If you enjoy visiting historic homes, exploring gardens and seeing now ‘the other half’ lived in the 19th and early 20th century, make a trip to Tarrytown, New York. The city’s history and its closeness to New York City make it a great place to spend a day or two.
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Note: Make sure to check the websites of each location as hours may have changed to COVID. New York state has a mask policy. Sites may be limiting visitors and social distancing while indoors.
Tarrytown, New York
A small village located on the Hudson River, Tarrytown has plenty of history. Originally inhabited by the Indigenous People of the Weckquaesgeek tribe, Tarrytown was where the colonials in the Revolutionary War captured a spy working with Benedict Arnold.
Tarrytown is located 25 miles outside of New York City and just north of Sleepy Hollow, home to author Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman. It is accessible from the city on a Metro-North train or via car.
Tarrytown was the summer residence of choice for the wealthy during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Here are some houses in the area you can explore.
Built-in 1835, Sunnyside was the home of Washington Irving, author of ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.’ The Irving family owned the home until the 1940’s when John D. Rockefeller purchased it for historical purposes and opened it to the public. Today the house is maintained by Historic Hudson Valley who also provides guided tours. Sunnyside is open from May through November.
Located in Sleepy Hollow, Kykuit (pronounced Kye-cut) was home to four generations of Rockefellers. The 40 room home contains modern sculptures, European artifacts and spectacular views of the Hudson River. Kykuit is open from May through November.
There are several different tours available to purchase, depending on how much time you have. Tours typically run from 1.5 hours to 2.25 hours. Note that you cannot see the grounds of Kykuit without purchasing a grounds tour. Also, no photography is allowed inside the house.
Owned by three prominent New York families, Lyndhurst’s last owners were the Gould family. The 67-acre property houses the main house, the carriage house (now the Welcome Center), a bowling alley, a laundry building, rose gardens, and the massive greenhouse area.
At Lyndhurst, you can choose to wander and relax on the grounds, which costs $5, or you can take various tours of the house. Filled with Tiffany lamps, the house also has antique furniture and European art hand-selected by Jay Gould. There are also traveling exhibits, festivals and jazz concerts on the grounds.
In existence since the late 1600s, Philipsburg Manor was a working gristmill. Numerous owners lived on the site until the 1950s, when John D. Rockefeller donated funds to restore the manor. It is now a National Historic Landmark.
The manor is run by History Hudson Valley, which does an excellent job telling the story of the 23 enslaved Africans forced to work there, along with the Philipse family. You’ll learn the story of one of the enslaved men who ran the mill. You’ll also be able to tour the home and explore the grounds.
Visit around May and you can see a colorful, authentic celebration of Pinkster. Originally a Dutch holiday, it was a time when slave owners allowed the enslaved to visit family and became a celebration for both enslaved and freed Africans. Philipsburg Manor continues the tradition with games, storytelling, dancing and a parade.
Food and Drinks
If you’re visiting Kykuit, there’s a cafe in their visitor’s center where you can grab something to eat before or after your tour.
There are also plenty of local restaurants to enjoy in downtown Tarrytown serving a variety of foods. But don’t forget your quarters – Tarrytown has metered parking.
Where to Stay in Tarrytown, New York
No matter if you’re staying in Tarrytown or New York City, there are plenty of hotels and rental homes available. Cities close to Tarrytown where you can lay your head include Nyack, NYC, White Plains and even Greenwich, CT, which is only about 20 miles away.
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