21 Things You Must Do In Westchester In 2016

Accomplish at least half the things on this list, and you can officially call yourself a Westchesterite.

Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway

A healthy way to enjoy the county’s tranquil beauty at your own pace

On Bicycle Sundays, which are held in May, June, and September, 6.6 miles of the Bronx River Parkway between Scarsdale Road in Yonkers and the Westchester County Center in White Plains are closed to vehicles and open to bicycles, tricycles, joggers, walkers, and strollers. Parking is available at the County Center lot for $7. parks.westchestergov.com

Apple Picking

You don’t have to travel outside the county to partake in a favorite fall weekend activity.

Solve the corn-maze puzzle at Outhouse Orchards, where visitors can fill their half-bushel bag starting September 7. We hear McIntosh are best early in the season, while Red Delicious are ripe near Columbus Day. At Wilkins Fruit & Fir Farm, peaches (in August) and apples await your reach; choose your own Christmas trees after November; and visit the apple farm, bakery, and country markets. Enjoy seasonal activities, and choose from more than 20 apple varieties at Stuart’s Fruit Farm September through November; stop at the Christmas Tree bakery and produce shop. All farms have pumpkin-picking, too, after which you can purchase goodies to enjoy at home.

130 Hardscrabble Rd, North Salem (914) 277-3188; www.outhouseorchardsny.com
1335 White Hill Rd, Yorktown Heights (914) 245-5111; www.wilkensfarm.com
62 Granite Springs Rd, Granite Springs (914) 245-2784; www.stuartsfarm.com

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Ice Skating at Rye Playland Ice Casino

Come skate, twirl, and glide in the same ice rink that was formerly home to the New York Rangers. 

Whether you chose the main rink or the studio rink, you’re guaranteed an enjoyable time. Both rinks have state-of-the-art sound systems and dance-type lighting. Public skating sessions are seven days a week, and additional sessions are held during holiday times; teen-skating nights happen on Fridays from September through April. Call for specific information about times and prices.

100 Playland Pky, Rye (914) 481-5941;
www.playlandice.com

Outdoor Fun at Kensico Dam Plaza

From cultural heritage celebrations to movies under the stars, this National Register of Historic Places site offers plenty of outdoor fun.

The park offers a unique setting for activities—in-line skating, picnics, walking, lolling in the grass, and nature study. Visit The Rising, the county’s open-structure 9/11 Memorial; eat popcorn under the stars at summer movie nights; watch the annual July 4 fireworks display; or see the holiday Winter Wonderland. Be sure to bring a camera for the stunning view from the top of the dam.

1 Bronx River Pky, Valhalla (914) 231-4033;
parks.westchestergov.com/kensico-dam-plaza

Dine at 42 The Restaurant

A stellar New American restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton apex—with magnificent views (especially during sunset).

This spectacular rooftop restaurant and event space offers world-class dining and breathtaking panoramic views of Manhattan, Long Island Sound, and the  Lower Hudson Valley. The restaurant is newly renovated and has new menu additions. Chef/Owner Anthony Goncalves’ menu of New American cuisine with Mediterranean influences is a dining experience not to be missed. Reservations are recommended; walk-ins are welcome for indoor dining or the chef’s tasting menu at a private table for two on the rooftop deck/garden. Don’t worry about where to leave your car, since valet parking is complimentary for lunch and dinner patrons.

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1 Renaissance Sq, White Plains (914) 761-4242; www.42therestaurant.com

Nature in All Its Glory at Rockefeller State Park Preserve 

In the approximate center of Westchester is this idyllic park that’s a source for artistic inspiration.

The Rockefeller family bequeathed a portion of its Pocantico Hills estate (1,400 acres!) to the state more than 30 years ago so that visitors could enjoy its idyllic beauty. Ride on horseback, cross-country ski or snowshoe, jog or stroll on scenic carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. One trail passes by the foundation of Rockwood Hall, once the 220-room home of William M. Rockefeller. View rotating exhibits featuring local artists in the Visitor Center. In walking distance of the preserve is Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a nonprofit farm and educational center; stop for a farm tour or a bite to eat at the Blue Hill Café & Grain Bar.

125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville (914) 631-1470; www.nysparks.com/parks

Pelham Picture House

Bypass the Multiplex for The Picture House and Jacob Burns Film Center

Stop at either of these film havens for an indie movie, documentary, or lecture.

The Picture House in Pelham has showcased a variety of cinematic presentations since it reopened in March 2011. You’ll “ooh” and “aah” at the interior of this landmark, refurbished in 1921 and listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. You’ll also be charmed and intrigued by many of its offerings. 

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Opened in 2001, the Jacob Burns Film Center’s (JBFC) state-of-the-art complex houses a Media Arts Lab and a residence for international filmmakers. Take in a film from its annual and monthly series or a lecture by one of the numerous visiting directors, actors, authors, and scholars.

175 Wolfs Ln, Pelham (914) 738-7337; www.thepicturehouse.org

364 Manville Rd, Pleasantville (914) 747-5555; www.burnsfilmcenter.org

Ride the Metro-North Hudson Line

On the return trip, stop off in one of the county’s Rivertowns and walk the main street.

Whether you choose Tarrytown (ranked by Forbes as one of the 10 prettiest towns in the country), with its quaint shops and eateries, Peekskill, with its vibrant arts scene and views from Riverfront Green Park, Dobbs Ferry or Irvington, you’ll have a choice of shops to browse, cuisine to enjoy, and the satisfaction of supporting local businesses. Be sure to check out the magnificent view (including the Tappan Zee Bridge project) on your way there.

Visit a Historic Site

Step back in time for a glimpse into The Gilded Age.

Dark Shadows fans will recognize Lyndhurst, the 19th-century Gothic Revival mansion, and its stately rooms as Collinswood from the 1970s movies. Special events include October’s Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities and, in December, Mr. Dickens Tells a Christmas Carol. Head north to Kykuit, an estate that was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, and take in its lush terraced gardens and sculpture, exquisite underground art galleries and carriages. (Be sure to reserve in advance.) Drive along Route 448 to see the shimmering stained-glass rose window designed by Henri Matisse and nine others by Marc Chagall at Union Church of Lyndhurst, the 19th-century Gothic Revival mansion, and its stately rooms as Collinswood from the 1970s movies. Special events include October’s Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities and, in December, Mr. Dickens Tells a Christmas Carol. Head north to Kykuit, an estate that was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, and take in its lush terraced gardens and sculpture, exquisite underground art galleries and carriages. (Be sure to reserve in advance.) Drive along Route 448 to see the shimmering stained-glass rose window designed by Henri Matisse and nine others by Marc Chagall at Union Church of Pocantico Hills. The colors stunningly come alive when the sun shines through. Pocantico Hills. The colors stunningly come alive when the sun shines through. 

635 S Broadway, Tarrytown (914) 631-4481; www.lyndhurst.org

381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow (914) 631-8200; www.hudsonvalley.org

555 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills (914) 631-8200; Pocantico Hills (914) 631-8200; hudsonvalley.org

Catch a Performance  

Enjoy dinner, live theater, comedy, or music without going into the city.

Recently renovated, the iconic Tarrytown Music Hall is one of the area’s most active theaters, with a lineup of music, dance, film, and performance—from holiday specials to concerts, like Jackie Mason and Alice’s Restaurant. The Westchester Broadway Theatre, the longest running, year-round equity theatre in the state, offers entertaining productions rivaling the Great White Way. Paramount Hudson Valley’s lineup includes shows paying tribute to the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. At the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, there’s a variety of live events, comedy, dance, film, and children’s shows, like Seussical and Curious George.

13 Main St, Tarrytown (914) 631-3390;www.tarrytownmusichall.org

One Broadway Plz, Elmsford (914) 592-2222; www.broadwaytheatre.com

1008 Brown St, Peekskill (914) 739-0039; www.paramounthudsonvalley.com

153 Library Ln, Mamaroneck (914) 698-0098; www.emelin.org

Muscoot Farm 

Visit a Working Farm

Step back into the agrarian days of Westchester.

Early-1900s interpretive Muscoot Farm is open year-round with a varied program schedule, group tours, and farmyard visits; make your hayride reservation early. Many of its original buildings remain, so you can walk though the dairy barn and blacksmith shop, among others. With roots going back to the 1600s, former dairy farm Hilltop Hanover Farm encourages visitors to hike its trails and visit the chickens and goats. Produce is sold onsite through its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.

51 Rte 100, Katonah (914) 864-7282; www.muscootfarm.org

1271 Hanover St, Yorktown Heights (914) 962-2368; www.hilltophanoverfarm.org

Take in Some Art

From ceramic arts and early painters to music festivals, the choices are plenty. 

There are more than 7,000 modern, contemporary, and African artworks, including paintings, prints, and outdoor sculpture, at the Neuberger Museum of Art on the campus of SUNY Purchase College. The collection includes 800 pieces donated by financer Roy R. Neuberger. See a show at the Hudson River Museum planetarium and see landscapes that inspired early painters.  Stroll through the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden at PepsiCo’s headquarters (scheduled to reopen after renovations in late spring), the world-acclaimed 168-acre campus featuring works by Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, and Alexander Calder. Clay Art Center Gallery is a living legacy as the tri-state area’s largest ceramic arts facility. Celebrate the Clearwater Festival, an annual weekend of music and Hudson River celebrations founded by legendary artist, environmentalist and peace-advocate Pete Seeger.

735 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase (914) 251-6100; www.neuberger.org

511 Warburton Ave, Yonkers (914) 963-4550; www.hrm.org

40 Beech St, Port Chester (914) 937-2047; www.clayartcenter.org

Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson; www.clearwaterfestival.org

Helicopter Tours out of Westchester County Airport

Fly up, up, and away for a bird’s-eye view with Wings Air Helicopters.

Imagine the stunning views of the majestic Palisades, Hudson River, Tappan Zee Bridge, and the Yonkers waterfront during a glorious sunrise or sunset from 2,000 feet above ground. Wings Air offers charters from high above with sights of Yankee Stadium, the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Tarrytown Castle, the Hudson Palisades, and more. Flights are seven days a week; 30- and 45-minute tours are by request, and there’s a two-passenger minimum. Prices start at $240 for a 30-minute flight, and promotions are available.

18 Hangar Rd, Ste 200, White Plains (866) 445-5434; www.wingsair.net

Sailing, Kayaking,and Canoeing

Enjoy a selection of waterways that appeal to everyone from the novice to experienced boaters.

Whether you prefer a pond, a creek, or a river, there’s something for anyone who loves exploring the water. Many are situated in parks and offer equipment rentals, picnic facilities, launch ramps, and swimming areas. Especially scenic: Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Yorktown, Kennedy Marina Park in Yonkers, Croton Point Park, and Hudson River Boating at George’s Island Park in Montrose. Contact individual marinas for daily and seasonal rental fees.

Fireworks at Harbor Island Park

Why travel into the city when you can have July 4th excitement here?

Spread a blanket or bring a lawn chair at the waterfront to celebrate Independence Day in style with a spectacular show of fireworks over Long Island Sound. A firemen’s carnival kicks off the event earlier in the day with rides and food stands. Arrive early for prime parking. 

123 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 777-7700; www.village.mamaroneck.ny.us

Viewing Platform for the New NY Bridge 

Watch the $3.9 billion bridge construction. 

Want to know the super crane’s lifting strength or why the new bridge will have twin spans? Close to 3,000 visitors (and counting) have stopped into the Westchester Community Outreach Center in Tarrytown to examine the colorful LEGO bridge model, test their skills with the tower crane model, pose in front of the 6-foot piling and the life-sized worker safety display mannequin. After watching the bridge project via streaming videos and photos, head to RiverWalk Park and the viewing platform to see how many cranes you can identify via a spotter’s guide and high-powered monoculars. Open seven days a week.

2 N Broadway, Tarrytown (855) 892-7434; www.newnybridge.com

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The hottest ticket in town returns on October 2 through early November.

Feast your eyes as more than 7,000 hand-carved and illuminated pumpkins decorate the stark night at Van Cortlandt Manor, the 18th-century home to one of New York’s early prominent families. Make your way through slithery monsters, a den of spiders, and dinosaurs (all made from jack-o’-lanterns) to pumpkin portraits of the Headless Horseman and characters from Washington Irving’s famous short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Pumpkins hang from trees, pose in fields, and are mounted on stakes; sound effects, synchronized lighting, and music add to the allure. Reservations are necessary; this event sells out quickly.

525 S Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson; (914) 631-8200; www.hudsonvalley.org

Order a Wedge 

Some in the metro area say sub, others hero, but any true Westchesterite calls a deli sandwich by its proper name—a wedge. Westchesterite calls a deli sandwich by its proper name—a wedge. 

Antonio Landi of Landi’s Grocery in Yonkers gave Westchester its distinctive term “wedge” back in 1930 (it was a shortened form of how his wife pronounced sandwich with her thick Italian accent) when he put it on his menu. Today, Scaperrotta’s Deli in Dobbs Ferry does a solid chicken-cutlet wedge with cheese, bacon and barbecue sauce; order an old-school style Italian deli combo or a Big Al special (ingredients vary each day) wedge at Cosmo & Alex Pisano Bros in Mamaroneck. Also, indulge in your oversized sandwich with a choice of specialty meats and cheese at Dante’s Gourmet Deli in White Plains, and drool over the overflowing shelves’ gourmet Italian groceries after you placed your order.

14 Main St, Dobbs Ferry (914) 693-3742

252 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 381-4402

429 Central Ave, White Plains (914) 946-3609; www.dantesitalianspecialties.com

Treat Yourself to Grade-A Ice Cream

Ideas for indulging those cold cravings

Vanilla malted brownie and salted caramel are yummy on a waffle with hot fudge and real whipped cream at The Blue Pig in Croton-on-Hudson, where the ice cream is made without antibiotics, high-fructose corn syrup, and gums. Mad Dough and Devin’s Dream are popular at Main Street Sweets in Tarrytown, where owners Corie and Kathy Buonanno and Marlaina Bertolacci also have seasonal peach and Key lime. Caribbean flavors of Jamaican rum raisin or soursop (a fruit popular in the Caribbean) tempt at Mount Vernon destination the Ice Cream Factory. Fun flavors for the kids at Longford’s Own-Made Ice Cream in Rye include cotton candy and mint Oreo bomb (plus black raspberry and coffee chunk for the adults). Mocha almond fudge is a top choice at Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream in Cross River, where the ice cream is made in small batches on-premise. Owner Barbara Kessler recommends seasonal Grasshopper (mint ice cream with chocolate-covered mint cookies) and says kids love Snickerdoodle. Everyone will love the writing on the blackboard (chalk provided).

121 Maple St, Croton-On-Hudson (914) 271-3850; www.thebluepigicecream.com

35 Main St, Tarrytown (914) 332-5757; www.facebook.com/pages/Main-Street-Sweets

408 E Sanford Blvd, Mount Vernon (914) 699-1349; www.icecreamfactoryny.com

4 Elm Pl, Rye (914) 967-3797; www.longfordsicecream.com

19 N Salem Rd, Cross River; www.facebook.com/pages/Bluebird-NY

X2O Xaviars on the Hudson in YonkersXaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers

 

Brunch at X2O Xaviars on the Hudson in YonkersXaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers

Enjoy the spectacular Hudson River view with a delicious meal from a top county chef.

There are multiple ways to enjoy Yonkers native Chef Peter Kelly’s flagship restaurant: in the Dylan Lounge, a casual small plate and cocktail space, or in the main dining room with three glass-framed walls affording views of the Palisades and Tappan Zee Bridge. Our favorite meal is the signature Sunday brunch ($45), which includes unlimited Champagne, breads, passed trays of crispy tuna roll, roast rack of baby lamb, coconut shrimp with Dijon mustard sauce, and wild mushroom ravioli—plus choice of two savory courses and one dessert.

71 Water Grant St, Yonkers (914) 965-1111; www.xaviars.com

Hike a Trail

Experience nature in some of its most peaceful settings.

Several scenic Westchester hiking trails are not to be missed, especially during the fall and spring. Choose from the paved Bronx River Pathway, North County Trailway, and South County Trailway, or the 12-mile unpaved Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway (for walkers and joggers only). You’ll find stunning views of the Hudson River at George’s Island Park, while Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, the county’s largest park, has wooded trails and activities for every season. A four-acre lake, mixed hardwood forest, cliffs, a swamp, and the remains of a 19th-century farmhouse and early 20th-century stone quarry are at 190-acre Cranberry Lake Preserve.

parks.westchestergov.com

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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