Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
How does one in 700 words or less describe all the variety of attractions that Westchester County New York holds? Well, one doesn’t, or better yet can’t. But in a quick visit I did enjoy all my stops along the very convenient ribbon of parkways that can speed you from one historic landmark to another or to another delightful dining experience.
My oasis for this visit was the expansive and convenient Doubletree in Tarrytown. With an extensive breakfast buffet with hot egg option included, you can be off and touring quickly on your own schedule. A good night’s rest is mandatory to supply you with the energy you will need each day. This Doubletree in Tarrytown delivers.
The 19th century was a period of political and technological change in America. Romanticism dominated the arts, and as the movement emphasized the appreciation of nature, imagination and emotion, the Hudson River Valley became the center of painting and architecture. Wealthy patrons commissioned the construction of mansions in a variety of styles along the bluffs of the river from New York City to Albany. Lyndhurst is one of these. Overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York, Lyndhurst is one of America’s finest Gothic Revival mansions. Former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt and railroad tycoon Jay Gould were all its inhabitants.
Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate is a must tour. This expansive mansion and grounds tour is a popular attraction and you must make reservation for your visit at the Phillipsburg Manor Visitor Center, and a courtesy bus will take you from the ticket outlet and gift shop up the hill and around the circular drive. Personal cars are not permitted. The proprietors of this property are quite proud of their charge to preserve while sharing this American palace so be prepared for enforcement of strict rules while touring. The art gallery, if on your tour, gives one pause as to the real meaning of what is art and what is not?
The cottage of Washington Irving’s, Sunnyside, is a delight to tour or if you come too late for a formal tour, just grazing the grounds and setting, next to the Hudson and railroad track, is a fun meandering. Further investigation in to the life and contributions of Irving, is enlightening to see his influence of the times in which he lived. Not only giving us the tales of Sleep Hollow and the Headless Horseman, but coining such words we take for granted today, such as Gotham- referring to New York City. The Sleepy Hollow cemetery is a wealth of frozen history with such notables residing there as, Elizabeth Arden, Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller. Roaming its hill expanse, one can meander to the Old Church and cemetery, and down to the reconstructed Headless Horseman Bridge.
If you feel over loaded (and you shouldn’t) with historic places, modern entertainment at the Westchester Broadway Theater should be on your itinerary. They produce professionally presented musicals in a dinner theatre style. While just exploring the parkways and byways of Westchester and without planning one may happen upon a delightful restful moment. We came upon the Red Hat On The River bar and restaurant cozied up to the massive Hudson River. It’s curiosity quenching moments like this spontaneous beverage stop that the well-traveled embrace and relish as special memories.
But for a top of the sky, upscale dining option few can compare to the 42nd, atop the Ritz Carlton in White Plains. The cocktail lounge with spectacular views of the Hudson valley, setting sun and downtown, and the accompanying several restaurants, are the “in” place to dine in the center of Westchester County
Just when I thought we had experienced the best of Westchester dining, an evening setting sun cocktail and appetizers of Portabella mushroom and a Risotto at the historic Castle on the Hudson, offered us its plethora of charmed atmosphere as we sat on the outside patio of this mansion. While we were relaxing and recounting our few days of adventure, a pair of young dear wandered on the lawn beneath our table, as if on cue, having their dusk appetizer of young sprouts. Westchester County has its magic and is a grand entry into the Historic Hudson Valley, with many more locales, mansions, and dining experiences awaiting the discriminating traveler. www.westchestertourism.com
Mr. Terry Zinn – Travel Editor
Past President: International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association