Activities in Westchester County for Every Interest: Adventurious Activities

First published in Westchester Magazine, November 2012. View the original here.

Horse riding, gun shooting, rock climbing, river kayaking—no, we’re not talking about the latest Brad Pitt blockbuster. It’s the ideal county journey for spirited, outdoorsy types.

When the sun sets on Friday night, the adventurer’s weekend begins with a kayak ride down the Hudson River. Atlantic Kayak Tours (914-739-2588; atlantickayak, with locations in Cortlandt Manor and Staatsburg, New York, offers a variety of evening rides. Watch the moon rise over the Palisades or paddle all the way out to Cold Spring, New York. It’s a great way to get physical without being stuck in a gym on a Friday night. Make sure to bring a flashlight and some waterproof gear. ($25 to $65 for a half-day rental)

Cowboys are the original American adventurers, so why not spend an afternoon following in their footsteps? Start the day with some good old-fashioned gunplay at Coyne Park Rifle and Pistol Range (771 McLean Ave, Yonkers 914-377-6488; This indoor range has everything you need to become the next Wild Bill Hickok, and you don’t even have to bring your own rifle (though handguns are BYO). For new shooters, who must be 21 or older, it offers several NRA-developed orientation and safety programs.

In the afternoon, visit Boulder Brook Equestrian Center (291 Mamaroneck Rd, Scarsdale 914-725-3912;, where you can have a private lesson ($60 for a 30-minute adult lesson) on how to bridle, saddle, and hold the reins, Scarsdale-style. Group and individual lessons are available in the largest indoor riding ring in Southern Westchester.

Start the day off right with a long, leisurely hike through the Westmoreland Sanctuary (260 Chestnut Ridge Rd, Mount Kisco 914-666-8448;, a nature center and wildlife preserve in scenic Mount Kisco. The Sanctuary covers 640 acres of wildlife habitat, and offers more than seven miles of trails covering a vast array of terrain, from rocky cliffs to bountiful wetlands. Trail maps are available on its website, so you can plan the perfect hike before you go. If you want to learn more (or if you have little adventurers with you), stop by the reconstructed 200-year-old farm building, which is now the nature center that offers bird watching, a small petting zoo, and other educational programming.

Once you’re warmed up, it’s time to go for some real exertion. Work those arms with a trip to The Rock Club (130 Rhodes St, New Rochelle 914-633-7625;, a fully equipped rock-climbing center in New Rochelle. The main climbing wall is a giant, three-dimensional installation that stands 40 feet high. The facility has courses for every kind of climber, from complete novice to seasoned expert, with more than 200 possible climbing routes overall. Beginners have their own area to experiment with rock-climbing, so don’t be intimidated if it’s your first time. All necessary equipment is available onsite (to rent or buy), as are instructors and climbing partners.

Fall Getaways

First published in Westchester Magazine's August 2011 issue. Read the original here. I contributed three pieces to this round up: (Rox)bury Your Cares AwayLife's a Beach, and Tons of Fun in Bennington.


Even from a distance, it’s easy to see that The Roxbury is not your average Catskill Mountain motel. The vivid green detailing on the white wooden walls, the elaborate mosaics and murals, the scintillating LED displays that light up as the evening crickets begin to chirp—taken together, they hint at the delights and surprises that await inside this unique destination hotel. No two visits to The Roxbury are the same because no two rooms are the same. Suites range in style from a baroque dream of gold and mirrors (“Amadeus’ Bride”) to electric disco fabulousness (“Tony’s Dancefloor”) to Swinging Sixties chic (“The Mod Pod”). No element—from the lighting fixtures to the bathtubs—has gone unconsidered. It is this attention to detail that allows visitors to immerse themselves fully in the fantasy that each theme room evokes. Those seeking added luxury can visit the on-premises Shimmer Spa (open from 8 am to 8 pm). At night, guests are welcome to build a bonfire in the Motel’s fire pit, or borrow one of the many movies and games available in the main office. All rooms also come with HD flat-screens and cable.


The town of Roxbury seems like a Catskill Mountain theme room itself, with its beautiful Victorian homes; babbling brooks; and small, local radio station. It provides the perfect counterpoint to the stylized richness of the Motel, and everything is within easy walking distance. Visit the adjacent Public Lounge for a specialty house cocktail, like the Flaming Cosmo, a deceptively smooth mixture of pomegranate juice and vodka. For a delicious meal, visit Peekamoose Restaurant (845-254-6500,, located in nearby Big Indian. Owner Devin Mills has worked in some of the most famous New York kitchens, including Gramercy Tavern and Le Bernardin. If antiques and handicrafts are part of your fantasy vacation, visit the nearby towns of Margaretville and Andes. Ski trails, zip-lines, and hiking paths all are located within a 15-minute drive, and The Roxbury’s friendly staff is happy to make recommendations or reservations.

The Nitty-gritty: Rooms range from $99 to $345 per night. Access to The Shimmer Spa is $20 per person, and 55-minute massage treatments range from $100 to $135.

Dining Dilemma

First published in Westchester Magazine's August 2011 issue. Read the original here.

My parents’ dining room table is early 20th-century mahogany, with solid columnated legs and comfortable seating for six—eight if necessary, 10 on desperate family occasions. In the morning, it’s newspaper sprawl and pots of coffee. In the afternoon, laptops and lunch. Family dinner, whether for two or twelve, is always at the table. It is the anchor to which life in the house is tethered. When I think of living in Westchester, I think of that table.

Since leaving home, I have, by conservative estimate, lived in nine New York City apartments. Not one has had a dining room table. In fact, not one has had a dining room. For years, I dreamed of four walls dominated by a massive wooden slab and a dozen hard-backed chairs, blaming space and money and time for my lack. When I could fit a table, I couldn’t afford one. When I could afford one, I was worried I would soon move and need to transport it. And always, always, always, there was the question of carving a dining room out of my already too-small apartments.


But in truth, my lack of a dining room table wasn’t about space. When I’ve had spare rooms, my roommates and I dedicated them to work areas, storage, or awkward things we didn’t want elsewhere, like litter boxes and sentimental trash. (I’m looking at you, poorly framed photo of my college dorm.) My current apartment is a converted loft that could fit my parents’ table three times over, but we make do with a breakfast bar and two small tables that we shove together when needed.

A good home, small or large, city or suburban, has a place for everything and everything in its place. This doesn’t just mean a drawer for silverware or a great shoe rack. It means a room for every daily purpose: sleeping, cooking, showering. A dining room and its table are a physical manifestation of an expectation: that dinner will be eaten here, by many people, most days of the week. It is a way of looking at the world, an inward focus that my life in the city rarely has.

To live in New York City means to live in public, gloriously and pathetically, hilariously and tragically. It means schlepping dirty laundry three blocks while wearing pajamas, and summertime stoop-side hangout sessions with temporary neighborhood friends. It means dinner in a different place, at a different time, with different people, every single night. It means no room for a dining room table, not because of crowded space, but because of crowded lives.