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Get to know Croton-on-Hudson

When Henry Hudson sailed his eponymous river, its shores were dense with wilderness—and while progress has since pruned space for al fresco dining and picket-fenced Victorians, Croton retains its wild roots. This five-square-mile community in the Town of Cortlandt sits ringed by woodland wonders. An abundance of trails fills Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, and at Graff Sanctuary, you might hear the hoots of horned owls. Swimming holes in the hills ice over into skating spots in winter, and there’s even sandy beaches at Croton Point Park, home to the Clearwater Festival and a miniature airport for remote-control planes. But as boundless as its nature may be, it’s an intimate, friendly community. The quaint Upper Village stands guarded by a single landmark traffic light, one of few freestanding “dummies” still around, surrounded on all sides by swoon-worthy boutiques and the kind of hometown eateries that become part of the family. Croton-Harmon Station, served by Metro-North and Amtrak, links Manhattan, Albany and beyond.

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Living in Westchester

Don’t call it upstate. This cosmopolitan county north of New York City is a collective of towns, hamlets and mid-sized cities that put virtually every lifestyle imaginable within an hour’s commute of Manhattan. It’s due north of the Bronx, next door to Connecticut, and the gateway to the Hudson Valley. Metro-North’s Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines make for speedy service into Grand Central — an express ride from many down-county communities runs comparable to the F train from South Brooklyn, with a much sunnier view. Lower Westchester’s villages prioritize convenience, while the verdant horse country to the north is a favored destination for those looking to fade away in privacy. The Hudson and Long Island Sound form its two coasts, conspiring with an inland chain of lakes and reservoirs for unbeatable boating, fishing and other recreational endeavors. Chain stores are noticeably absent from many Main Streets, which run chockablock with character-filled indie shops.