Take in the beauty of spring in New York, from a safe distance, at these historic sites

Photo by Susan De Vries

While some historic sites still have limited access to their historic interiors there are plenty of lush landscapes to visit that mix a dose of fresh air with a dash of history.

We’ve rounded up five sites that are kicking off their 2021 spring season with a focus on outdoor programming and vistas to admire.

lyndhurst exterior

Photo by Lifflander Photography via Lyndhurst

1. Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, N.Y.

While the dramatic Gothic Revival mansion designed by Alexander Jackson Davis is closed, the equally stunning 67-acre landscape reopens for the season on May 3. The grounds are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but grounds pass tickets are required to ensure social distancing.

Special guided experiences designed to put a spotlight on landscape features will resume on May 7 and include a look at the restored 19th century bowling alley, a garden tour with a walk past the ruins of the circa 1914 swimming pool building and a more adventurous two-hour stroll that takes in all the natural and man-built features of the landscape.

For more information regarding on-site protocols and to purchase a ground pass or tour tickets, visit the visitor info online.

2. Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, N.Y.

Built between 1804 and 1808, Boscobel is one of the country’s premier examples of Federal architecture. The architectural jewel is set within more than 60 acres of land with dramatic views of the Hudson River, woodland trails and garden paths.

Their spring season kicked off on April 2 with the grounds open Friday through Monday from 9 a.m. to sunset. Advance reservations are required to reserve a two-hour time slot to roam the grounds. To purchase tickets or a season pass, check out the info page online. Healthcare workers, members and children under age 5 are free.

3. Manitoga, Garrison, N.Y.

An ode to nature and modern living, Manitoga is the mid-century vision of American designer Russel Wright. The house can be a bit hard to spot — but then, that is just what was intended. It’s meant to be discovered slowly while wandering along rocky, wooded pathways that give tantalizing glimpses of a house seemingly growing out of rock at the edge of a pond.

Their tour season kicks off on May 14 and runs through November 8. In addition to guided walks through the landscape, the house will be available for tours with all visitors required to follow health and safety protocols.

New this year is the Russel & Mary Wright Design Gallery, a permanent exhibit of more than 200 objects, providing an in-depth look at the Wrights’ work. For tour availability and prices check out the online calendar of events.

hudson river school painters studio

Olana. Photo by Susan De Vries

3. Olana, Hudson, N.Y.

The visual feast that is Olana, the 1870s home and studio of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church, is sited in a landscape designed for picturesque rambles and sweeping views. While the main house is not yet open, the 250-acre property offers five miles of former carriage roads that wind through a woodland landscape, leading toward vistas planned by Church.

The grounds are open year-round but spring is being greeted with an increase of guided tour offerings and a site-specific art installation. A response to the loss of a beloved hemlock tree, ‘Fallen’ by Jean Shin will be viewable on Olana’s East Lawn from May 2 through October 31.

Tickets for guided tours tend to go quickly, so check out tour times and prices on the info page here.


Wilderstein. Photo by Rolf Müller via Wikipedia

4. Wilderstein, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

An elaborate Queen Anne-style mansion, Wilderstein was home to three generations of the Suckley family. The last family member to live in the house, Daisy Suckley, a cousin and close friend of FDR, left behind furniture, photos, books, letters and artwork, allowing the museum to tell the full tale of one family.

While the historic mansion is closed the 40-acre grounds designed by Calvert Vaux are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A trail map is available online and provides a bit of historic info on some of the features along the pathways. Guided tours of the landscape are available on Saturdays and Sundays starting May 1. Tickets must be purchased in advance and full details can be found online.


Photo by Susan De Vries

5. Untermyer Gardens, Yonkers, N.Y.

Take a detour off the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail with a wander through the 43-acre landscape of the Untermyer Gardens. While the grand mansion was demolished in the 1940s, a portion of the gardens Samuel Untermyer established at his estate overlooking the Hudson River still survives. From 1889 to 1940, Untermyer accumulated and transformed over 150 acres into a botanical wonderland. Today the remaining landscape includes garden follies, woodland trails and scenic vistas.

The grounds are open daily but starting April 16 reservations will be required for Friday to Sunday visits. Free, timed-entry tickets can be booked online.

This story first appeared on our sister publication, Brownstoner

More from around NYC