Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley area are brimming with beautiful state, county and local parks that are wonderful places to pass a few hours in the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley. But what if you are looking for a place to spend the day—or even the weekend? Several state and county parks are particularly well suited to all day adventures, offering the ability to reserve picnic spots, to cook or buy food and feature amenities like swimming, boating, hiking and educational programs to help entertain old and young alike. Though all of the parks listed below collect parking fees, it is a well known secret that early risers can often get in for FREE--park right around 8 or 9am when the parks open and the park may not be collecting fees yet—particularly on weekdays. Read on for more details about some of the area's best spots for picnicking and all-day park fun.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Park - Yorktown
2957 Crompond Road
If you’re looking for an ideal location for an old fashioned all-day family cookout, it’s hard to find a better place than FDR Park. This New York State park boasts a double Olympic sized swimming pool, boating, fishing, picnic space for hundreds, picnic pavilions and shelters, ample grills and picnic tables, huge grassy areas for games and sports, an extensive multi-age playground, nature trails, disc golf, and food concessions. Reservations can be made in advance for as few as 2 people or as many as 500. Parking fees are in effect from May through October; parking costs $8 per car with addition fees to use the pool or a row boat.
Croton Point Park - Croton on Hudson
1A Croton Point Avenue
This Westchester County Park is located on a beautiful peninsula, jutting out into the Hudson River. Perfect for an all-day get away or a weekend camping trip, Croton Point Park is located just up the street from MetroNorth’s Croton Harmon station, making it an exceptionally easy trip for families and individuals who prefer mass-transit to driving. Amenities within the park include camping facilities, a swimming beach, two playgrounds, a nature center, kayak rentals, food concessions, ample picnic tables and grills and picnic pavilions. Plan to stay well into the evening to take in a summer sunset over the water; they are particularly spectacular here. With a Westchester Parks Pass, parking costs $5 per day with no additional fees for the swimming beach; without a Parks Pass, parking is $10 per day. Be sure to check out the Westchester Parks Calendar for nature center events!
Glen Island Park - New Rochelle
1 Pelham Road
Connected to the Westchester mainland by a drawbridge,Glen Island Park is the county’s second most-used park. Originally developed as a summer resort, the former collection of islands (now connected to one another) is still home to a Neo-Georgian bath house, German Rhineland style castles, sculpture and cannons, and historic bridges and bridge houses. Picnic areas can be reserved in advanced, and are also available on a walk-in basis. Other activities on the island include swimming, fishing, parasailing, boating, fishing, playgrounds, concession sales, a catering hall and many waking trails. Admission is limited to Westchester residents--visitors must present a valid driver's license or a Westchester Park Pass. Parking fees are $5 per car.
Tibbetts Brook Park - Yonkers
355 Midland Avenue
Like Glen Island Park, Tibbetts Brook Park is a Westchester County park with admission limited to Westchester residents and Park Pass holders. A fantastic location for a day trip, this park newly redeveloped park is home to Westchester's most extensive aquatic complex featuring water slides, pools, a spray park and a lazy river. In addition to watersports, Tibbetts Brook Park has fields for ball sports, playgrounds for kids, fishing ponds, picnic facilities (including grills, pavilions and tables) available for walk-ins as well as reservations and concession stands for those who would rather not cook. Parking fees are in effect June through September and cost $5 per car.
Fahnestock State Park - Carmel
1498 Route 301
Situated along the Appalachian Trail, Fahnestock Sate Park is another great spot for a day trip or weekend getaway—in fact, I had my wedding there! The park is beautiful and quiet with on-site camping just a short walk from the concessions café, swimming beach and rowboat rentals at Canopus Lake. A ring of picnic tables and grills surrounds the swimming beach, making for a convenient summer cook-cookout complete with tree-supplied shade. Up the street from the Canopus Lake is a large pavilion overlooking a small pond with a looping hiking trail, complete with picnic tables, grills and brick-and-mortar restrooms this space can be rented by contacting the park office. Looking for a winter get-away? Once the snow begins falling, Fahnestock State Park becomes Fahnestock Winter Park with sledding, snowshoe trails, cross country ski trails and ski rentals and a warming hut where the summer concession stand is. Parking fees are $7/car for the beach area, with separate fees for camping and boat rentals.
Bear Mountain State Park - Bear Mountain
Perhaps the most well known of all the local parks, Bear Mountain State Park sits just over the Bear Mountain Bridge from Northern Westchester County. With all that Bear Mountain has to offer, it is an easy place to arrive early or stay late—or even overnight at the newly renovated Bear Mountain Inn. Young children will appreciate the old fashioned carousel, the Bear Mountain Zoo, the playground overlooking Hessian Lake, the paddleboats, the swimming pool and the large open spaces while adults will enjoy the convenient picnic tales, grills and concession stand. If time permits, and you’re not afraid of heights, wander up through the zoo to the base of the Bear Mountain Bridge and walk across on the pedestrian pathway. The view is amazing! Parking fees are $8 per car, with additional small fees for the merry-go-round, pool and boat rentals; zoo admission is free though there is a suggested $1 donation.