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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Illustration by Bob Daly
Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, Beacon
An evolving global center for research and education, this organization is dedicated to rivers, estuaries, and their connection to the world. The activities offered here will interest most children. The institute is housed in a couple of locations in the city. Building 1 (a visitors center), at Dennings Point along the waterfront, focuses on educational activities. The structure has solar panels, composting toilets, and a “green roof” filled with plants that act as natural insulation. Make sure to take a walk on one of the two short scenic trails. The Dennings Point State Park trail offers wonderful views of the Hudson and is an easy loop less than two miles in length. The Riverside Trail connects this area to the train station and is less than a one-mile walk. The main building will be a state-of-the-art environmental research facility with labs, conference rooms, and a center for advanced technology that will be under development in the future. There are other continually changing venues to explore as well. The Web site contains up-to-date information about the array of exciting exhibits and events taking place here, so it’s a good idea to check in advance and discover what will be happening when you visit Beacon. Free. Facilities: restrooms, picnic areas, bookstore (Main Street location).
199 Main St., Beacon 845-838-1600; www.thebeaconinstitute.org
Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park
This imposing Beaux Arts mansion used by Frederick Vanderbilt and his family as a spring and fall residence is a great example of Gilded Age living. The pathways on the grounds offer phenomenal views of the Hudson River; the property also has some of the most amazing trees you will see anywhere in the region and most children will be delighted seeing them. The restored formal Italian gardens feature a reflecting pool, terraces, and a pergola; there are three levels of annuals, perennials, and roses. Older children interested in American history would enjoy the house tour, but those traveling with younger children are advised to tour the grounds on their own. There is an excellent gift shop on the premises open free of charge and it has a terrific selection of regional books. The Music in the Parks programs held on the mansion grounds during some summer months is free and open to the public. Facilities: restrooms, gift shop, hiking trails. Stroller and wheelchair accessibility.
119 Vanderbilt Park Rd., Hyde Park. 845-229-7770; www.nps.gov/vama