Sick of standing in line all day at amusement parks, or getting burned at the beach? If your regular vacation routine these days makes you want to stay home instead, consider taking a trip to the Hudson Valley, New York, the gem of the Northeast. With mountains, rivers, shopping, history and some of the most beautiful gardens in the country, there's something to suit every taste. For those in search of a horticultural oasis or breathtaking river views with a little bit of history on the side, lets check out the top five public gardens to visit in New York's Hudson Valley.
#5) At Washington Irving's Sunnyside, in Tarrytown, New York, you'll find much more than just the Headless Horseman. Easily accessible from most major Northeast cities, this historic estate covers ten acres overlooking the Hudson River. The gardens are designed to include plant species popular in the nineteenth century, and with the staff dressed to complete the look, you'll think you've slept the last hundred years just like Rip Van Winkle, after returning to the hustle and bustle of the river towns. Like many river town estates, the fun only just begins when the flowers begin to wilt â€“ with Headless Horseman readings and other spooky events, Halloween is the real scene stealer!
#4) Springwood, the home and burial place of FDR, makes number four on our list of top Hudson alley gardens. Located in Hyde Park, NY, the famously cultivated and manicured rose garden pays tribute to Mr. Roosevelt's love of all things Hudson Valley. Featuring over a dozen varieties of roses in all shapes, sizes and colors, the blooms are at their peak around May. Don't worry, though, with spectacular Valley views (especially as the leaves change in the fall) and gently sloping trails leading down to the Hudson's tidal marshes, there is a reason to visit Springwood at any time of year!
#3) Nestled directly next door to Sunnyside in Tarrytown is Lyndhurst, featuring a restored gothic style nineteenth century greenhouse, rose garden and fern garden. Accessible from Sunnyside via the Croton Aqueduct Trail, Lyndhurst rests on sixty seven acres of meticulously designed land. The beauty of the garden is complimented by the exquisitely detailed Lyndhurst castle, owned by railroad tycoon and robber baron Jay Gould. Named after the Linden trees that populate the grounds, this site is well worth a viist.
#2) Like most of the Historic Hudson Valley estates, Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY, is maintained with a historical perspective. What makes this site different from the others, however, is the presence of not only a working gristmill, but a landscape designed to reflect the gardening techniques and traditions of former slaves. Containing raised beds separated by oyster shells, the layout represents a fairly common historical tradition of allocating small garden plots to slaves to that they may supplement their intake with homegrown vegetables of their choosing. Traditional crops such as sweet potatoes, beans and black eyed peas are found in the gardens of Philipsburg Manor. The estate makes the number two spot on our top Hudson Valley gardens list, as it is truly an evolving site. As more research is being done into the lives and ways of slaves, the grounds are changing to reflect this. For this reason alone its worth a visit â€“ it may never be the same again as the first time you've been!
#1) Kykuit, more commonly known as the Rockefeller Estate, secures the number one spot as the top public garden in the Hudson Valley not just for its unexpected tribute to the goddess Aphrodite, but all of its painstakingly landscaped grounds. Built in the early twentieth century in the neoclassical Beaux-Arts style, the estate was designed to frame the panoramic Hudson River views. The standard for gardens, this site features grounds modeled after those found at Italian style villas, in addition a Japanese garden, morning garden, and the gold standard for almost all Hudson Valley estates, the rose garden. Also located in Sleepy Hollow, NY, the secret is out about its beauty, and the grounds are frequently packed. If you're not keen on crowds, try one of the other estates, but if you purchase tickets in advance online, it is well worth the trip.
Accessible from most major Northeast cities, the gardens and estates of the Historic Hudson Valley should be on your list of places to see, and for good reason. From beautifully tended grounds to breathtaking architecture and river views, a trip to the Valley beats standing in line for a corn dog at an overpriced tourist attraction any day. Just make sure you watch out for the Headless Horseman...