Washington Irving, author of 'Rip Van Winkle' and 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow', was one of America's leading writers of the Romantic era. He bought a century-old cottage overlooking the Hudson River in 1835, and remodeled it into his dream house, Sunnyside. Purchased by the Rockefellers in 1945 and restored to its appearance of Irving's residence a century earlier, Sunnyside now offers visitors a glimpse not only into the life of a literary icon, but also into the intellectual and social heart of the era in which he lived.
For a small entrance fee, you can wander about the grounds enjoying the same views of the Hudson and its environment that Irving and his guests savored. The striking stepped gable design of the house, and the tower that Irving modeled after such structures he had seen in Spain, make his stone Dutch-style residence an unforgettable icon. Step inside and see the painstakingly restored interior including some of the original furnishings. You can view the study where he wrote his books, the dining room and drawing room where he entertained his many visitors, and even the bedroom where he died. (He is buried, by the way, at nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.) Costumed guides are on hand to conduct you through the facility and to answer your questions.
Irving once wrote of the 'drowsy, dreamy influence' of this area on the imagination. Standing on these grounds and observing the home he fashioned, it's easy to imagine old Rip Van Winkle himself coming home from a long sleep.
IF YOU GO: There is plenty of free parking. The attraction is only partially handicapped-accessible, and an assistant is needed to negotiate some of the pathways in a wheelchair. This is an excellent spot for a picnic. A combination ticket is available to tour both Sunnyside and Philipsburg Manor.
WHEN TO VISIT: Sunnyside is open every day except Tuesdays from April through December. Special activities are scheduled around Halloween and Christmas.
JURISDICITON: Historic Hudson Valley
Information confirmed: Dennis Goza by phone, Oct. 2010
ADDRESS: 89 W. Sunnyside Ln., Tarrytown, NY