A designated National Heritage Area, the Hudson River Valley is a 150-mile area in New York State. Steeped in history, it encompasses a range of natural attractions in addition to wineries, fine dining establishments, shopping centers, and historical sites. Many fairs, festivals, and Civil War reenactments are also held in the area.
Below are seven of the premier attractions in the Hudson River Valley.
1. Catamount Adventure Park
Located in Hillsdale, Catamount Adventure Park is an aerial forest adventure that features 12 aerial trails with dozens of ziplines and 180 challenge elements. Courses vary in difficulty level and feature obstacles including ladders and bridges.
The park meets the Association for Challenge Course Technology standards and is open to individuals ages 7 and up. Climbers are equipped with secure safety harnesses and guided along by park monitors. They also receive thorough instruction prior to venturing onto the trails.
2. Walkway over the Hudson
The Walkway over the Hudson is a one-of-a-kind attraction in that it is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. Situated more than 200 feet above the Hudson River, it measures 1.28 miles in length and is open to walkers and bicyclists.
Beyond offering unmatched views of the Hudson River and surrounding areas, the Walkway over the Hudson connects 10 different discovery zones, each of which has a variety of amenities and attractions. These include Highland Hamlet, Franny Reese State Park, Union St. Historic Neighborhood, and Poughkeepsie Waterfront.
3. Bear Mountain State Park
Located along rugged mountains near the Hudson River’s west bank, Bear Mountain State Park offers a range of outdoor recreation activities including hiking, biking, lake and river fishing, and swimming. In the winter, visitors can take advantage of its cross-country ski trails and outdoor ice rink, which is typically open from late October to mid-March. The park also has exhibits dedicated to Native American heritage, the Revolutionary War, and natural history.
One of the more unique attractions in Bear Mountain State Park is its merry-go-round. The carnival ride features more than three dozen hand-carved and painted seats of animals native to the park, including black bear, wild turkey, raccoon, Canada goose, and bobcat.
The park’s Trailside Museum, meanwhile, features a zoo with many of the animals commonly found in the region. Another popular attraction is Perkins Memorial Tower which, at more than 1,300 feet above the Hudson River, offers spectacular panoramic views.
4. Motorcyclepedia Museum
Motorcycle enthusiasts would be remiss if they didn’t check out the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh while staying in the Hudson River Valley. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday and 5-8 p.m. on Thursdays, the museum features more than 600 motorcycles, some of which are more than 100 years old. It also houses various bike-related posters, photos, machinery, and memorabilia. Selected galleries include Harley-Davidson, Chopper City, Police and Military, and Indian Timeline.
5. Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site
One of the most notable locations of historical significance in the Hudson River Valley is the 272-acre Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site. A battlefield during the Revolutionary War, it now features several monuments and interpretive panels commemorating and detailing the victory of the American forces led by Brigadier General John Stark. The American troops successfully defended the area during a two-hour battle against invading British troops, led by General John Burgoyne, arriving via Canada.
A summary of the battle compiled by the American Battlefield Trust contends that the “defeat put a major strain on Burgoyne’s army, which, in addition to the casualties suffered, never secured the provisions the British commander needed.” It adds, “Burgoyne’s Native American allies lost confidence in him and his mission and left his army to fend for itself in the New York wilderness—deprived of its best-scouting forces.” The battle was also the first of three successive losses by Burgoyne’s army, which ultimately shifted the momentum of the war to the Americans.
Those who enjoy history and amusement parks can find excitement at Playland in Westchester County. Regarded as America’s oldest amusement park, it has been open since 1928 and offers a range of rides suitable for families and adults including bumper cars, a grand carousel, Zombie Castle, The Flying Witch, and House of Mirrors.
There is also a small museum that highlights the lengthy history of the park. Beyond its selection of amusement park rides, Playland has a miniature golf course and a 0.25-mile boardwalk that offers striking views of the Long Island Sound. Visitors can also take a boat ride around Playland Lake and Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary.
7. Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the US, lived in and managed both of his presidential campaigns from his mansion in Kinderhook. He also entertained numerous celebrities and politicians at this house during the 1840s and 1850s. The site is open from 7 a.m. until sunset year-round and features the 1.5-mile Kinderhook Dutch Farming Heritage Trail that connects to the Luykas Van Alen Historic Site.