Riders and equine enthusiasts who have spent any time in Westchester County are likely familiar with the equestrian enclave of North Salem, only fifty miles from New York City and an easy commute on the Metro North Railroad. Home to many professional and Olympic show jumpers who train out of world class barns, North Salem also appeals to devoted amateurs, fox hunters, and leisure riders for its vast open land (over 1,000 acres are protected from development) that remains recreationally friendly. Nestled among this rolling countryside is the stately and historic Old Salem Farm, which hosts the American Gold Cup, a high profile competition of international show jumpers that occurs each September. In its 49th year, this five-day event carries special weight due to its coveted $210,000 Grand Prix, and status as a designated World Cup Qualifier (think: nail-biting jump rounds for athletes with big goals).
The competition begins Wednesday, September 11th and runs through Sunday, September 15th. The American Gold Cup Grand Prix commences at 2:00pm, and is set against a backdrop of family-friendly activities, shopping, entertainment, dining, and more. If thrilling competition and fall foliage aren’t enticing enough, below we provide further evidence that North Salem is worth the jaunt for a nearby “daycation.” We’ve compiled a mini-guide of spots that are popular with the locals (like us!), as well as our favorite apparel and accessories from Manhattan Saddlery. Stop by the store at 117 East 24th Street, New York, and get equipped for your autumn outing in horse country.
We’ll see you there!
An Insider’s Guide to North Salem, New York
Eat & Drink:
For post-hack fare, Hayfields Market serves a farm fresh menu that includes pork tacos, veggie wraps, and avocado toast, as well as a bakery full of sweet treats. Local produce, a wine bar, fresh cut flowers, and gifts round out the rural rest stop. For a filling brunch, Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish may be familiar to Manhattanites who have dined at the Gramercy Park location. However, the laid back porch and peanut shell-dusted floors keep this Northern version cozy and casual. Vox Bar & Restaurant is great for “adulting,” with French cuisine served on white table linens in an Old World setting. Morning trekkers can grab coffee and quiche at The Market at Union Hall, which is conveniently located across from Baxter Road (see below!).
North Salem offers more than 25 land preserves that are maintained by the Open Land Foundation. We are fond of Baxter Preserve for its location, and long walks with the dogs (leashes are a must, since encounters with mounted riders are frequent). Lush meadows surround a large pond where a point-to-point racetrack once operated in the 1950s. The adjacent Baxter Road features picturesque horse farms and hay fields dotted with contemporary art sculptures courtesy of a local collector.
Sundays in September are ripe for gathering apples and pumpkins at Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard, where a line of cars often stretches for miles. The orchard’s fall festival occurs every weekend from now through October, with hay rides, apple cannons, games, face painting, crafts, pony rides, and live music. We recommend an early start to beat the crowds and snag a homemade cider donut while they’re still warm!
Also within Union Hall is BB Abode, an eclectic collection of home furnishings and decorative accessories with a nod to farmhouse style. We’ve picked up antique square-cut nails, a petite brass mirror, and matchboxes that endorse an equine pastime.
It has been said that there are more horses than people living in North Salem. Therefore, a visit naturally entices one to want to saddle up. There are a few commercial barns that will accommodate lessons when reserved in advance with Stepping Stone Farm and Summit Farm among them. Tell them Outside Rein sent you!
A Daycation Checklist for Horse Country