By Marianne Campolongo
With chic boutiques, salons for pampering, toys and ice cream cones to keep kids happy, and restaurants to suit every palate, it is fun to shop and dine in downtown Chappaqua. Whether your tastes run to antiques or modern design, practical clothing or the latest fashions, you are sure to find what you need in one of the shops along the village’s tree-lined streets.
With the Chappaqua Downtown Revitalization Project nearing completion, visiting town will soon be even more enjoyable. After tearing up portions of the road and sidewalk to replace crumbling infrastructure, including underground water mains, sewer lines, and stormwater drains, some over 80 years old, the town will look better than ever with new wider sidewalks, improved roadways, pedestrian plazas, beautiful plantings, seating walls, and other amenities to make the village even more inviting and pedestrian-friendly.
The downtown area runs from the top of Bedford Road (Route 117) down King Street and then branches out along North and South Greeley Avenues. On a beautiful spring day, take a moment to enjoy the lush star magnolias in bloom at the small park on the top of King Street before you head toward town. Within a few feet you can purchase clothes, get marketing or spiritual advice, pick up convenience store necessities, wines and spirits, do your banking, get your nails and hair done (and get your furry friends groomed as well), get your clothes dry cleaned, grab a sandwich, pizza, or cup of coffee, and you’ve just started out.
As you travel down the hill, older homes with lush green lawns sit side-by-side with houses repurposed by local businesses such as dentists and doctors, architects and antique shops, making for a pleasant walk. You’ll notice a myriad of professionals you can call on without straying beyond the boundaries of downtown Chappaqua.
For over 65 years now, spring is time for the First Congregational Church’s Barn Sale, so put aside items to donate while you do your spring cleaning, or head to the sale to buy new and gently used items at bargain prices. St. John and Mary Roman Catholic Church’s Spring Festival features games, crafts and wonderful food, and is also fast becoming a new Chappaqua tradition.
Although it is technically spring, the annual Memorial Day Parade marks the official start of the summer season. As a tradition for over 80 years, June brings St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church’s Strawberry Festival with all its crafts, music, games, and great food including scrumptious strawberry shortcake baked by the church’s parishioners. An end of school SummerFest, a newcomer on the scene has activity floats, gymnastic instruction, raffles and live music at the gazebo; it was already a big hit its first year. On Wednesday nights in July, the gazebo is in full swing with the Summer Concert Series. Bring a picnic dinner or buy from pop-ups hosted by local restaurants. And be sure to check out the weekly Chappaqua Farmer’s Market. Also, there’s festivity and deals galore at the annual and much anticipated summer July Sidewalk Sale!
The Northern Westchester Artists Guild (NWAG) is particularly busy in the summer, with outdoor art sales. Throughout the year they also sponsor Art Around Town where local businesses host an artist. Spend the evening going from store to store viewing art and enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvre. The NWAG just opened a new studio space in town, too.
When the weather gets warmer, many restaurants place tables outside, so it is a great time to meet a friend or take the family out for a meal. The new wider sidewalks are sure to make dining al fresco on any beautiful day or eve even better.
As autumn approaches and the nesting urge takes hold, interior designers, antique dealers, picture framers, and home goods stores can help you find ways to redecorate, or you can simply pop into town for a bouquet of flowers to brighten up your home. Make room for new purchases by donating older items to local consignment shops, pick up a charming find at bargain prices, or get DIY advice at the local hardware store. The fall is also a great time to learn more about your community and Community Day, hosted by the Rotary Club (see below), is a great place to start. Food, fun activities for the kids, and booths sponsored by all manner of town groups and businesses will give you insight. The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival and the Ragamuffin Parade at Halloween round out the fall fun.
Winter is a great time to find a good book at the Chappaqua Library or the wonderful independent bookstore to curl up with by the fire, or buy a sled or shovel for outdoor activity. Warm coats, snow boots and other outdoor gear are easy to find right in town. Beautiful cocktail dresses and finely tailored suits are also on the agenda, with sparkling jewels to round out your outfit. You might even spy one of the Clintons completing their holiday shopping and strike up a conversation. Wander into the charming Horace Greeley House, which houses the New Castle Historical Society, to learn about the town’s beginnings, or simply enjoy the beautiful fir tree outside, lit up for the holiday season. It is also the season for Wine Around Town, sponsored by the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce. Merchants throughout downtown Chappaqua host special sales along with free wine tastings and hors d’oeuvre.
It is only about a mile long, but you can find nearly everything you need from shopping to dining to services in Chappaqua’s downtown district. So, before you trek off to the crowded mall, try shopping local. You will be glad you did!
Editor’s Note: There has been much excitement and patronag e of the supermarkets that have opened. (See our stories on Millwood/West End and about Chappaqua Crossing.) Many ‘Chappaquans’ continue to appreciate the small thriving food markets downtown too and, of course, all the vibrant dining in/take out options. Bon appétit!