It’s not every day that you take a trip to visit a great literary figure’s estate. However, when your mother happened to be an English major and English teacher, this stuff happens. One of the items on our to-do list during her stay was to visit the great Washington Irving’s estate up in Sunnyside, New York.
Irving is best known for writing the short stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow” (both of which I am guilty of not reading…yet). He was not only an author, essayist, and biographer, but also a historian and well known 19th century diplomat. As a matter of fact, he was one of the first well-known and respected American writers across the Atlantic in Europe.
I had considered traveling up to Sleepy Hallow last fall for a spooky-themed half marathon, but felt intimidated by the directions. The trip north is actually much more manageable than I had first anticipated. Simply make your way to Grand Central – 42nd Street and find a ticket booth for the Metro North Train. Locate the Hudson line towards Croton-Harmon and off you go. (~$18.50 for round trip/per person)
Recommendations had been given to stop at the TarryTown train stop, which we dutifully followed. In our minds, we pictured a quaint main street with cafes and a deli where we could create a picnic lunch.
While the town was indeed cute, we found ourselves struggling for lunch options. Again, we were searching for a cafe or deli with to-go options and maybe it’s just a California thing. Thankfully we did walk past an Italian deli where we picked up two sandwiches.
The other dilemma was that Tarrytown was a solid hour’s walk along the busy highway or exorbitant cab fare from the estate. We wanted to sit and enjoy our lunch on the estate, so we settled for a $12 cab ride. The issue with cabs is that they don’t fall under the NYC rules and regulations and can charge pretty much whatever they please (I’m honestly surprised they didn’t charge us $20).
Once on the estate, the view is breathtaking. So different from the crowded city of Manhattan. Greenery overwhelms the estate with hundreds of plant species, all meant to model the romantic style of landscaping.
The tour itself was quite lovely and informative. Each guide is dressed in time-period garb (hoop skirts for the women and woolen getups for the men…so glad I’m not a guide). Fun note about the tree above – this beauty has been around since 1776. Imagine that!
What’s funny is that my mom and I almost decided to spend the night up here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely location but seeing as we had pretty much accomplished everything we set out to in about 4 hours, that would have been a loooooong night.
Obviously the gift store is one of the most interesting parts of a tour. Here we found the typical array of books, coffee mugs, ornaments, and yes, shot glasses. Who knows, maybe Irving was a fan of whiskey.
This time we decided to test our luck with the other train station, Irvington, which was only 1.3 miles away from the estate, and a much more manageable and scenic walk.
Funny enough, when we entered this Main Street, we found 3-4 delis, which would have fit our needs perfectly. Oh well, a lesson learned and at least we were able to explore another New York town.
Also, now that I know how to get out of the city, I will certainly be making the trip north for this fall’s pumpkin festival.
Washington Irving Estate
3 W Sunnyside Ln, Irvington, NY 10533
Admission by Timed Tours Only
10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 3pm
(Also 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, 3:30pm on Saturdays & Sundays)
Visiting Sunnyside – Tours
Adult: $12 ~ Senior (65+): $10 ~ Child (3-17): $6
“One of the greatest and simplest tools for learning more and growing is doing more.” – Washington Irving