Westchester is a very short drive from anywhere in New York City and makes for a great weekend visit as a day trip or overnight.Published Feb. 12, 2021, 1:14 p.m. | Updated Feb. 20, 2021, 5:32 p.m. |
Maybe it is its proximity to the city, but when the layperson thinks of Westchester County, 15 miles of trails with lakes and meadows and forests do not spring to mind.
Westchester is a very short drive from anywhere in New York City and makes for a great weekend visit as a day trip or overnight.
By the official tourism guides, a great way to spend a day there is to start with a coffee in Ossining (an hour from the city on the I-87 - a tad longer by the Saw Mill River Parkway). If you are not on a no-carb diet, there’s partries to be enjoyed before setting off on a hike across the Teatown Lake Reservation, where the trail leads you across a good swathe of natural beauty. And be back in Ossining for lunch.
There are two things you can do after lunch. One is to bike. Get to Tarrytown where you will find a path that turns into a seven-mile ride. You can walk across the Hudson on the newly opened Bridge Path on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
The other thing to do is go southeast to Rye and the Long Island Sound, to the Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary; its 179 acres along the Sound serving as a winter home to more than 5,000 ducks.
There’s great food and local beer from the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.
Other than the beer, the local delights include Fruity Pebbles and Maple Bacon and these are donuts. And the outdoors offer cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding across the 4000-acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation or skating on Wampus Pond.
(Other) things to do in Westchester
The Farm Trail
The Westchester Farm Trail connects 13 farms and orchards from Sleepy Hollow to North Salem. Along the 17-mile trail, there’s things to enjoy such as making maple syrup, being introduced to the livestock. And if they let you, farm chores like a real farmer. The farms on the route offer tours, demonstrations and seasonal events.
Shopping For Alpaca Artifacts
Faraway Farms in Yorktown Heights, raises award-winning alpacas and offers beautiful handmade alpaca products through its online store. In addition to homegrown yarn, it offers sweaters, shawls, hats, scarves, teddy bears, socks and sofa throws.
Phat Olive in Katonah is the shop for your favorite foodie. They offer more than 30 varieties of oils and vinegars and accessories to accompany the oils.
There are all kinds of opportunities to taste great food in the county. And there’s ice cream. Westchester loves ice cream and has a long history starting with the iconic soft-serve maker, Carvel, that started in Westchester There are variations of ice cream to be sampled including: all-American ice cream cones and sundaes, Italian gelatos, Mexican paletas, frozen custards and yogurts.
African American History
February is Black History Month but Westchester celebrates the culture and heritage of African Americans year round. While the area is home to many historical sites, annual- and arts and culture festivals, this is where you can find a statue of Ella Fitzgerald.
Raised in Yonkers, Ella lived and worked at a time when, for her, entrance to most white-owned clubs was through the back door. To quote the official Westchester site, “(Ella) literally conquered the bigoted, the insensitive and the racist with love through song while serving as an ambassador for both music and our country.” African American artist Vinnie Bagwell created a bronze statue entitled “The First Lady of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald” in her honor in 1996, te year she died. You can find the statue next to the Metro-North train station in Yonkers.
Known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day,” Juneteenth is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. Events are held throughout the country on June 19; in Westchester County, parades and festivals take place in Peekskill and in White Plains
Here’s a great way to experience Westchester County before you get there. Take the virtual tour here: https://www.visitwestchesterny.com/things-to-do/virtual-tours/.
(Pics: From the Visit Westchester website.)