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Bannerman Castle: Adventure Awaits

A trip to Bannerman Castle, on Pollepel Island, has all the irresistible elements of a wonderful adventure. A boat, a castle, a hike amongst the ruins; some mystery, some history: a lovely afternoon.

A castle? On an island? In the middle of the Hudson River?

Now that I’ve discovered it, I wonder what took me so long to find it. Apparently, the castle and the island are two of the best kept Hudson River secrets.

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Who built it? Who lived there? How old is it?

The answers to these questions are fascinating and surprising, and for someone with an interest in history, these stories alone are worth the trip – but this adventure is so much more than history.

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Ready for your adventure? The fun begins as you board a boat in Beacon for the first leg of your journey. You’ll glide along the gorgeous Hudson River, passing Denning’s Point and the Hudson Highland’s along the way, reaching the island about 30 minutes later. The Estuary Steward was our boat, and the ride along the Hudson was definitely part of the fun.

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Approaching the island from onboard the Estuary Steward

Once on Pollepel Island, you’ll meet your guide on the dock: a member of the Bannerman Castle Trust. Your guide will lead you on a walking tour of the island, and is guaranteed to be a wealth of knowledge about the people who lived here, beginning with the Native Americans who first used the island as a look out point. The story your guide will tell continues through the years of bootleggers, smugglers, and Revolutionary War involvement, and finally winds up at the time of Frank Bannerman –the man who built the castle, and a summer home, on the island. The castle is actually an armory, and the full story is worth the wait. Wes, our guide, was an exceptional storyteller who made the history funny, engaging and irresistible. When you start your tour, look for Wes!

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Wes, our guide -and an amazing storyteller

As you hike around the island, you’ll take in incredible views of Storm King, Breakneck Ridge, and even West Point in the distance. These are vistas you just can’t see anywhere else; this vantage point is unique and breathtaking. The ruins of the castle and the Bannerman summer home, with their crumbling brick and stone, evoke another time and place. The gardens are lovely and are being tended and expanded every week.

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Looking south from the island. Breakneck Ridge is on the left, Storm King is on the right, and West Point is directly down the river.

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Hiking from the house on the hill down to the water

Bannerman Castle is a MUST-DO! Bring your camera and book your tickets early. Tours do sell out.

Bannerman Castle is open to the public thanks to the non-profit organization Bannerman Castle Trust. Donations keep the island open for future tours – visit them on the web here:

 

 

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Happy Day Westchester ZepploeMe

Happiness, found- in a small, sugary pillow of dough, drizzled with chocolate

While my quest for a weekly hit of Westchester happiness continues, life also continues to sometimes get in the way of even the best laid plans. Recent weeks have been challenging, side-tracking my attempts at big new adventures or even just solid blocks of family time. I’m sure you know the feeling. I didn’t give up on my quest, though- I just adjusted my objectives. Sometimes a brief escape for a decadent treat is all you can pull off…so you might as well make it good!

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Not long ago I was surprised to hear about a restaurant right here in Westchester specializing in none other than {my-childhood-definition-of-culinary-happiness}: ZEPPOLE.  Continue reading

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Wordless Wednesday in Westchester…Bridges and doors, fences and stairs…

Another Westchester landmark, seen from a less obvious perspective…the bridges, gates, fences, doors and stairs within. Where in Westchester is it? Hat tip to fellow photographer Mary O. for inspiring this location shoot.

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Heads Up! There’s a new event on the horizon, and you need to get your tickets right now: LIGHTSCAPES from Historic Hudson Valley

Have you been to The Great Blaze? It is truly a unique and breathtaking experience, a wonderland of fire and light. (You can read my post about it – and see the incredible photos – at this link).  This spring, for the first time, the creators of The Blaze have come up with a new experience: LIGHTSCAPES.

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LIGHTSCAPES will provide, according to the press release, “An immersive journey into a springtime garden fantasy”…..”an incredible nighttime display of sculpture, light, sound, and special effects.” If it is anything like the Blaze, it promises to be spectacular.

LIGHTSCAPES is a limited engagement and I’m guessing tickets are going to sell out quickly….so I HAD to give you a heads up. Get your tickets now!

My blog is usually a forum for sharing photos and stories about events AS we experience them…but by the time you see my review for this event, it will be too late to get tickets. That just wouldn’t be right..so go get those tickets now, and we’ll compare notes later. Continue reading

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March Hike: Cranberry Lake Preserve

Yes, it’s still cold…spring has not yet sprung…and it’s still awfully hard to get everyone motivated to get outside for a hike. I know, I know! But I’m on a mission here, folks – one hike a month. So, this month, I had to plan carefully and find a hike that offered just a little something “extra”. Maybe that’s what you need, too, to get your family out the door.  Consider Cranberry Lake Preserve- one of my favorite hikes in Westchester. Here’s how we made this hike just a little more enticing, to get the family motivated on a cold and partially overcast day: we turned this hike at Cranberry Lake Preserve into a scavenger hunt, full of history and mystery.

Cranberry Lake Preserve has a fascinating past, and remnants of its days-gone-by are preserved all around the trails. Not only that, the Westchester Department of Parks has made available a History Trail Map, which makes the historical markers and artifacts around the park easy to find and explore.  Click here to link to the map, and bring a copy with you.

This hike is easily turned into a scavenger hunt by searching for the many unique points of interest around the lake. This will engage even your reluctant hikers. Here’s  a quick list to get you started – 6 of the many interesting features to hunt for and find on your hike at Cranberry Lake:

1. The quarry – it’s beautiful and there are plenty of areas along the back ridge where the kids can do some rock scrambling….with careful supervision, of course! Continue reading

Happy Day Westchester Statue

Wordless Wednesday…Where in Westchester?

The best part about being “an explorer”…stumbling upon things you never knew existed. This is what I stumbled upon this week….no, not on a remote hillside in Germany…right here in Westchester. Do you know where? Take a guess in the comments. I’ll provide the answer on Friday….along with the little bit of information I was able to find about this wonderful…and very old…piece of Westchester history.

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Happy Day Westchester Alex Adopt a Dog

One Cute Puppy + Several Good Deeds = One Very Happy Day at Adopt-a-Dog

The cute puppy in this equation is Alex; sweet, still getting used to people, currently waiting to be adopted from Adopt-a-Dog in Armonk. A little shy, with a non-stop wagging tail, a very cuddly nature, and adorable big brown eyes.

Happy Day Westchester Adopt a Dog Girl with Alex

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Happy Day Westchester Happy In Westchester

#HappyinWestchester…Send me a picture of what makes you happy

You must have heard…today is International Day of Happiness. I’d love to do my small part in spreading a little Happiness right here on this page. Can you help? I’m looking for your #HappyInWestchester photos. What is it about Westchester that makes you smile? Is it the view from the train as you head to work? Is it the park in town where your kids play? The coffee shop that gets you going each morning? Your own backyard?

Email me your photos at HappyDayWestchester@gmail.com. Nothing fancy – a shot from your phone is just fine. Include your first name and where the photo was taken. I’ll do my best to get as many posted as I can. Let’s spread a little Westchester Happiness! Continue reading

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Hastings-on-Hudson, Part II: Beyond the Museum in the Streets

A few days ago I wrote about the fun we had exploring the Museum in the Streets in Hastings-on-Hudson– but the Museum was only part of our afternoon in this vibrant little town. In addition to all the things we saw on the walking tour, we discovered many other beautiful spots, delicious eateries, and interesting places. If you remember, I talked about the fun of being an intrepid explorer, even when you’re close to home and you won’t be leaving the ‘burbs anytime soon. When you explore a town you don’t usually visit, you’re guaranteed to find unique places and things your own town doesn’t have. That’s how we discovered The Museum in the Streets – and so much more…

During our day in Hastings, around  every corner we found something novel – a beautiful garden, a playground we’ve never visited, a “Gingerbread House”, a shop selling vinyl records (“What’s a vinyl record, Mom?”). Continue reading