The 40-room John D. Rockefeller estate is sometimes described as being modest compared to other Gilded Age mansions on the Hudson. While it is true that it doesn't have the same over-the-top quality of the Vanderbilt mansion, it does have one thing that distinguishes it from the other estates nearby, its gardens. Laid out at the beginning of the 20th century with Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame) leading the project briefly before being replaced by William Welles Bosworth, the gardens are one of the best examples of Beaux Arts garden design in America.
Bosworth's design consists of a number of different gardens spread over terraces descending from the house, many with views of the Hudson and the Palisades on the other side. (The Rockefellers helped protect the land on the opposite side of the river, assuring their views would never be ruined.) Japanese, French, and other styles are contained in separate garden rooms, while the grounds are also home to a number of contemporary sculptures, fitting given the Rockefellers' legacy as patrons of the arts.
It is only possible to visit Kykuit on guided tours offered from the beginning of May to the end of September. (Members of the Rockefeller family continue to use other buildings on the estate and they are apparently not interested in having visitors wander away from Kykuit and drop by unannounced). Choose the "Landmarks Tour" if you are interested in spending more time in the gardens than the house itself.