Explore 25 Under-the-Radar Places to Go and Things to Do in the Hudson Valley
Hidden gems to keep you exploring all summer long.
1. Movies & Live Shows at Bannerman Island
Hudson River, near Beacon & Newburgh
On Pollepel Island in the Hudson Highlands, the long-derelict “castle” is being renovated by the nonprofit Bannerman Trust. Visitors arrive by boat for tours, music, and other activities. Live productions of Julius Caesar are held July 13 & 14, Arsenic & Old Lace on July 25 & 28, and Dracula on Sept. 28 & 29. Outdoor movies are shown, too, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on May 31, through Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein on Sept. 27.
Photo courtesy of Albany Pine Bush Preserve
2. Albany Pine Bush Preserve
This 3,200-acre nature preserve and educational and research area is a rare ecosystem with rolling sand dunes, and is home to more than 1,500 plant and animal species, including the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Enjoy 18 miles of trails for jogging, hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching.
Photo by Dennis O'Clair
3. Mount Merino Manor
This luxurious Victorian-style B&B with seven guest rooms and suites is surrounded by 100 acres of lovely woodlands. The house was built by Gustavus Sabine in the 1870s; he was a friend and physician of 19th-century artist Frederic Church, whose historic home and studio, Olana, is nearby.
4. Liberty Paintball
First-time players and pros alike can have a ball on its 17 paintball fields on 350 acres; family-friendly, low-impact sessions for kids are available, too. Big Games are offered four times a year (June, August, September, and December), when multiple fields are combined into one gigantic area, drawing hundreds of players.
Photo courtesy of Frost Valley YMCA
5. Frost Valley YMCA’s Adventure Trips for Teens
Frost Valley YMCA is a camping, environmental education, and conference center offering lots of opportunities for outdoor fun. Programs include supervised overnight and longer Adventure Camps for kids, including weeklong backpacking trips — even month-long guided outings in the Adirondacks. New this season: a 15-day hike through Maine, and all-female leadership trips for grades 7–10.
6. Newington-Cropsey Foundation’s Gallery of Art
Ever Rest, home of Hudson River School artist Jasper F. Cropsey (1823-1900), is on the National Register of Historic Homes. The site’s Cropsey Gallery contains many of his works, displayed amid rich wood paneling and period furniture. Free tours, by appointment only. 914.478.7990, www.newingtoncropsey.com
Photo provided by Howe Caverns
7. Glassblowing Studio at Howe Caverns
Generations have visited Howe Caverns’ subterranean system of caves and grottos, first discovered in 1842, 20 years before the start of the Civil War. It’s added an above-ground adventure park and a brand-new Glassblowing Studio Adventure; enjoy onsite demonstrations by glassblowing pros and try your hand at the craft.
8. Beebe Hill State Forest
With 30 miles of trails, the Beebe Hill Multiple Use Area offers lots of the great outdoors. Its more than 2,000 acres is a managed area with a focus on environmental protection, timber harvesting, and recreation. Visitors can enjoy 6.5-acre Barrett Pond and hike to the Beebe Hill Fire Tower, with a beautiful vista from the top.
Photo by John Kocijanksi
9.The Bashakill Wildlife Management Area
This 3,107-acre freshwater wetland offers great kayaking, 15 miles of hiking, including on old rail trails, plus fishing and birdwatching (bald eagles often nest here). There’s a chestnut oak forest, plus ponds, marshes, and several observation sites. Afterward, head across the road to the Bashakill Vineyards winery for food, drink, and live music.
10. Pratt Rock
See the unique site dubbed “New York’s Mount Rushmore” on a three-mile-round-trip hike off Route 23E. Zadock Pratt, born in 1799 and founder of Prattsville, commissioned carved murals and memorials on a cliff to highlight his life. Check out the nearby Zadock Pratt Museum in a lovely building that was once Pratt’s home.
photo by Mary T Harrington
11. Beverly E. Smith Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden
Stroll in the garden (it’s part of the Lenoir Nature Preserve) amid gorgeous flowers that attract hummers — even the Rufous hummingbird, a rare species in the East, has been seen here. Delight, too, in dozens of butterfly species that may flit by, from Monarchs to Great Spangled Fritillaries.
12. Grafton Peace Pagoda
Peace pagodas have been built for centuries as symbols of unity and nonviolence. The Grafton structure, one of just a handful in the U.S., was constructed entirely with donated funds and materials. Visitors from many nations and faiths visit — the pagoda is kept empty inside — and a variety of activities take place outdoors. Festivals are held usually in late May/June, August, and October.
13. Junior Sailing Club at Nyack Boat Club
Club members’ kids — and youngsters from the public — can learn to sail on the Hudson during two summer sessions, in the shadow of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The family-friendly boat club’s junior sailing program is for kids 8-16, offering certified instructors.
Photo by Matt Varney
14. Tiffany Windows
The city of Troy boasts some of the nation’s finest Tiffany stained-glass windows: see them at St. Paul’s Church (free guided tours), St. Joseph’s Church (free guided tours), Bush Memorial Center at Russell Sage College, St. John’s Episcopal Church (also has one of only a few brownstone steeples remaining in the U.S., with a splendid 11-bell chime), and The Hart Memorial Building (now the Troy Public Library, features an original Tiffany window designed by the noted Frederick Wilson of Tiffany Studios).
Photo by Steve J Sherman
15. Black Rock Forest
Black Rock Forest Consortium is a nonprofit organization and a 3,914-acre research forest with a mission of advancing scientific understanding of the natural world through research, education, and conservation programs. The public is welcome on their 26 miles of trails and is invited to participate in volunteer events and public programs, such as hikes led by their consortium educators and researchers.
Photo courtesy of Fort Delaware
16. The Hamlet of Narrowsburg
It’s small, but there’s plenty to do in this riverside hamlet. The Delaware Valley Arts Alliance offers exhibits, workshops, and lectures. A mixed-use building, The Narrowsburg Union, houses an art gallery and community space. Shops, cafes, restaurants, and even an eagle-watching platform line the main street, and the Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History (kids love it) is nearby on Route 97.
17. Wing’s Castle Bed and Breakfast
Artists Peter and Toni Ann Wing dreamed up the idea of creating a castle in Dutchess County; construction began in 1970 on what is now a one-of-a-kind B&B. Each of the five rooms/suites is creatively decorated; a separate cottage looks like it’s right out of a fairytale. All overnight visitors get a tour of the castle, which is near the Millbrook Winery and postcard-cute village of Millbrook.
Settled in the 1760s (its name comes from the Dutch dood tal, for “dead valley”) the isolated town had 70 homes in the 1940s. It was gradually abandoned for planned parkland in the 1960s, but roads, stone foundations, and interpretive markers remain, making it a nifty hiking area in what is now part of Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park.
Photo by Hector A. Diaz, @Beacon_Transplant
19. Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary
This 270-acre center near Cold Spring village is an Audubon and state bird-conservation area. More than 200 species of birds, plus 30 types of fish, along with other critters, live in and pass through this tidal wetland. Guided programs are available, or stroll the mile-long path to savor the wildlife and great views of the Hudson River and West Point.
20. The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio
Public radio station WAMC’s performing arts studio is an intimate multi-purpose venue. It hosts concerts (singer/songwriter Steve Forbert appeared in May, for instance), debates, lectures, films, kids’ programs, and more; many events are broadcast throughout WAMC’s seven-state listening area and online at www.wamc.org.
Photo by Catello Somma
21. Sugar Loaf Art & Craft Village
More than two dozen artists and craftspeople live and work in original barns and buildings, some dating to the 1700s. Download a walking map from the website and stroll from shop to shop, then enjoy a meal at the Taphouse (formerly the Barnsider) or the Cancun Inn.
Photo by Slowking4
22. Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site
Winding paths offer sweeping views at the site of one of the last Revolutionary War battles. The British captured the promontory in 1779, until Gen. George Washington and Anthony Wayne’s troops reclaimed it in a midnight assault. Visit the 1826 lighthouse — the oldest on the Hudson — and museum, too.
Photo by John Fischer
23. Widow Jane Mine
The Century House Historical Society hosts music, poetry, and theatrical and private events in this mine that’s part of a 32-square-mile seam of limestone running between High Falls and Kingston. A museum houses artifacts from the mine and the historic Rosendale cement industry (In the 1890s, almost half of America’s cement was made in the Rosendale Cement Region.)
24. The Village of Ellenville
This Ulster County gem is home to the nonprofit professional theater, Shadowland Stages, celebrating 35 years in 2019. Steps away is Aroma Thyme Bistro, upstate’s first Certified Green restaurant. Other eateries include Mexican-style Gaby’s Café; the Publik House, featuring pub fare; and Sook House, offering Korean-Japanese cuisine. Sam’s Point Preserve, with its noted Ice Caves, is in nearby Cragsmoor; and two hang-gliding flight parks are nearby.
845.647.4620 (Ellenville Chamber of Commerce), www.ewcoc.com
Photo provided by Boundless Adventures
25. Boundless Adventures at SUNY Purchase College
This nine-course aerial adventure park boasts more than 17 ziplines, 90 bridges, ropes, and more, for all skill levels. Guests who favor the ground can relax on walking paths and benches in the park, located on eight wooded acres of the SUNY campus.