I don’t know about you, but I always thought The Duke Mansion was some kind of private club for the super elite.
I was wrong, but do you blame me? Look at it.
There are a handful of ways to access the historic site – book a room in the bed & breakfast, host a meeting or event on the property or (my personal favorite) explore the gardens for $FREE.99.
Excluding dates when the property is booked for a wedding or large event, visitors are always welcome to roam around the grounds and (if that visitor is me) pretend to be a wealthy early-20th century socialite.
And the property directors actually really want people to come visit too.
In fact, the 4.5-acre garden recently underwent a massive renovation in celebration of the mansion’s hundredth anniversary last year. They created 17 mini gardens and a walking loop with direct access points from the sidewalks on Ardsley and Hermitage Roads to connect to the neighborhood and invite people in.
There’s a rose garden, vegetable garden, trails and even a playground for kids.
I’m not sure if they staged it but the chef did in fact come out to cut fresh herbs from the garden right when I walked by. I’m buying what they’re selling.
The Peter Rabbit scene below is carved into the trunk of a real tree that had to be cut down. It was their way of preserving at least part of it.
Best of all, they host happy hour in the garden from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday through Thursday in July. [8/11/16 Edited to add: This has been extended through August 2016. Cheers!]
So if you want to shake up your crowded bar routine, sipping cocktails on the manicured lawn of a hundred-year-old estate is a pretty solid upgrade. Admission, as always, is free. Reservations are not required.
If you drink too much you could always opt to stay overnight in one of the 20 guest rooms.
Prices range from $209 to $339 per night and include breakfast. Each room is different and six of them are equipped with screened sleeping porches.
I tried to duck out of my tour and start a new life living inside this bathroom but they caught me.
Personally, I’m pretty excited about discovering that I can get to this gorgeous property without trespassing. They might regret telling me.
You’ll find me holed up in this gazebo all summer with a book and a glass of wine. Don’t take my seat.
The Duke Mansion is located at 400 Hermitage Road. Always call ahead to confirm it’s not closed for a private event.