Greetings from Your Perfect Summer

It was a brutal, snowy winter. The cold and rain lingered well into spring. But it’s summer now and, frankly, we’ve got a lot of fun to make up if we want 2011 to end on a good note.

Thankfully, Westchester is one of the best places to spend a summer. We don’t suffer the same oppressive heat bouncing off of skyscrapers and concrete—not to mention the sticky, pressed-up-against-strangers subway commutes—that our city counterparts do. As a result, we’re not afraid to leave our air-conditioned homes to go do something. Here, we humbly present our suggestions.

Jazz It Up

Photo by Margaret Fox

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Young jazz fans shake it at Shades of Jazz at the Katonah Museum of Art.

What do you think of when you hear the words “jazz club?” We think of cool musicians and soul-patched audiences, yes, but also rooms that are dark, cramped, smoky, and located in some hole-in-the-wall joint in an impossible-to-navigate part of Manhattan.

The Katonah Museum of Art shakes up that idea with its annual Shades of Jazz series. Instead of sitting elbow-to-elbow with other strangers in total darkness, you can bring a lawn chair or blanket and sit in the pleasant sunshine among the works in the museum’s sculpture garden. (Picnicking is encouraged.) And—something you’d never, ever find in a real jazz club—beer and wine is on the house.

What about the music? Turns out, you don’t have to leave the county for authenticity. The music series is sponsored by Manhattan’s Blue Note, and is curated by legendary guitarist John Scofield. Joining him on stage are fusion guitarist Marc Ribot, who has collaborated with musicians from the Black Keys to Elton John (June 8); bebop musicians Joe Lovano and Judi Silvano, along with their quartet (June 29); and jazz-funk percussionist Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin, and Wood (August 10).

Shades of Jazz costs $10 for museum members and $20 for non-members. Grounds open at 5:30 for picnicking, and concerts start an hour later. For more information, call (914) 232-9555 or visit

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Take a Swing

There’s nothing like spending a day out on the links. But 18 holes of golf can be so time-consuming—and, let’s face it, you’re not that great of a golfer. There’s no shame in scaling back a bit and taking a couple of practice rounds on a mini-golf course. (Unless you call it “putt-putt.” That is embarrassing for all involved.) Leave your driver at home and perfect your short game on one of these greens.

Brookside Mini Golf
Yonkers (914) 557-5046
Cost: $7.50
New York artist Mike A. created “Freaky Dinkys,” brightly colored characters that pop up along the course, which is located in Tibbetts Brook Park.

Fairview Golf Center
Elmsford (914) 592-1666
Cost: $5
Fairview has two 18-hole mini-golf courses to choose from—the “Legends” course is reputed to
be a little bit harder than the “Masters” course.

New Rochelle
(914) 637-7575
Cost: $8.75
Taking a cue from the popularity of galactic bowling, this indoor mini-golf course is lit by black light, so everything glows.

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Rye (914) 813-7000
Cost: $4
This course, which has views of both the beach and the park, features a 19th hole for good measure.

Yorktown Golf and Baseball Center
Mohegan Lake (914) 526-8337
Cost: $5.50 to $7

For families with boundless energy, if mini-golf isn’t enough, this center also has batting cages and picnic tables.


Make a Fresh-From-the-Farm Dinner

The best meals come from the freshest ingredients—and the freshest ingredients come from local farms. But keeping track of when and where the county’s farmers’ markets are up and running isn’t easy, so save this handy list for when culinary inspiration strikes.

Photo courtesy of Muscoot Farm

The goods at Muscoot’s Farmers’ Market

Chappaqua Train Station
Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm, May through November

Municipal Lot across from Municipal Pl and Riverside Ave
(914) 923-4837
Wednesdays, 1:30 to 6:30 pm, June 1 to November 23

Hartsdale Train Station
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, June 4 to November 26

Hastings-on-Hudson Library parking lot
Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm, June 4 to November 26; second Saturday of each month December through May (held in the James Harmon Community Center January, February, and March)

Metro-North Parking Deck No. 3
(914) 923-4837
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 1 pm, May 28 to December 17

Mount Kisco
Location not set at press time
(914) 923-4837
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 1 pm, May 28 to November 19

Muscoot Farm
Muscoot Farm, Katonah
(914) 864-7282
Sundays, 10 am to 3 pm, May 8 to October 30

New Rochelle
Library Green
(914) 923-4837
Fridays, 8 am to 3 pm, June 17 to November 18

Corner of Main St and Spring St
(914) 923-4837
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 1 pm, May 29 to December 18 (except June 12)

Bank St
(914) 737-2780
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 2 pm, June 11 to November 19

Corner of Harmon Ave and Fifth Ave
(914) 923-4837
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 1 pm, May 28 to November 19

Memorial Plaza
(914) 923-4837
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 1 pm, May 28 to December 17

Pound Ridge
Antiques & Tools of Business & Kitchen
(65 Westchester Ave)
(914) 764-0015
Sundays, 11 am to 4 pm, April 10 to
November 30

Parking Lot No. 2 on Theodore Fremd Ave
(914) 923-4837
Sundays, 8:30 am to 2 pm, May 30 to December 19

Pocantico Hills
Stone Barns Center for Food  and Agriculture
(914) 366-6200
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1pm to 4 pm, through November 30

Tarrytown’ Patriot’s Park
(914) 923-4837
Saturdays, 8:30 am to 1 pm, May 28 to November 19


Bond with Dad

Clearwater Great Hudson River
Revival’s World Dance Stage

What generation gap? This Father’s Day weekend—on June 18 and 19—you can spend some quality time with Dad and listen to good music at the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival. With more than 50 performers spread out across the two days, there’s bound to be someone playing for each of you, whether it be Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Yarrow, and Jorma Kaukonen (what do you think, Dad?) or the Drive-By Truckers, Josh Ritter, the Low Anthem, and the Felice Brothers.

And there’s more than just music, too. If Dad likes to cast a line, take him to see the display of Hudson River fish in one of the educational tents. If he works with his hands, perhaps he’d like to check out what’s available in the juried crafts show. If he can cut a rug, take him to the World Dance Stage. And don’t forget to take him for a spin on the River in the Sloop Clearwater or the schooner Mystic Whaler.

Tickets cost between $45 and $150, with the highest price for those who also want to camp on the grounds overnight (Did Dad go to Woodstock?). For more information, call (845) 418-3596 or visit clear


Take a Walk on The Wildcliff Side

Earlier in this issue, we touted the Wildcliff Art Market (see page 28), the new Brooklyn-Flea-like craft fair taking place at New Rochelle’s Wildcliff Manor. That’s not the only reason to visit the Gothic Revival manse. If shopping isn’t your thing, check out Music on the Cliff, where performers will play overlooking the Long Island Sound, or, if you need a good laugh, stop by for live stand-up and sketch comedy. These multimedia events will take place June 11, June 19, July 30, July 31, and September 10. Performances come courtesy of Incoming Tide Entertainment; for more information, visit

Go Fast

Speed racers: Seek out one of these havens where driving fast isn’t just sanctioned—it’s encouraged.

Photo courtesy of Grand Prix

Waving the checkered flag at Grand Prix New York.

Grand Prix New York
Mount Kisco
(914) 241-3131
This is racing for the masses: it’s the least expensive racing option, and anyone at least 16 years old can drive a car (though those under 18 need a parental waiver). If you’re 8 years old and over 48 inches tall, bring along a legal guardian, so that you can floor it on one of two European-style tracks. Tracks are a quarter-mile in length, but, unlike a drag-race strip, there are also 14 turns per track.

Photo by Paul Johnson courtesy Lime Rock Park

Spectators gather at Lime Rock Park.

Lime Rock Park
Lakeville, CT
(860) 435-5000
Owner Skip Barber has a series of racing schools set up across the country ( For $700, you can attend the school’s intro to racing class (there’s one on June 30), where you’ll spend an hour zooming around in a 2.0-liter Formula Skip Barber race car. You can also attend the one-day racing school ($1,800 on 7/21), where’ll you’ll get a spin in a Mazda Miata-based MX-5 Cup race car.


Monticello Motor Club
Monticello, NY
(877) 578-7223
The Monticello Motor Club is more like a country club for gearheads. You have to be a member to race—and it costs $2,500 to be a member for one day. But membership has its privileges. Here is where Ferrari and Miata drivers come to try to get their mid-life-crises cars up to top speed. They take a lesson in race driving, put on a helmet, and they’re off on the autobahn-like tracks, which feature 1.5-mile straightaways in addition to hairpin turns. When they’re done, some of them leave their cars in the heated garage (and, for good measure, take a helicopter home).

Take in Art—Outside

Museums are fantastic, but not necessarily where you want to be on a gorgeous summer weekend. But your desire to be outdoors and your love of art don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Instead, bring a picnic lunch to one of these outdoor sculpture gardens. Take in the works of some talented artists and get your vitamin D all in one shot.

Photo courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley

Aristede Maillol’s Bather Putting Up Her Hair and other sculptures at Kykuit

Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate
381 N Broadway (Rte 9), Sleepy Hollow
(914) 631-8200;

Say what you will about the Rockefellers—they had an eye for art. Thank Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller for the 120 sculptures displayed throughout this estate. Find sculptures by, let’s see, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Pablo Picasso, and David Smith, among many others. Oh, yeah—the 2D artwork inside the house isn’t half-bad, either. Tours range from $13 to $23 for the “Classic” and other tours to $30 to $40 for the “Grand Tour.”

Photo by Brian Goodman

Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man at the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens



The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens
700 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase
It seems antithetical to the principles of big business that one of Westchester’s largest corporations would offer access to world-class works of art completely free-of-charge, but that’s the case at the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden. Former PepsiCo CEO Donald M. Kendall sees Rockefeller’s Calders, Moores, and Noguchis and raises him Claes Oldenburg, Max Ernst, and Robert Davidson on PepsiCo’s 168-acre park. Forty-five monumental works of art take their place on the grounds. After you’ve scoped them out, if you haven’t tired of art, head across the street and visit the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College (914-251-6100;

Photo by Jerry L. Thompson

Maya Lin’s Storm King Wavefield at the Storm King Art Center


Storm King Art Center
Old Pleasant Hill Rd, Mountainville, NY
(845) 534-3115
Think 168 acres of sculptures are impressive? Try 500. With such a vast space, the sculptures are given room to spread out and be placed so they’re in perfect artistic harmony with the backdrop of the Hudson Highlands. The collection includes works by post-war artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra, and Richard Hunt, but the center garnered lots of attention in 2009 with the addition of Storm King Wavefield, a site-specific work of carefully calculated hills made to look like ocean waves, created by artist Maya Lin. Admission is $8 for students, $10 for seniors, $12 for adults, and free kids under five.


Trek to a Fest

 Tero Saarinen Company, July 7 to July 10

Photo by Sakari Viika

Photo by Putnam Bean

Two Man Gentleman Band, Saturday,
July 30

Leave it to an under-the-radar festival a little up the line to offer one of the most varied lineups around. Bard Summerscape features tons of programming in its crazy-looking Frank Gehry-designed auditorium, and even more in the arguably crazier Spiegeltent. This year, it’ll offer a bit of opera, with Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae; some Ibsen, with The Wild Duck; Noël Coward’s operetta Bitter Sweet; and a Nordic film festival featuring works by Mauritz Stiller, Victor Sjöström, Ingmar Bergman, and Aki Kaurismäki. Outside in a tent, you’ll be treated to throwback cabaret performances from Weimar NYC, the Wau Wau Sisters, and Joey Arias, in addition to a Thursday-night performance series featuring Irish, Klezmer, African, Bhangra, Latin, and gypsy music. Every day, you can pop into the tent for burgers and local craft beers, and on weekends it stays open until 1 am for club dancing. Bard Summerscape ends with the Bard Music Festival, which, this year, focuses on composer Jean Sibelius. Finnish composers, Nordic filmmakers, Norweigan playwrights, and gypsy musicians? Sign us up, please. The festival takes place from July 7 to August 21. See the complete schedule at, or call the Richard B. Fisher Center box office at (845) 758-7900.

Red Baraat, Thursday, August 4

Photo by Amy Touchette



Throw Your Kids Down a Water Slide

Your kids have waded in the pool. They’ve swum in the pool. They’ve played Marco Polo (a thousand times). They’ve even gone to the beach. Now they’re looking for something more exciting. So, pack them in the car and take them to one of these nearby water parks.

Great Wolf Lodge
Scotrun, PA
(570) 688-9899
Distance from White Plains: 2 hours
You needn’t wait for a sunny day to schlep the clan here; this 550,000-gallon operation is indoors. Though more family-focused, with a blissfully static “Fort Mackenzie” water playground, there are a few rides here for daredevils.

Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Resorts

Great Wolf Lodge’s indoor water park

Six Flags New England
Hurricane Harbor
Agawam, MA
(413) 786-9300
Distance from White Plains: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Though the Six Flags of choice in these parts may be Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, Six Flags New England is almost equidistant and has a bigger selection of water rides. The Tornado takes you and two of your nearest and dearest through a funnel that’s 60 feet in diameter—talk about dizzying. Or, try to ride the crest in the 500,000-gallon wave pool—one of the largest in the country.

Splish Splash
Calverton, NY
(631) 727-3600
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Budget Travel chose this as one of the 15 greatest water parks in the United States—probably because it aims to be a little more thrilling than your average water park. Try the Tunnel of Terror: you’ll be taken on a series of twists, turns, and loops—all in total darkness.

Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom
Allentown, PA
(610) 395-3724
Distance from White Plains: 2 hours, 15 minutes
When you’re riding the Aquablast, you’re 70 feet up in the air—this is one of the longest elevated water slides in the world, according to the park. Competitive? Try the Patriot’s Plunge, where you choose either the red, white, or blue slide and see who gets to the bottom first.


Introduce Your Kids to Fine Theater

If the thought of taking your kids to a show conjures up images of squirming in seats, remember that “fine theater” can also mean “fun theater.” Take, for example, the production of Seussical the Musical, opening at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. The show has Broadway pedigree, coming from Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once On This Island) and earning a Tony nomination itself for Best Actor in a Musical (Kevin Chamberlin). Filled with Dr. Seuss’s colorful characters and set to a poppy score, there should be no fidgeting from your progeny. Start them off early on this, and work them into Ibsen gradually. The American Family Theatre’s stage production of Seussical will run from June 16 to July 31; for more information, call (914) 592-2222 or visit

Go to a Drive-In SIT-In

Every year, we lament, rue, bemoan, and otherwise curse our lack of a drive-in movie theater. The closest one is about an hour away—the Fair Oaks Drive-In in Middletown, New York, if you’re wondering—and factoring in the price of gas along with skyrocketing movie ticket prices, the financials just don’t work out. Woe is us.

Until now. Consider “Screening Under the Stars” at the Kensico Dam. It has (almost) everything you could want in a drive-in experience. You can spread a blanket, unfold a lawn chair, and take in a movie alfresco. (If you want to fog up some windows making out with your date, though, you’ll have to go back to the parking lot.) Arrive early and a DJ will provide music to serenade your BYO picnic dinner. Best of all? It’s totally free.

This year’s Screening Under the Stars will take place on July 7. The movie hadn’t been announced as of press time, but since when was the drive-in experience about the movie you were seeing anyway? For more information, call the Westchester County Parks Department at (914) 864-7275 or visit

Barbecue Redux

Sure, summer means fresh vegetables and ripe, local fruit—but we really just crave pulled pork, Carolina ribs, and brisket slathered in barbecue sauce. Don’t feel like manning the grill? Last month, we surveyed our local barbecue dining scene. If you missed it—or, heaven forbid, didn’t save the issue—here are the highlights. Bring wet-naps at your own discretion.

AJ’s Burgers
New Rochelle
(914) 235-3009
Though this may look more like a diner than a smokehouse, its super-secret barbecue sauce makes it rival any BBQ joint.

Shrub Oak
(914) 214-8239
If you don’t have the time to make it to Bob’s Shrub Oak location, keep your eyes peeled on the road for its flame-detailed mobile food truck.

House of Soul
Mount Vernon
(914) 663-7685
The former owners of Yvonne’s make their barbecue with old family recipes before heaping large portions onto your plate.

Memphis Mae’s
(914) 271-0125
CIA-trained chef Andreas Nowara, or “Ace,” packs just as much flavor into side dishes as he does in the entrées.

(914) 341-1443
An unusual fusion, the name Piri-Q stands for piri-piri—or Portuguese hot sauce—mixed with barbecue.

Q Restaurant and Bar
Port Chester
(914) 933-7427
Take the family to Q: On Wednesdays, kids eat free (with the purchase of an adult meal), and they’ll love drinking iced tea out of a mason jar, which they get to keep.

(914) 833-3317
If the ribs and wings here are your favorites, it’s because Sherwood’s has had a lot of practice—the restaurant has been in business since 1989.

Smokehouse Grill
New Rochelle
(914) 813-8686
Grab some suds to wash down that barbecue—the bar is stocked with local and craft beers.
—with Jeanne Muchnick

Go for a Swim

Air conditioning may make us cool, but it doesn’t always make us happy. Sometimes we feel trapped, like hamsters in a habitat. Swimming can cool us off and help us celebrate our self-determination. Shake off the shackles of climate control by heading to one of these oases—and don’t forget your swimmies.


The best places to dip your toes in the waves between here and the Hamptons

(914) 813-7010;
Distance from White Plains: 15 minutes
Fees: $3 (seniors); $3 (children 5 to 11; for pool, add $1); $4 (adults; for pool, add $2).
Open: Wednesdays through Sundays, except holidays.
After taking a spin on the Dragon Coaster, come to this beach to set out a blanket and relax.

Oakland Beach
(914) 967-0965
Distance from White Plains: 15 minutes
Fees: Beach access is $7 on weekdays and $8 on weekends and holidays for residents, and $9 and $10 for non-residents. In addition, there is a parking fee for residents ($8 to $9) and non-residents ($10 to $15).
Open: Daily, 9 am to 5 pm.
After a day of sunbathing, towel off and head to Seaside Johnnies, also located within Rye Town Park.

Croton Point Park Beach
(914) 862-5290
Distance from White Plains: 25 minutes
Fees: Parking fees only—$4 with park pass, $8 without park pass.
Open: Wednesday to Sundays, and holidays only, from 11 am to 6 pm.
For something different, eschew the ocean and take a dip in the Hudson River (it’s safe here, we promise).

Glen Island Park
New Rochelle
(914) 813-6720;
Distance from White Plains: 25 minutes
Fees: Must have a Westchester County Park Pass or picture ID, plus $2 (seniors Monday to Friday), $3 (children 5 to 11), $4 (adult); $10 (adults without a park pass); season swim passes range from $75 to $200.
Open: Wednesday to Sundays, and holidays only, from 11 am to 6 pm.
Stake out a spot near the boat launch; there are 65 to 70 launchings per weekend.

Orchard Beach
Bronx, NY (718) 430-1825
Distance from White Plains: 30 minutes
Fees: None—as with many New York City beaches, admission and parking are both free.
Open: Daily from 7 am to 7 pm.
This mile-long, 115-acre beach was once called the “Riviera of New York.”

Calf Pasture Beach
Norwalk, CT
(203) 854-7806;
Distance from White Plains: 35 minutes
Fees: $15/car on weekdays; $20/car weekends.
Open: Every day from Memorial Day through September.
Practice your putting—there’s mini-golf on-site.

Compo Beach
Westport, CT
(203) 341-1000;
Distance from White Plains: 35 minutes
Fees: $20 per person on weekdays; $40 per person on weekends.
Open: Daily, 4 am to 10 pm.
Compo gives you reason to keep visiting even after the summer ends: dogs are allowed off-leash in designated areas after October 1.

Sherwood Island State Park
Westport, CT
(203) 226-6983
Distance from White Plains: 35 minutes
Fees: Weekdays: $9 for in-state vehicles and $15 for out-of-state vehicles ($6 after 4 pm); weekends: $13 for in-state vehicles and $22 for out-of-state vehicles ($6 after 4 pm).
Open: Daily, 10 am to 6 pm.
Bird-watchers can ignore the gulls and visit the birdhouse in the park’s nature center.

Jacob Riis Park
Rockaway, Queens
(718) 318-4300
Distance from White Plains: 45 minutes
Open: Daily, 9 am to 5 pm.
Fees: None.
This beach—known as “The People’s Beach”—is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and features an art deco bathhouse.

Jennings Beach/Penfield Beach
Fairfield, CT
(203) 256-3191
Distance from White Plains: 45 minutes
Fees: $15/car weekdays; $25/car weekends.
Open: Daily, dawn to 11 pm.
Jennings Beach is Fairfield’s largest, but the Penfield Beach Café is a better place to score a beachside snack.

Brighton Beach/Coney Island
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 373-5862
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: None.
Open: Varies but often daily, 12 pm to 12 am.
Head to Coney Island for a chance to check out the new rides at the new “Luna Park,” or choose Brighton Beach if you want to sample some Russian delicacies at one of the boardwalk eateries.


Jones Beach State Park
Wantagh, NY
(516) 785-1600;
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: $10/car.
Open: Varies. At the Central Mall: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 7 pm; weekends and holidays, 9 am to 8 pm.
Check out who will be playing at the amphitheater before you go; you can hear concerts from the beach.


Long Beach
Long Beach NY
(516) 431-3890;
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: Beach passes are $12 and required for
visitors 13 and older.
Open: Daily, 9 am to 6 pm.
The historic boardwalk here was built in 1914 and was once frequented by the likes of Clara Bow and Flo Ziegfeld.

Long Beach/Short Beach
Stratford, CT
(203) 385-4052;
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: $10/car.
Open: Every day.
Both of these Stratford beaches are known to birders and are mating areas for piping plover and the least tern (as well as horseshoe crabs).

Rockaway Beach
Queens, NY
(718) 318-4000
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Fees: None.
Open: Daily, 10 am to 6 pm.
Surf’s up—this is one of the only places to go surfing in New York City.

Robert Moses State Park
Babylon, NY
(631) 669-0470;
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Fees: $10/car.
Open: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 7 pm; weekends and holidays, 9 am to 8 pm.
Feel free to really spread out; there are five miles of usable beach here.

County Public Pools

Hate all the coarse, gritty sand? Stay close to home and try one of these county pools.

Saxon Woods Pool
White Plains
(914) 995-4480;
County Park Pass: Required.
Open: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm.
This is the county’s largest public swimming pool—conveniently located near one of its nicest golf courses, so there’s something for everyone here.

Playland Pool
(914) 813-7010;
County Park Pass: Not required, but fees range from $3 to $6, plus $1 for lockers.
Open: Daily 11:30 am to 6:30 pm, with no admittance after 6 pm.
The best of both worlds: You can stroll on a boardwalk with a view of the Long Island Sound, then swim in water that’s not salty or sandy.

The Brook at Tibbetts
(914) 231-2865
County Park Pass: Required
(residents only).
Open: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm.
The county’s newest “aquatic center” has everything from spray grounds for little ones to in-pool basketball courts.

Wilson’s Waves
Mount Vernon
(914) 813-6990
County Park Pass: Required
(residents only).
Open: Daily, 11 am to 6 pm.
For those seeking a little bit more action, the water slides and wave pool here offer more than your typical wading and splashing around.

*Note: Sprain Ridge Pool is closed for 2011.



Be a Renaissance Man (or Woman)

Photo by Mirna Falkner


Sometimes, you just want to sit on a haystack, gnaw on a giant turkey leg, and wash it all down with a pint of mead. When the mood strikes, your options are few—unless you feel like roasting that turkey yourself.

A quick ride away, however, will bring you to a glen brimming with these kinds of ye olde pleasures: The New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest. There, the boar sizzles on the grill, the mead flows, and the huge pickles satisfy a kingly appetite. You can follow the tales of Robin Hood, check out a living chess match (in which players duel for squares), shop among glassblowers and blacksmiths, or watch jugglers, sword-fighters, and a day-ending joust.

We caught up with Alexandra Hastings, one of the Faire’s directors. She’s not just a behind-the-scenes gal—you can see her as part of a swashbuckling trio of sword-fighting femme fatales in the Faire’s “Vixens En Garde.” (Hastings is an accomplished fight choreographer and has worked with the Roundabout Theatre Company, the National Actors Theatre, and the New York City Opera.) The show distills Shakespeare’s works to their best elements—”the sword-fighting, the comedy, and the naughty jokes,” she says—adds in some improv comedy, and, oh yes, has the ladies play the juicy male roles (while male audience members fill in for the females). We asked the “duelist for hire” what it’s like to have a day job in the 16th century.

Photo by Deborah Grosmark

Vixen Alexandra Hastings

Which ‘vixen’ are you? My character is named Calypso Bordeaux. She’s the leader of these blades-for-hire. She’s a bon vivant who likes to drink, likes to fight, likes to flirt, and is just a lover of life.

How do you approach choreographing the fights for the show? My husband and I run a stage combat school in New York City. All of the women in the company have trained at the school, so we’re all highly skilled. The idea is to have a lot of strong, dynamic fighting that’s enjoyable to watch and very theatrical.

Are the fights completely choreographed, or is there room for improvisation? It’s all planned out. We have lots of audience participation in our show, but the fighting is all choreographed. We just make it look like it’s happening in the moment.

Photo by Ody Oliveri Anastasia

Do you have a favorite weapon? Yes—the whip. I’ve been an expert whip-cracker for just about twelve years now. Last year, I had two fights in the first chess game, and, in one of them, I got to crack a thirteen-foot whip. When you do that, it sounds like a gunshot. It makes the whole audience jump—it’s spectacular.

How is it fighting in a corset and tights? It’s awesome. It’s one of the best parts of the job. I love the bodice. It gives a lot of support, so you can do lots of Matrix-style backbends. It feels really empowering.

What’s the hardest part about staying in Renaissance character? The hardest part is dealing with the weather. We perform rain or shine. There was one day last year that turned into an utter monsoon. But, then again, that turned out to be one of my favorite days. We were doing a part of Romeo and Juliet where two characters are fighting and one dies accidentally. We were fighting, and there was lightning cracking and rolling thunder and the wind started to blow—it was electrifying. The audience was transfixed.

Final question: is the big joust at the end fixed? The short answer is yes. But the way the joust unfolds happens very much in the moment.

The New York Renaissance Faire runs from August 6 to September 15. For more information, call (845) 351-5171 or visit


Play Fair

We like to pretend that we’re all chic and urbane, but sometimes we’re a little bit country. While we dine at sophisticated restaurants, often we just want to chow down on prize-winning pies. And, when it gets cold at night, we reach for our hand-stitched quilts. When you need a dose of that country goodness, chart a course for the nearest county fair.

Putnam County 4-H Fair
Carmel, NY
(845) 278-6738
July 29 to 31
This fair, run by the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, is the perfect way to whet your appetite for summer fairs. Check out environmental exhibits, take the kids to visit the animals, listen to local bands, and participate in a country living auction. Admission is free, but you’ll probably spend some money on food.

Dutchess County Fair
Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 876-4000
August 23 to 28
Nearly a half-million patrons head to Rhinebeck each year—whether or not there is a Clinton wedding—making this the second-largest county fair in New York State. Taste blue-ribbon brownies, see the area’s finest racing pigs, and check out a contender for Jackpot Heifer before checking out who’s playing at the Grandstand.

Yorktown Grange Fair
Yorktown Heights
(914) 962-3900
September 8 to 11
Though the Westchester County Fair—and its delightfully low-budget television commercials—are no longer, this is the next-best thing. The neatest thing about the fair is that all of the blue ribbons go to your friends and neighbors. Last year’s best heirloom vegetables, for example, were from a garden right in Yorktown Heights, and the best cross-stitcher was found in Peekskill.


Wear Your Favorite Eye Patch

Photo by Bryan Haeffele

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for…you. Forget the Pirates of the Caribbean—the Pirates of the Hudson have arrived and have laid siege to Philipsburg Manor. If you dare, you can put on your finest bandana, hook hand, peg leg, or shoulder parrot, and mingle among them. There, you’ll see belly dancers gyrating to the sounds of pirate musicians, shop for fenced booty from the Thieves Market, marvel at the Museum of Oddities, feast on foods prepared by Tastefully Yours, and imbibe grog from the Captain Lawrence Brewery. (Just keep an eye on your own wallet—these scalawags have sticky fingers.) Pirates-in-training can take part in a treasure hunt and climb on a shipwreck—or be forced to walk its plank. Pirates of the Hudson: The Siege of Sleepy Hollow comes to us from the same people who brought us the Horseman’s Hollow event on Halloween. The event takes place from July 2 to July 4 and, as with the Horseman’s Hollow, you must have a timed ticket to enter. For more information, call (914) 631-8200 or visit

Captions: Sing, “Yo ho ho and a bottle of Captain Lawrence,” with the Pirates of the Hudson.

Photo by William  Marsh

Performances by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival take place outdoors.


Celebrate 25 Years of Shakespeare

Yes, we know that Shakespeare was around more than 25 years ago. But his local franchise—the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival—is celebrating an important milestone this year. For its 25th season, the company is presenting a roster of three productions: Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors, and Around the World in 80 Days. As always, they’ll be performed on the grounds of the Boscobel House and Gardens—you know, the one with the jaw-dropping views of the Hudson River. We chatted with Terrence O’Brien, the festival’s founding artistic director, about making it this far—and what’s up ahead.

What is the feeling going into your twenty-fifth season? The notion, in some ways, is to celebrate our twenty-fifth year by doing what we’ve always done—performing Shakespeare so that it reaches and touches our audience.

Tell us a little bit about the Shakespeare plays you’re doing this season, Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors. We’ve never done Hamlet. I think we’re finally ready. Hamlet is so rich—it’s just incredible. And The Comedy of Errors is almost on the other end of the spectrum. It’s written almost like commedia dell’arte, but it still sounds so familiar. If Shakespeare leapt out of his grave today, he could get a job working on the best television comedies around because the rhythm of his writing and his outlook on life is so similar.

You’re also doing a non-Shakespeare play this season, Around the World in 80 Days. Why did you choose to go non-Shakespearean? Some people still have a fear of Shakespeare. We’ve always had a contemporary approach to Shakespeare, so it fits that we’re doing a more contemporary play. Around the World in 80 Days is like a Pixar movie in a way, in that it’s designed to appeal to everybody.

Board tall ships and learn about sailing on the Long Island Sound at the Mamaroneck Harbor Fest.




See Tall Ships in Mamaroneck

Time was, tall ships sailed across these parts on a near-constant basis. Now, though, you’ll have to find them at the Mamaroneck Harbor Fest. On June 5, head straight for the docks at the Harbor Island Park to see (and board) the historic vessels and their ecological exhibits. Then, tour the rest of the park, and down Halstead Avenue, for food, vendors, storytellers, musicians, and games.





Find a New View with Your Food

If you’re like us, in warmer weather you make a circuit of every restaurant in town that’ll give you a table outside, be it a tiny patch of sidewalk jutting out into Mamaroneck Avenue, a rooftop bar where you can gaze over the county, or a restaurant with an impeccable view of the Hudson River or Long Island Sound. It gets a little routine. This year, add some of these newer spots into the mix to shake up your alfresco selections.

Port Chester
(914) 937-8226
It’s not as heralded as the Hudson or the Sound, but you could do a lot worse than spend an evening overlooking the Byram River. And the restaurant makes the most of it, with room for 120 diners on its outdoor deck. Drink in your view with a house margarita, and select from a menu that is divided into “tacos” and “not tacos.” Lingering is allowed; bartaco is open until 2 am. (For more on bartaco, see Julia Sexton’s review on page 198.)

Port Chester
(914) 939-2727
We truly are thankful that all the newcomers to the Port Chester dining scene are taking outdoor dining into consideration. The Terrace at Arrosto has room for 50 diners—and it can be rented out for private parties, in case you want to hog the whole thing for yourself. And we wouldn’t blame you, with all the house-made pastas and wood-fired pizzas on the menu.

Moderne Barn
(914) 730-0001
Since its opening last June, this Armonk hotspot has been the place to see and be seen—and, in the warmer weather, a few lucky diners can even be seen from the street. About six seats for outdoor dining become available then. And, when they do, dine on dishes such as “Nonna’s meatballs,” bresaola flatbread pizza, or a Waygu hot dog.

Restaurant North
(914) 273-8686
When the weather warms, the restaurant puts eight tables out onto the sidewalk. Its chef is a finalist for a James Beard Award, so reserve early. The menu changes daily and features ingredients from Armonk farms, so the warm breeze won’t be the only seasonal delight you’ll experience.

Serafina Restaurant
White Plains
(914) 288-9300
Sunny yellow umbrellas provide cover for up to 40 diners out on the sidewalk. (Those inside get the benefit of a cool breeze, too, since the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows open out to the street.) This is the perfect spot to split a thin-crust pizza—and we say, go for the one with the baby arugola, shaved parmigiano, fontina, and fresh mozzarella.
(For more alfresco options, see page 202.)

Get Back to the Garden

How do our gardens grow? Quite well, in fact. And, in summer, they’ll be in full bloom. But you don’t need to wrangle your own backyard into shape to experience the glory of a formal garden (though it’d be nice, at least for your neighbors). Instead, visit one of these.

(914) 232-5035
There are 10 separate gardens
in Caramoor, which all weave their way through the structures of
the Mediterranean-style house and grounds, comprising 90 acres in total. Our favorite is the Sense Circle, created for visitors with visual and other impairments by incorporating flowers with strong scents, interesting textures, and, yes, even tastes. Admission to the grounds and gardens is $10 (free with the purchase of a concert ticket).


Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden
North Salem
(914) 669-5033
What this garden lacks in size, it makes up for in inspiring a sense of zen calm. Let peace wash over you as you amble through the cherry trees, past water-lily ponds, and around fields of bamboo. (Any wonder this site is often used for weddings?) Make reservations at The Silk Tree Cafe for a visit-ending snack. Admission to the museum and garden is $5 for adults, $4 for kids.


John Jay Homestead
(914) 232-5651
The Homestead’s Formal Gardens are maintained by the Bedford Garden Club, but they were started by the descendants of John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Homestead is also working to recruit the next generation of gardeners with a teaching garden where students will work to grow vegetables. There is also an herb garden and historic potting sheds and trees to visit on the grounds. Admission is $5 (for kids and seniors) to $7.


(914) 631-448
A rose is a rose—unless it’s a rose here. Lyndhurst’s rose garden dates back to 1911 and is currently maintained by the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson. The best view is from the iron-and-marble gazebo—you feel like you’re surrounded by roses. A little less glamorous, but no less fun to visit, is the property’s extensive fern garden. From the veranda of the house, you can look out over the lawns to the Hudson and Tappan Zee.


Rocky Hills
Mount Kisco
(845) 265-2029
Rocky Hills, a 14-acre garden, is a project of the Cold Spring, New York-based Garden Conservancy, and, as such, it’s open only occasionally during the Conservancy’s “Open Days.” (Tours are $5 per person.) Once in, you’ll be treated to fields of azaleas, irises, primulas, daylilies, ornamental grasses, ferns, forget-me-nots, and hyacinth. The garden was founded in the 1950s by art conservator William Suhr and his wife, Henriette, who worked in Bloomingdale’s furniture showrooms, so they know a thing or two about design.


Wave Hill
Bronx, NY
(718) 549-3200
Everyone knows about the Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden, but a smidge closer to home is Wave Hill, which has 28 acres of gardens. Its conservatory is stocked with plants from around the world. Be sure you check out the view of the Hudson as seen through the flowering pergola. Admission is between $2 and $8 (and free from 9 am until noon on Tuesdays and Saturdays).



Make a Quick Getaway

You don’t really have to go away to go away. You’d be surprised at how little you have to drive for a change of scenery. After all, you’re not actually looking to put miles between you and your endless to-do list. You just want to dine at a new restaurant, stroll down a different street, or sleep on a bed that isn’t yours (preferably, on luxury linens). When time or budget demands keep you from a more extensive vacation, you might still be able to sneak out for a quick, overnight trip. Try these inns—all within about an hour’s drive from White Plains—and come back recharged.

The Bird and Bottle Inn offers a quick, easy escape.


The Bird & Bottle Inn
Garrison, NY
(845) 424-2333
Cost: $165 to $230 per night; includes buffet breakfast.
The Inn: This inn, once a stagecoach stop, has just three guest rooms and a cottage, almost guaranteeing an away-from-it-all feeling. Guest rooms are decorated in a homey, Early-American style. Champagne brunches are served on Sundays.
While You’re There: A 20-minute drive will take you to Beacon, where you can spend the day looking at the modern art in Dia: Beacon and shop in the artsy stores.

Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa
Milton, NY
(845) 795-1310
Cost: $250 to $975 per night; includes breakfast and afternoon tea.
The Inn: The Inn dates back to 1680, but the on-site spa is decidedly modern, with a mineral pool that uses both solar and geothermal energy. There are also 70 acres of property for you to get lost on.
While You’re There: Take a quick trip to the Walkway Over the Hudson, the High Line-esque park on the former Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge.

Linden Point House
Stony Creek, CT
(203) 481-0472;
Cost: $200 to $375 per night; includes continental breakfast and early-evening tea and wine.
The Inn: Owners Hannah and Joel Baldwin are both artists, and you can see their work hanging on the walls throughout the inn. The house is situated so that it has an almost-360-degree view of the water—not a bad place to relax with your morning cup of coffee.
While You’re There: Tour the town of Stony Creek by hiking the old trolley trail—or leave from there to see the nearby Thimble islands by cruise.

Homestead Inn
Greenwich, CT
(203) 869-7500;
Cost: $250 to $495 per night
The Inn: The inn was designated as a prestigious Relais & Châteaux property—one of only two in the entire state of Connecticut. Not to be outdone, the swanky, on-site Thomas Henklemann restaurant has garnered its share of accolades as well.
While You’re There: Though Greenwich Avenue is still a lively shopping district, a lot of the action has moved over to nearby Byram, which is becoming an active downtown worth killing a night in.

Take a Hike

While autumn hikes get all the glory, summertime hikes are not too shabby, either. The flowers are in bloom, the sun shines on the water, and you feel a sense of accomplishment as you work up an actual sweat. We spoke with two experts—Eileen West, president of the Westchester Trails Association, and Jane Daniels, author of Walkable Westchester—about their recommended summertime hikes.

Almost anyone can handle the easy loop around the Scenic Hudson Park in Irvington. “How good does it get for someone wanting views of the Palisades and a bench or two to sit on?” Daniels asks. “The point-two-mile, handicapped-accessible trail means everyone can enjoy the Hudson River.”

Rockwood Hall State Park in Sleepy Hollow, across the road from the Rockefeller Preserve, offers an easy two- or three-mile walk. “You’ll parallel the Hudson River, and then return on winding paths that pass foundations of the former Rockefeller mansions,” West says.

For unusual scenery, try the under-the-radar hike at Merestead. “The understated elegance of a mansion, former farm fields, and cool woodlands make Merestead a perfect destination for a short hike with lots of variety,” Daniels says. “Don’t forget to check out the pet cemetery near the house, complete with a fire hydrant!”

History buffs might want to check out Sylvan Glen Park Preserve, which features “remnants of an abandoned granite quarry,” says Daniels. “Interpretive signs explain some of history of the quarry operations, which ceased in 1941.”

For a somewhat more moderate hike (four to five miles), try Mianus River Gorge Preserve in Bedford. “The trail runs along the Mianus River as it courses through the Gorge,” West says. “Or, go over to Croton Gorge Park, and explore the trails around the Croton River, watch the spectacular falls from the spillway at the Croton Dam, and walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct.”

For something more challenging, “with constant views of the Hudson,” West recommends the Camp Smith Trail in Peekskill, a 6.2-mile hike to Anthony’s Nose and back. “It’s a magnificent viewpoint above the Bear Mountain Bridge. It has steep climbs and descents and rough footing, and should only be attempted by experienced hikers.”

The Westchester Trails Association offers guided hikes every Saturday and Sunday to these and other trails in Westchester County and surrounding areas in the tri-state region. For more information, visit You can purchase Walkable Westchester at the website of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (ny, which publishes the book, as well as through Amazon and other bookstores.

Get Back in the Saddle

There was a time when Westchester streets weren’t clogged with SUVs and minivans. And you can catch glimpses of reminders—in Northern Westchester, perhaps, or in the Rockefeller State Park Preserve—that will bring you back to the days when we traveled using a different kind of horsepower. Indeed, the county is a bastion of good horsemanship. Learn from their expertise by taking a lesson at one of these stables.

Chicory Meadow Farm
Cortlandt Manor
(914) 737-7814;
Lessons: English riding lessons for all levels of experience
Cost: $50 for a half-hour private lesson or a one-hour group lesson
Specialty: “Chicory Meadow Farm also offers the unique opportunity for students to participate in the grooming and tacking up of their horse, which is a very important aspect of developing good horsemanship,” says trainer Christine Varella. “Riding is only half of the experience.”
Favorite Place to Ride in Westchester: “Sections of the Hudson Highlands State Park are close to our barn, and the views are spectacular,” Varella says.

Echo Farm
South Salem
(914) 763-5742;
Lessons: English, Western, and dressage; summer camp
Cost: $60 for a half-hour private lesson, $65 for a one-hour group lesson, $75 for a one-hour private lesson, and packages are
Specialty: “We are a family-friendly barn,” says owner/trainer Callie Kuntz-Bauer. “We have just as many adult students as children. We’re also good at helping out first-time horse owners.”
Favorite Place to Ride in Westchester: “The Ward Pound Ridge Reservation,” she says. “It’s peaceful, it’s got great trails, and it’s right here.”

Forget-Me-Not Farm
North Salem
(914) 276-7409;
Lessons: English riding lessons are offered for students age seven and older.
Cost: $65 for a half-hour private lesson, 45-minute semi-private lesson, or one-hour group lesson.
Specialty: Close instruction. “We’re a small barn, we’re not an academy, so we can pay close attention to our students,” says owner Becca Ahrensfeld.
Favorite Place to Ride in Westchester: Baxter Road. “The farm is right up against the trail system,” Ahrensfeld says. “There are over one hundred acres of open space here. It’s one of the last places that are still like this.”

Beginners learn at South Horse Stables


South Horse Stables
Purchase and North Salem
(914) 556-6226;
Lessons: Both hunter/jumper and dressage; in addition, sales and leases are offered.
Cost: Packages range from $65 (for a half-hour single lesson for students age 7 or younger) to $1,120 (for a package of 12 private one-hour lessons for ages 4 and up).
Specialty: “Our Purchase location focuses on beginners, and the specialty of our North Salem location is dressage,” says owner/trainer George Ventricelli. “All our horses and ponies where specially chosen to be perfect school horses.”
Favorite Place to Ride in Westchester: “The Bedford trails,” says Ventricelli. “They’re the best kept trails in Westchester.”

Photo by Scott Tarter

The riders of Twin Lakes Farm


Twin Lakes Farm
(914) 961-2192;
Lessons: English style-riding lessons, both private and in groups, for ages 6 and up, in addition to boarding, leasing, summer camp, and birthday parties.
Cost: $50 for a half-hour private lesson or a one-hour group lesson. Discounted intro packages and ticket books also are offered.
Specialty: “We are a buffet of horsemanship with something for everyone,” says co-owner/trainer Scott Tarter, “including our performing drill team made up exclusively of local academy kids and school horses!”
Favorite Place to Ride in Westchester: “The trails of
Twin Lakes Park, of course,” Tarter says.



Beat the Registry

It’s wedding season. All your favorite couple needs is love, but a great wedding gift couldn’t hurt. Is the thought of writing yet another check to the lucky couple just not doing it for you? Tired of playing eeny, meeny, miney, moe with what’s left on their wedding registry? Consider these not-just-another-tchotchkes:

[1] Bowl ‘Em Over This “Celebration Bowl” by renowned glassmaker Simon Pearce has future heirloom written all over it—literally. The couple’s names and wedding date are beautifully engraved on the rim of this hand-blown glass stunner ($298 including engraving—allow three weeks for turnaround time—at Holbrook Cottage, Briarcliff Manor, 914-944-0734; holbrook

[2] Treasured Maps No two couples get to the aisle in exactly the same way. Commemorate the journey by commissioning a one-of-a-kind map from artist Genevieve Walker. Tell Walker points of interest such as the site of the first date, wedding, or the couple’s first apartment, and Walker can illustrate it in watercolor or in letterpress ($75 to $125 without watercolor, $95 to $145 with watercolor;

[3] Pillow Talk The future Mr. & Mrs. will love lounging around against a pillow featuring their own black-and-white or color photo along with their names and/or wedding date. Backed in a subtle chocolate suede, it measures 18 inches by 18 inches; other sizes are available ($65—allow two days—at Somers Custom Framing, Somers, 914-276-3173;

[4] SweetHeart This hand-blown, solid glass heart, also from Simon Pearce, featuring the couple’s name and wedding date, makes a perfect paperweight or decorative accent ($95 with two lines of engraving, $45 without—allow for two to three weeks for turnaround—at Holbrook Cottage, Briarcliff Manor, 914-944-0734;

[5] A Cut Above A must-have for any new household, this handsome mahogany carving board by Soundview Millworks features the new couple’s monogram or wedding logo. Choose either stainless-steel nautical cleat handles for boaters or horse bits for equestrians. Offered in multiple or single stripe designs. Not carnivores? Appetizer and serving boards also are available ($210 for large, $150 for medium, at Wish, Rye, 914-967-2910).

[6] Romance-to-Go Newlyweds are the only ones who can actually get away for a romantic picnic. Encourage them with this Eco Picnic Basket, which comes with bamboo plates, utensils, and cutting board; recycled-glass wine glasses; a dye- and chemical-free cotton insulated lining; and embroidered natural cotton napkins ($125 for set for two, $150 for set for four,

[7] Ring in the New Marriage Give the bride and groom a pretty place to rest their rings when it’s time to do the dishes. The Blooming Branch Ring Bearer Bowl, created by Paloma’s Nest, is made of fine white clay and stamped with a flowery design and two lines of text ($42-$72;

[8] Wedded Bliss After all the stress and drama involved in planning the festivities, here’s something the lucky—but exhausted—couple will really appreciate: a day of pampering à deux at the Ritz. A romantic “Two of Hearts” couple’s massage includes use of all spa facilities including the indoor rooftop pool and the state-of-the-art gym ($300 for 60 minutes, $400 for 90 minutes at the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, White Plains, 914-946-500;

[9] Heart of Glass Using an intricate process, glass artist Jenny Gaynor is able to transfer personal photos onto glass to create a one-of-a-kind vase or Christmas ornament celebrating the couple’s courtship or wedding. Though the images can be color or black-and-white, “all black-and-white looks really elegant, especially with wedding photos,” Gaynor says ($62 to $92 for an ornament, $150 to $550 for a vase;

[10] In Case Inside the chic metal case are 30 of those little items you’d want on-hand in case of a wedding emergency, including extra deodorant, a sewing kit, stain remover, double-sided hem tape, and even backup wedding bands in case the Best Man had a little too much fun at the bachelor party ($49;

// Marisa LaScala and Laurie Yarnell

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