On a quiet side of New York, Cortlandt provides a much-needed change of pace and scenery far from the towering skyscrapers and blinding lights of NYC.
The town is located on the northwestern side of Westchester County, near the famous Bear Mountain Bridge.
Home to almost 43,000 residents, Cortlandt includes local communities and hamlets like Croton-on-Hudson, Buchanan, and Verplanck.
With its wooded hills, rugged terrain, and charming rural features, here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Cortlandt, New York:
View Thousands of Pumpkins at The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: Hudson Valley
Situated within the 18th-century Van Cortlandt Manor, find more than 7,000 illuminated jack-o’lanterns with intricate carvings made by local artisans.
Synchronized lighting and original music provide accompaniment to this picturesque sight.
Along the pumpkin trail, explore the estate and walk through the gardens filled with jack-o’lanterns, see the jack-o’lantern-filled light tunnel, and watch a light show at the manor house.
What also makes The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: Hudson Valley a must-see spectacle is that all proceeds from the event will go to programs of Historic Hudson Valley, a non-profit education organization.
Practice Your Swing at The Back Nine Indoor Golf
Perfect your golfing skills at The Back Nine Indoor Golf, one of Cortlandt's few indoor golf facilities.
Choose from over 40 famous golf courses worldwide without having to leave the facility thanks to its indoor golf simulators.
Those who’d like to learn the ropes of the sport and improve their game may do so by joining indoor golf lessons.
In addition, The Back Nine Indoor Golf has a sports bar with a wide selection of food and drinks accompanied by live music once or twice a month.
The Back Nine Indoor Golf is your best destination for all-in-one entertainment, from exciting golf sessions, good music, and a fun atmosphere.
Hike to the Top of Anthony’s Nose
If you’re looking for a challenge, hike Anthony’s Nose, one of the popular trails in the Hudson Valley.
The peak offers panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and rolling hills.
Although Anthony’s Nose is a relatively challenging trail, the views from the peak are rewarding and breathtaking.
Take note that since it’s a popular trail, it can get crowded so it’s best to start your trek earlier to avoid other tourists.
You can also bring your dogs along the trail for a relaxing walk, but they have to be on a leash.
Spend the Day at George’s Island Park
Surround yourself with nature and spend the afternoon at George’s Island Park, a 200-acre nature escape at Montrose, a hamlet of Cortlandt.
The riverside park has everything you need for a fun day spent outdoors, with a riverside area perfect for water activities like sailing and fishing.
On land, there are picnic areas, grilling facilities, children’s playgrounds, a freshwater pond, and boat access to the Hudson River.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to study, read a book, or find inspiration for your painting, George’s Island Park has plenty of green spaces for your trip.
There’s also a trail network that links the park to the Hudson River Greenway for those who want to explore the wooded trails.
In winter, the park is also a great spot for viewing eagles as they soar above the Hudson River.
See the Breathtaking Croton Gorge Park
Croton Gorge Park is a 97-acre park at the base of the New Croton Dam, hailed as one of the largest hand-hewn structures after the Great Pyramids in Egypt.
The park is where you can catch unparalleled views of the dam and spillway over the bridge, creating a postcard-perfect backdrop.
As for its facilities, Croton Gorge Park has baseball fields, trailheads for hiking, picnic grounds, children’s playgrounds, and restrooms.
There’s also direct trail access to the Old Croton Aqueduct from the park, providing hikers with something else to see while in the park.
If you’re visiting in winter, don’t miss fun activities like cross-country skiing and sledding.
Although you can bring your dogs to the park, take note that they must be leashed at all times.
Visit Hemlock Hill Farm
The farm boasts 120 acres of green pastures and woodlands, housing barns, farm animals, a custom butchering facility, and a market.
Understanding the importance of access to healthy food, the family-owned farm aims to provide high-quality and organic farm fresh produce to surrounding communities and local restaurants.
Join a seasonal guided tour of Hemlock Hill Farm from May to October and discover the family history along with their farming techniques, practices, and how the farm operates.
After your tour, drop by the market and purchase various produce and artisanal products to bring home.
Some of the products sold at the market include poultry, seasonal vegetables, dairy products, and other food items like fruit yogurt, ice cream, craft beer, honey, and more.
Tour Van Cortlandt Manor
It was built by the van Cortland family in 1665 and offers a glimpse of what life was like for an influential family during their time.
The stone and brick manor also played a part during the Revolutionary War, serving as a wartime retreat until it was raided by the British Army.
Through restoration efforts, Van Cortlandt Manor is now one of the National Historic Landmarks in the area, and visitors can explore the manor on guided tours.
The manor is also home to The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, a seasonal display featuring thousands of carved jack-o’lanterns, colorful lights, and music.
Play Bowling at Cortlandt Lanes
For your dose of family fun and healthy competition, head to Cortlandt Lanes, a local bowling alley.
Bring out your competitive spirit and outscore your opponents in several rounds of bowling, and enjoy the ambient lighting when you play before midnight.
If you’re up for the challenge, join tournaments, summer leagues, and fall leagues, letting you play with the best of the best in Cortlandt.
At Cortlandt Lanes, you can also celebrate children’s birthdays and enjoy extras like disco lights, food, use of paper goods, and a special gift for the birthday celebrant!
Aside from the alley itself, there’s a Pro Shop where you can buy bowling balls, shoes, gloves, and other bowling equipment.
The alley is open until midnight, perfect if you’re looking for a last-minute activity with friends and family.
Relax at Croton Point Park
Croton Point Park is a sprawling 508-acre park on the east shore of the Hudson River, offering year-round activities for visitors.
Rich in history, the peninsula where the park is located is believed to have been inhabited by Native Americans 7,000 years ago.
It’s also the site of historic wine cellars, thought to be the oldest in the whole of New York.
Drop by Croton Point Park and take in the relaxing riverside views on a picnic or kayaking trip.
You can also swim on the beak, hike on the trails, or make the most of your stay and camp overnight.
Go on an Adventure at the Blue Mountain Reservation Loop
The Blue Mountain Reservation Loop is a challenging yet rewarding trail within Blue Mountain Park.
The trail has wide roads, so bikers have enough space to pass hikers and continue their ascent or descent.
It heads up to the mountains, providing a scenic view of the summit and surrounding areas.
Hiking the Blue Mountain Reservation Loop takes around 4 hours to complete depending on your level of fitness, although it’s a moderately challenging hike.
Regardless, it’s still a good challenge and worth adding to your list of activities in Cortlandt.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Discover the History Behind Stony Point Battlefield
Located 34 minutes from Cortlandt, Stony Point Battlefield provides an insight into America’s history, particularly during the American Revolutionary War.
This was the location of the Battle of Stony Point in 1779, where American Army troops defeated British soldiers in a well-planned attack during nighttime.
Aside from the battlefield itself, the Stony Point Lighthouse serves as a reminder of the importance of lighthouses for the Hudson River.
Explore Stony Point Battlefield, join tours led by costumed interpreters, and visit the museum, featuring exhibits on the historic battle and the lighthouse.
You can also watch reenactments of 18th-century military routines like cannon and musket firings and blacksmith demonstrations and non-military routines like children’s activities and cooking demonstrations.
Check Out Usonia Historic District
From Cortlandt, travel 26 minutes to Pleasantville, New York, and explore the fascinating Usonia Historic District.
This is a must for architecture lovers and those who appreciate a well-planned community, as it features several curated homes with a mid-century modern design.
Usonia Historic District is also famous in the architecture community as almost all houses were either designed or approved by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright or by his former students.
Based on its name, a typical Usonian house layout has no attic, has an open floor plan, few interior walls, and uses materials like wood, stone, and glass, blending in with the environment.
The district is also environmentally friendly since the houses are strategically placed in a manner that preserves most of the original trees and will avoid disrupting the original layout of the land.
Explore the Outdoors at FDR State Park
FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights is a 960-acre park that offers a multitude of outdoor facilities and recreational amenities.
These include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, three large pavilions and picnic areas for rent, a disc golf course, baseball courts, and concession stands.
The park also features two bodies of water, namely Lake Mohansic and Crom Pond, where visitors can go fishing and enjoy the views from a boat.
Spend the day at FDR State Park and have a picnic with the family, play outdoor sports, and explore the rolling hills and trails.
The state park is only 16 minutes from Cortlandt, and you can easily spend a full day exploring the park and enjoying the facilities.
Meet the Animals of Trailside Museums & Zoo
Learn more about local geology and ecology and get a chance to meet different animals at Trailside Museums & Zoo, located at Bear Mountain State Park.
Situated 21 minutes from Cortlandt, Trailside Museums & Zoo aims to educate visitors about the local environment and how to care for it, giving them a deeper appreciation and connection to the natural world.
The nature trail and zoo is nestled within a part of the Appalachian Trail, boasting majestic views of the Hudson River, and has various museums focusing on different aspects of nature.
One museum is dedicated to live reptiles, fish, and amphibians, while another features geologic specimens, and another one has exhibits and specimens of insects, small birds, and other mammals.
Go on a self-guided nature walk and see wildlife animals up close, take in the views from the vistas, and see nature’s creations thriving in their natural habitat.
Take a Day Trip to Lasdon Park, Arboretum & Veterans Memorial
In Katonah, Lasdon Park, Arboretum & Veterans Memorial provides a gorgeous landscape where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenery.
It offers 234 acres of grassy meadows, woodlands, and well-manicured formal gardens featuring flowers and shrubs from different parts of the world.
The park also houses the Westchester County Veterans Museum, featuring photos, documents, and other memorabilia honoring Westchester County war veterans.
From Cortland, travel 22 minutes, explore Lasdon Park, Arboretum & Veterans Memorial, and wander through different themed gardens.
Find hundreds of colorful azaleas at the Azalea Garden, see towering dwarf pine, spruce, and cypress trees at the Conifer Collection, and embrace the tranquility as you walk around the Chinese Friendship Pavilion and Cultural Garden.
Discover a different side of New York as you explore Cortlandt, a charming town located an hour away from fast-paced NYC.
The town offers plenty of green spaces, parks, and historical landmarks worth checking out.
If you’re looking for a new city to tick off your bucket list, consider this list of the 15 best things to do in Cortlandt, New York!