Despite its bland appearance, the wealthy community of Purchase is home to two remarkable cultural sites. The Neuberger Museum (735 Anderson Hill Rd., 914/251-6100, www.neuberger.org , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun., adults $7, seniors and students $4, children under 12 free), on the campus of the State University of New York, is a first-rate art museum with an outstanding collection of modern works by such masters as Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Henry Moore, Frank Stella, Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, and—especially—Milton Avery. Avery was the favorite painter of the museum’s founder, Roy Neuberger, and 20 of his canvases are on display.
Just down the street from the Neuberger are the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo (700 Anderson Hill Rd., 914/253-2000, 9 a.m.–dusk daily, free admission). Here at the corporate headquarters of the Pepsi-Cola Company is an impressive outdoor sculpture garden filled with works by Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, George Segal, Claes Oldenburg, and many others. More than 40 works are on display, scattered over carefully landscaped grounds complete with dramatic fountains. A path winds through the area, and a map is available at the entrance.
To reach either the museum or the gardens from I-684, take the State University of New York exit and follow the signs.
A sprawling suburban town located on Long Island Sound, Rye dates back to the 1660s when it was a notable stopping place on the old Post Road between New York and Boston. Then, as now, the town centered around Purchase Street, which today is lined with trees and sleepy antiques shops.
At the southern end of Rye is the wonderful Playland (end of Playland Pkwy., 914/813-7000, www.ryeplayland.org ). Built in 1928 as the nation’s first amusement park, this dreamy art deco refuge still boasts its original green-and-cream buildings and a number of original rides, including the Carousel, the Derby Racer, the Old Mill boat ride, and the wooden Dragon Coaster. Also in the park are about 40 other rides, a crescent-shaped beach with a weathered boardwalk, an Olympic-size pool, and a lake where rowboats can be rented.
Most of the rides at Playland are open May–Labor Day; hours vary, but midsummer hours are noon–11 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday, and admission for a non-rider is $5, with unlimited rides is $30, and kids under 36 inches ride free. To reach Playland from downtown Rye, head east on Playland Parkway. From I-95, take Exit 19.
Constitution Marsh Sanctuary (Indian Brook Rd., off Rte. 9D, 845/265-2601, www.constitutionmarsh.org , 9 a.m.–dusk Tues.–Sun. year-round), a 207-acre tidal marsh, is managed by the National Audubon Society. An interpretive nature trail and boardwalk run through the preserve, while at river’s edge is a visitors center (9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun. May–Oct., free admission). The sanctuary is rich with birds—194 species have been spotted—and wildflowers.
In the preserve are canals created by farmers who hoped to use the marshlands to grow rice. Once a day at high tide, from May through early October, the Audubon Society runs guided canoe trips through these canals. The trips are free but are enormously popular, and reservations must be made weeks in advance.
Heading North on Route 9D—watch closely for signs—you’ll come to the idiosyncratic Manitoga (845/424-3812, www.russelwrightcenter.org , trails open dawn–dusk daily, suggested donation $5). Created by industrial designer Russel Wright over a period of about three decades beginning in 1947, Manitoga is designed, as the artist put it, to “bring to American culture an intimacy with nature.” Throughout the center run three hiking trails that Wright carefully manipulated to their best natural effect. Some parts are reminiscent of a Japanese garden; others are considerably wilder.
At Manitoga’s center is Wright’s glass-walled home, Dragon Rock (house tours 11 a.m. Mon.–Fri. and 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Apr.–Oct., adults $15, seniors $13, children under 13 $5), built on the edge of a small quarry. Wright rerouted a waterfall to turn the quarry into a sleepy pond.
A few miles due east of Manitoga is Graymoor (off Rte. 9, 845/424-3671, grounds open 9 a.m.–dusk daily), a monastery of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. Built by the Episcopal Church in 1898, the monastery is perched high on a hill with magnificent views of the Hudson Valley . On the grounds are shrines, chapels, and Stations of the Cross. To reach Graymoor from Manitoga, take Route 9D north to Route 403 south to Route 9 south.
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park (off Rte. 301, east of Taconic State Pkwy., Carmel, 845/225-7207, dawn–dusk daily, parking at the beach $8) spreads out over 12,000 acres of Putnam Valley. It’s crisscrossed with a number of hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail, and features lakes (boat rentals available), swimming beaches, fishing ponds, and an extensive performing-arts program. An 86-site campground is open May–October; for reservations, call 800/456-CAMP.
This idiosyncratic museum (67 Main St., Brewster, 845/279-7500, www.southeastmuseum.org , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., closed Jan.–Mar., suggested donation $5) is full of oddities. Housed in the 1896 Old Town Hall, it contains a large collection of minerals from local mines, early artifacts from the Harlem Railroad Line, and an assortment of early memorabilia from the Borden condensed-milk factory. Gail Brewster began producing condensed milk here in the 1850s. He hit upon the idea while sailing home from England, when he longed for a glass of fresh milk. The town of Brewster has another famous resident: Rex Stout, creator of the orchid-loving detective Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goldwin.
One of the few old-fashioned drive-ins left in the region is the ever-popular Red Rooster Diner (Rte. 22, two miles northeast of Brewster, 845/279-8046), always crowded with families and enthused kids. On the grounds, you’ll find a miniature golf course.