipsemanorhall

Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Stage

Beloved family-friendly musicals are usually on the marquee at the Yorktown Stage, and past productions have included Little Shop of Horrors, Angels Among Us, and Grease. The theater has been known to mount between two and four main-stage productions each year. For budding theatrical stars, there are camps and workshops for children and teens. 1974 Commerce St; yorktownstage.org

Related: Rye Art Center Spotlights Artists of Color in a Special Exhibit

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