15 Best Things to Do in Bedford, NY

Bedford, NY
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The quiet suburban town of Bedford is in the northeastern portion of Westchester County, New York.

The town comprises three distinct hamlets: Bedford Village, Katonah, and Bedford Hills.

In 1680, 22 Puritans from Stamford, Connecticut, acquired land measuring three miles square called "Hopp Ground."

They purchased the property from the Mohegan Indian Chiefs in exchange for coats, cloth, blankets, and wampum.

Today, Bedford teems with beautiful nature preserves, historic homes, and exciting arts and entertainment attractions.

The town’s original settlement in the southeast Bedford Village hosts many 18th and 19th-century historic buildings.

Several miles north of the town sits Katonah, a lively and vibrant town with plenty of commercial establishments.

The Bedford Hills hamlet is the town government seat, which became the area’s primary business and transportation hub after the Civil War.

If you want a country getaway, you’ll enjoy the list of the best things to do in Bedford, New York.

Take a Tour of the Bedford Village Historic District

Buildings at Bedford Village Historic District
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Through a local ordinance in 1972, the town of Bedford established the Bedford Village Historic District.

Later, the New York State and National Register of Historic Places added this district to their records.

The district features most of the old 1680 hamlet with one contributing site and 80 contributing historical buildings.

Courthouse at Bedford Village Historic District
Doug Kerr from Albany, New York, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It includes the 1787 Court House, which now houses a museum, and a 19th-century School House, which the Bedford Historical Society oversees.

This historic location also includes the 1500 Bedford Oak, which has become an iconic town symbol.

Bedford store at Bedford Village Historic District
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

People believe the oak tree is older than the town itself.

Visit the classic structures like the 1806 Historical Hall, Library, the 1829 School House, and the Bedford Store and Post Office, both built in 1838.

The Jackson House, Sutton Clock, and the Lounsbery Building are other sites to see in the Bedford Village Historic District.

Firehouse and Bedford free library at Bedford Village Historic District
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about the Town’s History at Bedford Hills Museum

Discover much of the town’s rich history in the Bedford Hills Museum.

You can find the museum at the Bedford Court House, restored to its original glory in 1971.

Visitors can tour the museum from May to January.

The first-floor exhibits feature the renovated Court Room, where they held court trials from the 1780s to the 1860s.

Moreover, US Chief Justice William Jay heard county court cases from future Vice President Aaron Burr inside this room.

The second-floor exhibit features artifacts of Bedford’s history and culture, representing the town’s early commerce, farming industry, and community.

Take a glimpse of the oldest jail cell in the county, which also appeared on the Westchester Historian and New York Correction History Society websites.

Grab some Bedford memorabilia, classic Colonial games and toys, books, souvenirs like mugs, canvass bags, glass trays, caps, and more.

Have a great learning experience at Bedford Hills Museum.

Discover the Trails at Mianus River Gorge Preserve

The waters of Mianus River Gorge Preserve
Anthony22 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mianus River Gorge Preserve features 935 acres of nature preserve, which the Nature Conservancy and the non-profit Mianus River Gorge, Inc co-own.

Established in 1953, the preserve became an official National Natural Landmark in 1964 to protect the old-growth hemlock forest and the Mianus River gorge.

You’ll see more than 400–year old forest trees in this preserve.

Hike the beautiful five-mile scenic trails and enjoy the fresh forest air.

Forest trail at Mianus River Gorge Preserve
Koala234, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trek the mile-long loop at the Taylor Preserve and walk along the hemlocks, beech, and maple trees along the river banks, ending with a great view from the top.

Don’t forget to drop by the map shelter, where you can learn about the ecology and the Preserve’s history.

You can join their scheduled events, educational initiatives, and research programs.

Enjoy a nature trip at Mianus River Gorge Preserve.

Catch Shows and Movies at Bedford Playhouse

If you want a night of great family entertainment, you can go to Bedford Playhouse.

Serving the community for many decades, the state-of-the-art film, arts, and cultural center has become a place for great entertainment and inspiration.

You can rent the space for a uniquely personalized movie experience.

Besides featured movie shows, you can catch the center’s summer series.

Catch Broadway performances from the Broadway in Bedford stars, or enjoy a mix of folk, rock, and other genres by The Four26 band.

Otherwise, listen to soothing music  the Orchestra 914 woodwind quintet.

After the show, grab tasty meals, small bites, and pair them with craft beers, wines, and cocktails at the Playhouse Café.

Experience extraordinary entertainment at Bedford Playhouse.

Revisit History at the John Jay Homestead

Exterior of the John Jay Homestead
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Former statesman and the first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay spent his retirement at the John Jay Homestead, located in Katonah.

In 1981, the property became a National Historic Landmark.

It opens for tours all year round.

Learn interesting facts about American history, slavery, and women's lifestyles during the 19th century from five generations of the Jay family.

Travel back to the past with original family heirlooms, historical photographs, antique furniture pieces, and an array of decorative arts.

Check out original paintings from Gilbert Stuart, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Cole, and John Trumbull, and the bust of John Paul Jones.

Likewise, you can visit the Carriage Barn Education & Visitor Center, and watch a biographical video about the life and achievements of John Jay.

Then, visit the gift shop and reading room.

Stroll or have a picnic at the beautiful Herb Garden, Sun Dial Garden, or Terrace Garden,

See the fish at the ice pond, and shop at the Farm Market during the summer and fall.

You can also try the farm life by visiting the chicken coop with heritage-bred chickens.

Next, check out the bee hives, and walk along the gardens.

Enjoy the annual Barn Dance at the John Jay Homestead, featuring bands, food, and festive events.

Enjoy a Hike at Guard Hill Preserve

The 76-acre Guard Hill Preserve started after Amy and Brian Pennington donated the property to the Westchester Land Trust to help prevent its development.

The area opens in May or June, where you’ll explore the lush wetlands filled with cinnamon fern, skunk cabbage, and sphagnum moss hummocks.

Spot various bird species like the black-and-white warblers, Baltimore orioles, and rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Your trek starts south of Guard Hill Road, west of the Clinton Road intersection.

The trail leads you to the southeast at the preserve's border, where you’ll see a view of pasture lands.

You can hike or ride on horseback on Guard Hill Preserve.

Stop by the Famous Stepping Stones

Exterior of Stepping Stones
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stepping Stones was the historic home of Bill & Lois Wilson, cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups.

The couple’s residence became a State and National Historic Landmark.

You can make reservations for onsite tours at this attraction.

Step inside the Wilson house and enter Bill’s writing studio, which he nicknamed Wit’s End.

Check out the couple’s items and the different rooms and features of the house.

At the Welcome Center, you’ll see the orientation display with over a hundred thousand items kept in the archives of Stepping Stones.

Then, see the lovely flower gardens, vegetable gardens, and more, outside the home.

With the help of generous supporters, the Foundation maintains and preserves Stepping Stones.

Take a Nature Trip at Tom Burke Preserve

Situated in Bedford Hills, the Tom Burke Preserve offers you an excellent site for birdwatching and exploring different flora.

The preserve spans 7.5 acres of open meadows and swamp areas.

Formerly known as Knapp's Field, the preserve later changed its name after Thomas Burke.

Burke was a resident across the field who died during the World Trade Center attack.

While roaming the preserve, you can enjoy relaxing views of abundant wildflowers and meadow grasses.

You can access the entrance to Tom Burke Preserve on McLain Street, just right off McLain Street and Springhurst Road.

Other Things To Do Nearby

View Amazing Art Exhibits at the Katonah Museum of Art

Exhibit in Katonah Museum of Art
Margaret Fox, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Katonah Museum of Art holds temporary visual arts exhibits in different artistic disciplines, mediums, cultures, and historical eras.

You can find this gallery in Katonah, New York.

Formerly known as the Katonah Gallery, this non–collecting institute offers onsite docent-led tours on current displays.

It opened to the public in 1953 and moved to its present location in 1990.

Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the museum's current building.

The American Alliance of Museums accredited the museum with three to four significant yearly exhibits.

Drop by the gift shop for souvenirs or stroll the outdoor Sculpture Garden to see contemporary works under shades of tall pine trees.

Visit the Pollack Family Learning Center and do some hands-on art projects with your kids.

The Katonah Museum of Art also offers lectures, workshops, film shows, concerts, and events for the public.

View Antique Pieces at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Located in Katonah, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is a former estate that now hosts a variety of live musical performances.

The Rosen House, which hosts these performances, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It also serves as a venue for many fundraising and dinner events.

Marvel at the Mediterranean-style architecture and tour the Rosen House, built between 1929 to 1939.

You’ll find an array of Asian décor, Renaissance art, and classic European furnishings of 18th-century rooms derived from original Italian, French, and English villas.

You can catch the Caramoor Summer Music Festival here every summer or join the annual Opening Night Gala, Masked Ball, or Wine Dinners.

Enjoy excellent music and a remarkable luxurious space at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

Visit the Unique Trailside Nature Museum

Established in 1937, Trailside Nature Museum holds extensive collections of mounted animals and artifacts from Native Americans.

It also provides learning exhibits, interactive displays, and nature-themed artworks.

It’s one of the country’s oldest museums with this theme.

Likewise, the museum houses the Delaware Indian Research Center, where you can view book collections and several artifacts about Native Americans.

Experience butterflying in the meadows with various species you can check from the Butterflies of Ward Pound Ridge Reservation brochure.

Learn the Lenape people's ways, daily life, and culture.

You can also experience the village life in the traditional wigwam.

If you visit in February or March, try maple sugaring.

You will learn the basics of producing maple syrup, from tapping trees to bringing it to the sugar house and observing the boiling process.

Learn new things while having fun at the Trailside Nature Museum.

You can find this museum in Cross River, New York, 12 minutes from Bedford.

Experience the Farm Life at Muscoot Farm

Winter scene at Muscoot Farm
Nancy Kennedy / Shutterstock.com

The Hopkins family once owned the estate and dairy farm now called Muscoot Farm.

In 1967, Westchester County acquired the property, renaming it Muscoot Farm after Alfred B. DelBello.

DelBello served as Westchester County Executive and played a role in maintaining the interactive farm during his term.

You’ll join free guided tours on the 700-acre farm with assistance from Muscoot staff educators.

Let your little ones walk to the pens and enter the barn to see the farm animals like cows, donkeys, sheep, goats, ducks, pigs, turkeys, and more.

Main house at Muscoot Farm
Nancy Kennedy / Shutterstock.com

Likewise, you can visit old buildings like the ice house, milk house, brooder, and carriage houses.

Join special events or educational programs scheduled on their website calendar.

Hike more than six miles of scenic trails, spot local wildlife, have a fun group hayride or find fresh goods at the Farmers Market.

You’ll surely enjoy your visit to Muscoot Farm in Katonah, 15 minutes from Bedford.

Hike the Trails at Westmoreland Sanctuary

As a non-profit nature center and wildlife preserve, Westmoreland Sanctuary offers relaxing and enjoyable nature experiences.

The area spans the towns of Bedford, Armonk, and Mount Kisco, spanning over 600 acres.

The nature attraction contains around 8.5 miles of hiking trails, which you can access for free any time of the year.

You’ll see gorgeous water bodies like Bechtel Lake and streams connected with the Mianus River Watershed.

Head to the Natural Science Museum, where your kids will enjoy viewing live animals like rabbits, birds, and turtles.

Then, go birdwatching by the windows while sitting comfortably on the couches.

You can have a lunch picnic at the tables around the Nature Center or stroll the Terrace Garden, which features a pond with frogs and turtles.

Drop by the store at Westmoreland Sanctuary to get items like shirts, books, and maple syrup to bring home.

This sanctuary is in Mount Kisco, New York, ten minutes from Bedford.

Final Thoughts

The town of Bedford is packed with fascinating historic sites, museums, and scenic attractions.

Each of Bedford’s hamlets offers unique experiences that let you discover different facets of the suburban town.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Bedford, New York!

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