Exploring Westchester: A Guide to the Best Attractions and Activities in Westchester County, New York
Picture this: rolling hills, historic landmarks, and vibrant small towns blended with modern amenities– this is what Westchester County, NY looks like. Nestled just north of the bustling New York City, Westchester offers a quiet escape from the city’s concrete jungle while delivering plenty of its own top-tier attractions and activities. You might find yourself stepping back in time at an elegant 19th-century mansion, hiking in a picturesque parkland, or even kayaking under the stars on the Hudson River. So pack your bags and let’s embark on this journey into the heart of Westchester – where the best attractions await your discovery!
Find a Map of Westchester County Here:
Known for its picturesque landscape and affluent residential neighborhoods, Westchester County is located in the Hudson Valley region of New York. It is home to over 980,000 residents and is known for its top-rated schools, diverse communities, and cultural landmarks such as the Hudson River Museum and Kykuit estate. With easy access to New York City via Metro-North Railroad, Westchester offers a unique blend of suburban charm and urban convenience.
Outdoor Adventures in Westchester County
Westchester County is home to some fantastic outdoor adventures. From hiking trails to water activities, there is something for everyone. If you are seeking an adrenaline rush or just looking to get some fresh air, be sure to check out these top attractions.
One must-visit location is Hudson River Museum’s planetarium. It features state-of-the-art technology that allows visitors to journey through space and explore the universe. The museum also has various art exhibits showcasing works by local artists.
Another fun activity is zip-lining at the Treetop Adventure Course in West Harrison. This course offers a variety of obstacles and ziplines set between trees, allowing you to soar through nature like a bird.
For those seeking a more relaxed experience, renting a paddleboard or kayak on the peaceful Croton River is a great option. Not only does it provide an opportunity for exercise and time outdoors but also a chance to enjoy the beautiful views surrounding the river.
Some may believe that golf isn’t an adventure sport, but they clearly haven’t tried playing at one of Westchester’s award-winning golf courses. With courses designed by legendary masters Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones, Jr., golfers can challenge themselves while surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Speaking of breathtaking scenery, let’s take a look at some of Westchester’s best nature preserves.
Parks and Nature Preserves
Parks and Nature Preserves allow us to connect with the natural world around us. Westchester County offers some of the most beautiful nature preserves in New York State, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
Cranberry Lake Preserve is one such location that offers visitors tranquility while surrounded by scenic beauty. With forests resplendent with old-growth trees, the park is home to diverse species of flora and fauna. A quick hike along one of the many trails here provides a chance to spot rare migratory birds or native wildlife like deer, rabbits, beavers, and turkeys.
The Rockefeller State Park Preserve is another great location that provides visitors with picturesque views. With more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, scenic trails, and rolling fields managed by the State of New York, the preserve is a haven for hikers, bird-watchers, and nature lovers. It is also an ideal destination for trail-running enthusiasts looking to get in some high-intensity workouts.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, then head over to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation which features over 4,000 acres of land featuring historic sites and natural beauty. Known as Westchester’s largest county-owned park, it offers miles of hiking trails that traverse through forests and along streams providing a glimpse into local history while getting up close and personal with nature.
While some people may prefer activities on flat earth surfaces, mountain biking at Blue Mountain Reservation can provide a thrilling experience. Boasting beautiful landscapes and tracks with varying levels of difficulty makes it a popular spot for adventure seekers.
After enjoying such natural beauty, you may be wondering what else there is to explore around the County? Allow me to share more tips on exploring Westchester County!
- As of the 2020 United States Census, Westchester County had a population of approximately 967,506 residents, making it the seventh-most populous county in New York State.
- Westchester County covers an area of 450 square miles (1,165 square kilometers) and offers a diverse landscape, with more than 50% of its land dedicated to parks and open space.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the median household income in Westchester County was $96,497 in 2019, which is significantly higher than the national average of $68,703 during that time period.
- Westchester County in New York State offers a range of picturesque parks and nature preserves that are perfect for nature lovers. Cranberry Lake Preserve, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, and Blue Mountain Reservation offer visitors scenic beauty, tranquility, hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty, biking tracks, and opportunities to connect with diverse species of flora and fauna. These locations also provide glimpses into local history and are ideal for adventure seekers looking for exciting experiences. Westchester County is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to unwind amidst natural beauty.
Water Activities and Beaches
Westchester County is home to some of the most beautiful water activities and beaches in the New York metropolitan area. Whether you’re looking for a quick dip, fishing on a sunny day, or just want to relax with the sound of waves crashing in the background, there’s something for everyone here.
One of the most popular beaches in Westchester County is Playland Beach, located inside Rye Playland Amusement Park. This beach has been a summer hotspot for families since 1928! The white sandy shorelines stretch out for miles making it a perfect spot to picnic while soaking in the sun as you watch the sea gulls fly over the Long Island Sound. Whether you’re an avid swimmer or just want to relax by the water, this beach is definitely worth checking out.
For those who appreciate fishing, Croton Point is another destination that should be on your radar. It’s known as one of the best places to fish along the Hudson River and boasts an impressive catch rate for stripped bass! Even if you don’t plan on fishing, this place has a serene view of the river that makes it perfect for a peaceful stroll.
On the other hand, if water sports are more your thing then Empire Kayaks at Scarsdale Village will not disappoint! They offer exciting kayaking tours in both daytime and moonlight hours on Scarsdale’s Crane Pond with a guide expertly highlighting key points of interest. While rentals are available for experienced kayakers wanting to venture onto bigger waters such as the Hudson River, rescues due to unsupervised practices can be quite costly so make sure you paddle safely!
Tyre Coves Central Park features giant concrete harbors that create amazing wave conditions, ideal for surf enthusiasts who want a little taste before they head to Montauk. From paddling to surfing and kayaking, this is the place to tap into your inner athlete for water sports.
With many options for aquatic adventure available, it’s not just water activities that make Westchester County a spectacular destination. The cultural and historic exploration of the region is easily accessible as well!
Historical and Cultural Attractions
Westchester County is home to numerous iconic sites reflecting American history, celebrating art, showcasing science and technology, as well as paying tribute to ancient cultures around the world.
One of the most beloved historical sites in Westchester County is Kykuit, Rockefeller Estate in Tarrytown. Home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, Kykuit represents more than 100 years of family history dating back to John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of Standard Oil. Visitors here can explore beautifully maintained gardens complete with sculptures by Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso to encountering prized art pieces adorning their houses at every turn.
For art enthusiasts who want to experience a gallery-style environment, there’s no better option than the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. It combines exhibitions from collectors worldwide with stunning architecture—the Mansion faces the Hudson River at Trevor Park—with modern constructs hosting work from well-known artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Mary Cassat and many more!
In contrast, many visitors seek out historic sites like Washington Irving’s Sunnyside Estate in North Tarrytown (now Sleepy Hollow) for its shrouded mystery amongst beautiful gardens and river views. Standing winery tours are also organized daily where guests can enjoy wine tastings while meandering through the picturesque grounds.
Science enthusiasts simply can’t miss the most famous planetarium in New York at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill. Not only will visitors get a chance to delve into the history of space discovery but they will also get to enjoy charmingly shaped artworks.
All these attractions and beautiful sites make Westchester County an ideal destination for anyone, no matter their interests. From leisurely activities to educational adventures, there is always something going on here that can appeal to every kind of traveler.
Museums and Art Galleries
Westchester County is a hub for art and culture enthusiasts, boasting an array of museums and art galleries. From contemporary art to ancient artifacts, there’s something here to satisfy everyone’s taste.
If you’re looking for contemporary art, The Hudson River Museum located in Yonkers is the perfect place to go. With its spectacular views of the river itself, this museum houses a stunning collection of modern and contemporary art as well as stunning galleries dedicated to science and history exhibits.
For those who have a taste for 19th-century American art, The Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase is the ideal destination. Founded in 1974, it has over 10,000 pieces of various ethnicities and traditions from Contemporary African Photography to Ancient Arts of Otomí México.
Art lovers can also visit the Katonah Museum of Art which features both contemporary and fine arts within modern architecture buildings. Besides their permanent collection, they offer an amazing revolving exhibition with many great options every year.
Still not satisfied? Take a trip to the small but charming village of Croton-on-Hudson and visit the Great Hudson River Revival Museum. Many argue that this museum is one of Westchester County’s hidden gems owing to its eclectic collection that showcases the Clearwater Festival, an annual music festival that celebrates environmental awareness just by viewing their memorabilia.
Next on our list are some historic landmarks that will take you back in time.
Landmarks and Historic Sites
Westchester County has been witness to significant moments in American history from early battles fought during the Revolutionary War to its role in the Civil Rights Movement. So let’s explore some key landmarks and historic sites worth visiting.
If you’re looking for unique architecture combined with history, the Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown is a must-visit landmark. Built in the Florentine Gothic Revival style by Alexander Jackson Davis for former New York City mayor William Paulding Jr., this site has many beautiful rooms that showcase 19th-century opulence.
For history enthusiasts, Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow is also worth checking out. This 18th-century working farm features costumed interpreters who demonstrate what life would have been like during that time period.
Another historic site that draws visitors from far and wide is the Jay Heritage Center located in Rye, which was once home to John Jay, an American statesman and patriot who served as America’s second Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Here you can learn about his life and contributions to American history or stroll through their newly opened Native Plant Meadow showcasing flora native to Westchester County.
Lastly, if you want a breathtaking view of the Hudson River, head over to the Croton Dam in Yorktown. Often compared to ancient Roman dams, this structure bears witness to the genius of modern engineering allowing both historical significance and scenic beauty converge at one place.
After exploring history, it’s time for some family-fun activities that Westchester has to offer.
Family Fun in Westchester County
Are you planning a family day out and looking for exciting things to do in Westchester County? Look no further! With various attractions for all ages, Westchester County has become a hub for family fun. From amusement parks to zoos, let’s explore some of the best options for your next adventure.
Start your day with a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center located at Ridge Hill Mall in Yonkers. This indoor entertainment center features exciting rides, playgrounds, and interactive displays made entirely out of LEGO bricks. Kids can build their own creations or take part in workshops where the staff provides guidance on how to create more complex structures.
If you are interested in exploring nature and wildlife, then the Bear Mountain State Park is perfect for you. Spread across 5,000 acres with mountains and breathtaking views of the Hudson River, this park offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, picnicking and fishing. Kids will enjoy visiting the Trailside Museums and Zoo which features exhibits of live animals such as black bears, mountain lions, wolves, and foxes that are native to the area.
For those who love adventure and want something more thrilling than a leisurely walk through nature, Boundless Adventures located in Purchase is an ideal destination. This aerial adventure park features zip lines up to 40 feet high along with bridges, platforms and obstacles that test one’s physical abilities. While some parents may feel nervous about their children participating in such activities, there are instructors present at every obstacle ensuring the safety of participants.
For families looking for an outdoor challenge without heights involved similarly, take your family to Cliffs of Valhalla located in Valhalla which provides rock-climbing opportunities as well as bouldering routes that range from beginner-friendly courses to tough challenges.
Now that we have explored some of the top options for family fun, let’s look at some of the best amusement parks and zoos in Westchester County.
Amusement Parks and Zoos
Westchester County offers many amusement parks and zoos that provide endless entertainment for visitors. Whether you are looking for a thrilling roller coaster ride or to explore exotic animals up close, these attractions guarantee an unforgettable experience.
Playland Park located in Rye is one of the oldest amusement parks in America and features more than 50 rides and attractions. From the famous wooden rollercoaster called the “Dragon Coaster” to bumper cars or classic carnival games, there’s something for everyone.
If you are interested in zoos, then visiting the Bronx Zoo is a must-visit. The Bronx Zoo managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society is home to over 6,000 animals including tigers and bears, as well as giraffes, rhinos and other less commonly seen creatures that are kept in their natural habitats. During your visit, be sure to check out the exhibits which teach visitors about wildlife conservation.
Another popular amusement park with its share of thrilling rides and activities is Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson NJ., just an hour away from Westchester County. This park has over 12 rollicking coasters including Kingda Ka — the world’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster. Visitors can also enjoy water park attractions, live concerts featuring world-renowned performers along with a range of delicious food options. Some may argue that it’s a bit far but no doubt it’s worth it!
For families who want something more hands-on head to Norwalk Marine Aquarium located 20 miles northeast of NYC, this aquarium has stories about the marine life in Long Island Sound plus interactive exhibits with sharks & touch tanks. It’s a great way to educate and entertain all ages.
Westchester County has something for everyone when it comes to family fun, amusement parks, and zoos. So take your pick from our curated recommendations and beat the heat with your loved ones this summer!
Dining and Nightlife in Westchester County
Westchester County is known throughout New York for its remarkable dining scene, with many restaurants receiving recognition from notable publications like Michelin and Zagat. The county’s restaurant landscape is exceptionally diverse, ensuring that whatever your craving may be, there’s a spot waiting to satisfy it.
For the night owls looking for some entertainment, Westchester has plenty of options to offer as well. From energetic bars to intimate jazz clubs, there is never a shortage of places to relax and have fun.
Some standout restaurants within Westchester include X20 Xaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers, which offers patrons beautiful riverfront views and mouthwatering seafood dishes. For those who love Italian cuisine, Tarry Lodge in Port Chester serves incredible handmade pasta dishes at reasonable prices. The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry offers farm-to-table cuisine with Chef David DiBari taking pride in sourcing local ingredients for his traditional Italian cooking.
Craft beer lovers can visit Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford for an extensive selection of creative microbrews. Alternatively, for a refined night out with excellent cocktails and live music performances, visitors must stop by the Roxy Hotel Lounge in Rye Brook. With its vintage-inspired decor and impressive mixology team, this is the perfect place to have a relaxing evening with friends.
For the avid wine drinkers out there, what better way to spend an evening than visiting Wine Vault & Eatery in Pleasantville? This restaurant offers over 4,500 bottles of wine that pair perfectly with their delicious tapas menu. Additionally, for those who appreciate good old-fashioned burgers and beer while watching sports games on large screens, The Craftsman Ale House in Harrison fits the bill perfectly.
Much like a well-seasoned dish pairs perfectly with the right beverage, certain restaurants complement specific types of nightlife. Visitors have the opportunity to try out a variety of experiences and create their unique night out. Whether it’s sampling local beer at an earthy pub or sipping cocktails at a chic lounge, there’s something for everyone.
With so many exciting options for dining and nightlife in Westchester County, the only problem tourists may face is deciding where to start. Luckily, visitors can take their time experiencing everything the county has to offer.
Local Cuisine and Restaurants
For New Yorkers searching for new culinary experiences without having to venture too far from home, Westchester County has plenty of hidden gems worth discovering. The region’s fabulous food culture and top-notch chefs make it easy to taste an abundance of flavors from around the world.
The most popular cuisine influences visitors can find are Italian, Spanish, Indian, Korean, Mexican, Japanese and Chinese, with talented chefs fusing traditional recipes with modern twists.
RaaSa Fine Indian Cuisine in Elmsford offers exceptional authentic Indian cuisine paired with excellent service and hospitality. The menu highlights dishes showcasing everything from savory street snacks to flavorful curries. On the other hand, La Chinita Poblana in Irvington takes diners on a trip through Mexico by serving up mouthwatering tacos filled with tender meat and robust salsa alongside refreshing margaritas.
For those who love all things Japanese or sushi lovers looking for premium quality fish selections should visit Kishuya Ramen Noodle Bar in White Plains. The atmosphere here is as authentic as the food itself as patrons are transported straight into Tokyo. Another must-visit restaurant is Salsa Picante in New Rochelle for absolutely delicious Dominican-inspired meals that are full of bold spices and incredible flavor combinations.
If you’re craving something sweet after enjoying your meal, head over to Lulu’s Cake Boutique in Scarsdale for freshly baked cakes and assorted baked goods. For something savory, with over 300 kinds of bagels on the menu, Ess-a-Bagel in Port Chester is the place to go.
Much like mixing ingredients to achieve the perfect dish, Westchester County has blended diverse cultures and ethnicities to develop a well-crafted food scene. Whether you’re starving or searching for a specific cuisine, there’s no shortage of spots waiting for you to discover.
As visitors turn on their location services, they will find hidden gems located throughout Westchester County. With excellent service and delectable food options ranging from high-end restaurants to casual eateries, this area will always deliver unforgettable cuisine that caters to everyone’s tastes.