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

Bedford, situated in the heart of Westchester County, New York, is a place of historic allure and natural beauty.

This vibrant community offers a range of experiences that captivate and charm visitors.

Tranquil walks through rustic landscapes and an engaging art and culture scene are just a few of the highlights that Bedford has to offer.

Regardless of whether one is a seasoned traveler or a curious explorer, there are always exciting things to discover in this unique corner of New York.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Paula Compton, Patrick Henderson, Mary Castaneda, Ralph Davis, Rosalind Odom, James Hanson and Helena Lang.

Explore the Mianus River Gorge Preserve

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

There's something unique about the old-growth forest at the Mianus River Gorge Preserve.

I find myself drawn back to it, time and again, experiencing its beauty in every season.

This is a sanctuary of tranquility nestled in the heart of New York.

I remember my second visit there.

They had just opened a new yellow trail.

I was exhilarated as I hiked six miles.

It was like exploring an entirely new world.

The trail was well-marked and clean, winding through the verdant forest, the sunlight filtering through the canopy, creating an enchanting dance of light and shadow.

But what I love most about the preserve is its accessibility for all ages.

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

My toddler has joined me on several hikes.

The trails are manageable for his tiny feet, allowing him to explore unaided.

His laughter echoing through the trees is one of the best sounds in the world.

It's a place where memories are made.

The well-maintained and impeccably clean bathrooms at the trailhead are a valuable addition to the preserve.

This level of cleanliness and care extends throughout the preserve, including the parking area and restrooms, making a day out hiking a comfortable experience.

Every visit to the Mianus River Gorge Preserve is a first-time experience, an opportunity to reconnect with nature and discover something new.

This vast, old-gloom forest nature preserve is more than just a hiking trail.

It's a retreat, a breath of fresh air in the hustle and bustle of city life.

Enjoy an Afternoon at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Stepping onto the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts grounds is like entering a different world.

A world where beauty and tranquility combine effortlessly with the spellbinding rhythm of music.

Nestled within a 90-acre historical estate, Caramoor is a local treasure that I've had the pleasure of visiting often.

There's nothing quite like the experience of watching musicians perform in one of the three unique pavilions.

Each is designed to resonate with specific types of music - it's like the architecture and sound are in a harmonious dance.

I remember the time I went to see a swing band; the music seemed to echo off the Mediterranean-style villa and across the well-kept gardens, creating an ambiance that was simply enchanting.

But the music is just one part of the charm.

The estate is a sprawling canvas of art, literally.

From the art-filled villa to the gardens adorned with statues that produce various sounds, there's a sense of discovery around every corner.

It's impossible not to feel a sense of awe and serenity when you're there.

One of my favorite things at Caramoor is having a picnic.

The designated picnic area is surrounded by lush greenery and serenaded by the gentle sounds of nature.

It's an excellent spot for a quiet lunch and even better for catching up on a book or losing myself in thought.

And if I want a snack or a drink, there's a small concession stand with everything I need.

The Caramoor Center never ceases to amaze me with its diverse events.

From classical concerts to salsa nights, there's always something exciting happening.

I especially recall the joy of attending the 'Pops and Patriots' program featuring the Westchester Symphonic Winds.

The air was filled with a sense of camaraderie and celebration that was truly infectious.

Indeed, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is an experience.

An experience that encapsulates the beauty of nature, the power of music, and the charm of art - all in one magnificent location.

As someone who's been there many times, I can confidently say that it's an experience that never gets old.

Enjoy a Night Out at the Bedford Playhouse

I have to tell you about when I decided to spend my evening at the Bedford Playhouse, a landmark renowned for its immaculate presentation and intimate setting.

My visit was quite an experience, and not just because it was the day they decided to close the cafe earlier than usual!

I was initially thrown off by their stringent rules about outside refreshments, but somehow, the overall presentation of the theatre tied it all together perfectly.

The theatre always strikes me as the place that could fit right into Stars Hollow from the beloved TV show Gilmore Girls.

Moreover, the same charm and quirkiness make the fictional town so endearing.

One memorable evening, I attended a screening of The 'Little Mermaid.'

The Playhouse provided a fantastic viewing experience with excellent sound quality and offered comfy chairs, great snacks, and a fully stocked bar.

There is nothing like enjoying a classic Disney film with gourmet popcorn and a fine wine!

A night out at the Bedford Playhouse is not just about catching a movie.

It's about experiencing the magic of cinema in a unique and characterful setting.

Visit Bedford Hills Memorial Park

The Bedford Hills Memorial Park is my little sanctuary away from the bustle.

Nestled right here in our town, it is a gem that makes our community shine a bit brighter.

One thing that strikes me every time I visit the park is how clean it is - a perfect example of our town's shared sense of responsibility and respect for nature.

The pathways are well lit and you can walk without any worry of stepping on anything unpleasant.

Indeed, the Recreation and Parks Department deserves a round of applause for that!

My favorite part of the park has to be the playground.

It's not just any playground, mind you - it's fenced in, allowing me to relax while my kids play without any worries.

The picnic tables under the shade are a cherry on top - perfect for a casual lunch on a sunny day.

There's also a lovely pond that has become a must-visit spot for us during our park visits.

It's pristine and filled with fish, offering a serene backdrop for those quiet moments.

For all the sports enthusiasts out there, this park is a dream come true.

The basketball courts are relatively new, offering a fantastic place to shoot some hoops.

There are also tennis courts and baseball fields to satisfy your competitive streak.

If you're a fan of more offbeat sports, you're in luck - there's also a pickleball court!

And let's not forget the pool. It's a residents-only feature, but once you've got your pass, it's the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day.

Bedford Hills Memorial Park is a microcosm of our community, a place that offers something for everyone and brings us closer together.

Take a Stroll through the Tom Burke Preserve

I often find myself seeking solace in the heart of nature, away from the bustle of my daily life.

One of my favorite retreats is tucked away in my own backyard, the Tom Burke Memorial Preserve.

The first thing I noticed about this gem of a preserve was the wildflowers.

You find them in abundance here, some even rare to come across.

The sea of different colors and the aroma that trails the air make it a sight for sore eyes.

But be cautious, as there is also some poison ivy scattered around the area.

The preserve might not seem very large.

You can probably complete the entire loop in about ten minutes.

But the charm of the fenced-ins isn't in their size but in the calm and tranquility they provide.

Every time I walk through the relatively new basketball court office, time slows down, allowing me to appreciate life's simple yet beautiful aspects.

Visiting the Tom Burke Preserve may not be an adventure-filled outing but a peaceful break from my daily routine.

It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I genuinely enjoy the serenity this place brings.

It's a particular little spot that I am grateful to have in my backyard.

So, if you're in the area and looking for a quick nature fix, you might want to visit the Tom Burke Preserve.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Pay a Historical Visit to the John Jay Homestead

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

I have always deeply appreciated the history of our nation, and the John Jay Homestead holds a significant place in that narrative.

This 62-acre estate is not just a restored farmhouse and outhouse.

It is a reflection of a time long past.

It’s surreal that this was once owned by one of the country's founders, John Jay, the first US Supreme Court Chief Justice and a NY governor.

But a visit to this place is not without its disquieting moments.

Walking through the grounds, I can’t help but feel a sense of unease.

This estate, renowned for its history, was a slave plantation.

The silence on this unnerving truth is deafening.

However, there are no markers or physical records on the property to acknowledge this.

Regrettably, such a crucial part of history is skirted around rather than being addressed head-on, like at Monticello for Thomas Jefferson and Montpelier for James Madison.

There’s a certain charm to the place that's hard to resist.

Every Saturday, like clockwork, the homestead transforms into a bustling farmers market.

It’s like stepping into a different era with the barn on the premises where kids can play while adults indulge in the fresh produce from Orchard Hill Organics.

The Saturday Farmer's Market is a spectacle in the warmer months.

It's as if the whole town comes alive at the homestead.

Enjoy a Tranquil Walk at Guard Hill Preserve

I eagerly slipped on my trusty hiking boots, grabbed my binoculars, and took a familiar route toward Guard Hill Preserve.

As I strolled through the well-maintained trails, I admired the beauty of this peaceful sanctuary in our backyard.

Despite its popularity, the sanctuary's entrance feels like a well-kept secret, unobtrusively hidden by the side of the road.

However, the quietness is part of its charm, and as I walked deeper, I found myself surrounded by a symphony of birdsong, filling the air with music that can't be found in the city's hustle and bustle.

Birding here is always a treat, with various feathered friends making their home in the preserve.

One morning, I experienced the preserve in a new light.

A gentle snowfall transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland.

My footprints were the only sign of human life as I walked, creating an intimate interaction with the untouched nature.

Nearby, a herd of horses grazing in the snow added to the serene atmosphere, their peaceful presence creating an unforgettable scene.

With its ease of access and natural beauty, Guard Hill Preserve has become a favorite spot for a relaxed walk.

Whether it's a sunny afternoon or a snowy morning, this place never fails to soothe and inspire.

Check Out the Historic Stepping Stones

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

I often find myself strolling the grounds of the historic home of Bill and Lois Wilson, affectionately known as Stepping Stones.

The beauty and tranquility of the place are something that never ceases to amaze me.

Moreover, the prawling gardens are meticulously maintained, and the preservation of the original structures is a testament to the community's respect and admiration for the couple and their incredible legacy.

A personal favorite spot of mine is the quaint store nestled on the property.

With a wide range of Alanon and AA-related items, it's a treasure trove for anyone interested in the organization or its history.

The gift shop is a beautiful addition to the whole experience, offering a tangible way to remember your visit and the stories you've heard.

I must say that the entire experience at Stepping Stones is rejuvenating.

The combination of nature, history, and the inspiring story of Bill and Lois Wilson uplifts the spirit, making each visit a truly unique experience.

Moreover, the house, steeped in history and a symbol of their journey, feels like a sanctuary of hope and resilience.

Whether it's your first time visiting or you're a frequent visitor like myself, the Stepping Stones historic home offers an uplifting and inspiring experience that keeps you coming back for more.

Enjoy a Tranquil Day at Trailside Nature Museum

I love the serenity and peacefulness of the Trailside Nature Museum in the Ward Pond Ridge Reservation.

This quaint yet captivating museum is one of those charmingly small places packed with intriguing exhibits.

Nestled within the reservation, the museum's compact size misleads many into underestimating its offerings.

But let me tell you, the minute I stepped into the museum.

I was greeted by a delightful assortment of displays ranging from local flora and fauna to geological features.

It's fascinating to see these exhibits showcasing the nature surrounding us in our town.

And the best part? The museum is free to enter!

Although, if you wish, you may leave a small donation at the door to help support this lovely educational institution.

The museum also boasts a little gift shop, where you can find wonderful little keepsakes to remember the day.

But one of my key attractions has always been the animals.

The museum is home to a few local species that reside on the reservation, adding a dash of living nature to the exhibit.

Once done exploring the museum, I always make it a point to wander into the beautiful park surrounding it.

Particularly enchanting in the fall, the park is a riot of colors – oranges, reds, yellows, and browns.

You might want to visit the museum next time you're in town over the weekend.

Although a small parking fee of $10 for non-Westchester park pass members, the wealth of natural beauty, hiking trails, and the delightful museum make it well worth the trip.

Discover Muscoot Farm

Winter scene at Muscoot Farm
Nancy Kennedy / Shutterstock.com

It's hard to describe how much joy Muscoot Farm brings.

Nestled in the heart of Westchester County, it's a place where I get to escape the humdrum of everyday life.

Just last weekend, I took my kids there for an afternoon of pumpkin picking.

The excitement in their eyes as they ran around this charming farm was priceless.

It's not just about the farm animals; they are undoubtedly a key attraction.

The kids are always fascinated, from the friendly goats to the cheeky chickens and the massive horses.

What makes the farm even more remarkable is its historic houses and buildings.

I enjoy strolling around, taking in the authenticity and rich history of the place.

It’s like time stands still when I’m there.

Main house at Muscoot Farm
Nancy Kennedy / Shutterstock.com

And let’s not forget the natural beauty of Northern Westchester that surrounds the farm.

It’s an absolute treat for nature lovers like me.

My kid was asking me to go to the zoo, and I convinced him that going to the farm would be equally exciting.

I'm glad it worked out.

Although the food stalls were closed, it was a calm weekday, perfect for a relaxing day out.

We're planning to make another trip soon when the weather gets better.

The farm is open to the public and just 18 minutes from Downtown Ossining.

So when we're done with our farm adventure, we usually head there for a nice meal at one of the restaurants, followed by a stroll around the historic urban downtown.

Trust me, once you visit Muscoot Farm, you’ll want to keep coming back.

Find Serenity at Westmoreland Sanctuary

Living just around the corner, I've had the privilege of being able to frequent the breathtaking trails of Westmoreland Sanctuary.

Trust me, there's no better way to unwind after a long week than a leisurely hike through its interconnected trails.

The trail maps at every location are convenient – I've never lost my way.

This sanctuary is about learning and having fun.

My kids adore the fantastic programs and camps held here.

We've even celebrated my son's birthday here with a naturist-led night hike – an experience we'll never forget!

There's also a small museum within the sanctuary.

It's quaint but full of rich knowledge about the local flora and fauna.

My kids love the Snakes exhibit – it's the first place they run to when we visit.

And to top it all off, there's ample parking, and it's right smack in the middle of town.

Something must be said about having such a tranquil spot amid our busy lives.

Throughout the year, there are several programs for kids.

They're educational, engaging, and heaps of fun.

I highly recommend Westmoreland Sanctuary to anyone needing a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Trust me, it doesn't get any better than this.

Visit the Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary

Striding through the Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary is like stepping into a different world, a verdant paradise on my doorstep.

The dense forest canopy, punctuated by the bubbling streams and tranquil swamps, provides a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

This area is a hotspot for raptor migration, making it a bird watcher's dream come true.

I've had countless adventures here.

The sanctuary offers varying levels of challenge for hikers, which I have always appreciated.

With trails only requiring moderate exertion in some parts, it makes for a great workout spot.

I prefer the red and yellow loops for my usual short, brisk walks.

They offer decent elevation changes that get my heart pumping, and the diverse landscapes keep the walk interesting.

Here's a tip: this is the perfect spot to unwind after work.

One of my favorite spots in the sanctuary is the Hawk Lookout.

Post-hike, I often find myself here, soaking in the panoramic views and enjoying the cool breeze.

Whether you're a seasoned trekker or a casual stroller, the Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary is a local gem that promises a rejuvenating experience amidst nature's bounty.

I consider myself lucky to have this sanctuary as my backyard, and I relish every visit, each revealing a new facet of its rugged beauty.

Explore Art at the Katonah Museum Of Art

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

The art scene in my town has always been vibrant, with the crown jewel being the Katonah Museum Of Art.

Nestled in the serene town of Katonah, New York, I have visited this art haven more times than I can count.

The museum offers a dynamic range of exhibits, frequently changing them to ensure there's always something new.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum offers a vibrant array of lectures, films, and workshops.

I've enjoyed attending a few, and each one has been truly enlightening.

But my favorite part about the museum is that it's not too large or small.

You could spend about 30 minutes to an hour here, immersing yourself in art, imagination, and creativity.

For the younger audience, there's an exciting play area.

And if you're in the mood for a leisurely picnic, the outdoor garden is the perfect spot, surrounded by towering trees and dotted with tables.

They even offer student discounts, making art accessible to everyone.

Unexpectedly, I also stumbled upon the works of Dali, Miro, and Bosch during one of my visits - a treat to any art lover's eyes.

The museum ensures that each visit is unique, offering a different perspective, another artist, and style every time.

If you're ever in the mood for a dash of culture, art, and creativity, the Katonah Museum Of Art is the place to be.

Trust me, the experience will be truly unforgettable!

Discover the Wonders of Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

It's often said that it's not about the destinations but the journeys in life.

I've found this wisdom to ring particularly true when exploring the marvels of Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

Nestled in the heart of Westchester County, this sprawling 4,300-acre expanse of nature has become a regular part of my life.

Just a short drive from home, I've spent countless weekends unwinding amidst its scenic beauty.

On each visit, I'm greeted by many trails - over 40 miles of them.

Whether I'm in the mood for a long, challenging hike or a stroll, there's always a trail that suits my mood.

For first-time visitors, I can't help but recommend starting your journey with a visit to the mysterious Leatherman Cave, hidden away on the LL trail.

The story behind this cave, which I've come to learn over the years, adds a touch of intrigue to the whole experience.

Not just a single park, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is a unique ensemble of smaller parks, each with its dedicated parking lot.

I've never had trouble finding a place to park my car, even on the busiest of days.

My favorite starting point is the Meadows Parking Lot.

From there, I usually hike along the brown and deer hallows trails, crossing the serene Cross River several times.

But if hiking isn't your thing, worry not.

The park offers a wealth of other activities.

I've spent many happy afternoons fishing by the river, barbecuing with friends in designated areas, and even horseback riding.

It's also one of the few parks in the area that welcomes dogs, which my furry friend particularly enjoys.

When autumn rolls around, the park transforms into an artist's palette of vibrant colors, making it a must-visit spot for nature lovers.

The well-marked trails, breathtaking scenic overlooks, and hidden caves make for an unforgettable experience.

Sure, there's a $10 parking fee, but I promise you - every dollar is well worth the experience that awaits.

As a resident of Westchester County, I can confidently say that a visit to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is a journey you'll cherish.

Hear Nature’s Symphony at Bedford Audubon Society

You can almost feel the hidden tranquility seeping into your veins as you turn off the beaten path toward the Bedford Audubon Society.

It's a place that has been my solace for years now.

Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of daily life gets a bit overwhelming, and that is when a visit to this place seems like a necessity.

Before you even get to the central part of the park, there's this charming little 0.3-mile trail, perfect for little ones to explore.

It's a fun preamble to the real adventure that lies ahead.

A word of caution, though the white trail tends to come to an abrupt end due to overgrowth, something I found out during a hike back in September 2017.

Nonetheless, the real magic lies in the harmony of natural sounds that resonate throughout the park.

There's nothing quite as soothing as the symphony of chirping birds, rustling leaves, and a gentle breeze to calm a restless mind.

I often find myself lost in the peace that this place offers.

And then, there's bird watching!

It is an activity that never fails to thrill me, no matter how many times I've done it before.

From vibrant sparrows to majestic eagles, the diversity of Bedford Audubon Society's birdlife is astounding.

Each visit feels like a new exploration, a new adventure.

No wonder it is my go-to place for a tranquil escape from the mundane.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, an art lover, or a family looking for a fun day out, Bedford offers a wealth of experiences.

Every time I visit these places, I am reminded of the charsome poison ivy istown truly special.

So here's to many more adventures in Bedford and the countless memories waiting to be made in Bedford, New York.

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