Fun Family Activities and Places to Go in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Let’s take the kids! Former Hudson Valley editor Joanne Michaels gives us some tips on where to delight kiddies of all ages — from tots to teens


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bear mountain carouselThe right spin: Valley critters and scenery adorn the carousel at Bear Mountain

Photograph by Kelly Marsh

Ages 4-8

Catskill Mountain Railroad, Mt. Pleasant
Take a 12-mile round-trip train ride along the scenic Esopus Creek through the heart of the Catskill Mountains. The trains operate on the tracks of the historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad. The train stops at the Empire State Railway Museum on High Street in Phoenicia, where riders can enjoy a guided tour. Special events include a September Teddy Bear Train Ride, and October brings a Haunted Halloween Ride. During the summer months, you can tube the Esopus and take the train back upriver. This is a wonderfully relaxing way to take in the countryside if you are traveling with children. Admission: children under the age of four ride free. Bus and group tours available by advanced reservation. Facilities: restrooms, picnic areas, snack bar, gift shop, parking area.
Rte. 28, Mt. Pleasant. 845-688-7400;

Bear Mountain State Park,  Bear Mountain
This huge park contains enough activities to fill a week of vacation time. Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy the hiking trails and views that are found around almost every turn. There are bike trails of varying lengths suitable for all ages, a swimming pool, and lakes — paddleboats and rowboats may be rented during the summer. Even the youngest children will love the zoo here, the beaver lodge, and the reptile house. Colorful birds and fuzzy mammals — in the form of bears, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons — cavort in their zoo homes; outside, the beavers busily chip away at trees and gambol in the waters near their winter lodge. In the reptile house, face-to-face encounters with snakes and lizards will thrill adventurers of all ages. It may take up to an hour to see the entire zoo complex; it’s a good idea to bring a stroller for very young children. At the Trailside Museum, special exhibits explain the natural and human history of the park and surrounding area. A pavilion constructed of stone and timber houses a carousel featuring 38 carved renditions of native animals and hand-painted scenes of the Hudson Valley. Facilities: restrooms, picnic areas, gift shop. Strollers and wheelchairs can be used on the paved paths throughout the zoo and museum complex. Pets are allowed, if leashed, in all areas except the zoo. The Bear Mountain Inn in Highland Falls (845-786-2731) is in the process of being renovated. As of early January rooms were not yet available, but the cafe and gift shop are now open; call ahead to check.
Rte. 9W, off the Palisades Interstate Parkway, Bear Mountain. 845-786-2701;


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