SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)
It's the weekend. Your children can: A) blast monsters on their computers all day or B) tour historic sites in upstate New York with Mom and Dad. If it happens to be Halloween, and the destination is the ghostly land of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, you may have more cooperative company in the car than you expected.
Just 26 miles from Manhattan, Sleepy Hollow, in lower Hudson Valley, is like a scary movie set come alive -- especially during October's annual Legend Weekend. This is, after all, where you'll find the once fictional -- and now real -- town made famous by author Washington Irving in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (The hamlet of North Tarrytown officially changed its name to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.) The short story, of course, features one very ghoulish "Headless Horseman."
During Legend Weekend, ghouls, witches, and even Headless Horseman clones visit Philipsburg Manor; and spooky events take place at Sunnyside, Irving's home. In fact, Sleepy Hollow is one spooky place to take the kids at Halloween.
Just walking the hills where this caped equestrian allegedly rode can be more thrilling for your young ones than killing off e-monsters. (But make sure they know the story first.) Pick a foggy day (or night) for maximum effect, and get Dad to make low moaning noises as you tour these top spots:
Before moving on to the grown-up attractions, make an important stop at one of the museum shops or gift stores in Tarrytown. You'll find all sorts of Headless Horseman sweaters, flags, coffee mugs, and keychains, which are good bribe material. Logo items including T-shirts are a hot souvenir. So are copies of Irving's books and colonial-themed games.
Tarrytown is loaded with National Historic Landmarks, including very old homes and living museums, which offer family activities throughout the year (except January and February). They include:
Type of trip: Historic, educational, scenic drive
Best for ages: 6 and up
Length of trip: Day trip or weekend getaway.
Distance: New York (26 miles); Hartford (92 miles); Scranton, PA (128 miles)
Best time to go: September/October, for the Hudson Heritage Festival (including Legend Weekend) and Children's Book Festival; April, for Washington Irving's birthday celebration at Sunnyside (with puppet shows and storytelling), and Memorial Day weekend, for Animals and Acrobats at Van Cortlandt Manor.
Weather: 65/49 degrees in October, 61/43 in April, 71/53 in May.
Squirm factor: Some, to a lot.
Legend Weekend. At Philipsburg Manor and Sunnyside (see below).
Philipsburg Manor Route 9 in Sleepy Hollow Phone: 914-631-3992
Sunnyside Off Route 9 in Tarrytown Phone: 914-591-8763
The Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground Route 9, Sleepy Hollow Phone: 914-631-1123
Van Cortlandt Manor Off Route 9, nine miles north of Sleepy Hollow in Croton-On-Hudson Phone: 914-271-8981
Kykuit Off Route 9 in Pocantico Hills Phone: 914-631-9491 Not recommended for children under 12. NOTE: Tours depart from Philipsburg Manor. Purchase tickets at the Manor or online.
Best souvenir: Headless Horseman logo items including T-shirts. Get them at the museum shops, or at Razzmatazz and Frank's Gifts on Route 9 off Main Street in Tarrytown.
Traffic alert: Although it's only 25 miles away, plan on at least 45 minutes negotiating traffic on a good day when coming from Manhattan.
The Hudson River Museum (and planetarium) offers changing art, history, and science exhibits with a family focus.
Every Sunday at 1:30 p.m., make your own wind sock or participate in improvisational storytelling at the Family Workshop. And don't miss the museum's permanent collection. It includes Andy Warhol's Myth Series, featuring the likenesses of Santa Claus, Dracula, and the Wicked Witch of the West.
On the river at 511 Warburton Ave. in Yonkers, 20 minutes south of Tarrytown on Route 9 Phone: 914-963-4550
Reviewed April 2004.