What to Do at West Point: Spend 24 Hours in the Historic Town
The former Revolutionary War fortress is now a happening historic destination with great food to boot.
West Point's Battle Monument at Trophy Point on a spring afternoon, 2009
Wikimedia Commons / Ahodges7
Few towns in the Hudson Valley pack as much of a historic punch as West Point does. Back in the days of the Revolutionary War, the fortress was a critical stronghold in Washington’s defense against the British. Perhaps most notably, it served as the western point from which a massive, 75-ton chain stretched to prevent English troops from sailing further along the Hudson. After the war, West Point opened its doors as the site of the United States Military Academy in 1802. Since then, the Highland Falls microcosm has operated as the oldest continuously occupied military post in America.
While the West Point of the present day is a bustling hub for cadets and military leaders, it’s also a must-visit destination for history buffs and Hudson Valley visitors. Read on for a day trip guide to the storied region, then hop in the car for an impromptu blast to the past.
9 a.m. – Treat yourself to comfort food classics at Andy’s Restaurant
With so much moving and shaking going on at West Point, cadets (and visitors) require grade-A fuel to get it all done. Andy’s, which sits just down the road from the school, delivers with hearty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that are just as plentiful on portion as they are on flavor. Early in the day, opt for one of the massive omelets to get you going. The Black Knight Omelet, an ode to West Point’s mascot, is a three-egg, sausage, bacon, ham, onion, pepper, and cheese concoction that should fuel you until lunch. Did we mention it comes with home fries, toast, and coffee on the side?
281 Main St, Highland Falls
10:30 a.m. – Explore local history at the West Point Museum
As you continue to pine for Hamilton tickets, find a temporary historic fix at the West Point Museum. Located on the academy campus, the museum is a hotbed for U.S. military artifacts and documents. Take a whirl through the past as you explore detailed exhibits and brush up on your knowledge of the past exploits and endeavors of the nation’s servicemen and women.
2110 New South Post Rd, West Point
12 p.m. – Dig into a sumptuous sammie at Thayer Gate Deli and Cafe
Just outside the Thayer Gate (hence the name), this local deli and café is a must for easy lunch fare that delivers on flavor, convenience, and price. As for what to order, stick to classics like the corned beef Reuben sandwich, which oozes Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, or the Philly cheese steak sandwich, which layers lean prime rib slices with onions, peppers, and American cheese on one lucky roll.
1:30 p.m. – Take a self-guided tour around campus
West Point is a military academy, but it’s also an open-air museum. Thanks to its 18th century significance in American history, the site is now a hotbed for local history. After you wrap up with lunch, return to campus to see where the “Great Chain” ran across the Hudson, how Fort Putnam held up since the war, and what the South Battery and Sherburnes Redoubt landmarks look like up close. If you’d rather listen to a pro explain each location’s significance, stop by the West Point Visitors Center to find out when the next tour runs.
4:30 p.m. – Savor sky-high sips at Zulu Time Rooftop Lounge
When crisscrossing campus gets the best of you, kick back before dinner at The Thayer Hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge. Zulu Time, named after a military term that refers to the universal Greenwich Mean Time, is open seasonally based on the weather, so check the website or call ahead if you plan to go for a drink. As for what to sip, try something from the ever-rotating lineup of cocktail specials or sip whichever wine the bartender recommends. Rumchata martinis in autumn and blackberry manhattans in summer, anyone?
The Thayer Hotel, 674 Thayer Rd, West Point
6 p.m. – Wine and dine at MacArthur’s Riverview Restaurant
By the time dinner rolls around, skip the hassle of packing everyone into the car and stay onsite for a feast at MacArthur’s. The white tablecloth eatery is a dream for anniversaries and special occasions, so keep the ambiance in mind when planning your outfit (i.e. no jeans). Once you’re seated, begin the meal with appetizers like spicy Maryland crab cakes and lacinato kale salad, then get ready to dig into Bordeaux braised boneless short ribs or pan-seared day boat scallops for the main meal. Whatever you do, don’t pass up on dessert. The Hudson Valley apple tart, made with local apples, and the oversized chocolate chip cookie, served warm with powdered sugar and vanilla mascarpone, are not to be missed.
The Thayer Hotel, 674 Thayer Rd, West Point
7:30 p.m. – See a show at Eisenhower Hall
Eisenhower Hall Theatre might not be on Broadway, but you’d never know it when the lights dim and the curtains open for the evening. Eisenhower, endearingly dubbed Ike Hall, regularly welcomes an impressive, varied slew of talent, from a capella harmonizers and modern dance masters to large-scale ballets and top-tier musicals. Keep an eye out online for new act announcements, then pick up tickets for a much cheaper price than a Big Apple spectacle would ever allow.
655 Pitcher Rd, West Point
9 p.m. – Sleep better than a president at The Historic Thayer Hotel
Thanks to an endless stream of familial visitors and upstate weekenders, the Thayer Hotel has luxury overnights down pat. With 151 guestrooms and suites, the hotel can accommodate a variety of party sizes and price points. Rates begin at $100/night, with rooms ranging from deluxe and premium guest to executive junior, super, presidential, and bridal suites. If you visit on Sunday morning, do yourself a favor and hit MacArthur’s Champagne brunch before you leave. The spread is divine, as are the bottomless champagne, mimosa, and Bloody Mary offerings.
674 Thayer Rd, West Point