Though it may best be known for its Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze, one of the New York City area's biggest annual Halloween events, Westchester County's Van Cortlandt Manor on the Hudson River is full of colonial charm all year round. Get the details on its historical mansion and grounds, plus annual favorite events like Independence Day 1801, River Day, and Candlelight Tours.
More than 200 years ago, the Van Cortlandt family was one of the most prominent in the Hudson River Valley, spurring development in the area when they moved to Westchester from Manhattan. During the Revolutionary War, the Van Cortlandts held true to the Rebel cause. Pierre Van Cortlandt held an esteemed position as the second in command for the Rebel government and his son Philip served as an officer in the Patriot Army. Because of their stature, the family faced and influenced many pressing political issues of the time.
Today, visitors can explore the legendary family's home, Van Cortlandt Manor, to walk amongst their recreated gardens and experience what life was like along the beautiful Hudson River just after the Revolutionary War, in our country's New Nation period. Who needs to go to Williamsburg when our own backyard is full of such vibrant history?
The Van Cortlandt stone manor house features furnishings from the Colonial and Federal Periods, including one of the largest and best-equipped Colonial kitchens in America. During a 45-minute tour of the estate, costumed guides demonstrate daily house chores from open-hearth cooking to blacksmithing to spinning, and often invite visitors to try their hand at these 18th-century tasks. Visitors can also walk the quiet country paths through the heritage garden, which includes an array of period flowers, vegetables, and herbs, to the nearby Ferry House (which dates before 1750) that served as a tavern and inn for travelers along the Albany Post Road.
In October, come in the evenings to walk the garden paths by the glow of more than 4,000 hand-carved jack o'lanterns arranged in intricate displays at the infamous Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. Get more details on this year's Blaze
Photo by: Tom Nycz
The summer season kicks off with Independence Day 1801, when visitors can experience a historical Independence Day celebration. Festivities begin with the roar of cannon fire and continue with a parade, patriotic speeches and songs, military reenactments, and a variety of hands-on activities.
Photo by: Anthony Pellegrino
Stop by in August for River Day, a festival that celebrates the Hudson River's history and ecology through performances, boat rides, fishing, and boat building.
Photo by: Anthony Pellegrino
As December nears, see the manor decorated for the holidays in authentic period style. Costumed interpreters guide tours that highlight historic traditions of the winter holidays and lead interactive workshops.
Photo by: Bryan Haeffele
Address: 525 S. Riverside Ave., Croton-on-Hudson
Hours: Admission by timed tours only: 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 3pm. October: Open for Blaze evenings only. November-December: Open weekends and Nov. 25, 10am-4pm; last tour at 3pm.
Price: Tours: $12; $10 seniors (65 and older); $6 children ages 3-17; free for children younger than 3
For more information: 914-631-8200 Monday-Friday; 914-271-8981 weekends. hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/van-cortlandt-manor.
For many more family activities in the NYC area, visit our Calendar of Events