Westchester County, New York, offers activities for the whole family, from casual hikes to bike rides to a taste of history. There’s plenty to explore, whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or escaping for a week-long vacation. Here’s a closer look at all the outdoor fun you can have in the area.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve is the former country estate of the John D. Rockefeller family and William Rockefeller. The family donated over 1,425 acres of land to the State of New York back in 1983 and the preserve is now open to the public year-round from 7 a.m. to dusk. Here you’ll find 45 miles of crushed stone carriage roads that were laid out in the first half of the 20th century. They’re perfect for walking, bike riding and jogging. The preserve is also home to a wide range of birds with over 180 species sighted on the property.
You’ll see even more colorful winged creatures at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary, which is on a migratory flyway recognized by the Audubon Society. It covers 179 acres of land and features an 85-acre lake. There are three miles of trails to explore and the site features a Nature Center with an exhibit on the local ecology.
Birdwatchers will also enjoy Ward Pound Ridge Reservation with 35 miles of wooded trails to explore. This is the county’s largest park and covers 4,315 acres of land. Numerous bird species can be sighted in the region including bluebirds, which nest in the 60 bluebird boxes located throughout the area. It’s also one of the best places in the county to see butterflies.
Take a leisurely stroll through Untermyer Gardens and enjoy Grecian gardens landscaped in the Beaux Arts style. The property was originally owned by Samuel Untermyer who bought it back in 1899 and then turned it into one of the most famous gardens in the country back in its day. Seasonal flowers now bloom throughout the restored areas of the property where you can wander through the gardens and relax in a temple overlooking a mosaic pool.
Another relaxing adventure can be had at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden. In addition to the museum with its art exhibits, gift shop and café, there’s a 3.5-acre Japanese garden. Twisting paths take you through the garden across stepping stones, over hills, around ponds and across dry landscapes. Take a moment to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the garden, from the lush foliage to the crunch of pebbles beneath your feet.
Saxon Woods Park is a 700-acre property with a wide variety of outdoor activities that will appeal to the whole family. Open year round, the park is home to the county’s largest swimming pool and a children’s aquatic playground that’s perfect for hot summer days. There’s an 18-hole golf course for the grown-ups and an 18-hole mini golf course for when it’s time to have a little fun with the kids. You can also wander through miles of hiking trails that connect to both the Leatherstocking Trail and Colonial Greenway.
Those with a serious taste for excitement will want to check out Boundless Adventures. This aerial adventure park in Purchase, New York, is suited to all ages and all skill levels making it a great experience for the whole family. There are four different courses with varying levels of difficulty that include zip lines, elevated ladders and bridges, and balance beams. Test your stamina and agility and maybe even surprise yourself as you conquer your fears at up to 40 feet above the ground.
There’s also Muscoot Farm, which was originally owned by the Hopkins family as a summer estate and dairy farm from 1880 through 1924. It then became a year-round dairy business until it was acquired by Westchester County in 1967. Today, it preserves a piece of history as an interpretive farm with many of the same buildings still on site. Explore the dairy barn, milk house, ice house and blacksmith house along with other barns and buildings on the property. You can also hike through over seven miles of trails that showcase the 777 acres of fields, woods and wetlands that encompass the property.
Spend some time at Greenburgh Nature Center exploring a 33-acre preserve that has something for everyone with trails, ponds, wetlands, gardens and playgrounds. Trails are as short as one-tenth of a mile or as long as over half a mile and connect with each other for longer excursions. Expect to see all sorts of local wildlife on the trails and take a break to experience a Native American Replica Village where you can see how the Eastern Woodland Indians lived 6,000 years ago.
Enjoy a day of exploring at John E. Hand Memorial Park at Bald Mountain. Here you will find 112 acres of woodlands perfect for hiking with a great view at the top as a reward for your efforts. Part of the Kitchawan Trail or TKT, this 5.5-mile trail links up with other parks and trails for more extended hikes. The signed route to the top of Bald Mountain passes through forests and meadows with stunning views every step of the way.
Kensico Dam Plaza combines a man-made wonder with a 98-acre park. The park is at the base of the dam, which was completed in 1917 and reaches 307 feet high and 1,843 feet long. There are two paved loops that are perfect for biking, in-line skating, or pushing along the kids in a stroller. This beautiful park is also home to The Rising, which is Westchester County’s September 11th memorial.
Westchester County offers something for every outdoor adventurer. Explore hiking trails that lead to mountain vistas, see the local wildlife, stroll through beautiful gardens and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. It’s the perfect getaway for the whole family.
Click here for a full Westchester County destination guide. For the latest events and happenings in Westchester, visit www.visitwestchesterny.com; follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; or call 1-800-833-9282.