Rockefeller State Park Preserve {Westchester County}

 

Recently, our family visited Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Westchester County.  The park’s main entrance is located off of Route 117 in Pleasantville. Since that first visit several weeks ago, we’ve already been back.  The park includes over 1600 acres that were deeded to New York State as a generous gift from the Rockefeller Family.  Much of the park was designed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. beginning in 1910 and reflects his passions of conserving nature and carriage driving.  Today, over 350,000 people visit this park every year.

The Visitor Center is open from 9 to 4:30 PM with a person inside available to answer questions.  Outside the visitor center are maps of the trails.

Rockefeller Park also has an art gallery on premise, which is open from 9 AM – 4: 30 PM.

The current exhibit, “Winged Jewels of the Forest” is on display until August 13.  All of the artwork is available for purchase and proceeds that the Preserve receives directly support the gallery.

The park has four main areas, Swan Lake, Eagle Hill, Rockwood Hall and Buttermilk Hill. Each area consists of several different trails that you can walk, jog, or in winter, cross-country ski on.  You can even get a permit to horseback ride or carriage drive on the trails.

Our family enjoys visiting parks to hike and geocache.  However, during trout and bass season, fishing is permitted with a state license and in winter cross-country skiing is allowed.  On this trip we started out on Deer Run and then walked Brothers’ Path which circles around Swan Lake.  The path is 1.1. miles and a perfect, short hike.   It was a beautiful day and we saw many other hikers and joggers along the trails. Using the geocache app, we found four caches on our first trip.

On our second trip we walked a little bit of Overlook Trail.  Then we went back to the parking lot and walked Glacier Erratic, where you can find this amazing rock formation.

With  almost 40 trails, this is a local park that you can visit and hike many times without getting bored.

Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve work with New York State to, “promote the conservation and operation of the Preserve.”  Donations to the Friends go directly into preserving and maintaining the park, as well as supporting educational programs.  Upcoming events include Rocky’s 5K.

The Details:

Rockefeller State Park Preserve
125 Phelps Way
Pleasantville, NY 10570
(914) 631-1470

Parking:  $6 or free with an Empire Pass

Tips to know:

There are bathrooms in the art gallery and in the main parking area.

There are a couple of picnic tables near the park entrance.

Be sure to pack bug spray and sun screen.

We like to carry water with us as we hike.

Savor Westchester: Changing the Food Court Experience

*I was invited to a preview tasting of Savor.  All opinions are my own.

After visiting Savor Westchester, the new dining experience at The Westchester, you will never want to eat at an ordinary mall food court again.  After a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation, three of the six planned eateries are currently open.  Shoppers can currently choose from Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, Whitman’s and Australian-based coffee shop Bluestone Lane.  This is the first Westchester location for all three eateries, which all have establishments in NYC and other metropolitan areas.  Located on the fourth floor, Savor has plenty of seating as well as an outdoor patio.  SAVOR is adjacent to PLAY (a free 2,300 square foot play area)  and CONNECT (a technology lounge that contains flat screen televisions, work space and phone charging stations).  Here is a more detailed look at the three open eateries.

Mighty Quinn’s

Mighty Quinn’s is a BBQ restaurant  that cooks, “the old school way with plenty of wood and time.”  They offer traditional barbecue items including brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, spare ribs and more.

Several of the meat options can be ordered naked or on a sandwich.

For those who prefer chicken, options include a half chicken, a crispy chicken sandwich or chicken wings.  Unfortunately the only vegetarian choice is a veggie burger.  They serve a variety of sides including pomme frites, onion rings, burnt end baked beans, sweet potato casserole, buttermilk broccoli salad, potato salad and mac and cheese.  Mighty Quinn’s serves beer both in bottles and on tap as well as glasses and bottles of wine.  Prices range from $7.50 for 6 chicken wings to $28.00 for a Brontosaurus Rib. Many of the meat choices can be ordered as a single serving, a half pound or full pound.

Whitman’s

Whitman’s serves a variety of salads and sandwiches.

They have several burger selections including a Green Chili Burger, Bacon Egg & Cheese Burger, and a PB & B Burger (that stands for peanut butter and bacon!).  If you’re not feeling a burger you can also order a grilled chicken club, a cheesesteak or a hot dog.

Whitman’s also offers a veggie burger on their menu as well as three different salads, including this Brussels Sprout Salad.  Prices range from $4.50 for a hot dog to $12 for most burgers.

Bluestone Lane

Bluestone Lane is an Australian-based coffee shop.

They offer an extensive menu of hot and cold coffee options using their own roasted beans.  A variety of tea and wellness drinks, like beetroot and matcha lattes, as well as fresh juices are also available.  Bluestone Lane is the place to go for lighter fare.

They sell a variety of toast including the infamous avocado smash, salmon toast and a turmeric sweet potato toast as well as a variety of pastries and sweets.

Have you visited SAVOR at The Westchester?  What is your favorite dish from these eateries?

Untermyer Park and Gardens {Yonkers, NY}

If you’ve ever driven on North Broadway in Yonkers, you may have sped right past Untermyer Park and Gardens and not even known it {guilty!}.  Hidden behind a gated brick wall, the entrance is unassuming.  However, once you pass through those gates, you are transported to another world.

Untermyer Park is a public park in the city of Yonkers.  It’s named for successful corporate lawyer, Samuel Untermyer, who acquired the property in 1899.  An avid horticulturist, he commissioned architect William Welles Bosworth  to design the gardens in 1916.  Untermyer opened his 150 acres of gardens to the public and intended for them to become a state park when he died.  Unfortunately, due to the high cost of this endeavor, his dream couldn’t become a reality.  Instead, in 1946 a portion of the property was given to the City of Yonkers to be used as a city park.  Today, Untermyer Park consists of 43 acres that is maintained and being restored in a collaboration between the non-profit, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy and the city of Yonkers.

I recommend picking up a brochure which is available in an outdoor case at the Community Center (bathrooms and benches to sit and rest are located here as well).  You can read about the history of the gardens and use the map to ensure that you don’t miss anything. As much as I wanted to fill this post with tons of beautiful pictures of the gardens I restrained myself. There’s nothing like seeing their beauty for the first time in person.

 

Begin your tour at the Walled Garden.  This Indo-Persian garden is based on the Garden of Eden. Divided into quadrants by waterways, some things you will see in this garden include an open air amphitheater, reflecting pools filled with goldfish and koi, marble columns, a Grecian temple, fountains and mosaic-tiled floors and walls.

Make your way toward The Vista, the staircase that takes you down towards the Vista Overlook. At the circular Overlook, you will have spectacular views of the Hudson River.  As you make your way down the steps, you’ll pass the remnants of what was the Color Gardens.

At the bottom of the Vista Overlook you can take the Woodland Trail up the the Temple of Love.  We opted to walk down past the old Gatehouse and take the longer Carriage Trail.  This trail runs parallel to the Old Croton Aqueduct and Warburton Avenue.  Hearing police sirens and cars driving by as we walked on the trail were the only reminders that we were in the midst of a city.  When we came upon the waterfalls at the Temple of Love, my jaw dropped in disbelief! Seeing the rock gardens with the water cascading down is truly a breathtaking sight.

The whole family was surprised at the history and beauty of Untermyer Park.  These gardens are truly a hidden gem in Yonkers that every Westchester County resident should visit at least once.  The beauty of the gardens is that you can come back at different times throughout the year and get a different perspective, as they change the floral displays with the seasons.

The Details:

Untermyer Park and Gardens
945 North Broadway
Yonkers, NY 10701
(914) 613-4502
www.untermyergardens.org

Admission:  Free

Hours:  7 AM – dusk (daily)
Please check the website for the Walled Garden hours

Tours:  90 minutes – given on Sundays by docents from late April through early November (focus alternates weekly between history and horticulture – check the schedule for information)
Cost:  $10/adult, free for children 12 and under  –  no reservations required

President’s Tour:  Given one Sunday a month
Cost:  $20/adult, free for children 12 and under  – no reservations required

Parking:  Two small lots at the community center next to the community center at Untermyer or street parking on  North Broadway (both metered and unmetered)

Additional Info:
There are restrooms on the property.

Pets are not allowed on the grounds.

Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Food and drinks are not sold on the property.  However, feel free to bring your own and enjoy a picnic on the grounds.

We visited with our two children, ages 8 and 11.  Walking at a leisurely pace, we were able to see all of the gardens and take plenty of pictures in about one hour.  You can make a longer or shorter visit, depending on your needs.