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Parks and Recreation

Your weekly guide to fun, exciting, and inexpensive activities across Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties.

If a trip to the Caribbean or even the West Coast isn’t in your family’s budget, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy summer close to home.

With massive rock cliffs, large gaping forests, and expansive, calm waters, the Hudson Valley boasts some of the most beautiful parks and recreational areas—and great opportunities for “staycations.” Here are just a few of them:

Putnam County: Fahnestock State Park

Covering 14,086 acres of land across Putnam and Dutchess counties, Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, located off of Route 301 in Carmel, makes for an exciting and relaxing weekend trip. In addition to its hiking trails and campground, the park also includes a large lakeside beach and boating rentals at low prices. Spend just a few hours or the entire weekend. Either way, it’s sure to be a blast. 

Patch’s Recommendation: Pack some picnic lunches and a few snacks and head to Canopus Lake, “the jewel” of Fahnstock. Take out a rowboat; rentals go by hour or by day for $7 and $25, respectively. If you’re the active type, try some fishing. If not, just enjoy the mountains, forests, and views that surround you. Then, if you’ve had enough of boating, go to the beach and take a nice swim. Read a book or enjoy the picnic areas nearby.

Check the New York State Park’s website for specific fees and hours of operation.

Rockland County: Bear Mountain State Park

Just off the Palisades Parkway, on Seven Lakes Drive, is the expansive and charming Bear Mountain State Park. Set into the mountains on the west side of the Hudson, this area, equipped with playing fields, picnic areas, a swimming pool, hiking, and boating, holds some of the most breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley. Go for just a day trip or a weekend getaway at one of the three lodges in the park.

Patch’s Recommendation:  Pack up a picnic lunch, some drinks and snacks, and head to Bear Mountain. After parking, take a trip to the park’s Merry-Go-Round, which is not the average amusement park ride. This one of a kind attraction lets visitors enjoy painted scenes of the park while sitting on hand carved seats of native animals ($1). After that, head to the water and rent a boat for only $5 a person per hour. Enjoy the scenery and take a relaxing dip in the pool for an escape from the heat. Pool admission is $2 per adult, $1 per child and free for children under 5.

Check the New York State Park’s website for specific fees and hours of operation.

Westchester County: Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park

FDR Park is only 40 miles from New York City, just off Crompond Road in Yorktown. Spacious and open, this park includes picnic areas, nature trails, playing fields, a large pool and a lake. The pool is so enormous it can hold 3,500 bathers ($2 per adult and $1 per child).

Patch’s Recommendation: Pack some lunch and first head over to the Mohansic Lake and Crom Pond. Take out a rowboat or peddle boat and enjoy the water. Next, head to the pool, which is twice the size of an Olympic pool. 

Check the New York State Park’s website for specific fees and hours of operation. 

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