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Spotlight: Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley region is both a great escape and a comforting home away from home.

The Hudson Valley region is the perfect destination for intrepid explorers. Hikers, bikers, kayakers, and leisurely walkers can’t get enough of its natural beauty. Its enduring agricultural industry fostered wine-making, craft beverage production, and a thriving food scene. There are farms to visit, small towns to roam, and exciting history to learn. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it—and so much more—here.

Three Things You Can't Miss Family Fun | LGBT Fun | Spend the Day | Spend the Weekend | Spend the Week | Hotels & Stays | Where to Eat | Getting There
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Three Things You Can't Miss

Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center

Natural beauty meets gorgeous sculpture art at Storm King’s 500-acre plot of land 90 minutes from New York City. Home to one of the country’s most expansive collections of outdoor sculpture, you’ll find larger-than-life art pieces, some of which appear to blend into the dramatic landscape itself, while others pop out in contrast. Take a nice long walk among the works of art, have a picnic, and/or rent a bike from the museum.

View of Bear Mountain Bridge in summer

Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain has great hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing trails for all levels. There are four trailside museums and a little zoo where you can learn about the animals, ecosystems, and history of the park. When it’s hot out, take a dip in the swimming pool, or head to Hessian Lake to fish or rent paddle boats and rowboats. When it's cold, check out the outdoor rink (open October through mid-March).

Walkway Over the Hudson sprawling across the Hudson River

Walkway Over the Hudson

Walk across the Hudson River on the world’s longest elevated bridge. This adventure offers a wealth of unhurried opportunities to soak in the epic view and take panoramic photos 212 feet above the river. Stop for a picnic on the Poughkeepsie Waterfront, meander through Franny Reese State Park on the opposite side, or if you want to spend more time, take the Walkway Loop Trail.

family fun

Catamount Adventure Park

Catamount Mountain Resort & Aerial Adventure Park

Boasting the largest and most complete self-guided aerial adventure in the Northeast, the Park offers 12 courses that include 170 platforms, bridges, ladders, and more than 50 zip lines! The courses are color-coded just like ski trails, so you can choose the level of difficulty that’s right for you. Nobody gets started until you’ve completed an introductory demonstration, so you’ll know exactly what to do.

Catskill Mountain Railroad - Fall - Mt Tremper - Photo by Beautiful Destinations

Catskill Mountain Railroad

Take this heritage railroad from Kingston for a scenic ride into the Catskills that's fun for the whole family. Check the schedule for the (mostly) weekend rides, which often take on seasonal themes, such as the Easter Bunny Express in spring or the Pumpkin Express in fall. Most of the rides run about an hour and allow you to take in views of farms, forests, and mountains, all from within lovingly maintained vintage rail cars. 

Playland Dragon Coaster

Playland Amusement Park

At Playland Amusement Park in Westchester, you can ride roller coasters that have been in operation since 1928! The Dragon Coaster is one of only about 100 remaining wooden coasters in the US and has a uniquely vintage charm you won’t find in most theme parks. For more retro cuteness, check out the Derby Racer, a faster carousel that goes up to 25 mph without a pole to hold onto, one of only two in the country!

LGBT fun

Carrots in bunches at Rock Steady Farm & Flowers
Credit: Rock Steady Farm & Flowers

Rock Steady Farm

Women- and queer-owned Rock Steady Farm uses holistic farming practices and works in partnership with other local organizations to benefit the community. It supplies produce for the kitchen of a social justice nonprofit, works with a community center to provide job training for young adults, and partners with Callen-Lorde, an LGBTQ community health center, and the LGBTQ Center.

Exterior of Helsinki Hudson

Helsinki Hudson

Don’t miss one of the exciting events at the renovated 1800's industrial-building-turned-arts-and-music-venue Helsinki Hudson. It hosts live music from a variety of genres, queer cabarets, drag shows, dance parties, and mixers. There's also a restaurant on site. Helsinki provides an intimate and elegant setting to meet new people, connect with the community, and be wildly entertained.

spend the day

Dia: Beacon interior

Spend the day exploring the town of Beacon. Start at the Beacon Bagel on Main Street and then check out Hudson Beach Glass, a studio and gallery, to admire gorgeous glass art and even see the process of how they make it.

World-renowned Dia:Beacon (pictured) occupies the city’s former Nabisco box-printing factory, presenting Dia's collection of art from the 1960s to present, as well as special exhibitions, commissioned works and installations, and other vibrant art that takes advantage of the spacious environs.

Head over to Madam Brett Park to stroll on gravel and woodland trails. You’ll pass a marsh, a waterfall, and a peaceful little boardwalk along Fishkill Creek. It’s absolutely beautiful all year round. Treat yourself to make-your-own-sundae style donuts at Glazed Over or visit Hudson Valley Brewery, home to a large variety of delicious sours, wild ales, and saisons.

spend the weekend

Bannerman Castle

Saturday

Start the weekend with an amazing meal at cozy Foundry Cafe in Cold Spring. Dig into enormous sandwiches or treat yourself to fresh housemade quiche, muffins, cakes, or pies. Once you’re fueled up, Storm King Adventure Tours has everything you need for an exploration of the Hudson River. They offer options for kayaking tours to Bannerman Castle (pictured), including one that features a guided walking tour of its home on tiny Pollepel Island, with details about its past as a storage facility for surplus military supplies.

After you’ve worked up an appetite, Round Up Texas BBQ serves authentic smoked Texas BBQ for a great deal.

The perfect way to digest? A leisurely walk around the West Point Foundry Preserve. Next to the Foundry Brook, this “outdoor museum” offers accessible trails that guide you around the ruins of the early-19th-century West Point Foundry. You’ll pass rail beds, remains of old buildings, and a mill, as well as a full-scale model of the 36-foot water wheel.

The Riverview Restaurant is a beautiful space with high windows that let in sunlight and views of the surrounding forest and river, adding to the cozy ambiance and delicious food that make this a perfect dinner spot to end the day.

Mohonk Preserve

Sunday

Main Street Bistro in New Paltz has hearty breakfasts and vegetarian options to start the day. If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters & Cafe has some of the best coffee in town, lite bites, and a view over the river and mountain ridge from its front porch. Plus, it’s located in the cute Water Street Market, so you can take a quick peek into the nearby shops and antique stores.

Head to the Mohonk Preserve (pictured) on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge to hike its carriage roads and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains. The Mohonk Preserve is privately owned and day passes for hikers cost $15. There's no charge to try one of the loop trails in Minnewaska State Park Preserve, like the Lake Minnewaska Loop Trail for something short and easy, or Gertrude’s Nose Trail for a longer (about four and a half hours), more challenging option. Check out the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, 22 miles of flat path that is absolutely perfect for biking, long strolls, or a scenic run. 

Before you head home, stop at one of the area’s many farms and orchards to load up on the freshest, most delicious fruits, vegetables, and meats. Jenkins-Lueken Orchards in New Paltz offers apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, and berry picking in the summer.

spend the week

Mohonk Mountain House - Courtesy of Jim Smith Photography

Monday

Mohonk Mountain House (pictured) is a stunning resort right out of your Swiss ski lodge dreams, offering day passes for their 85 miles of hiking trails.

Stroll down Historic Huguenot Street in the town of New Paltz, a National Historic Landmark District, consisting of seven stone houses, a reconstructed church, a replica wigwam, and more.

Tour the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home National Historic Site, where the 32nd president of the US was born in 1882, and the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, the 54-room gilded-age home that hosts numerous events. Visit the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park to dine at one of the five top-quality restaurants on its campus.

United State Military Academy at West Point

Tuesday

History buffs will love the incredible collection of artifacts at the West Point Museum (pictured). Learn about the evolution of warfare and the American military (even from before the Revolutionary War) and see firearms, military uniforms, and vehicles over the ages. It’s considered one of the largest public collections of military paraphernalia in the Western Hemisphere.

Next, check out some of the gorgeous hiking and biking trails in Bear Mountain State Park, or, if there’s snow on the ground, you can go cross-country skiing. The park has four separate mini-museums and a zoo where you can learn all about the nature and history of the park. There's also a seasonal swimming pool and ice skating rink.

Barrels at Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, New York

Wednesday

Shop 'til you drop at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. The Commons have a smartly designed outdoor layout so you can walk around outside without feeling cooped up.

Tour 500 acres of colossal sculptures and land at Storm King Art Center on foot, or take advantage of bike rentals or a narrated trolley ride. The size of the art works set against the stunningly beautiful natural backdrop make this a can’t-miss activity.

The Hudson Valley is packed with craft breweries and wineries, but Brotherhood Winery (pictured) is special. Dating back to 1820, it's the oldest winery in America! Take a tour to learn about its history and how the wine is made, then stay for a tasting.

Exterior and gardens of Kykuit -John D. Rockefeller Estate

Thursday

Go back to colonial times at Philipsburg Manor, which has been restored to how it looked in 1750. Walk around a still-working gristmill and the manor house full of artifacts and reproductions, led by tour guides in period clothing.

Check out the historic 90-acre Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A free map will help you locate the grave sites of notable Americans like Andrew Carnegie, Elizabeth Arden, and author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving.

Visit Kykuit (pictured), the former home of four generations of Rockefellers. Nestled in the Pocantico Hills, the house looks over the Hudson River, and the gardens and terraces are exquisite. Tour the main house, gardens, and art galleries.

SplashDown Beach Water Park bucket ride for kids

Friday

The Motorcyclepedia Museum houses an immense collection of two- and three-wheeled vehicles, with exhibits ranging from the 1880s through today. If you’re visiting in the summer, bring the kids to Splashdown Beach (pictured). Rides are rated as mild, moderate, and high on the Thrill-O-Meter, so you can easily choose.

Dia:Beacon is an enormous, well-loved art museum in a former box-printing factory with equally enormous art, some of it inspired by the space itself.

See 360-degree views on the Walkway Over The Hudson. Try the 4.4-mile Walkway Loop Trail over the walkway and the Mid-Hudson Bridge for double the views and exciting stops in the cute neighborhoods and parks on both sides of the river.

Opus 40 environmental sculpture in Saugerties, New York

Saturday

Start at the Catskill Mountain Railroad for a leisurely scenic train ride through the mountains in vintage coach train cars.

The Opus 40 & Quarryman’s Museum (pictured) contains an earthwork sculpture using the ground itself, built using an abandoned quarry. Today, more than 70 acres have been added, as well as a studio, blacksmith shop, and Quarryman’s museum.

Take a walk on the scenic half-mile nature trail leading to the 1869 Saugerties Lighthouse, a historic landmark, which is also an operating bed and breakfast. Otherwise, it’s a breathtaking scene to come across, and the bird watching, boat spotting, and enjoying nature are all free and open to the public.

Lamp post and homes on Warren Street in Hudson, New York

Sunday

Take a free tour at the charming, self-sustaining Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent to learn all about the production of food and the roles of the working people, animals, and the land.

Olana State Historic Site was the home and studio of painter Frederic Edwin Church and is now a National Historic Landmark. From atop the home's majestic perch, you can see the views that inspired Hudson River School artists such as Church.

Finally, you can’t go wrong browsing the adorable boutiques, antique shops, galleries, and restaurants on Hudson’s main drag. Warren Street (pictured) elevates shopping and browsing to the level of cultural sightseeing.

Hotels and Stays

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getting there

By Train

Amtrak stops in Yonkers, Croton-Harmon, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff, and Hudson. The Metro-North rail offers service from Grand Central Terminal in NYC with 43 stations in the region. The NJ Transit Port Jervis Line runs from Penn Station and Hoboken to stops in the region.

By Plane

Fly into Albany International Airport then take a cab or Adirondack Trailways bus to your destination within the Hudson Valley, New York Stewart International Airport, or Westchester County Airport

By Car

From New York City: 2 hours
From Albany: 2 hours
From Philadelphia: 3 hours
From Boston: 3.5 hours
From Montreal: 4.5 hours
From Buffalo: 5 hours

By Bus

Adirondack/Pine Hill/New York Trailways leaves from New York City and stops in New Paltz, New Rochelle, and Kingston. Shortline/Coach USA makes stops from New York City to Orange, Rockland, Ulster and Dutchess counties.