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Old 07-11-2012, 07:08 AM
Location: Brooklyn
71 posts, read 121,149 times
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My wife and 3 year old son and I are spending some time in Westchester this weekend in anticipation of a future move. We are very early in the process (we have 2 years until my son starts K which is when we want to be settled) so we're not looking at real estate yet, just trying to get a 'feel' for the towns.

On our list (for this trip) are:

Dobb's Ferry

My question for those who know the above towns - anything you recommend that I check out? A particular downtown area, or a park, or a farmers market, or whatever? (a short visit to Stone Barns is already in the cards)

Thanks for your help.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:29 PM
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The river towns kind of divide into two parts: southern and northern. The northern river towns start in Tarrytown and include Sleepy Hollow, Ossining and Croton. The southern towns are Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings and Ardsley (not on the river, but they get an exception). I live in the southern part so my response will be biased to that.

The cool thing about the river towns is that it is very, very hilly. That's because the Appalachian Mountains reach down from the Hudson Highlands all the way down to the tip of Manhattan. So there's a lot of neat parks here.

Anyway, some cool things:

Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) - It used to be the aqueduct bringing water to the city from the Croton Resevoir and now it's a trail. You can walk the trail from Yonkers to Tarrytown. It's very nice, and you get the view of the river and some fabulous homes.
Lyndhurst - Jay Gould's old mansion in Tarrytown. It sits on the OCA and is really nice. You can walk through it on the trail.
Sunnyside - Washington Irving's old home between Tarrytown and Irvington. It has a nice garden that you don't have to pay to get into.
Downtown Tarrytown (Rt 9)- The nicest of the downtowns with lots of shops and restaurants. A great ice cream parlor. Along 9 is a very nice park next to the library.
Downtown Irvington (Rt 9)- Has the most small town, upstate feel of all the towns. No grocery store or anything. They've redone the waterfront and it has a bunch of nice restaurants there.
Mercy College/Ardsley on Hudson (Rt 9) - A nice riverfront with large grassy expanses, plus you can walk around in a very, very nice and quiet neighborhood of Irvington with its own train station
Downtown Dobbs Ferry (Rt 9) - The second best downtown with a lot of stores and such. The riverfront, which is next to the train station, has a nice park.
Downtown Hastings (Rt 9) - is almost delightfully downtrodden with a diner and a couple of pizza places (including a great pharmacy with ice cream), but Hastings has the best view of the Palisades across the river with its 500ft cliffs. If you go to the river they have a very nice park which abuts Harvest on Hudson a nice restaurant.

Hastings and Irvington Farmer's Markets - They are on Saturday morning and are quite fun. Hastings is by the library and Irvington is downtown in the school parking lot.
Hastings Library - Sits on a bluff and looks out over the river. Very peaceful with a good kids room. Check it out after trolling the farmer's market.
Irvington Library - In an old brick building. Also nice. Down by the train station.

Tarrytown Resevoir - Between the Saw Mill (exit 23) and downtown Tarrytown. You can walk along a paved path. Really nice and good for kids. On the way to Stone Barns.
Rockefeller State Park - Go past Stone Barns and take a left on 117. You have to pay to get in, but it has a beautiful lake and lots of walking.
Teatown Lake Preserve - Have never been there but hear it's really nice. Near Ossining.
Hastings Trailways - Hastings has its own forest preserve with trails all through it.

Drive the Saw Mill - Feel like Jimmy Johnson going up the twisty, curvy Saw Mill. Not very safe when it rains, but it follows the ridge north and there are some really cool views as you head towards the Taconic.

Anyway, maybe that will help.
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Old 07-11-2012, 05:48 PM
Location: Chicago
5,559 posts, read 3,683,442 times
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I would also recommend a stop off in White Plains so that you have an idea of some of the shopping stores available in that neck of the woods. There is a nice playground at around 62 Canfield Ave. You can view it on Google Streetview,
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Old 07-12-2012, 03:41 AM
Location: Brooklyn
71 posts, read 121,149 times
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Very, very helpful. I really appreciate it.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:06 AM
Location: Salt Lake City
1,023 posts, read 1,872,054 times
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It's hard to add to BladdyK's very informative post, but I'd like to make a few points:

I am a BIG fan of the Old Croton Aqueduct linear park. I think it is one of the bonuses of living in this area. I use it for biking (mountain or hybrid bike recommended), but people also use it for walking and running. It is possible to take the OCA from Yonkers all the way up to the Croton Dam, though in some areas the trail does not run over the exact location of the aqueduct itself. I think that the best views of the Hudson and the cliffs across the river can be found on the southern sections of the trail, particularly around Hastings. For someone unfamiliar with the trail, I'd definitely recommend getting a trail map, as it can be confusing to a newbie. Free maps are available online at Helpers Needed for Yonkers Cleanup Tues July 10 | Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, but I recommend spending $5 for a more detailed map that you can pick up at Cary's Pharmacy on Main St in Dobbs Ferry.

In Croton, visit Croton Point Park. This is a large, county-owned park right on the Hudson River. At this time of the year, there is an admission charge (under $10). There is a small parking lot near a baseball field before the entrance to the park where you might be able to park free of charge, if yo don't want to pay the admission fee and don't mind a little walk to get into the park.

I know that you said you are not ready to look at real estate yet, but while you're in Croton you might want to take a quick drive through Half Moon Bay. This is a development of townhouses near the Hudson. As you cross the railroad tracks, you can also make a right turn to check out a small park (Senasqua Park) on the river, and part of the Riverwalk project that is under development. The Riverwalk is supposed to eventually connect towns on the river from Yonkers all the way up to Peekskill.

Another park in the Croton area that you might want to visit is Croton Gorge Park. To get here, head north on Route 129 out of Croton for a couple of miles and you will come to the park's entrance on the right. This is another county-owned park that also charges a small admission fee at this time of year. The park features a large grassy area with some picnic tables and a small playground. The main attraction at this park though, is the massive Old Croton Dam, which was completed in 1842 and built to supply NYC with water.
While you can no longer drive across the top of the dam itself due to security concerns since 9/11, you can walk across it. To get to the top of the dam, continue driving past the entrance to the park up the hill, and you will soon get to an unmarked road on the right. Leave your car there (the road is blocked to vehicular traffic further down) and walk about a quarter of a mile to the top of the dam, giving you expansive views of the park below, the reservoir behind the dam, and the dam's spillway.

I'm not sure if this is still in business as I haven't been in Croton this season, but there is a small ice cream shop called the Blue Pig at the intersection of Route 129 (Maple St) and Old Post Rd S that is a favorite of locals. If you prefer a cup of coffee to ice cream, skip the Dunkin Donuts in town and head for The Black Cow (The Black Cow Coffee Company), also on Route 129 before you get to the Blue Pig.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:34 PM
Location: Salt Lake City
1,023 posts, read 1,872,054 times
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I had meant to add these thumbnails of shots from Croton Gorge Park in my last post:

View of the bridge over the spillway from the park below.

Partial view of the park from top of the Old Croton Dam.

View of spillway and road across the top of the dam.

View of the spillway and reservoir from top of the dam.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:12 PM
Location: Brooklyn
71 posts, read 121,149 times
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I'd like to offer up my thanks again, great advice here and we had a good trip.
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:38 PM
432 posts, read 964,667 times
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It's suburbia. It's all the same BS, in the end.
Do not expect some revelation by walking around a few towns and eating a sandwich somewhere.
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:00 PM
Location: Minneapolis, MN
366 posts, read 508,610 times
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I totally disagree. Each town is similar, but they have slightly different layouts and accessibility to public transportation, the distance between neighborhoods and the main shopping districts. When my husband and I went looking for apartments, we definitely had our preferences. It won't give you the full story, but since living here full time we have definitely found other towns we prefer over the town we live in now. And that came with exposure. That's why I'm glad we rent!
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