Think arts and culture end when you leave city limits? Think again. The NYC suburbs are packed with must-sees.
Anchored by world-famous institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Broadway and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there’s no denying Manhattan is a global mecca for arts and culture—and that’s not to mention the presence of hundreds if not thousands of community theaters and art galleries spread across the five boroughs.
That said, many families worry about leaving the city and losing out on world-class culture? The reality? In the NYC suburbs, you’ll find a unique patchwork of grassroots theaters, coveted art collections and one-of-a-kind immersive experiences. From local galleries and artist collectives to nationally-renowned (and even Tony Award-winning) theaters to commitments to creativity in the schools and out, consider these NYC suburbs if your family craves a serious arts and culture scene.
Sea Cliff, NY
Home to historic Victorians “painted ladies” and craft cottages, some of the East Coast’s most magnificent sunsets and seaside vistas worthy of Monet, it’s easy to see why locals fall in love with Sea Cliff.
Aside from basically living inside of a work of art, residents delight in The Sea Cliff Museum, summer concerts at Hippie Park, a laid back bohemian vibe and an easy 23-mile commute into Midtown Manhattan. Plus, the top-ranked North Shore Schools—which includes Sea Cliff, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing and parts of Old Brookville, Roslyn Harbor and Greenvale—are A+, and include both Mandarin and Spanish programs starting in kindergarten.
Montclair is a classic suburban community, drawing diverse city families for decades—and with good cause. Here, families wander the streets on warm summer evenings, grabbing a quick bite, chatting with friends and neighbors and enjoying homemade ice cream from Applegate Farm. There’s something for everyone in this college town, including arts and culture. Because when residents aren’t feeding their bellies with Moose Tracks, they’re feeding their senses strolling through the lush Van Vleck House & Gardens, pondering 12,000 pieces of art at the Montclair Art Museum and partaking in community-hosted jazz and film festivals.
Nestled along the Hudson River in New York, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Tarrytown and Irvington offer locals breathtaking views, architecturally fascinating homes and buildings and access to arts and culture that make Broadway feel like a distant memory.
Fans of painter Jasper Cropsey can visit his studio at Ever Rest and the Newington-Cropsey Foundation’s Gallery of Art for a rare look into his life. The. “Museums of the Streets” walking tour is a must-see for architectural enthusiasts, and don’t forget the River Spirit Music and Arts Festival. In for a scare? Brush up on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and then wander the countryside of Tarrytown where it’s set.
Expansive green spaces, rolling hills dotted with gingerbread homes and a charming downtown featuring Victorian-style storefronts contribute to the idyllic way of life Katonah is known for.
The experience is enhanced by the presence of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts and the Katonah Museum of Art where residents and visitors alike can enjoy afternoon tea, yoga lessons, wine education and world-class permanent and rotating exhibits.
There’s always something to see, do or learn when it comes to arts and culture in Westport. The Westport Arts Center offers year-round attractions, with many geared toward children and families. Plus there’s the Art About Town Festival in May, the Fine Arts Festival in July and a treasure trove of galleries around town, including Amy Simon Fine Art and the Artists Collective of Westport.
There’s something about Ridgefield location’s in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains about 1 hour north of NYC that lends itself to art, spirituality and deep connection with nature. Top-rated schools are a major attraction and one that’s only enhanced by the presence of cultural hotspots such as the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Weir Farm National Historic Site and the historic Prospector Theater.
The original “Hipsturbia,” there’s definitely a bit of Brooklyn in this New Jersey suburb. Maplewood is infamous for Maplewoodstock, a free concert that takes place around July 4 and draws an eclectic mix of local and national performers. The community owns the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, and has one of the most walkable and adorable downtowns in the Garden State.
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.