Bedford, a quaint little town tucked away in Westchester County, New York, has a knack for making you forget the urban jungle. Its charm lies in its rustic character, ancient stone walls, and miles of dirt roads. Plus cell service that, let’s be honest, is sometimes more of a myth than reality. The town is a triptych of hamlets: Bedford Village, Katonah, and Bedford Hills.
The sprawling town of Bedford, NY, features nature preserves, historic homes, and a thriving arts scene. Of the three hamlets, Bedford Village is the cradle of town since 1680. In the southeast corner of the town, it’s a time capsule preserving 18th and 19th-century architectural marvels. Katonah, on the northern edge, is a lively hamlet with a Victorian flair. It was uprooted and replanted in the late 1890s to make way for New York City’s unending thirst for water. Bedford Hills, the seat of town government, emerged as the primary business and transportation hub after the Civil War.
So, if you’re looking for a place where nature meets culture, Bedford is the place to be.
Ready to explore the best things to do in Bedford, NY? Let’s get into it:
- Explore Bedford, NY’s captivating history and picturesque hamlets
- Uncover something new with activities like the Historic District walk or visit Mianus River Gorge Preserve
- Enjoy nearby attractions in Westchester County such as Pound Ridge, Armonk & Greenwich
A Brief History of Bedford, New York
Bedford, New York, started as an off-shoot of neighboring Connecticut. Born in 1680 from the dreams of 22 Puritans from Stamford, CT. They traded for the land in exchange for coats, blankets, wampum, and cloth from Chief Katonah and his kin. Hence, the name of the village of Katonah, NY. Connecticut made an official claim to it in 1697. King William III of England declared it part of New York in 1700 with a stroke of his royal quill.
During the American Revolution, Bedford was the capital of Westchester County after the British sacked White Plains, NY. It was itself scorched by the British in July 1779. Rising from the ashes, it shared the honor of county seat with White Plains until 1870. The town’s oldest government building, the Court House in Bedford village, was built in 1787 and given a facelift in the 1960s.
Bedford Village is a jewel, its village green and historic buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1787 Court House, a few homes that survived the British’s fiery wrath, and the Town House of 1927 are just a few of the historic gems here.
Bedford Hills is the most diverse hamlet, where 44% of the population identify as Hispanic or Latino.
In 1931, photographer Walker Evans captured an A. & P. grocery store defiantly sporting a white facade on Bedford’s village green. It was a departure from the chain’s traditional red storefront. In 1972, the Bedford Historical Society acquired the Lounsbery Building, now leased by the Horse Connection, a tack shop. It’s now one of 10 historic properties on or near the green that the organization maintains.
The Best Things to do in Bedford, NY
Seek out the simple pleasures of the countryside in Bedford, New York.
At Rainbeau Ridge, you can meet the locals – goats, sheep, Kerry cows, chickens, and Red Bourbon turkeys. Then saddle up for a horseback-riding lesson under the watchful eye of trainer Cathy Davis. Take a leisurely ride through the Bedford Riding Lanes Association‘s 100 miles of trails, the best way to see all those horse farms.
Reward your hard work with a hearty meal at Bedford 234.
Each of Bedford’s hamlets boasts a downtown area, from Bedford Village to Katonah Avenue and Bedford Hills.
Bedford Village Historic District
Stroll down the lanes of Bedford Village Historic District, and you’ll find yourself transported back in time. Conceived in 1972, this neighborhood, nestled in the heart of Bedford, New York, is an architectural cocktail. Here, you’ll find a blend of Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Carpenter Gothic, and Queen Anne styles. It’s a visual feast of 80 historical buildings.
There’s the Bedford Court House of 1787, standing tall and proud, a silent witness to the passage of time. Then there’s the Bedford Historical Hall from 1806. And who could forget the Hezekiah Dunham House?
The Court House of 1787 is now a museum. And the 1829 School House is under the watchful eye of the Bedford Historical Society.
The Bedford Oak, an iconic symbol of the town, stands tall at a grand old age of 1500 years. Other notable sites include the Library and the Bedford Store and Post Office, erected in 1838.
The district also plays host to the Jackson House, Sutton Clock, and Lounsbery Building. If you’re a history buff with a thirst for more, the Bedford Historical Society offers guided walking tours on select dates.
Bedford Hills Museum
Step right up, history buffs and culture vultures, to the Bedford Hills Museum. Nestled in the heart of the 1787 Court House, this place is a goldmine of tales from yesteryears. Exhibits? They’ve got ’em in spades:
- Local history
- And highlights from shows that have come and gone
From May to January, the museum throws open its doors from noon to 3 pm, inviting you to step into a world frozen in time.
On the first floor, you’ll find the Court Room, spruced up and looking as dapper as it did when court trials were held here from the 1780s to the 1860s. Upstairs is a slice of Bedford’s life – early commerce, farming, community – all served up on a platter. And for the brave at heart, the oldest jail cell in the county.
Oh, and did we mention the souvenirs? Bedford memorabilia, classic Colonial games, toys, books – you name it. And the best part? The museum doesn’t charge an admission fee. Come on down and get your fill of Bedford Hills’ history, especially on a rainy day.
Mianus River Gorge Preserve
A chunk of land saved by the Nature Conservancy back in 1953 is now Mianus River Gorge Preserve. This place, dear reader, is a sanctuary of silence, a haven for the hush of nature. It stretches over 935 acres, untouched by the hand of man. Here, you’ll find trees older than your great-grandfather, and a gorge carved by the relentless Mianus River.
It feels more like something you’ll find out west than this corner of Westchester County, NY.
Fancy a walk? There are five miles of trails that’ll take you through the Taylor Preserve, a loop of land a mile long. Hemlocks, beeches, and maples line the river and upper hills.
You can visit from April 1 to November 30, a window of time when the preserve is at its most inviting. It’s a place to reconnect with the earth, to rediscover the beauty of Bedford’s wild side. The Nature Conservancy and Mianus River Gorge, Inc. share the responsibility of keeping this place pristine. Be advised, though: no pets, and its closed in the winter months to allow the natural beauty to rest.
A lively hub of communal gatherings is how to describe the Bedford Playhouse. Established in 1947, this joint has been the town’s heartbeat, providing a stage for art, cinema, and music. Want to have a movie night that’s just yours? You can rent the place. If you’re more of a social butterfly, the summer series is your scene. It showcases films that make you laugh, cry, and think. Broadway performances light up the stage, and The Four26 band fills the air with music that gets your feet tapping. The Orchestra 914 woodwind quintet adds a touch of class, their notes floating in the air like a gentle breeze. And when the show’s over, the Playhouse Café stands ready to serve you tasty bites and libations, from craft beers to fine wines and cocktails.
John Jay Homestead
Built in 1799, the John Jay Homestead is a time capsule on the list of things to do in Katonah, New York. John Jay, one of the Founding Fathers and the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, once called this place home. And he apparently had quite the resume.
The Homestead is a Historic Landmark on the National Register, for obvious reasons. It’s filled to the brim with family heirlooms, historical photographs, and antique furniture. The walls are adorned with original paintings by renowned artists like:
- Gilbert Stuart
- John Singer Sargent
- Thomas Cole
- And John Trumbull
There’s even a bust of John Paul Jones, looking as stoic as ever.
The Carriage Barn Education & Visitor Center offers a peek into John Jay’s life, complete with a biographical video. There’s also a gift shop and reading room, perfect for those who like to take a piece of history home with them. And if you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you can enjoy a picnic at the Herb Garden, Sun Dial Garden, or Terrace Garden. Or visit the resident chickens in their coop.
The Homestead also hosts an annual Barn Dance, a unique event that combines history with a good old-fashioned hoedown.
Guard Hill Preserve
Guard Hill Preserve, a 76-acre refuge, is the brainchild of Amy and Brian Pennington. The couple, in a stroke of genius, handed over the land to the Westchester Land Trust, putting a stop to any development plans. The preserve, open from May, is an Eden of wetlands, home to cinnamon fern, skunk cabbage, and sphagnum moss hummocks. It’s a bird-watcher’s paradise, with black-and-white warblers, Baltimore orioles, and rose-breasted grosbeaks. The trail, starting south of Guard Hill Road, winds its way to the southeast, marking the preserve’s boundary. It’s a place where you can either walk or ride a horse, enjoying the tranquility of nature.
Stepping Stones, another historic home, was home to Bill and Lois Wilson. They were the brave souls who founded Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. This property, now a State and National Historic Landmark, explores:
- The Wilsons’ lives
- Their groundbreaking work in the recovery movement
- And the enduring legacy of the 12 Step programs
The Welcome Center is a trove of over a hundred thousand archival items. Be on the lookout for Bill’s writing studio and verdant flower and vegetable gardens that encircle the home. Stepping Stones, maintained by the Foundation, welcomes visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Just not Mondays.
Tom Burke Preserve
Tom Burke Preserve, a 7.5-acre green oasis tucked away in Bedford, NY, is a sanctuary for the soul and a feast for the eyes. Guard Hill Road leads you to this quiet retreat. And walking paths meander through rolling meadows and swamplands.
Once known as Knapp’s Field, the preserve now bears the name of Thomas Burke, a local who perished in the World Trade Center attack.
Visitors can lose themselves in the gentle sway of wildflowers and meadow grasses. The entrance to this haven of peace lies waiting at the junction of McLain Street and Springhurst Road.
Katonah Museum of Art
A whirlwind of exhibitions and a kaleidoscope of learning. The Katonah Museum of Art hosts artwork from all corners of the globe. This Westcheser County museum, once the Katonah Gallery, opened in 1953. In 1990, it ventured to its current location. The genius of Edward Larrabee Barnes is etched in its design. It proudly hosts three to four major exhibits a year, each approved by the American Alliance of Museums. You can wander the gift shop and the outdoor sculpture garden. Or roll up your sleeves for some hands-on artistry with the young ones at the Pollack Family Learning Center. The museum hosts lectures, workshops, film screenings, concerts, and public events. So, step right up and indulge in the visual symphony that is the Katonah Museum of Art.
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
The Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is a cultural oasis of live music venues. It’s host to an array of lively concerts and soirees, including the much-beloved Caramoor Summer Music Festival. The Rosen House, a relic of an estate, serves as the stage for live music and acts as the backdrop for fundraising shindigs and fancy dinner parties. This Mediterranean-style architectural gem, erected between 1929 and 1939, is adorned with:
- Asian decor
- Renaissance art
- And antique European furniture
Each summer, the center rolls out the red carpet for the Caramoor Summer Music Festival. And throughout the year, it throws open its doors for events like the Opening Night Gala, the Masked Ball, and Wine Dinners. The Caramoor Center offers its guests a chance to experience live music in a setting nothing short of breathtaking.
This working farm and educational center offers plenty of activities. Open daily from the crack of dawn at 10:00 AM till the afternoon lull at 4:00 PM, the farm was once the pride and joy of the Hopkins family.
Visitors are invited to join free guided tours around the 700-acre farm, with staff educators acting as your trusty guides. The farm is home to a variety of farm animals, from cows and donkeys to sheep, goats, ducks, pigs, turkeys, and more. Take a trip down memory lane and visit old buildings like the ice house, milk house, brooder, and carriage houses. Special events and educational programs are scheduled on the farm’s website calendar. You can enjoy scenic trails, local wildlife, a group hayride, and fresh goods at the Farmers Market. It’s a day out that’ll have you feeling like a true Bedford local.
This is a haven for all native creatures great and small. This non-profit nature center and wildlife preserve is a sprawling canvas of 600 acres. It offers 7.5 miles of hiking trails, where the footprints of man and beast intertwine, weaving a tapestry of shared existence. The sanctuary, open daily from 9:00 AM to the owl’s hoot at 5:00 PM.
- Eastern Box Turtles
- Wood Turtles
- Eastern Newts
- Baltimore Checkerspots
- Red Squirrels
- Red-tailed Hawks
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
- Tessellated Darters
They all call this place home, an ideal spot for birdwatching. The sanctuary also boasts a Natural Science Museum. Enjoy a picnic at the Nature Center tables or take a leisurely stroll through the Terrace Garden.
Henry Morgenthau Preserve
Embark on a tranquil journey through the Henry Morgenthau Preserve. This is another serene natural area with walking paths and picturesque views. Established in 1972, the preserve covers 36 acres of land and is open to the public free of charge.
Step back in time and visit Merestead. This historic estate and former home of the prominent Sloane family is on the border between Bedford and Mount Kisco, NY. Explore the beautifully preserved mansion, designed by the renowned Edward Larrabee Barnes. This country estate made an influence on decorating and furnishing trends.
Dining and Shopping in Bedford, NY
When it comes to dining in Bedford, the options are as diverse as they are delicious. Satisfy your cravings with:
- French cuisine at La Cremaillere Restaurant
- American fare at TRUCK and Bedford 234
- Italian delights at Ristorante Lucia
- Or a mix of American and Mediterranean flavors at Bedford Post – The Barn
And for breakfast or brunch, indulge in the mouthwatering offerings at:
- Jay Street Cafe
- G E Brown Fine Food and Provisions
- Village Green Deli
- Mimi’s Coffee House in Mount Kisco, New York
- Or Blind Charlie’s Cafe in Pound Ridge, NY
Looking for some retail therapy? Stroll through the charming streets of Bedford Village or Katonah for trendy boutiques to specialty shops.
Seasonal Events and Festivals in Bedford, NY
Bedford’s vibrant community spirit shines through its seasonal events and festivals, including:
- Holi Festival of Colors
- St. Patrick’s Parish Carnival
- Bedford Music Festival
- Caramoor Summer: Pops & Patriots Celebrate Independence Day at Caramoor
- Broadway in Bedford: Best of Broadway
- Summer movies at Bedford Playhouse
With a packed calendar of events, there’s always something happening in Bedford, so be sure to join the festivities and make the most of your visit.
Directions to Bedford, New York
Bedford is easily accessible from New York City via I-684 North and Route 172/South Bedford Road. Public transportation is also available, with hourly trains from Harlem-125 St and Grand Central to Bedford Hills. For getting to an from Manhattan, the Harlem line of the Metro-North Railroad can be accessed at Katonah or Bedford Hills stations. The trip from Manhattan takes about an hour, depending on traffic, and drivers have easy access to the Saw Mill River Parkway and Interstate 684.
Bedford is only about a 25-minute drive from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast. Add another 5 minutes or so for Bedford Hills and Katonah.
Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Bedford, NY
When it comes to accommodations in and around Bedford, there’s a few charming options. Relax in a cozy and inviting abode after an adventurous day.
Bedford Post Inn
The Bedford Post Inn, a relic of 1762, is (part) owned by none other than Richard Gere. This old homestead has been given a new lease on life, restored with a keen eye for the environment. The Inn offers eight rooms, each boasting a working fireplace and a tub big enough for two. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the privacy of one’s room or in the parlor. Complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon wine and charcuterie, a morning paper, and a stunning patio are just a few of the luxuries that come with a stay here. You also have several dining options on the grounds.
Stanton House Inn
Discover the charm and history of Stanton House Inn, a bed and breakfast just a 25-minute drive from Bedford center in the town of Greenwich, CT. Our historic inn offers comfortable guest rooms with gas fireplaces, wet bars, and private balconies in select rooms. That said, it’s not too historic: all our guest rooms have private baths, some with clawfoot tubs or whirlpool tubs. Enjoy free WiFi, a delicious breakfast, and an outdoor pool during your stay at our elegantly charming inn.
Westchester County Towns & Attractions near Bedford, NY
While you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to explore nearby Westchester County towns and attractions. Extend your travel boundaries beyond Bedford and uncover the hidden treasures that Westchester County presents.
Pound Ridge, NY
Just a stone’s throw from Bedford, the picturesque town of Pound Ridge, NY offers a delightful mix of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and historic landmarks. Culinary offerings include The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges, Blind Charlie’s Cafe, and North Star Restaurant.
Rich in history and natural splendor, Pound Ridge, NY is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend adventure.
Armonk, New York
Experience the charm of Armonk, New York, a thriving town with a bustling arts scene, unique shopping, and beautiful parks. Some highlights of Armonk include:
- Strolling through the downtown area
- Visiting the esteemed Smith’s Tavern, now home to the North Castle Historical Society
- Catching a show by the beloved Armonk Players community theater troupe at the North Castle Public Library’s Whippoorwill Hall
With so much to see and do, Armonk is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts, history buffs, and shoppers alike.
Explore the charming town of Yorktown, NY, via beautiful parks like Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park and Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve. Yorktown, NY offers a unique and memorable experience for history lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Experience the coastal charm of Greenwich, CT. The delightful mix of shopping, dining, and cultural attractions attracts Bedford residents. Some will make the 25-minute drive to stroll down Greenwich Avenue. You can also visit the Bruce Museum, and explore the picturesque Greenwich Point Park beach.
Don’t miss the Bush-Holley House at the Historical Society, and the iconic Putnam Cottage, just a few of the many attractions that make Greenwich a must-visit destination. With its beautiful shoreline and vibrant arts scene, Greenwich, CT is a coastal gem worth exploring.
Discover the bustling city of Stamford, Connecticut, offering a diverse array of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Some highlights include:
- Stamford Museum & Nature Center
- Cove Island Park
- Eugene and Agnes Meyer Nature Preserve
- The Palace Theatre
With a rich history and a lively arts scene, Stamford, Connecticut is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
New Canaan, CT
Explore the picturesque town of New Canaan, CT, known for its thriving arts community and beautiful parks. Visit the following attractions:
- Philip Johnson Glass House
- Waveny Park
- St. Marks Episcopal Church
- Silvermine Arts Center
- New Canaan Nature Center
Exploring the best things to do in New Canaan, CT, is a great way to discover the arts and architecture scene and enjoy the natural beauty of this charming town.
Bedford, New York offers a diverse array of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages and interests. From its rich history and charming hamlets to its thriving arts scene and beautiful parks, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque town. So, whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Bedford, NY awaits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bedford NY known for?
Bedford NY is known for its tranquil escape into the country with historic homes, horse farms and country estates, as well as its three distinct hamlets – Bedford Village, Katonah and Bedford Hills.
Is Bedford Hills NY A good place to live?
Bedford Hills is an incorporated town in Westchester County, New York with a population of 16,880. It offers the solitude and grace of a country lifestyle combined with easy access to all that New York City has to offer, making it an ideal location for families or retired folk looking for a peaceful community. The town is located just 40 miles from Manhattan, making it easy to commute to the city for work or leisure. Bedford Hills is also home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and other amenities,
What are the top attractions in Bedford, NY?
Explore the Bedford Village Historic District, marvel at Bedford Hills Museum, take a nature walk in the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, and visit the John Jay Homestead for some rich history – Bedford, NY has something for everyone!
Are there any seasonal events or festivals in Bedford, NY?
Yes, Bedford, NY has plenty of seasonal events to enjoy including the Holi Festival of Colors, St. Patrick’s Parish Carnival, and the Bedford Music Festival – an exciting lineup of festivities for all to enjoy! These events offer something for everyone, from family-friendly activities to live music and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for a fun day out or a night of dancing, Bedford has something for you. So
What dining options are available in Bedford, NY?
Bedford offers a delicious selection of dining experiences, with La Cremaillere Restaurant, TRUCK, Ristorante Lucia, and Bedford Post – The Barn all available to tantalize your taste buds.