The Hudson Valley is a designated National Heritage Area comprising 10 counties situated along either side of the Hudson River. Stretching for 150 miles from Westchester and Rockland Counties in the south to Rensselaer and Albany Counties in the north, the region is known for picturesque towns, scenic drives and viewpoints, historic sites and landmarks, renowned museums and art parks, unique shopping, a thriving small business and local food scene, dozens of wineries, breweries, and cideries, and more.
Partially located within the Catskill Mountains and home to almost 20 state parks, there are also countless hiking and outdoor activities to take advantage of during your visit.
The original landowners of the areas covered in this post were the Haudenosaunee, Mohican, Wappinger, Munsee Lenape, and Schaghticoke.
Encompassing such a large area, it can be challenging to decide what you want to see and, if staying overnight, where you want to base yourself. If there’s something specific you’d like to do during your trip, choose lodging that’s nearby and then decide what other places and activities can be added in to your plans. If your main goal is just to soak up the local culture and you don’t feel set on one thing, book whatever lodging you like best and let your itinerary take shape from there.
To help you narrow things down and give an intro to some of the many options, here are 12 towns to visit in the Hudson Valley.
For a small town with a population of just ~1,100, Andes has a thriving main street offering multiple restaurants and bakeries, a wine shop, vintage clothing and antique stores, a record store, a bookstore, and a hotel – to name a few. It also offers a variety of year-round activities from camping and swimming to snowshoeing and bird watching.
A few ideas:
- Find a new piece for your closet at Clementine Vintage Clothing
- Enjoy a tasting at Wild Common Wine
- Have lunch at Rosalino’s Diner
- Stop by Wilson’s Bread
- Have a drink at Wayside Cider
- Stretch your legs along the Andes Rail Trail
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Situated near the foot of Mount Beacon – the tallest peak in the Hudson Highlands mountain range – this city of ~13,500 is home to one of the largest contemporary art museums in the US and a bustling mile-long main street lined with shops, restaurants, bars, bakeries, coffee shops, street art, and more.
A few ideas:
- Shop and eat along Main Street
- Take a tour of Bannerman Castle
- Stop by Fishkill Overlook Falls
- See the Magritte-inspired mural on North Chestnut Street
- Enjoy a glass blowing demo at Hudson Beach Glass
- Take a walk at Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park
- Visit the Beacon Farmers Market if you’re there on a Sunday
Long synonymous with the art world due to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the former home of the Hudson River School founder, Catskill continues to earn the reputation with more recent local additions like the 2021 opening of Foreland, an 85,000-square-foot campus with art galleries, studios, coworking opportunities, and event space spread across three 19th-century mill buildings, and the Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts, a nonprofit performing arts and film campus with event space.
Both places are found on the east side of Catskill Creek and are just steps away from the village main street.
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A few ideas:
- Grab coffee and breakfast at Willa’s
- Do a little shopping at Citiot and Magpie Bookshop
- Stop by Left Bank Ciders, Subversive Malting + Brewing, or Crossroads Brewing Company
- Enjoy the views from Beattie-Powers Place, free to visit and open to the public daily from dawn to dusk
- Walk the Hudson River Skywalk, a pedestrian path connecting the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill to the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge
- From Memorial Day to mid-September, keep an eye out for artistic renditions of cats displayed along Main Street as part of the annual Cat’n Around Catskill community art project
Located about 15 minutes south of Beacon, downtown Cold Spring sits on the National Register of Historic Places (an honor many places and sites in this post share).
A few ideas:
- Enjoy water views from Dockside Park, Cold Spring Pier, and Foundry Dock Park
- Shop local at Split Rock Books, Poor George, Supplies for Creative Living, and Pink Olive (to name a few)
- Take a leisurely walk along the West Point Foundry Reserve
- Head slightly north to Little Stony Point or Breakneck Ridge trailheads for bigger hikes
- Drive just south of the village to Boscobel House and Gardens, the careful reconstruction of an early 1800s home with gardens and a walking trail overlooking the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary
Across the river from the Breakneck Ridge trailhead, Cornwall-on-Hudson and neighboring Cornwall offer great hiking options, home to Storm King State Park and the Black Rock Forest respectively. Just slightly inland in New Windsor, you’ll find the Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre open-air museum.
Read my full post about Storm King State Park here.
Northeast of Catskill is the town of Ghent, home to Art OMI, another of the region’s renowned outdoor sculpture parks. While smaller than Storm King, with pieces spread out over 120 acres, you can easily spend a few hours leisurely enjoying the space.
Pair your time at Art OMI with a stop at Bartlett House, a beautiful restaurant and bakery in a restored historic building that served as a railroad hotel in the 19th century.
Between Catskill and Ghent you’ll find Hudson, a city of ~6,000 known for its lively downtown area. Lined with antique stores, coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, and other small businesses, the city’s main thoroughfare Warren Street stretches toward the Hudson River for more than a mile before ending at Promenade Hill Park.
A few ideas:
- Have a festive dinner at Lil’ Deb’s Oasis
- Start your day with brunch at home/made
- Enjoy water views from Henry Hudson Riverfront Park
- Refuel at MOTO Coffee/Machine, Hudson Roastery, or WYLDE
- Visit the Olana State Historic Site (mentioned above under Catskill)
Once the capital of New York State, the city of Kingston has multiple historic neighborhoods including the Stockade National Historic District – also known as Uptown – and the Rondout-West Strand National Historic District – also known as the downtown waterfront.
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A few ideas:
- Grab a book and a beer at Rough Draft Bar & Books
- Get a drink at Brunette Wine Bar
- Enjoy coffee and donuts at Half Moon Rondout Cafe Coffee and Donuts
- Visit the Rondout Lighthouse
- Check out ArtPort Kingston, a cultural space hosting art exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community gatherings
Visitors to New Paltz can embrace the great outdoors at local Mohonk Preserve all year round with 70+ miles of trails for hiking, running, biking, horseback riding, skiing, and snowshoeing. Home to the Shawangunk Mountains – aka The Gunks – the preserve is also a world-renowned destination for rock climbing.
After a long day outside, head to Brooklyn Cider House at Twin Star Orchards for wood-fired pizza, burgers, and cider. You earned it.
Tiny Phoenicia is nestled at the confluence of Stony Clove Creek and Esopus Creek. Town Tinker Tube Rental provides whitewater rafting equipment for tubers to experience the rapids on the Esopus. With Rail Explorers: Catskills Division, you can ride an electric rail bike along the historic Ulster and Delaware railways. Or stick to land and choose from more than a dozen local trails like Giant Ledge, Tanbark Loop and Mount Tremper.
Whichever activity you choose, don’t miss a stop at Phoenicia Diner.
Located along the west side of the Hudson River between Kingston to the south and Catskill to the north, Saugerties is found at the eastern end of the Esopus Creek that also flows through Phoenicia.
A few ideas:
- Park at the Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve to enjoy the short nature trail out to the Saugerties Lighthouse
- Visit the sculpture park and museum at Opus 40
- Soak up more nature at the Esopus Bend and Falling Waters Preserves
- Walk along Partition Street
- Indulge in small batch, handmade flavors at Alleyway Ice Cream
- Grab a coffee at Olsen & Company
While synonymous with the legendary 1969 music festival, the town of Woodstock was not actually the festival’s host. It was the organizers’ hope that it would take place there, but the local community was not on board with the idea. After trying several other options (including Saugerties) the honor ended up going to Bethel, 60 miles southwest of Woodstock.
Festival aside, there’s no shortage of activities in Woodstock and music lovers won’t be disappointed, either.
A few ideas:
- Catch a live show at Levon Helm Studios
- Visit the Catskill Center Thorn Preserve
- Carbo load at Bread Alone Bakery
- Enjoy a date night at Silvia
- Hike Overlook Mountain
The Hudson Valley is a hugely popular destination for New York City residents due to easy access by car and train. It also has great road trip potential from a variety of other nearby areas.
While driving times will vary based on your specific start and end points, here’s a ballpark for a few of those:
- Albany, NY: 1 hour
- Hartford, CT: 2 hours
- Boston, MA: 3 hours
- Philadelphia, PA: 3 hours
- Syracuse, NY: 3 hours
- Burlington, VT: 4 hours
Many of the places on this list are located quite close to one another and can easily be combined into one trip, even if you’re limited on time.
Have you visited the Hudson Valley? Did you stop by any of the towns here or somewhere else entirely? What did you think? Let me know in the Comments!
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