Updated March 15, 2020
The warm weather is upon us, and when it’s nice out we seek out the calm and tranquility of open space, whether it be fields, parks or woods. That’s why I love living in Westchester County, New York, for all the beautiful green space it offers. Tired of your local park? Here’s a list of some of our favorite parks and nature preserves in the county. It’s by no means a complete list, but some of our faves that we think deserve a worthwhile mention.
The Best of Westchester’s Parks and Preserves
I could rave all day about this under-the-radar gem in Yonkers. Known as “Eden on the Hudson”, this Persian-Indo park is set atop the Hudson river with dramatic views and exquisite gardens. Walk around and feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and let the kids run free. Trust me when I say, there is no other place like it. You can read more about it in my dedicated post on Untermyer Park.
Untermyer Park and Gardens, 945 North Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701
*Please note this will Open April 4 – October 31, Saturdays and Sundays
An oasis in Westchester, this sculpture garden in Purchase recently re-opened after a major renovation of PepsiCo’s headquarters. If you enjoy both nature and art, then this is a must-visit. Sculptures by world-renown artists are scattered throughout the property, where you can walk around at leisure and even cool off by the spray pond on a steamy day. Read more about it in my post on the Pepsico sculpture gardens.
700 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY 10577
Set on the Long Island Sound, you may not find a prettier park to spend the morning or afternoon in. Located in Larchmont’s “Manor”, stately houses line the streets as you approach the park. Enjoy the scenery from a park bench, seats carved into the rocks by the water, or take in a view from one of the gazebos. Manor Park is Larchmont’s pride and joy.
108 Park Avenue, Larchmont, NY 10538
This 97 acre park at the base of New Croton Dam in Cortlandt has playing fields, a playground, walking trails and of course a viewing area of Westchester’s awesome waterfall at New Croton Dam. Pack a picnic and make sure to go to the top of the dam where you can walk along the reservoir.
35 Yorktown Rd, Cortlandt, NY 10520
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is Westchester’s biggest park with 4,135 acres of fields, trails, streams and more. There is so much exploring to be done in this park you can spend a whole day here. In fact, you can spend the night here! There is camping, something we have not done in this park yet. But go walking, hiking or picnicking, the list goes on. Note: there is a $10 parking fee without pass ($5 with).
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, 6 Reservation Road, Pound Ridge, NY 10576
We’ve only recently been to this preserve, a gift of the Rockefeller family. With over 140,000 acres of preserved land, wander through fields, woodlands, meadows, wetlands, streams, ponds and lakes. Known for its carriage roads, you can traverse a wide range of landscapes. It’s a huge property, so don’t expect to see everything with little ones in tow. But we did manage to come across a stream and waterfall. Note, there is a $6 parking fee. Also note, the beloved Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is nearby too and within walking distance.
We absolutely love this 2.5 mile trail in the woods, which traverses the towns of New Rochelle, Larchmont and Mamaroneck. It’s an easy and great way to get out in nature and go for a walk, run or trek. For us, it’s practically right in our backyard, so we can just walk to a trail head, but for those further away, there are access points on Rock Ridge Road, Old Whiteplains Road, Rockland Road, Weaver Street, Highland Road and more. You can make it as long of a walk as you want, and it’s dog-friendly.
125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville, NY 10570
This is one of our favorite nature centers on 47 acres of wildlife preserve. There are walking trails, ponds and streams, as well as a playground and slides built into the landscape for the kids to play on. There are also animals to look at inside as well as a plethora of kids and family environmental programs, including classes, workshops and camp. Rye Nature Center offers a terrific program of events, making it a family favorite for many.
873 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY 10580
Another hugely popular nature center for families is the Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale. Situated on 33 acres, there are nature trails, Native American sites, outdoor animal exhibits, the Native Plant Meadow, the Great Lawn and an awesome playground. There is also an indoors with lots of animal exhibits as well, so plenty to keep the kids occupied. Like Rye Nature Center, it has a busy program of events and classes for children and adults.
99 Dromore Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583
Our local, the Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont is a 60-acre preserve of land and water. Walk around the Larchmont reservoir and spot birds and other wildlife. There are a variety of trails, making it the perfect place to take the kids to learn about nature. There are family and adult programs, nature camp, preschool activities and more, making it Larchmont’s own little oasis.
685 Weaver Street, Larchmont, NY 10538
Not Located in Westchester, but close by are:
This public garden in the Bronx is one of our most favorite places in the world. Overlooking the Hudson River and Pallisades Cliffs, it is a true oasis that must be experienced. Go and you shall see. You can read more about it in my dedicated post here.
4900 Independence Avenue, Bronx, NY 10471
Located in the lower Hudson Valley, this gorgeous outdoor sculpture park has rolling hills, fields and woodlands to explore. Art + Nature is my favorite combination! You can read more about it in my dedicated post here.
You’ve probably heard about the very expensive Mohonk Mountain House and its large acreage estate in the Hudson Valley about 2 1/2 hours north of New York City. But did you know that you can enjoy its hiking and scenery in the form of a day pass? Yup. It’s an amazing spot for hiking on a sunny day, plus the day pass gives you access to some of the restaurants. You can read more about it in my dedicated post here.
*For more ideas and tips be sure to check out Cindy By Nature. Cindy is a nature educator and mindfulness expert and is a terrific resource.