Tarrytown, New York and the historic Hudson Valley have a multitude of things for families to do, while offering small town charm and a brief escape from the city.
If a busy schedule or a tight budget prevents you from taking vacations with your family to exotic locales, you’ll be pleased to find that nearby locations can offer fun weekend getaways despite their close proximity. One such getaway for families in the New York metropolitan area is Tarrytown, New York, located just half an hour north of New York City in Westchester County.
Hudson Valley Attractions & Westchester Finds
You’ll find that Tarrytown and the surrounding Hudson Valley are full of family-friendly activities for all seasons. Tarrytown itself has a small downtown area with various shops and restaurants, perfect for an afternoon stroll. A Nu Toy Store has a Lego table and large dollhouse kids can play with inside, and the downtown also has several antique shops for parents.
Tarrytown also contains Tarrytown Lakes Park, which has mostly flat paths for a pleasant gentle walk and bike paths that circle the reservoir, perfect for kids. The bike path at the lake also connects to the 22-mile North Country Trailway if you’re looking for a longer ride.
The area is also full of historic buildings. Just down the road is Kykuit, a Rockefeller family estate. Tours of the stone manor house are available, and kids will enjoy playing in the gardens while parents enjoy the outdoor collection of 20th century sculpture. The indoor Rockefeller Gallery holds some unexpected art works, including embroidered tapestries by Picasso.
Also very close by is Sunnyside, the estate of Washington Irving, most famous for writing the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Tours of the house and gardens are available with guides dressed in period clothing. Families receive “Irving’s Traveling Totes” free with admission that include games for children and a scavenger hunt.
A few minutes north in the town of Sleepy Hollow is Philipsburg Manor, where interpreters in period costume will explain the workings of the farming, milling, and trading center from 1750. Kids can check out the cows, oxen, chickens and sheep, and participate in hands-on activities such as weaving or making biscuits. Guided tours of the manor house and working gristmill are also available.
Since it’s in Sleepy Hollow, Philipsburg Manor hosts an annual celebration of the legend the two last weekends in October, where Halloween activities such as pumpkin carving and storytelling occur during the day. At night, the manor transforms into a haunted landscape where kids can wander and interact with witches, pirates, and other spooky characters. For more information on the historic sites of the area, check out Hudson Valley.
Other nearby attractions include Rye Playland, an amusement park about 20 minutes east of Tarrytown, which among its various rides also offers ice skating in the winter. In fact, you might catch the New York Rangers practicing here if there’s another event going on in their home arena of Madison Square Garden. Playland has fireworks shows every Wednesday and Friday night during July and August.
The large and upscale Westchester Mall is 15 minutes away in White Plains. Though you may wonder at the suggestion of visiting the Pepsi Co. Headquarters (700 Anderson Hill Rd), 20 minutes from Tarrytown in Purchase, the corporate offices actually encompass a 168-acre sculpture garden designed along the lines of an English park. This place is truly spectacular with a world-class art collection on landscaped grounds that kids will love. Admission and parking are free and kids will have fun searching for goldfish and frogs in the lily pad covered ponds.
Where to Eat Well in Westchester
Nothing compares with the foodie mecca of Blue Hill at Stone Barns (914/366-9600), located at 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY 10591. This locavore’s heaven on the grounds of the former Rockefeller Estate gardens that has become the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Just as the rich and famous preferred to dine on their own home-grown and organic produce and meats, so can families with the budget to cultivate good taste.
New York families like to make a day out of their visit to Blue Hill. In addition to many hiking trails weaving around its animal pens, the restaurant and food center sponsors free walking tours of its organic gardens; a weekend green market so you can take home some of their tender, farm-raised lamb and pork; and fun kids’ activities. There is a wonderful restaurant where you’ll have to book a table months in advance. Or, do as the locals and pop in one weekend, and just grab a seat at the bar (over 21 years of age please) for a sample of their out-of-this world cooking. Families with little ones can step over the small take-out window and order up some delicious casual snacks to dine on.
Within the Tarrytown Doubletree Hotel, Bistro Z (914/524-6410) offers a family night every Thursday, where families can enjoy an Italian family-style dinner. Kids can even make cannolis with the chef and children 10 and under are half price. The Isabella Bistro (914/332-1992) also provides tasty Italian food, including brick-oven pizza.
Lefteris Gyro (914/524-9687) has authentic Greek food as well as grilled cheese and hamburgers on the menu for kids who may be less adventurous.
You’ll want to stop into Main Street Sweets (14/332-5757), an old-fashioned and family-owned ice cream shop with many ice cream flavors and milkshakes.
For more suggestions on where to eat, see Best Restaurants in Tarrytown.
Getting there is fairly simple: Tarrytown is a short drive up the New York State Thruway, but if you don’t want to deal with the traffic you can take a Metro North train from Grand Central Station. Though Tarrytown is a short distance away by train or car from New York City, turning your visit into a weekend getaway offers more opportunities for relaxation and a brief respite from the hectic pace of the city.
Once you’ve arrived in Tarrytown, kids will be pleased by the warm chocolate cookies offered to all guests checking in at the Doubletree Hotel (914/631-5700). Offering 247 guest rooms with rates starting around $139, the hotel also offers an indoor pool and fitness center. Cribs and playpens are available for small children. The Doubletree also offers a pet package for those who want to bring along the furry members of their family.
Another option is the Tarrytown House Estate (800/553-8118), comprised of 11 separate buildings on 26 acres overlooking the Hudson River. You can stay in a standard guest room, where rates start around $120, or rent a pricier room in the King Mansion, built circa 1840. Though there is an indoor pool and fitness center year-round, in the summer you can enjoy the outdoor pool and patio. The hotel also has bocce ball, horseshoes, and badminton available by request.
With plentiful local attractions, historical sites and gardens, Tarrytown and the Hudson Valley offer a relaxing break from the city without having to travel too far.
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