Sometimes we just want to escape the city for a day, or take a weekend getaway. Many people don’t realize there are quick day trips that can be made using Amtrak or the Metro North railroad. One of these is Tarrytown which is also known as Sleepy Hallow. It’s only around a 45 minute ride a bit north of NYC. The train fare is affordable, there are many things to see and do in the area, good places to eat, and you really don’t need a car to get around as there is a local taxi service to use.
I recently watched a series on the History Channel titled “The Men Who Built America“. It was a facinating look at the powerful men of the industrial age of this country who forged companies that became behemoths, monopolies, and made them wealthy beyond comprehension. Sure, none of these men were saints, and all were cut-throat, but they helped America become the world’s premier industrialized nation at the time. One of these men was John D. Rockefeller and his amazing family estate is open for tours.
Kykuit – The John D. Rockefeller Estate
Definitely a must-see if you are a history buff. It’s like stepping back into the gilded age, and is the closest you will see to one of the American millionaire’s mansions from an era long gone. Plus, it’s a lot closer and easier than heading up to Rhode Island to view all the gilded age mansions from an era before income taxes on the rich.
With the classic tour clocking in at 2 1/2 hours for $28 you receive an expertly guided excursion of the main level of the home and the grounds. You also get to see the lower level of the house with includes an amazing collection of art that rivals what you will find in major museums – Picasso, Warhol, and many other artists from the well known to the obscure. The whole mansion houses all types of art from paintings to sculptures to Asian artifacts dating back to the Ming dynasty or older, including the beautifully manicured grounds. Art is everywhere, and the collection is absolutely priceless.
The tour also included a trip to the stables and garage which houses a wonderful collection of antique sleds and horse drawn carriages. The garage has an awe inspiring collection of classic cars that will blow you away if you are a car buff. Just ridiculous.
The Rockefeller family has a very interesting background, as each generation that lived here had it’s good and bad about them. They were oil barons and art collectors that amassed a fortune not even rivaled by today’s richest men. One thing that surprised me most was the massive amount of money they gave away to charities and philanthropic pursuits. From starting up colleges, to equal rights, to medical research, to countless others it was staggering.
This is a terrific mansion tour that is best done on a dry sunny day as the views are magnificent, and the grounds are something to admire. Our tour guide Peter was the best – funny and informative. He was like a comedian savant and kept the tour interesting if rousing. He knew his stuff and would constantly quiz us with trivia questions and award us energetically with candy if we got it right. This was too funny as were we battling kids to get that candy! Very passionate and we learned a lot from him.
So easy to get to as it’s just a short train ride to the Tarrytown station. It makes for a great day trip and then dinner in town on main street. There is a shuttle service from the visitors center that provides transportation to and from the mansion. We learned that the cost of the tickets actually goes to the care and maintaining of the shuttles. It’s a good use of the fee, and totally worth the admission and guided tour.
A few links to use for info, travel, and tour packages –