Living in Pocantico Hills with a Pleasantville P.O., parking at the Hawthorne train station and sending your kids to Briarcliff High School is a bit of a geographic conundrum. You don’t really belong to any one town. Pocantico Hills is a school district rather than a town–even the school itself and Stone Barns are technically in Sleepy Hollow.
But living here has turned out to be a geographic bonanza: rather than one town, I claim three, situated as I am almost equidistant between Pleasantville, Briarcliff and Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow. My family and I frequent all three to shop and eat. But the one we visit more than any other for the mundane and the sublime is Pleasantville. Here are ten reasons to love this village.
1. The restaurants keep coming.
For a village of just 7,000, Pleasantville has a remarkably strong collection of dining options. A few of my newer favorites: Pub Street for seafood and salads, Mission Taqueria for tacos and margaritas, Southern Kitchen for, well, southern food, and Dai for its fresh sushi, soups and charming atmosphere. I get the sense Pleasantville residents don’t have a restaurant saturation point, which is good news for those of us who live here. If somebody builds a good one, they will come.
2. The Town Anchor.
I was practically in mourning when Yvonne and Roy decided to sell the Village Bookstore, but I’m thrilled they found an enthusiastic buyer in Jennifer Kohn to keep this gem open and thriving. If you love books, there’s nothing like browsing the aisles, reading the jacket cover and looking for employee recommendations over buying online. It’s also a chance to snub Amazon and more importantly, keep our local retailers in business.
3. The Bounty of the Farm.
I’ve checked out a few other farmers’ markets and maybe I’m biased, but Pleasantville’s Saturday market is something special. The sheer number of choices, the friendly sellers, the music, the quality of produce and the cheese all add up to a singular experience. On Saturdays, my family sits down to “market lunch,” which features three-four cheeses, fresh breads, pickles, salad and sometimes fresh seafood.
4. Mall Avoidance.
We all need to hit the Westchester or the Palisades Center on occasion. And I don’t want to see any of those stores go out of business. But when I have to buy a gift, I stay in town. I like pulling right up, throwing a quarter in the meter and walking into the Glass Onion for jewelry and accessories, Rhododendron for scarves and other women’s gifts, Aardvark for the dog, Kimberly House for baby clothes and scented gifts, Photo Works for a framed photo for the grandparents, and of course back to the Village Bookstore for anyone. Tip: The Pleasantville Pharmacy is a great stop at Christmas for something extra for kids, a pair of earrings, or a hostess gift.
5. You don’t have to go to NYC to see an art film.
What can I say about Jacob Burns except that it’s the jewel of Pleasantville. I hate to go anywhere else to see a movie anymore. And if your kids are interested in film, check out their fantastic after school courses and summer camp.
6. Skate the Old-Fashioned Way.
It’s as fickle as the winter weather, but when it’s open, Opperman’s Pond is an idyllic spot for family ice skating or a game of hockey. Pull up, put your skates on and go. There’s no line, no fee, and no rentals, so bring your own.
7. Architectural Digest.
I live in a mid-century modern home, and I’m not alone. A friend owns one near town where I’ve seen several, and then there’s Usonia, Frank Lloyd Wright’s utopian dream, right here off Bear Ridge Road. If the 1950’s are too new for you, Pleasantville has an impressive stock of Tudors, Victorians and Colonials, particularly the beauties lining Bedford Road that help Pleasantville live up to its name.
8. A True Community Theater.
My daughter did just two productions at Arc Stages during high school–I wish we had enrolled her as a young child. So many kids come back year after year until they go off to college. The people who run Arc Stages are as child-centered as you get. And their approach to musical theater and drama is to choose ensemble productions that give every kid an important role. Their community stage for adults and the variety of professional productions are excellent as well.
9. The Biggest Small Music Festival.
We’re a Clearwater Family, but I’ve got to say, Pleasantville is giving the Croton festival a run for its money when it comes to talent. This year, Everclear, Soul Asylum, Aimee Mann and Matthew Sweet were the featured artists. Every year in July, Parkway Field turns one Saturday into an all-day party. You can bring your kids or leave them home, but there’s something for everyone.
Pleasantville is oozing in it, and at a time when people do so much ordering online and ordering to go, the village is often busy and alive. Let’s keep it that way. I worry about our small-town retailers dying off. Pleasantville, like so many of our Westchester villages, towns and cities, relies on its residents to be faithful customers. In return, it offers us a charming and bountiful place to call home.