Caramoor Center for Music and Arts in Katonah, New York bills itself as a "magical" place and for me it has always been that. A former estate, Caramoor combines a very interesting house museum (a sort of Italian country estate full to the brim with antiques), a very large and impressive outdoor music venue and a gathering of small but intensely mystical gardens. The gardens consist of a small sunken formal garden (very nicely kept), a collection of man-made features (like the stairs to a sweet little overlook, above) and some nice wooded paths that trace the perimeter of the property.
I've always loved house museums and formal gardens and while it's nice to take the tours and hear about the history of a place, the thing that I like about Caramoor is that, even when it's not formally open or there's no concert event, you can still stroll the grounds and spend quiet time in the garden. I shot the photo here on a day like that and I don't think that there were more than a handful of other people there. I had a lot of time to look for pretty shots, consider my compositions slowly and just wait for nice lighting. As I was shooting that day I was thinking what a nice place it would be to teach a workshop for an afternoon.
Camoor is about a half hour or so into Westchester from Ridgefield, Connecticut and there is a very popular summer music series going on right now. So, if you're looking for a nice place to spend an afternoon and evening, check out their concert schedule. Tickets for musical events (under a tent) start at under $20 and even the best seats are less than $50 for most shows, so this is not like spending hundreds of dollars for a typical outdoor show (and who has $250 for a concert ticket these days?). They sell food on the grounds, the parking is easy and you can arrive early and enjoy the gardens--it's a nice place!