August 12, 2022
Monsey, New York
Compiled and photographed by Sarah Einhorn
Here is an option for a vacation that offers all the conveniences of in-town but is still a change of scenery and a few degrees cooler than Lakewood.
While this article will focus on outdoor activities within a half hour of Monsey, there are some enjoyable indoor activities as well. These include: the Palisades Mall, which is 20 minutes away; and the American Dream Mall, which is 30 minutes away. Each of these malls offers many attractions and activities. There are also three bowling alleys nearby: New City Bowl, Break Point Bowl (formerly Hi Tor Lanes) in Haverstraw, and Montvale Lanes. Two local trampoline parks are Bounce! in Valley Cottage and SkyZone in Allendale, New Jersey. Turtleboo is a local indoor amusement center in Spring Valley for younger children, and High Exposure in Northvale, New Jersey, has many different styles of climbing walls.
Many groceries and eateries are sprinkled throughout Monsey, especially on Main Street and Route 59. Some main ones:
- Evergreen Supermarket, a few eateries, and many other stores are located at Towne Square on Route 59.
- Rockland Kosher Supermarket, an ice cream store, a café, and other stores are located in Shoppers Haven.
- Wesley Kosher and several eateries and other stores are located in the shopping center on Route 306, in Wesley Hills.
There are shuls and minyanim in every neighborhood. Satmar, Vizhnitz, and Scheiner, among others, have round-the-clock minyanim.
There are no hotels within Monsey, but there are plenty in the surrounding towns such as Suffern, Nanuet, and Nyack.
West Maple Farm
Monsey, New York
It’s amazing to have such an incredible farm experience right in Monsey, on West Maple Avenue. The 15 acres of farmland were transformed into a fun family attraction after Zev Oster, owner of Rockland Honey and Nickel-O Farm, acquired the overgrown empty farm and had a vision of a place where children (and adults) can visit animals, play in nature, and pick vegetables.
The farm has numerous animals to visit and feed, including cows, sheep, donkeys, chickens, alpaca, goats, peacocks, and rabbits. There are informational signs with interesting tidbits posted by each type of animal. We especially enjoyed counting how many freshly laid eggs we were able to find in the chicken coup. We fed the animals ice cream cones filled with feed (sold in the office). It was fun to see the animals reaching out and biting the cone after eating the feed.
Behind the petting zoo is a picnic area with a playground that boasts unique equipment including a fire truck and an army truck that children can climb and play pretend on. There are also other structures to play on and enough picnic tables to accommodate groups or parties.
Hayride Tours are offered by the knowledgeable manager, Mr. Deutsch. He has so many interesting tidbits to share about the farm.
The farm also grows vegetables, which they sell. Some vegetables can be picked on-site. The fresh squash, kohlrabi, and garlic we saw looked really fresh and tasty. The farm also grows tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant.
The farm keeps evolving, with more and more activities and improvements being added.
As an added bonus, diagonally across the street from the farm is Manny Weldler Park (formerly Viola Park) with a playground, picnic area and tennis, paddleball, and baseball courts.
179 West Maple Avenue
Monsey, New York 10952
Sunday–Thursday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Petting zoo admission: $6 per person
Hay rides: $3 per person
Animal feed: $5
Children under 1: free
Ramapo Valley Reservation
Mahwah, New Jersey
Ramapo Valley Reservation is a popular nature walking and hiking area with many lakes, a river, and a waterfall running alongside one of the paths.
If you have a fear of dogs, Ramapo Valley Reservation is not for you. It is a popular place for owners to walk their dogs, though all dogs are on leashes.
I like to enter the trail from the far corner of the parking lot, the corner closest to the yellow service house. You can follow the path over the bridge and continue alongside a beautiful lake. At the end of the lake, you can either turn right and continue around the lake or continue straight on an uphill path to the scenic reservoir on top. The hike to the top is not very long, but since it is uphill it is not very easy.
About halfway to the reservoir, there is a waterfall on the side of the path. Narrow paths allow access to the waterfall. When we visited recently, there were people swimming in the cool, refreshing water in a pool in middle of the waterfall. It is possible to take a stroller on the path (not down to the waterfall), but I would not recommend it since it is uphill.
608 Ramapo Valley Road
Mahwah, New Jersey 07430
Montebello, New York
Kakiat Mountain, at the edge of the Monsey area, is a popular 376-acre park with hiking paths and the Mahwah River at the bottom. The Kakiat Trail stretches into Harriman State Park and meets up with the Suffern Bear Mountain Trail. The Kakiat Trail is an uphill trail that’s not too long or too difficult. It starts straight ahead of the footbridge that crosses the Mahwah River right at the pathway entrance.
Down at the entrance of the park, near the river, is a picnic table in a large grassy field with a picnic pavilion.
Over 10 years ago, I started the hike up Kakiat Trail for the first time. While on the trail, I met up with a snake, which seems to be a common sight in the park. A few species of snakes are spotted there, but if they do not feel threatened, they generally do not bother people. Still, I was a bit shaken when I noticed that the snake was hissing. It was a hot day, so I continued for a little while longer and turned around shortly after. What I was unaware of was the view just a little bit higher up that I was missing out on.
Last spring, I decided to check out Kakiat Park again since I’d heard from many people how much they enjoy hiking there. This time, my family and I made sure to continue the hike until we made it to a clearing on large rocks with a magnificent view of the area and the New York City skyline. There was some rock scrambling before getting to the clearing, but it was definitely worth it. We had toddlers with us, and they were able to do the hike with help of the adults. The Kakiat Trail does continue higher up, but we were advised that the nicest view is at the fist clearing.
After enjoying a picnic lunch, we headed back down toward the Mahwah River and over the footbridge to the parking lot. We noticed some people looking at something on the side of the path right near the trailhead. When we came closer, someone pointed out a snake on a rock, sunning near the path. It was the perfect time to spot the fascinating snake because we were leaving the park just then!
668 Haverstraw Road
Montebello, New York 10901
7 a.m.–8 p.m.
Approximate distance from Monsey: 15 minutes
Hillsdale, New Jersey
Imagine biting into a juicy, sweet nectarine or peach just picked off the tree. That’s what we experienced when we visited Demarest Farm.
Demarest Farm is a family-owned picking farm that has been open since 1970. In the summer, they offer peach picking and in the fall, apple picking. A tractor transports visitors to the orchard to pick the fruit. After you fill your bag with fresh fruits, the tractor driver takes a longer, more scenic route back to the stop across the farm store.
Demarest also has a petting zoo with a variety of farm animals such as goats, llamas, and chickens and some adorable fuzzy bunnies in cages. There is a beautiful picnic and play area near the petting zoo. (I’m not sure if this part of the farm was reopened yet after covid.)
244 Wierimus Road
Hillsdale, New Jersey 07642
Advance online reservations for picking required: https://demarestfarms.com/pick-your-own-peaches-2022/
General admission: $5 per person (age 2 and up), includes free parking and entrance to the peach orchard
Tractor ride: $5 per person
Bag to hold the peaches that you pick: $15 (Each bag holds approximately 10–12 lbs. of peaches.)
Approximate distance from Monsey: 20 minutes
Tappan Golf Center and Go-Karts
Tappan, New York
We visited the Tappan Golf Center for a game of 18-hole miniature golf. It was fascinating to watch people practice their golf swings on the popular driving range. There are also batting cages and a golf simulator there. We weren’t able to try the go-karts because it had started to rain.
We returned on a sunnier day to enjoy the go-karts. Tappan Go-Karting has the only outdoor track in Rockland County. They have both single and double karts. The maximum speed of the karts is 20 mph.
In order to drive a kart, it is mandatory to be at least 54 inches tall and 10 years old. In order to drive a double kart with a child, the driver must be at least 18 years old, and the passenger must be at least 36 inches tall. The steering is a bit heavy, and children sometimes find it difficult even when they meet the height and age requirements.
Tappan, New York 10983
Open all year 9 a.m.–9 p.m., though hours vary depending on weather.
Open all year, weather permitting. Winter hours vary.
Weekdays: 12–8 p.m.
Weekends and holidays: 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Adults (over 10 years old): $9
Price per race (approximately 4 laps):
Single go-kart: $10
Double go-kart: $15
Coupon books: (6 coupons per book)
Single go-kart: $54
Double go-kart: $84
Approximate distance from Monsey: 20 minutes
There are some great parks alongside the Hudson River, about 25 minutes from Monsey, though most of the parks are not near each other. Here are some of my favorites.
Nyack, New York
Memorial Park in Nyack is a great family destination. Situated on the bank of the Hudson River, the park features magnificent views of the marina, the river, and the Tappan Zee Bridge. There are lots of picnic tables near the water as well as a beautiful pier built for fishing and viewing the Hudson River.
A large grassy field and baseball, basketball, and tennis courts dot the area, as well as a skateboard-practice area with obstacles. At the far end is a sprinkler area and a gated-in playground. Behind the playground is a slide built into the hill, and all the way on the side of the playing field, near the river, is a hidden waterfall coming down the rocks.
Piermont Avenue, intersection of Depew Avenue
Nyack, New York 10960
Parking is at the marina. There is a footbridge to walk over to get to the park.
Nyack Beach State Park
Nyack, New York
One of the first scenic places I think of when someone asks me to recommend a place in the Monsey area to visit is Nyack Beach State Park. Although the actual beach is miniscule and no swimming or wading is allowed, there is a magnificent walking path near the Hudson River with views of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The path goes alongside the river on one side and has towering cliffs on the other side. There is a five-mile out-and-back hike as well. At the 1.5-mile mark, the path has an option to veer left and continue to Rockland Lake State Park.
There are plenty of picnic tables both by the parking lot and alongside the trail. Grilling is allowed in this park.
698 N. Broadway
Upper Nyack, New York 10960
Open year round dawn to dusk.
Rockland Lake State Park
Valley Cottage, NY
Rockland Lake State Park featured a very large, pretty lake with a 3.2-mile paved path that is popular for walking, biking, and Rollerblading. The lake is surrounded by mountains, and the view is beautiful. A new and beautiful playground was added in recent years. Lots of benches, picnic tables, and barbecue stations are scattered around the lake. Fishing is permitted, and boating can be enjoyed if you bring your own car-top boat.
Congers Bike Shop, a six-minute car ride or 15-minute bike ride from Rockland Lake, offers bike rentals.
299 Rockland Lake Road
Valley Cottage, New York 10989
Open year round from dawn to dusk.
Parking: $8 per vehicle
Congers Bike Shop
107 Lake Road
Congers, New York 10920
Haverstraw Bay Park
West Haverstraw, New York
Haverstraw Bay Park is a combination of wholesome fun and natural beauty. The 27-acre park is set on the shore of the Hudson River and features three playgrounds, each geared to a different age. The fields can be used for playing games or flying kites, and the path alongside the river is a great place for a relaxing walk while enjoying nature.
There are plenty of picnic tables spread around the park, which also boasts a large gazebo in the middle of the field as well as a freshwater pond for fishing. The 9/11 Memorial salutes the local heroes that perished in the attack.
21 Gagan Road
West Haverstraw, New York 10993
Dawn to dusk