By Sheree Bykofsky
Need a vacation from the city and only have two days? Think Westchester. The county that’s the gateway to the Hudson Valley region has everything anyone would need to relax, rejuvenate and feel special. A world of adventure beckons only minutes from Manhattan.
Spend a day exploring several pretty and distinct neighborhoods. Get a map and plan a leisurely drive through Rye, Mamaroneck, Larchmont and New Rochelle. The accommodating Westchester CVB has mapped out several driving tours to suit your time constraints and interests. Some highlights of your day may include a visit to Rye Playland where you can stroll on the boardwalk reminiscing about your childhood, ride an upside down rollercoaster or try to shoot out the entire red star to take home a giant stuffed animal (hint: shoot slowly).
Tour the mansions of Rye and the Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Then take a hike to the beach or through a meadow at the Marshlands Conservancy right next to the resplendent Jay Heritage Center where you can pick up maps, literature and ideas for future driving tours. Feel like winding down? Shop, stroll and have lunch, coffee or a snack in the downtown villages of Mamaroneck, Larchmont or Katonah (if you love jewelry, visit Free & Co where the earrings and necklaces aren’t free but are a fifth of their identical Madison Avenue counterparts). Feel like winding up? Head on over to New Roc City in New Rochelle where you can play in the arcade, skate, smack some baseballs or hit some glow-in-the-dark golf balls on the miniature indoor course. Later, swing by the tranquil and picturesque Glen Island Park (Parking is for residents, but you may either get a day pass or park on the other side of the bridge and walk over).
Be sure to work up an appetite because the highlight of your Westchester Vacation will surely be a cooking class and dinner at MacMenamin’s Grill. Learn how to build a gourmet pizza or cook a multi-course clambake with clam chowder, fresh succulent lobster, quahogs and mussels, corn, wood-smoked barbeque chicken, homemade coleslaw and apple cobbler. Wine is included, and a fun bonding experience is almost guaranteed.
You can roll back to Manhattan feeling like you had a week’s vacation or continue an hour north to Chappaqua and put your head down on a pillow at Crabtree Kittle’s B&B. The 1790 mansion is comfortably worn and welcoming, and you’ll feel what it’s like to live like a millionaire.
Dinner at MacMenamin’s may have made you feel like you’ll never eat again, but when you wake up at Crabtree Kittle’s you’ll enjoy a fresh continental breakfast or on Sunday’s a lavish brunch in the stunning dining room overlooking the backyard of the lush property. You’ll need your energy for a day of golf at the Hudson Hills Golf Club, the newest of six county-owned courses in Westchester. The rolling hills provide for many interesting holes, one of which (the 17th) will floor you with an impossibly high elevated green. The hills provide a beautiful backdrop while still allowing true shots to the well-maintained holes. The GPS golf cart is a particularly nice touch on a municipal course.
Don’t go home yet! At least, not until you’ve had a chance to float in the gifted, seasoned hands of massage therapist Lucy at the Epidavros Day Spa in Mount Kisco. The aromatherapy Swedish massage is a delight that you won’t forget—especially after 18 holes of golf., Mount Kisco, incidentally, offers another great downtown for shopping and strolling.
Another night in Westchester! What to eat? What to eat? The restaurant at Crabtree Kittle’s is one fine choice, and the award-winning wine list is enormous! Dinner at the popular Iron Horse Grill in Pleasantville is a culinary experience that should not be missed. The dishes on the menu feature a fascinating marriage of some unusual ingredients. To start try the baby octopus with sea beans and miso or mission figs with bresaola and mache. My favorite is the foie gras with cherry chutney and balsamic vinegar syrup. Excellent main dishes include red snapper “peas and carrots,” prepared with a carrot-ginger sauce, sweet pea mousse and snap peas. The professional servers will pace your meal perfectly.
By the time you get home after this itinerary, someone will need to introduce you to yourself! I’d like you to meet the new and happy YOU!
If You Go:
Westchester County Office of Tourism
Rye Playland Amusement Park, Playland Parkway, Exit 19 from I95
New Roc City
33 LeCount Place, New Rochelle, NY 10801
“Clam Bake” cooking class at MacMenamin’s/Chef Works
115 Cedar Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801
Crabtree’s Kittle House
11 Kittle Road, Chappaqua, NY 10514<
Iron Horse Grill
20 Wheeler Ave.
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Hudson Hills Golf Course
400 Croton Dam Road (Route 134) in Ossining
Check the map for two nearby romantic locations; Teatown Lake Reservation and the Croton Dam at Croton Gorge Park
Epidavros Day Spa
272 N. Bedford Road, Mount Kisco.
The spa is located on the third floor of the building annex of the former Northern Westchester Center for the Arts.