Reconnecting with Nature: From City to Suburbs Edition : Westchester County NY

The Grass Really Is Greener 

I have lived in Larchmont for over 20 years, nearly my entire life. Still, every single time I visit Larchmont Manor Park, I can’t resist taking a picture. I’ve probably been to the Manor over a hundred times, whether it’s to read my book, attend Tashlich services with my temple during the high holidays, or most commonly, to show it off to my friends from out of town. And each time, something new about it will strike me. Maybe it’s the way the light hits the Long Island Sound at golden hour, the pops of bright colors from umbrellas on Manor Beach in the summer, or the way the signature gazebos look silhouetted against the sunset. Oh, and so many cute dogs. A solid percentage of my camera roll is just pictures of cute dogs in the Manor.

The best part is, I don’t have to go for a whole day or even a whole afternoon. Living close to the Manor means that sometimes, when I just need a break from looking at a screen or a breath of fresh air, I can pop over for 15 or 30 minutes in the middle of my day. And during quarantine, which has kept us mostly holed up in our own homes, the Manor was a respite unlike anything else. After a long day of work-from-home, eyes throbbing from six consecutive zooms, there is nothing like logging off for a sunset walk by the water. 

Whether it’s the thick of summer or the weekend after Thanksgiving, it always feels good to escape to nature. Here are some of my favorite spots in and around Westchester when I want a lil’ dose of the great outdoors.

Larchmont Manor Park, Larchmont

Predictable, I know! But I had to put the Manor in its rightful position as number one on my list. Since I’ve already said a lot about it, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. 

 

Sheldrake Environmental Center, Larchmont

Photo source here.

Also right in my “backyard,” you can visit Sheldrake Environmental Center. Sheldrake is home to wooded trails, ponds, ivy covered-cabins, wildlife, and a beautiful reservoir. It also has great programming for kids—they’re even offering customized STEM enrichment programs while we’re all still social distancing.

 

Weinberg Nature Center, Scarsdale

Photo source here.

Just one town over in Scarsdale, you can take a walk through Weinberg Nature Center. Like Sheldrake, Weinberg has great programming for kids and families. Even during COVID-19, they’re hosting Nature Learning Pods for PreK kids, StoryWalks along the Trails, a Fall Festival and more. 

Kensico Dam, Armonk/Valhalla

Photo source here.

Head up north in Westchester to visit Kensico Dam, the 300+ foot-tall structure stretching from Armonk to Valhalla. You can picnic on the plaza, which now has lights so you can go after dark. When things settle down with the virus, you could enjoy a wide variety of activities there, including concerts, fitness classes, and cultural heritage celebrations. 

Bear Mountain, Orange County/Rockland County

Photo source here.

Bear Mountain is one of my favorite spots to do a quick hike with my friends. It’s roughly an hour from Westchester, located along the west bank of the Hudson River. It’s an easy way to feel far away and to get some gorgeous views for pretty little effort. 

Breakneck Ridge, Dutchess County/Putnam County

Photo source here.

If you want a bit more of an intense hike (but if I can do it, trust me, it’s not that intense) head up out of Westchester to Breakneck Ridge in Cold Spring. Don’t let the name scare you! There are easier trails you can take to get to the top for breathtaking views of the Hudson. The village of Cold Spring is also a charming town to walk around and grab a bite outside.

Storm King Art Center, Orange County

Photo source here

If you want a dose of art and nature, there’s no better spot than Storm King Art Center. A self described “500-acre outdoor museum,” Storm King is a super unique (and I have to say it—highly Instagrammable) space to go whether you’re on a date, with pals, or bringing the whole family. They’re being extra COVID-safe and allowing limited capacity with timed tickets, so you know you’ll have space to move freely. Come for the fresh air and art, stay for the optical illusion pictures you can take with the sculptures (see above). 

 


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