Mahopac Is a Delightful Hamlet in the Hudson Valley

The Putnam County locale is a go-to for arts and culture, not to mention a variety of eateries and storefronts.

Donna Massaro has lived in Mahopac her entire life and can’t imagine residing anywhere else. To her, the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding area are a huge draw, but the Freight House Café owner has another reason: “It’s a very supportive, tight-knit community and people who have been here for a long time are very close,” she says. “I stay around because my roots are deep.”

A hamlet in the town of Carmel, Mahopac (pronounced Ma-HO’-Pac) was originally inhabited by the Wappinger people, a Native American tribe. The hamlet’s name is said to mean “lake of the great serpent” in Algonquian. Although we can’t confirm the existence of any lake creatures from long ago, Lake Mahopac has been the center of the community since Mahopac was a vacation town in the 1800s.

The nearly 600-acre body of water is surrounded by homes and has two private islands in the middle. The grand Massaro House, constructed based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design and owned by the Massaro family, welcomes visitors to Petra Island. There is no public beach, but the lake is accessible to boaters through MacDonald Marine and Mahopac Marina on the south end of the lake. The private Mahopac Golf Club has a beach for members.

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The Massaro House, based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design, sits on Petra Island in the middle of Lake Mahopac.
The Massaro House, based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design, sits on Petra Island in the middle of Lake Mahopac. Ecoleetage, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Culture

Mahopac’s arts scene is defined by annual community events and local classes. The Putnam Arts Council offers workshops in pottery, printmaking, drawing, and painting. Additionally, the onsite gallery frequently hosts exhibitions by area artists. The Putnam Music Center on Route 6 offers both vocal and instrumental lessons to students of all ages and skill levels.

Every week throughout the summer, the public Putnam County Golf Course hosts a concert and all-you-can-eat buffet. This month, jam out to music from The Nerds and tributes to the Bee Gees, Journey, and Heart.

Family Life

Children living in the hamlet attend the Mahopac Central School District, which earned a B+ rating on Niche. There are 3,840 students across three elementary schools, one middle school, and a high school.

The Mahopac Public Library, between Route 6 and Marina Drive, has a packed calendar with events for all age groups, including a variety of book clubs, family bilingual storytimes, and adult Dungeons & Dragons meet-ups. On Mondays after school, elementary-age students can participate in Book Buddies, a program that lets them read with a high school partner.

On the Town

Located on the south end of the lake, Mahopac’s central business district is quaint and boasts several eateries: The Freight House Café is part coffee house, part breakfast and lunch spot; Trattoria Sei, Il Villagio, and Four Brothers Pizza Inn all serve authentic Italian cuisine; sushi and lake views star at Kobu Asian Bistro; Brooklyn Organic Kitchen is an all-day restaurant and bakery; and Lakeside Grille and My Cousin’s craft American classics.

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A few small stores are scattered around Mahopac including Bikeway—where you can purchase a bicycle or get a tune-up—Lake Side Wine & Liquor, Mahopac Flower Shop, and Queen Bee Soaps, a shop with handmade candles, soaps, and more. For groceries and other essentials, residents head to two shopping centers on the border of neighboring town Baldwin Place.

lake Mahopac
Adobe Stock / Thomas

Besides the lake, Mahopac has several spots to get out and enjoy nature. The Putnam Trailway, a nine-mile-long section of the Empire State Trail (EST), begins in Mahopac and stretches to Brewster. Bikers, runners, and walkers can access the trail from parking areas along Route 6. Public parks include the Mahopac Chamber Park on the lake, the wide-open Airport Park with soccer fields, and the Red Mills Historic Park, among others. Carmel town supervisor Michael Cazzari says that projects to enhance these spaces are in the works, such as an ADA-accessible playground at Airport Park and easier access to downtown from the EST.

Mahopac’s rural setting draws you in, and the community keeps you there. “People here really care about their neighbors and if there’s a family in need, they band together,” says longtime resident Cazzari. “I worked in the Carmel police department for 34 years, and I wouldn’t have raised my family here if this wasn’t the best place to live.”

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