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Travel Destinations: New York's Hudson River Valley

By Edited Jan 8, 2016 2 4
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Val-Kill is the National Historic site of Eleanor Roosevelt, located in Hyde Park, New York

The Hudson Valley is a region full of beautiful sites and possesses a diversity of places to visit. Destinations you can choose from range from mountains, lakes, small rural towns, or quaint riverfront communities. Whatever your preference, you're bound to find something appealing in New York's Hudson Valley region.

The center of the valley of course is the famous Hudson River which runs about 315 miles from the Adirondack Mountains down to New York City before emptying into the New York Bay below Manhattan. The Hudson River Valley region begins north of Albany and ends in the northern section of Westchester County.

In the region sits many famous landmarks and parks, not to mention the area is chock full of history. Some of the top destinations you may want to consider as you travel to the Hudson Valley include:

Catskill Mountain Region

The spectacular Catskill Mountain region has much to offer in terms of tourism. For decades people come from all over to enjoy the beauty of the Catskills. A few decades back "Dirty Dancing" type resorts were standard. While the atmosphere has changed a bit the last time I visited in terms of accommodations, a search on the web shows a few of these types of resorts appear to remain.

The area houses some of the best ski slopes and lodges in the state during the winter. During the summer you can try your hand at camping, hiking, fishing and rafting. In addition, beginning at the end of each spring are the famous Hunter Mountain Festivals which run through the fall. Each September boasts the famous annual Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties.

During any time of the year it is fun to poke in and out of the small towns located in the Catskills. If you like to peruse used book stores, go antiquing, visit farmer's markets or vineyards, there is a lot to explore in this mountainous region.

Hunter Mountain
Credit: Andy Arthur/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

View of Hunter Mountain. I used to go here in my younger days and attend the festivals.

West Point Military Academy

The famous military academy sits alongside the western shore of the Hudson River. There is much to see and do on this military campus and Army post. There are a lot of sections closed off to the public, but there are a good many areas people can visit once they are cleared through security.

When you visit West Point they have a great museum which encompasses a few floors. The museum brings you through early history right to the present. The exhibits include the history of the Army, displays representative of warfare, weapons and even a tank.

If you are a history buff, or simply are fascinated by U.S. military history, this museum is an absolute can't miss stop during your visit.

West Point Museum
Photo credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Additionally, West Point has a large concert hall, Eisenhower Hall Theatre, where throughout the year many concerts and shows are held. There is a nominal fee for these and tickets have to be purchased ahead of time. If sports are more your thing, consider an Army football or lacrosse game if you happen to be visiting during the right seasons.

Boscobel House and Gardens

Boscobel House and Gardens is located above the banks of the Hudson River in Garrison, New York. While the home has been here several decades, this is not the original location of this top tourist stop. Originally,the mansion was constructed in the early 19th century several miles south in Montrose, another river town, but was moved in the 1950s when the house was slated for demolition.

The house was moved piece by piece and put in storage until the current property was located and purchased. The home was beautifully restored and the magnificent gardens landscaped. The rose garden is absolutely stunning when it is in bloom. The Hudson River views are pretty spectacular too.

[Related reading: Museum Reviews: Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, N.Y.]

Exterior of Boscobel
Photo credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Hyde Park

Hyde Park houses two famous locations which are a must see if you are in the area, the FDR Presidential Museum and Library and the Vanderbilt Mansion. Both are located about 2.5 hours north of New York City. The FDR Presidential Museum and Library is the home of former four-term President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The museum showcases exhibits from the many stages of President Roosevelt's life from boyhood right up through his years as President of the United States.

The property is a gold-mine of memorabilia and also focuses on the accomplishments of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt too. If you are an American History buff, the Roosevelt property is one tour you won't want to miss. The meticulously-maintained gardens were also beautiful. I only saw this property for the first time in July 2014 despite being in the area for a number of years previously. It was definitely worth adding to our itinerary on our trip back for a visit.

Bee on Flower at FDR's Home and Gardens
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

There were many flying critters buzzing and fluttering around the gardens at the FDR property. The gardens were stunning.

Vanderbilt Mansion, also located in Hyde Park, boasts 50 rooms and sits on over 200 acres. The home was built in 1898 and is a reminder of the wealth that incurred during the U.S. Industrial Age. This one I haven't seen (yet - it's on my list), but I hear you get a pristine view of the Hudson River from the property and you can also see the Catskill Mountains.

Bear Mountain

For a more unstructured and relaxing time with the family, Bear Mountain offers a lot of leisure activities to enjoy in this New York state park. Seasonal activities are ice skating, swimming, and boating. Year-round activities include a small zoo and museum, hiking, playgrounds and other park amenities.

If you're looking for a time of relaxation, Bear Mountain is one place people from both local and distant towns travel to enjoy a nice family outing.

[Related reading: A Guide to Visiting Bear Mountain State Park, N.Y.]

View of Hessian Lake within Bear Mountain State Park
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

The trails and pathways located throughout Bear Mountain State Park is a beautiful walk. Image taken Oct. 2014.

Towns and Cities

As you go into the mid to southern region of the Hudson Valley, you'll find several quaint historic riverfront towns and cities which are loaded with art galleries, small and large parks, museums and other points of interest.

If you like art and antiquing some of the places you can explore are Peekskill, Cold Spring, Poughkeepsie, Briarcliff Manor and Beacon which are full of small art galleries and shops. One convenience is the Metro North train runs from New York City to Poughkeepsie, so if you want to spend the day exploring the various river towns, you can simply hop the train and head to the places you want to go. I can remember doing this as a kid and stopping off in Cold Spring to get ice cream.

This is only a sampling of what the Hudson River Valley has to offer. The best way to plan your visit is to decide which are the key landmarks or attractions which interest you the most and plan from there.

One of the things I want to do next time I'm in the area is walk across the Hudson River on the "Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge". It didn't exist when I lived in New York, as it was only established in 2009. According to the park's website, the bridge is 212 feet tall and 1.28 miles long. It lays claim to being the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.

Get Directions
Walkway Over the Hudson, 61 Parker Ave, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA


Feb 3, 2015 7:19pm
Love the shot of Val-Kil. You did a great job of making this area seem like somewhere that everyone should visit.
Feb 4, 2015 6:25am
Thanks Isabelle! So many places to see on this planet, I guess I like to share a little piece of where I'm from.
: )
Feb 3, 2015 11:52pm
Oh I must visit the US more often. I love art galleries, museums, and quaint little shops. Love all of your photos - esp. the bee on the flowers at FDR's property. Thank you for the virtual tour. Thumbs up, sharing, etc.
Feb 4, 2015 6:27am
Thank you Rose, very much appreciated :). I can't believe it took me to move out of the area to finally get to go to FDR's place. That was a really interesting tour.

I really want to see Canada (I've made it across the border and that's about it...). Definitely on my list of places to explore!
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  1. "Welcome to Historic Hudson River Towns!." Historic Hudson River Towns. 18/01/2015 <Web >
  2. "Welcome to the Official Hudson Valley Garlic Festival page." Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. 21/01/2015 <Web >

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