10 Unforgettable Things To Do in The Hudson Valley

Looking for a weekend trip from New York City? There are so many cool things to do in the Hudson Valley! The Hudson Valley is one of the most delightful regions I’ve explored in the northeast and it’s full of must-see attractions and destinations. In this article, I’m going to share 10 must-see spots in New York’s Hudson Valley that should definitely be on your travel list! Whether you live in New York City and need to escape for a few days, or you’re a road-tripper and want to explore the smaller communities outside of “the big apple”.

10 Must-See Spots in New York’s Hudson Valley

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Home & Presidential Library

The former home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is located in the town of Hyde Park in Dutchess County. Roosevelt grew up in this house and later remodeled it as his political career took off. The Queen of England, once a guest here, reportedly remarked “how does an American president live in such a tiny home?” Even by today’s standards, this is a very large American house and visitors are fortunate to be able to see most of it.

The tour includes a look at FDR’s bedroom; library; dining room; and guest rooms. You’ll note the modifications and makeshift “elevator” used by the former president to hoist himself up to the second floor. One of his wheelchairs are located on the second floor. This is one of the most historic homes in the U.S. as the president came here frequently while he was in office. He hosted dignitaries and even made the decision to begin developing the nuclear bomb while in this residence.

After touring the home, be sure to visit the presidential library as well as the gravesite of both Franklin and Elenor Roosevelt. All of these spots top most lists of things to do in the Hudson Valley.

FDR Home and Library

2. Storm King Art Center

I’ve been to a lot of sculpture gardens around the country but this place is pretty amazing. Featuring over 100 outdoor sculptures – the Storm King Art Center is absolutely massive. Located in New Windsor, the 500 acre property is likely the largest open air art museum in the country. You can take a guided tram tour, hike the grounds, or rent a bicycle to explore.

It’s a perfect place to spend a beautiful day!

Storm King Art Center Hudson Valley

3. Downtown Beacon

Beacon is a wonderful community on the upswing with a really fun, walkable downtown. You can fawn over beautiful historic buildings and find unique treats like French toast marshmallows from Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company. There are small cafes and coffee shops and and just outside of downtown, trails for hiking and biking.

Hudson Valley Marshmellows

4. Village of Rhinebeck

Much like Beacon, downtown Rhinebeck has a great variety of shops and lodging for travelers. If you want a great slice of New York Style pizza, Pizzeria Posto is absolutely delicious and offers pizza by the slice. Down the street, Samuel’s Sweet Shop is co-owned by several famous people including Jeffery Dean Morgan (Walking Dead) and Paul Rudd (Anchorman).

Be sure to pop in to Beekman Arms and take a look around. It’s known as the longest running inn in America and has hosted several U.S. presidents and a dozens of famous people over the years. It’s one of the most notable attractions and things to do in the Hudson Valley.

Beekman Arms in the Hudson Valley
cool things to do in Hudson valley

5. Walkway Over The Hudson

If you’re looking for things to do in the Hudson Valley that require a bit of exercise, add this one to your list! Take a walk or a bike ride across the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge with beautiful views of the Hudson River Valley from 212 feet above the water! The 1.28 mile long bridge connects the towns of Poughkeepsie and Highland.

There is free parking available and an elevator that takes you down to a small park where you can get great views of the bridge from below. The bridge originally opened in 1889 as a railroad crossing.

6. West Point Military Academy

It’s an absolute thrill to tour the prestigious West Point campus, full of both beauty and American history. You’ll literally see a section of the large chains that George Washington ordered to be placed in the Hudson River to block British sailors during the Revolutionary War. Your best bet for touring West Point is to sign up with West Point Tours which will pick you up from the visitors center and drive you around campus on a small bus. They’ll bring you to several important spots on campus and their guides will share the history of the school and point out some of the iconic figures who went to school here.

For lodging, the historic Thayer Hotel is located near the entrance of West Point’s campus. It’s an upscale hotel with beautiful views of the Hudson, a fine dining restaurant, and a cool rooftop bar.

7. Val-Kill – Eleanor Roosevelt’s Cottage

About 10 minutes from Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential library and historic home is Val-Kill. Val Kill was property that the Roosevelt’s initially purchased for farming. Eventually they added a cottage and retreat that became Eleanor’s home and workplace after the former president died. Mrs. Roosevelt’s belongings are still in the home and visitors can tour her office, dining room, and upstairs bedrooms. The guides are great at sharing stories about Eleanor and pointing out how historic this property is. One example – a tiny table in the living room is where John F. Kennedy pleaded with the former First Lady to endorse him as he was running for president.

things to do in the Hudson valley

8. New York State Capital in Albany

I’ve been on a kick to visit every state capital in the U.S. and had to visit Albany during my recent travels through New York. I was stunned to discover how absolutely gorgeous the New York State capital building is! It’s majestic! Sadly, I visited on a Sunday so there was no access to the inside. However, I’ve been told that the interior is just as beautiful. They do offer free guided tours during the week and on Saturdays.

If you’re visiting during the spring and summer, you’ll find the awesome “I Love New York” sign located just across the street amongst a mix of other government buildings. You can take your photo with the capital in the background.

things to do in the Hudson valley

9. National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

One of the most underrated things to do in the Hudson Valley is located in Orange County. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor ties in perfectly to a road trip if you’re visiting historic sites like Washington’s headquarters, West Point, and the Roosevelt’s properties.

The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is a museum that talks about the history of the Purple Heart (including a display of the very first one!) and honors those that have received one. Kiosks are set up with first hand stories and rotating exhibits feature personal items from recipients. The museum was updated in recent years with new technology and is a really nice tribute.

10. George Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh

Little did I know that George Washington had quite a few places he used as “headquarters” during the Revolutionary War. However, the home he used in Newburgh may have been the most consequential of them all. For starters, he was here longer than any of the other places he stayed. Second, a lot of decisions that ended the war were made here. You can still tour the property which is run by the New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. One cool piece in the house is a desk that Washington used to write letters during the war.

The Hudson Valley is really a wonderful region, full of welcoming destinations and attractions! To learn more about Dutchess County, you can visit their website. To learn more about Orange County, you can visit their website.

10 Cool Things To Do in The Hudson Valley

  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Home & Presidential Library
  2. Storm King Art Center
  3. Downtown Beacon
  4. Downtown Rhinebeck
  5. Walkway Over The Hudson
  6. West Point Military Academy
  7. Val-Kill Elenor Roosevelt’s Cottage
  8. New York State Capital in Albany
  9. Purple Heart Hall of Honor
  10. George Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh

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