Kykuit - The Rockefeller Estate
A Commanding Presence in the Hudson Valley

Kykuit (Kye-Cut) - the Rockefeller Estate in Sleepy Hollow NY, is simply one of the most beautiful places in the Hudson Valley! The art is priceless, the history is juicy, and the views are awesome.

Spend a romantic day with the one you love... Surround yourself with nature and culture... Or just fool around with your new camera...

Whatever you do, just get here before you kick the bucket!

By train, use the Hudson Line and get off at Tarrytown. Then take a taxi to the Philipsburg Manor Visitor Center.

This is where you purchase tickets and catch the tour bus.

Or... if you’d prefer to walk through a beautiful suburban neighborhood...

Get off at the Philipse Manor Train Station. It’s only about a half-mile to the visitor center.

By car, park at the Philispburg Manor Visitor Center in Sleepy Hollow. It's at the intersection of Pocantico St. and Rt.9 (near Headless Horseman statue).

If the parking lot is full, there's an overflow lot at the end of Continental Street. (off Pocantico)

Kykuit is open daily, except on Tuesdays, from May to November. We recommend buying your tickets online first, especially if you plan to go on a weekend.

The Classic Tour

The Classic Tour ($23) allows you to see the best of the House, Gardens, Art Gallery, and Coach Barns in about a 2 hour walking tour. As stated on the website it's best for first-timers, so this is what we opted for.

We'd like to share with you some personal highlights from our tour.

You begin your Kykuit Classic tour at the main entrance near the Oceanus Fountain. It’s a replica from the one in Rome, and it’s placed there to symbolize the Hudson River as the 4th great river to support human civilization, after the Nile, Euphrates, and Ganges.

Inside the Rockefeller House 


Just passed this modern statue to your right you step inside the main entrance.

Surprisingly, it is very modest. An example of John D Rockefeller's Baptist views winning out against Jr.'s more lavish taste.

There's no grand staircase, but instead two artifacts from the Tang Dynasty. A brown horse to the left, and an imposing warrior to the right.

Following the main entrance, the tour takes you through areas reserved only for family and close friends…

Beyond the elevator, across the black and white tiled floor.

The Music Room 


The first main room is The Music Room.

Today, there is a piano but that’s not how it got its name...

Back in the day, there was a great Aeolian Organ that was played on Sundays for the family by a visiting organist from their church in Manhattan.

At one point the organist, a man named Virgil Fox, was almost dismissed by John D. Rockefellers second wife, Martha Baird Rockefeller.

A former pianist herself, Mrs. Rockefeller wouldn't stand for Fox's aggressive stlye.

Of course, wanting to keep on good terms, the situation was quickly smoothed over by Fox.

The Butler Pantry

Your guide then leads you through a very narrow hallway into the Butler Pantry.

Imagine the butlers filling the dumb waiter with a hot lunch expected at exactly one o’clock... Suddenly, they hear that their masters are only filling their lemonade glasses after the golf outing...

Quickly, unload the dumbwaiter and put the lunch in the oven to keep warm! Wait the call-box is lighting up, a young Rockefeller needs shampoo in his bathroom! Quick!

The Dining Room and Tea Room 

In the dining room we observe a curious picture of John Sr. surrounded  by vultures…. Hmm…. And, It’s interesting to note the recessed lighting  in the ceiling. After having them put in, it was decided that the old chandelier did a better job anyway!

Next, in the tearoom is the Bodhisattva sculpture. This is exactly in line with the Oceanus fountain 120 yards to the east. From end to end, it can be seen in one long view through the whole house… it’s a very powerful vision!

The Bodhisattva is enlightened enough to pass onto the next phase, but decides to stay on earth to help others.

The Art Gallery

When you walk down the basement stairs, into the first section of the art gallery, you can't help but notice how homey it feels.

Maybe it's that familiar basement smell, but you feel like you just walked into your friends house... That is, your very rich friend, who collects one of a kind Picasso's.

Pablo Picasso and Nelson Rockefeller had a personal relationship, and the governor commissioned several pieces for the basement.

The Gardens


This was the most exciting part for us at Kykuit.

It was a beautiful, crisp, and sunny day in September.

Light filtered through the foliage...

Splashing fountains and birds were singing...

And statues kept a watchful eye.

Wandering the garden paths, lined with Linden trees, you can't help but to feel like you're in a fairy tale.     

(The extended tour will take you to the Japanese gardens. We'll have to try that next time!)

Designed by William Welles Bosworth in 1906, these gardens are among his best work.

Bosworth's relationship with John D. Rockefeller Jr. actually changed the entire course of his life.

After being commissioned by "Junior" to fix up Paris' ailing monuments in the '20s, he stayed on in Europe, leaving Kykuit as his last project in the US.

Walking down the western facing terrace, you realize why the richest, most powerful man in the world would choose this spot for a home.

I've been all over, and for me, this ranks right up there as one of the true gems of the natural world! Behold, the Hudson River...

Fun Fact: The Rockefellers bought up the land across the river for preservation, alarmed by quarry operations at the time. As a result, they helped establish the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. 

You can actually see some of the destruction from quarry operations in this picture: look for the 'bright' colored rock, near Hook Mtn.

After these soaring scenes, your Kykuit guide leads you through a short walk into the rose garden... fragrant breezes, sunshine, the Hudson River... What's better than this?


The Coach Barn houses a stable of horse-drawn carriages and a collection of classic automobiles.

Rockefeller liked to drive horses himself and insisted on taking the reigns from his driver. There are even a couple pictures of him on 5th avenue with the driver in the back!

The automobile collection includes a Ford Model T, a 1939 Cadillac Model 75 (only 20 built), a Datsun, a Crosley, some Lincoln Continentals and others.

A Great Estate

Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate is a big pleaser for just about anyone. With it’s fanciful gardens, large outdoor sculptures, majestic views of the Hudson River Valley, impressive collection of modern art, and great story-line - it is easily one of the top Hudson valley attractions.

Make sure you cross this "high lookout" ( kykuit in Dutch ) off your bucket list before you go onto the next stage. There's only one like it in all the world...

Return from Kykuit to Hudson Valley Homepage


If you've found this page helpful or have any suggestions, please drop us a line.

*We had a lovely afternoon exploring Kykuit and hope you do too! The excellent guides and efforts of the Historic Hudson Valley help us immensely to appreciate this great piece of American history.

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