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A Tale of Two Villages

A tour of North and South Salem



From geologic oddities and gastronomic delights to horse farms, exercise studios, lakes, and quaint shops, both North Salem and South Salem offer plenty of amenities and attractions.

It happens about once every six weeks. When chatting with someone around town, it will be revealed that I grew up in North Salem and the other person will wonder aloud: Do I know her friend, cousin, ex-friend, fill in the blank who is from there as well? More often than not, the name is unfamiliar. But when I squint and start shaking my head, the insisting begins. I’m positive. She’s from North Salem! John Jay class of ’89.

Wrong. You mean South Salem.

Here in northern Westchester, where a map of school and town lines often resembles an MC Escher drawing, it’s easy to understand the mistake (don’t get my husband started on our Bedford/North Castle/Banksville situation). But North and South Salem are two distinct places with their own unique character and appeal.

If the rule is to write about what you know, let’s start with North Salem, located in the most northeastern corner of our county. The word bucolic seems to have been created specifically for this sleepy town dotted with apple orchards, horse farms, and lovely homes dating back decades and sometimes centuries. While North Salem’s draw may be its quiet, natural beauty, it certainly has a few perfect pit stops. 

At the corner of Route 121 and Bloomer Road, North Salem’s version of a bustling intersection, Hayfield’s Market offers coffee, sandwiches, ice cream, as well as locally sourced groceries, household items, and more. Take your order to go or hang out in its open air cafe. Casual is the name of the game, exhibit A: bring your dog.

Across the street, you’ll find a small, but full-service spa and boutique called DermaGlow and popular restaurant  One-Twenty-One that has been serving fresh, creative meals and cocktails for over 15 years.

Further down the road (history buffs look out the window at the infamous Balanced Rock), is Union Hall, a charming historic building that now houses a dance/yoga/ barre studio, a home furnishings destination called BB Abode, and a general store (opening soon). 

While these merchants may miss out on the foot traffic of a walking town, there are other benefits to setting up shop in a place, well, without many others.

Manny DeMagistris of BB Abode says, “Every time I drive up from our other store in Darien, I try to go a different way and I always discover something new. It’s just so beautiful.” 

Continue south down winding roads, past lakes and bungalows, and you will find the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hamlet of South Salem, which is officially part of the town of Lewisboro. Unlike their northern neighbors, residents of South Salem join with nearby communities to form the Katonah-Lewisboro school district. But the small town feel is perfectly preserved.

South Salem’s main street feels anything but with its handful of quaint historical buildings including a post office, library, and town hall. But you will also find the Horse & Hound Inn, originally a stagecoach stop, that serves traditional American fare, as well as the newer Market on Spring where the rustic modern interior encourages guests to stay and sip their coffee or sample their unique breakfast options, salads, and more. 

Those looking for a little more of a kick need only round the corner to Gossett Brothers Nursery which is home to a retail garden shop, weekend farmers market and the South Salem Winery, the only one of its kind in all of Westchester. After making wine as a hobbyist for over 20 years, vintner John Vuolo traded his lifelong career in trucking to bring this very unique business to his hometown. With nine different varieties of over 300 bottles each, plus light delicious appetizers served in what he calls a “Napa-esque” setting and a steady calendar of live jazz, Vuolo has indeed created something special for everyone.

Vuolo says, “One time I was asked about our dress code, and I said it was anything from flip flops to a tuxedo. The crowd is always different. It’s a treat for locals to come in and say this is my local winery. To be providing something to my hometown has been a perk I never thought I’d be able to enjoy.”

Regardless if you decide to go north or south, the Salems both possess all the hallmarks of what makes life here so desirable. And meaningful. 

Former North Salem town-board member Amy Rosmarin says, “We have so many beautiful vistas. And we share them. We all drive on the same roads and look at the same scenery. Whether you are happy or sad, life is wonderful or out of balance, all of us get sustenance from the same nature.”

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