Hudson Valley, NY
G. Steve Jordan
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:
- Philipsburg Manor. At the end of October, spookiness reaches its height at this 300-year-old working farm with a grist mill, cited in Irving's short story. The buildings are candle-lit at night, and creepy characters are everywhere. What's more, the Headless Horseman makes an appearance on horseback. The farmer's ball is re-created (after that party, the Horseman chased Ichabod Crane). And ghosts and witches fill the landscape. During the day, the activities are a bit tamer, with jack 'o lantern carving sessions and storytelling. Other times of year, Philipsburg is still a good place to take the kids. They'll love watching the water-powered grist mill (fresh ground corn flour is for sale) and touring the 18th-century barn, where they can get up close and personal with Nip and Tuck, a pair of 2,000-pound oxen.
- Sunnyside. Come see where America's first superstar author lived. Besides Sleepy Hollow, Irving also wrote Rip Van Winkle -- and fans have been scoping out his riverfront cottage since the 1800s. During Legend Weekend, your wide-eyed little one can listen to spooky tales told during walks in the woods (reservations are required), make scarecrows, watch a Legend of Sleepy Hollow puppet show, or listen to a reading of Irving's stories.
- The Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground. Washington Irving's hapless Ichabod Crane was headed to this 17th century church when he ran into the "Horseman." (The encounter did not go well for Crane.) Tour New York's oldest house of worship (still actively used), or poke around the 350-year-old graveyard. Legend has it there may still be ghosts lurking here.