10 Top Towns

Settled by the Dutch, Quakers, or Huguenots, nestled in the Catskills or on the river’s banks — these 10 Valley communities all have one thing in common: They’re great places to call home

(page 10 of 13)

hilton in pearl riverThe Hilton in Pearl River — known as “the chateau in the country near the city” — is the highest-ranked Hilton hotel in the tristate area, according to its Web site

Photograph courtesy of Hilton Pearl River

Rockland County

Pearl River

Just 17 miles north of Manhattan and an hour-long ride on a New Jersey Transit train to Hoboken (there are also a variety of commuter buses available), this charming suburb is an ideal commuter town. Although not everyone has to make the trek to New York: One Blue Hill Plaza, Rockland County’s first skyscraper, is here, with its 21 floors of office space. (The building also contains the Blue Hill Art and Cultural Center, which has changing exhibits of works by artists both local and otherwise.)

Pearl River is home to a huge Irish population; in fact, the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade that proudly marches through town is the second largest in the state. But year-round, signs of Irish pride are everywhere in this down-to-earth downtown: there are pubs galore and at least three Irish gift shops.

Park land abounds in Pearl River. Anglers can fish for trout in Pascack North Park. In the center of town sits Braunsdorf Memorial Park — the oldest in the environs, named for the founder of Pearl River, who built the train station in 1873 (it’s still there). And the Henry V. Borst Memorial Gardens, an arboretum on three acres, is a perfect place for a picnic.

Pearl River is also a great place to hit the links. Blue Hill Golf Course, a 27-hole golf facility, is operated by the Town of Orangetown, and offers discounts and preferential tee times for residents.

Parks make up more than one-third of Rockland County, including town, recreational, and historic sites — not to mention numerous nature reserves and trails

The Pearl River School District — which educates 2,700 students in three elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school — offers enriched activities for “advanced learners” starting in the second grade. (Pre-kindergarten services are also available on a limited basis.) With 35 clubs and 70 sports teams at the secondary level, the district’s drop-out rate for 2007-8 was zero percent.

A well-kept secret is that housing is considerably more affordable in Pearl River than it is in most other areas of Rockland County. And with the town’s recreation options and rather vibrant scene — besides the pubs, Quinta Steakhouse offers great grub (including a $10 prixe fixe lunch deal) — there’s activity options to suit all tastes.

Town Facts:

Location: Hamlet in Orangetown in Rockland County, just north of New Jersey
Population: 15,500
Median Household Income: $77,000
Nomenclature: The discovery of pearls in the mussels of what was then Muddy Creek upgraded “Creek” to “River” and “Muddy” to “Pearl.”
Notable residents: Dan Fortmann, Chicago Bears football player and Hall of Fame lineman

» Next stop: Garrison, Putnam County


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