12 of the top things to do in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley (2024)

For decades, authors, artists and presidents have all been drawn to the Hudson Valley in New York.

Itsdramatic four seasons, historic sites and small towns continue to charm visitors to this day.Located over two hours north of downtown Manhattan, make the most of your trip to the Hudson Valley with this guide to the region's top things to do.

1. Hike at Bear Mountain State Park

The over 5000-acre Bear Mountain State Park is seven miles from the US Military Academy in the rugged highlands. Stretch your legs on several hiking trails, including six miles of the venerable Appalachian Trail.

There’s also an accessible paved trail around Hessian Lake and a challenging 1000ft climb to the summit of Bald Mountain. Rewards of hiking in this area include expansive views of the Hudson River and beyond.

2. Tour the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

America’s first presidential library and museum set the standard for documenting a legacy. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library spans the 12 years of FDR’s administration, from the grips of the Great Depression in 1933 until his death in 1945.

Poignant artifacts include handwritten speeches outlining why America should enter WWII, as well as fragments from the USS Arizona battleship sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

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3. Visit Val-Kill Cottage, home to Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was more than a first lady; she was an activist and advocate during FDR’s presidency, and served on the United Nations General Assembly after his death.

TheEleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site is a 181-acre estate in Hyde Park where the first lady stayed whenever President Roosevelt was not at the Springwood estate. It was her permanent home until 1962.

This is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady, and visitors can see where Eleanor Roosevelt entertained dignitaries such as Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy.

Planning tip:Val-Kill Cottage can only be visited as part of a free guided tour. Check online for the tour schedule.

4. Feast at the Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park is a foodie’s paradise where you can dine at world-class restaurants run by students at the premier culinary institute in the world. Savor their interpretations of the world’s great cuisines.

French, Italian and American dishes are all created with Hudson Valley farm products. Save room for dessert and delight your taste buds with the sugary crunch of a tart, streusel-topped Dutch apple pie.

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5. Enjoy the art at Dia:Beacon

Lose yourself in the works of contemporary artists at Dia:Beacon, an art gallery in a former Nabisco box factory. The collection includes Dan Flavin’s fluorescent light work, Michael Heizer’s “negative” sculptures, Richard Serra’s steel monuments and Louise Bourgeois' multimedia installations.

Planning tip:Andy Warhol’s Shadows (1978–1979) returns to Dia:Beacon in December 2023. The massive space evokes Warhol’s iconic NYC studio, The Factory, and allows visitors to ponder the repetitive images displayed on the 72 brightly colored canvases.

6. Explore the New York State Museum

Marvel at the gleaming tusks on the skeleton of a 13,000-year-old Ice Age mastodon discovered just upriver from theoldest and largest state museum in the country. Afterward, hop into the saddle of one of 40 hand-carved carousel horses, donkeys or deer on the 110-year-old merry-go-round built by western New York’s Herschell-Spillman Company.

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7. Take the kids to Legoland New York

The northeast’s first new theme park in 40 years is a kaleidoscope of primary colors in the town of Goshen. Larger-than-life models of dinosaurs, animals and whimsical characters along with miniature reproductions of familiar landscapes and icons are created with thousands upon thousands of tiny plastic Lego bricks.

Kids ages 2 to 12 will delight inLegoland New York’s attractions, including the first-ever ride that incorporates your own physical characteristics into a Lego Minifigure.

8. Fall in line at the West Point Museum

Wonder what life is like for a cadet at the US Military Academy? Head to the West Point Museum where interactive exhibits reveal a day in the life of a cadet, including uniforms, a full-size barracks room, and information about classes and work.

The museum also houses one of the leading collections of historical military artifacts such as a pair of General George Washington’s pistols, Napoleon Bonaparte’s short sword, General George S. Patton’s Thompson machine gun and the first tank ever used by the US military. In addition to the military displays, this free museum has breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley.

9. Barnstorm at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

Ever dream of barnstorming like Flying Ace Eddie Rickenbacker and tracking down the Red Baron? Head to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome to feel the wind in your hair during an open-air biplane flight.

Head inside for one of the largest collections of early aircraft in the country. Notable planes include a 1902 Wright Glider, the Sopwith Camel (1917) and a 1909 Bleriot – America’s oldest plane still flying. There are alsomultiple German WWI Fokker Triplanes (1917) – like the one flown by the infamous Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron.

Planning tip:Every weekend, the Aerodrome stages WWI “dog fights” in the sky.

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10. Feel tiny at Storm King Art Center

Imagine a baby giant’s building blocks strewn throughout the countryside, and you get a sense of theStorm King Art Center. This 500-acre outdoor museum exhibits large-scale sculptures that complement the natural surroundings. For example, Alexander Calder’s sculpture Five Swords (1976) is a bright, bold, reddish-orange, nearly 20ft-tall steel monument that could be from the giant’s forgotten game of jacks.

Each of the 100 massive sculptures requires its own “gallery landscape,” and they are spread throughout the grounds, walkways, paths and wooded trails.

11. Embrace nature at Thomas Cole National Historic Site

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site preserves the six-acre homestead and studio where Cole founded the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Gazing off into the distance from the porch of the main house, the misty mountains are framed like one of Cole’s canvases.

Planning tip:It's free to tour the grounds. Tickets for a self-guided tour of the studio buildings and main house or a themed guided tour can be booked online in advance.

12. Marvel at the Olana State Historic Site

Frederic Church was one of the most prominent artists to emerge from the Hudson River School. Church’s Niagara Falls depiction inspired a movement that led to preserving the Niagara Reservation as the country’s first state park.

Olana State Historic Sitewas Church’s home, and the mid-19th century estate includes the mansion, art studio and 250 acres of designed landscaping. The house on a hill offers sweeping views of the Hudson River Valley and Catskill mountains that inspired the artist throughout his life.

This article was first published Apr 12, 2013 and updated Sep 28, 2023.

12 of the top things to do in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley (2024)


What is special in Hudson Valley? ›

The Hudson Valley is a National Heritage Area that has inspired painters, poets, essayists, and novelists for centuries. It is home to the Forever Wild Catskill Park and the oldest continuous settlement in the nation.

What is Hudson, New York famous for? ›

Comprising a remarkable collection of largely intact 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century buildings, Hudson is considered by many to be a veritable dictionary of American architectural style.

What is the famous place along the Hudson River in New York? ›

1. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

What is the prettiest town in the Hudson Valley? ›

World Atlas names 5 Hudson Valley towns the most picturesque in New York. See the list
  • Sleepy Hollow, NY. Sleepy Hollow, a village located within the town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester, is home to all of the above. ...
  • New Paltz, NY. ...
  • Kingston, NY. ...
  • Saugerties, NY.
Apr 4, 2024

Why is Hudson Valley famous? ›

Once a part of the Northeast's Industrial past, the Hudson Valley is now known for the string of charming small towns that line the river, and the majestic nature that surrounds them. A complete trip to the area should include plenty of nature-gazing, shop-hopping and art-ogling.

Is Hudson, NY worth visiting? ›

Visually, this charming town is a treat, delighting visitors and aesthetes with its stunning and Wes Anderson-esque architecture. The restoration of some 300 historic buildings in two square miles makes it one of the historically richest, and most diverse architectural cities in New York State.

How do you spend a day in the Hudson Valley? ›

New York on a Budget: Free and Low Cost Things to Do in Hudson...
  1. Trek across the Walkway over the Hudson. ...
  2. Hike the Appalachian Trail. ...
  3. Experience the best of Beacon. ...
  4. Visit a brewery, cidery, winery, or distillery. ...
  5. Make new friends at the farm or zoo. ...
  6. Travel the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. ...
  7. View art under the open sky.
Mar 21, 2023

What is Hudson best known for? ›

A 16th and 17th century British explorer, Henry Hudson is best known for his "discovery" of two bodies of water later named after him: the Hudson River in present-day New York, and Hudson's Bay along the Arctic coast of present-day Canada.

Why is it called the Hudson? ›

One of the most important waterways in American history, the Hudson River was named after British explorer Henry Hudson, who sailed up the river in 1609. Before Hudson, however, dozens of Native American tribes lived along the banks of the Hudson and used it as a source of food and as a major highway.

What is Main Street in Hudson NY? ›

Take a few hours to shop and explore our main retail and business corridor on Warren Street. Have a bite to eat and a nice beverage at one of our many acclaimed restaurants. Take in all the culture our friendly city has to offer-- from art, to music, to dance and performance -- the City of Hudson has so much to do!

What city is built on the Hudson? ›

New Amsterdam was founded at the mouth of the Hudson River, and would later become known as New York City.

Why is the Hudson River so famous? ›

The Hudson eventually became a source of drinking water for cities, process water for industry, recreation for picnickers and boaters, and soul-stirring inspiration for artists.

What's the prettiest part of New York? ›

Central Park is an absolute gem in the middle of New York City. It's the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, offering lush greenery, serene lakes, and picturesque paths. Whether you're walking, biking, or just relaxing, there's something for everyone.

What is the safest city in the Hudson Valley NY? ›

The Town of Bedford is No. 1 for safety in a report published by Safewise. Six other areas in the Hudson Valley also made the top 10. They include East Fishkill, Hyde Park, Carmel, Yorktown, Orangetown and New Rochelle.

What is the largest city around the Hudson Bay? ›

The Canadian government has designated the whole Hudson Bay Basin a “closed sea” for conservation purposes. Churchill on the west shore is the largest town in the area.

What makes the Hudson River so special? ›

One of their names-Mahicantuck-means "great waters in constant motion" or, more loosely, "river that flows two ways." It highlights the fact that this waterway is more than a river-it is a tidal estuary, an arm of the sea where salty sea water meets fresh water running off the land.

What makes Hudson Bay special? ›

Hudson's Bay is less salty than the rest of the ocean, because its watershed is very large, and many large rivers like the Nelson and the Churchill flow into it. Because it's less salty it freezes more easily; it's typically frozen from mid-December until well into summer (June or even July most years).

What are some fun facts about the Hudson River Valley? ›

Discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609, the 315-mile long river was America's first river for many of the European colonists. For the Algonquin peoples, the Hudson estuary was called Mahicanituk, "The River That Flows Both Ways."

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