Upstate New York’s Hudson Valley spans the Hudson River for 150 miles between Albany to the north and Westchester to the south. The scenic National Heritage area is known for its orchards, farms and vineyards, and holds a special place in the history of America dating back to the first settlers of the early 1700’s. Day trips from New York City are as simple as hopping on a Metro North from Manhattan for hiking, touring or dining.
Albany is the capital of New York state, and rich in history and heritage. What was once a small Dutch settlement over 400 years ago, is now a growing technology hub with restaurants, unique shops and a craft beverage trail that highlights local breweries. Attractions include the New York state capital building, a $25 million facility built in 1899. The Albany Institute of Art and the New York State Museum offer world class exhibits, while heritage sites include historic homes and churches. Kayak or cruise down the Hudson River, hike at the Albany Pine Bush state park, or explore underground in the expansive Howe Caverns.
Albany, NY 12207
Bannerman Castle consists of the 1901 ruins of an abandoned castle-themed warehouse on the Hudson River’s Pollepel Island. The 6.5 acre island has seen just five owners since the American Revolution. The Bannermans purchased the island from its second owners in 1900, and soon after began construction on the replica Scottish castle, which was to house the arms and ammunition that Bannerman recycled as the family business. The Bannerman family donated the island to the State of New York in 1967 and it remains today under the care of the Bannerman Castle trust. Visit the island for guided or self-guided walking tours, kayak tours, special farm-to-table dinners or theatrical events and movie nights.
Pollepel Island, NY 12518, Phone: 845-203-1316
© City of Beacon
Beacon is known as the Hudson Valley’s hippest city for its unique combination of contemporary art museum, hiking, dining and nightlife. Mt. Beacon is Hudson Valley’s highest summit, and Beacon’s Main Street traverses the base of this hill. Dia: Beacon is the world class contemporary art museum that’s found in this small town, and serves as the driver for Beacon’s burgeoning arts scene. The warehouse gallery space opened in 2003 and is managed by the Dia Art Foundation, which focuses on art from the 1960’s to present day. Main Street is home to several art galleries and retail shops, as well as cafes, restaurants and bars. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to hike to the top of Mt. Beacon for a view of the surroundings, and a visit to the foundation of an old casino, now in ruins.
Beacon, NY 12508
© Catskill, NY 12414
Catskill, New York is a quaint town in the Hudson River Valley known as the setting for Washington Irving’s classic 1819 novel, Rip Van Winkle. The American landscape painter Thomas Cole began visiting in 1825, and his paintings founded one of the 19th century’s most significant art movements, the Hudson River School. The area retains its outdoor charm. Top attractions include the Kaaterskill Falls, among the highest in New York state at 260 feet, the peak of Catskill Mountain, offering stellar valley views, and the Hunter Mountain Ski Resort. Main Street is dotted with Victorian homes and window-front shops, and is home to a historic church and the 1910 Greek-columned courthouse.
Catskill, NY 12414
Cold Spring, New York’s storied history dates back to the Civil War as an invaluable artillery center. Today, this quaint Hudson River Valley village offers art galleries, shopping and dining on the banks of the Hudson River. Kayak the river of view the water activities and the nearby Storm King Mountain from Dockside Park, stroll down Main Street for charming retail shops, restaurants and cafes, or head to the hills for a hike in the Hudson Highlands State Park. History enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the West Point Foundry, a museum and archeological site. Visit the 1832 Hudson House Inn for lunch or dinner.
Cold Spring, NY 10516
6.Crailo State Historic Site
© Crailo State Historic Site
The Crailo State Historic Site is a Hudson River Valley museum dedicated to the history of the Colonial Dutch in the area. The historic home in Rensselaer once belonged to Kiliaen van Rensselear, who built the fortified home in 1707. The home was further fortified with gunports around 1746 and an addition was built in 1762. Also referred to as the Yankee Doodle House, it is allegedly the site where Richard Shuckburgh wrote the famous song during the French and Indian Wars of 1755, making fun of colonial soldiers who joined forces to fight with the British. In the 19th century, the home, since remodeled in the Federal style, served as a boy’s school. It was donated to the state of New York for use as a museum in 1924.
9 1/2 Riverside Ave, Rensselaer, NY 12144, Phone: 518-463-8738
Hudson, New York is a small, walkable city on the Hudson River. From its origins as a whaling port in the 1700’s, Hudson evolved as an industrial town and has since grown into a thriving hub for the arts and culture and a farm-to-table restaurant movement. The City is host to examples of major American architectural movements of nearly every era, from the Nantucket townhomes of the 18th century, to Federal style facades, to sprawling Victorian estates and 20th century Arts and Crafts bungalows. Over 200 independently owned shops line Front Street in the commercial district. Hudson is known as the place to go for antiques and collectibles, and is home to Design Hudson, an annual showcase home tour that takes place each May.
Hudson, NY 12534
The Hudson Valley’s Hyde Park is the home of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site. The area includes Springwood, the lifelong home of President Theodore Roosevelt. The home includes Roosevelt’s presidential library and museum among the 300-acre site. The 1938 Top Cottage retreat is a smaller Dutch colonial structure built by Roosevelt to escape the crowds at Springwood. Nearby is Val-Kil, a cottage occupied by Mrs. Roosevelt, and the only National Historic site dedicated to a First Lady of the United States. The Vanderbilt Mansion occupies a 211-acre property filled with Italian gardens and old growth trees. The mansion exemplifies early 20th century English county living in America. The museum explores the lives of the domestic staff and the home’s relationship to the surrounding community. The surrounding small town offers quaint boutiques and world class restaurants.
Hyde Park, NY 12538
Kingston, New York was the state’s first capital in 1777. That same year, in the Battles of Saratoga, it was burned to the ground. By the early 19th century, the discovery of natural cement in the region, and accessibility by rail-line and canals led the small town to thrive. Today, this history is preserved in three separate historic districts. Examples of each American architectural period are preserved in the Dutch colonial, Federal, Greek revival, Victorian, Italiante and Art Deco structures. Tour the homes, ride an antique trolley through the historic district, visit the museums and art galleries, or cruise the Hudson River all from Kingston.
Kingston, NY 12401
© Byelikova Oksana/stock.adobe.com
Lake Minnewaska is located within the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in New York’s Ulster County. The lake is among three bodies of water in the area, surrounded by waterfalls, hardwood forests, and the rocky, rugged terrain of the Shawangunk Mountain ridge. Visitors enjoy hiking, cycling and technical rock climbing and bouldering on land, as well as scuba diving, boating and swimming in the crystal clear waters. A minimal tent-only campground provides restrooms with showers, a pavilion and cooking area. Bird conservation areas protect the important migratory corridor for owls, warblers and peregrine falcons. Naturalists often lead guided programming on weekends.
5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson, NY 12446, Phone: 845-255-0752
Millerton, New York is among America’s favorite small towns. The agricultural village is home to a bustling Main Street full of locally owned boutiques, restaurants, ice cream shops and art galleries. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail, a paved stretch of the old New York and Harlem Railroad connects Millerton through a 15 mile trail south to Wassaic. Self-guided walking tours visit the 26 historical sites in Millerton, and maps are available at many local bookstores and coffee shops. Millerton is home to the Hillrock Distillery, one of the world’s only “farm to glass” whiskey producers. Annual events include summer’s Chef and Farmer Brunch, the Fall for Art festival, and the live-music focused Spring for Sound.
Millerton, New York 12546
12.Mohonk Mountain House
The National Historic Landmark Mohonk Mountain House is a resort within a Victorian castle, offering fresh farm-to-table meals, an award-winning spa, access to 85 miles of hiking trails and swimming in the indoor pool, or activities on Lake Mohonk. Rooms and suites are available in the 1869 mountain house, or guests may rent a cottage for a more secluded getaway. Day guests have access to the spa, golf, and outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding and boating. Winter recreation includes ice skating, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Breakfast, brunch and dinner are all available for day guests at any of the resorts dining areas, advanced reservations are required.
1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561, Phone: 855-883-3798
New Paltz, New York offers outdoor adventure, scenic nature viewing, history, an active live music scene, and quaint cafes and farm-to-table restaurants. Day-trippers will enjoy the historic Huguenot Street, home to historic stone houses, a 1717 Huguenot church, exhibits and archeological sites within a 10 acre National Historic Landmark District. The Mohonk Preserve offers over 70 miles of walking, hiking and cycling trails through the Shawangunk Mountains. Main Street’s open air Water Street Market hosts over 20 independently owned antique, fashion, arts and craft shops alongside restaurants and cafes. Nearby vineyards include the Robibero Family Vineyards and the Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery.
New Paltz, NY 12561
14.New York State Museum
© Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
Albany’s New York State Museum and Historic Carousel educate visitors on New York’s historic achievements within the arts and science. The museum was founded in 1836 and as such, is America’s oldest state museum. Collections include specimens from the fields of archeology, biology, geology, and paleontology. History collections include items of social, political and cultural significance. A Native American Ethnography collection focuses on Native American art of New York. The museum is home to over 16 million scientific and 1 million cultural artifacts. 100,000 square feet of gallery space hosts temporary and long-term installations. Educational programs for all ages are designed for students, families and adults.
222 Madison Ave, Albany, NY 12230, Phone: 518-474-5877
Nyak, New York labels itself as Art and Soul on the Hudson. The eclectic village is full of energy and charm and features several live music, art and cultural events. Nyak is the birthplace of the beloved American painter Edward Hopper, and his childhood home has since been turned into the Edward Hopper Museum. The home was built in 1858 by Hopper’s grandfather. Evidence of a still-thriving artistic community is seen in the area galleries, shops, restaurants and Art Walk events. Live music takes place throughout the year, whether it’s the summer Jazz Fest, or classic concerts in the Carnegie Room. Self-guided walking tours are available of historic village sites, or day trippers can extend their hikes into any of the area’s state parks. Kayaking, rowing and boating are available along the Hudson River.
Nyak, NY 10960
© Olana State Historic Site
The Olana State Historic Site is home to Olana, the family home of the 19th century American painter, landscape desiger and self-taught architect, Frederic Edwin Church. Church bought the 126-acre property in 1860, and set about to transforming the hardscrabble land through farming, and the planting of thousands of trees. Olana was built on a hill overlooking the Hudson Valley. The home combines the Victorian architecture of the time with Middle Eastern motifs inspired by Church’s travels. Extraordinary brick work and stenciled motifs are found throughout. The home displays the furnishings, paintings and sculpture that the Church’s acquired during their lives.
5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534, Phone: 518-828-1872
© City of Peekskill, New York
Peekskill’s small, walkable town and easy access to hiking trails and waterfront make it an ideal day trip for those who love the outdoors. Bike rentals are available for scenic excursions along the Hudson River, and shuttles take visitors from town to the Blue Mountain Trailhead for either hiking or mountain biking. River cruises are available for evening sunsets, daytime sightseeing tours or Sunday brunches. The one-mile trail from Fleischmann’s Pier Park to the train station is also an excellent riverside walk for both daytime or sunset views, with outdoor sculptures installed along the path. Several thrift stores and antiques shops are located alongside restaurants and bars, among the most popular is the Peekskill Brewery.
Peekskill, NY 10566
Phoenicia is a small village in the Catskills, known as the home of Mount Tremper Arts, an experimental arts laboratory dedicated to supporting artists in the creation of contemporary works. The Phoenicia Festival of the Voice Foundation is an annual multi-day event dedicated to presenting the creativity of the human voice in all forms. Outdoor activities in the area include fly fishing, swimming and boating on Belleayre Lake, and floating or riding the rapids of Esopus Creek via Town Tinker Tube Rental. Historic sites include the Empire State Railway Museum, while the Phoenicia library provides entertaining and educational programming for all ages in a new energy efficient structure.
Phoenicia, NY 12464
Saratoga County, home of Saratoga Springs, is perhaps best known for the Saratoga Race Course, a summer horse racing venue named by Sports Illustrated as one of the world’s best sporting venues. The Saratoga Spa State Park offers close to 2,400 acres of protected lands, including the historic Gideon Putnam Roosevelt Baths and Spa, which was established in 1935. The state park is also home to the world-renowned Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Saratoga Automobile Museum and the National Museum of Dance. A pool complex within the state park offers a main pool, children’s pool, concessions, locker rooms and showers. Scenic tours are available on Lake George and Saratoga Lake, while walking tours include the Spa City Brew Bus, food tours and Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tours.
Saratoga, NY 12020
Upstate New York’s Stone Ridge is the home of SUNY Ulster, and includes a charming downtown historic district. MAMA, which stands for Marbletown Multi Arts, is a community centered yoga studio located in an 1840’s church that offers much more than yoga. Wellness events for all ages include Tai Chi, Chi Gung, martial arts, Shakitpat, sound healing sessions and more. A culturally diverse range of restaurants offers everything from Middle Eastern dishes to Ramen. At the popular Applestone Meat Company, once can purchase organic meats from a vending machines 24 hours a day.
Stone Ridge, NY 12484
21.The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is located in FDR’s historic upstate New York home. New permanent museum exhibits have recently been installed, thanks to a $6 million donation from the library’s non-profit partner. Exhibits explore Franklin and Eleanor’s relationship with American citizens from the Great Depression through the New Deal and World War II. The home is managed by the National Park Service, and admission tickets included guided tours led by park rangers. Tours of the presidential library are self guided. FDR was the first president to insist the records of his time in office be available to the public for future generations. The presidential library tradition continues today, with 14 now managed by the National Archives.
4079 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538, Phone: 845-486-7770
22.Thomas Cole National Historic Site
© Thomas Cole National Historic Site
Thomas Cole was the founder of the Hudson River School of painting. The English-born American landscape painter worked in the 19th century and his Romantic period landscapes defined early American art. His home in Catskill is open to visitors, surrounded by the landscapes that inspired him. Guests can tour Cole’s three-story 1815 Federal style home, the barn-like old studio where Cole painted many of his most famous works of art, and the newer 1846 studio, which was rebuilt in 2016. A visitor’s center on the grounds occupies what was once a barn on the Cole farm. Rotating exhibits feature the artwork of Cole himself, along with his Hudson River School contemporaries, and others whose work is inspired by or related to Cole and the Hudson Valley region.
218 Spring St, Catskill, NY 12414, Phone: 518-943-7465
Troy, New York is known as the Home of Uncle Sam. Sam Wilson moved to Troy from Massachusetts at an early age and started a meat packing business. He began supplying the US Army with meat during the War of 1812. Although the barrels were marked with U.S. to signify government property, soldiers joked that U.S. stood for Uncle Sam. In 1817 the “I Want You” recruitment poster sealed Sam’s position in U.S. folklore. Sam Wilson is buried in Troy at the Mt. Ida Cemetery. Other historic destinations include the Troy Public Library, St. Paul’s Church and the Bush Memorial Hall. All three of these sites contain Tiffany made stain glass windows.
Troy, NY 12180
The Vanderbilt Mansion is managed by the National Parks Service. It stands today as a superior example of a country mansion in America’s gilded age, as industry boomed after the Civil War. The 54-room Hudson River estate was built between 1896 and 1899 by Frederick William Vanderbilt, director of the New York Central Railroad. The Beaux-Arts style building was designed by architects McKim, Mead & White. Collections within the mansion include furnishings, artwork and documents. A total of 6,500 artifacts are managed by the park’s Museum Services Division. The home’s surrounding 200 acres offer manicured lawns, gardens and forests overlooking the Hudson River.
4097 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, NY12538, Phone: 845-229-7770
West Point is the famed United States Military Academy, which dates back to 1801. While the campus is open to the public only for events such as athletic contests, concerts and cadet graduation, visitors may take a guided bus tour of the campus at any time. Guided tours begin at the Frederic V. Malek West Point Visitors Center where guests board an air-conditioned bus. A 75 minute tour discusses the history of West Point and stops at the Chapel, Battle Monument, Trophy Point and the Plain. Extended 2-hour tours include a visit to the 1837 Old Cadet Chapel and the West Point Cemetery. Both tours include minimal walking and operate rain or shine.
606 Thayer Rd, West Point, NY 10996, Phone: 845-938-4011
25 Best Hudson Valley Day Trips
- Albany, NY, Photo: demerzel21/stock.adobe.com
- Bannerman Castle, Photo: karenfoleyphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Beacon, NY, Photo: City of Beacon
- Catskill, NY, Photo: Catskill, NY 12414
- Cold Spring, Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com
- Crailo State Historic Site, Photo: Crailo State Historic Site
- Hudson, Photo: cbell7153/stock.adobe.com
- Hyde Park, Photo: littleny/stock.adobe.com
- Kingston, Photo: Alexander/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Minnewaska, Photo: Byelikova Oksana/stock.adobe.com
- Millerton, Photo: Alexander/stock.adobe.com
- Mohonk Mountain House, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- New Paltz, Photo: Osaze/stock.adobe.com
- New York State Museum, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Nyak, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Olana, Photo: Olana State Historic Site
- Peekskill, Photo: City of Peekskill, New York
- Phoenicia, Photo: Phoenicia
- Saratoga, Photo: quasarphotos/stock.adobe.com
- Stone Ridge, Photo: milanares/stock.adobe.com
- The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Photo: lightningboldt/stock.adobe.com
- Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Photo: Thomas Cole National Historic Site
- Troy, Photo: cbell7153/stock.adobe.com
- Vanderbilt Mansion, Photo: lightningboldt/stock.adobe.com
- West Point, Photo: Nancy/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Ruth P. Peterkin/stock.adobe.com