Beyond New York City: where to travel in the Hudson Valley

Extend your next US city break and explore the Hudson Valley, in Upstate New York. Take a one- to two-day trip outside the Big Apple and uncover the wider region’s thriving art scene, scenic trails and historic sites.

The serene Ulster County sits right in the heart of the Hudson Valley.

Photograph by Adrian Gaut
By Ellen Himelfarb
Published 17 Mar 2023, 15:00 GMT

The hillscapes of the Hudson Valley feel as though they’ve barely changed since the 18th century – the pre-Revolutionary towns are still embellished with Dutch gables and Federal-style townhouses. The 150-mile swath of riverfront is primed for discovery and you can explore like a New Yorker by embarking on one of these nine Hudson Valley excursions. And getting there is easy — the drive from NYC to the northern most point takes just over two hours and there are regular trains and buses available for accessing the most scenic destinations.

1. Cross the Walkway Over the Hudson

Best for photographers
This former railway overpass, 212ft above the Hudson River, now forms part of the Empire State Trail between Poughkeepsie and the highlands of Ulster County. Walk the elevated pedestrian walkway — the longest of its kind in the world — for views of the forested estates where the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts built their lavish mansions, and watch peregrine falcons soar toward the Catskill Mountains. 

2. Become a Kingston connoisseur

Best for food lovers
The state capital for a brief stint in the 18th century, Kingston is today undergoing a vibrant gastronomic renaissance. Head to Kingston Bread + Bar, located among the heritage stone cottages of the Stockade District, to pick up ancient-grain loaves and stuffed boreka. Follow up, down by the river, at Brunette, pairing summer-fresh local wines with artisanal cheeses from the local creamery.

3. Hike the Mohonk Reserve’s mountain trails

Best for adventurers
From the trailhead off Mohonk Road, scramble two hours to the summit of Bonticou Crag for top-of-the-world views. Or dive into the woods on Huguenot Drive and navigate the undulating Labyrinth Trail. Then hop between boulders at Lemon Squeeze, a crevice between two clifftop lookouts. Visitors can also take a hike to the highest cascading, two-tiered waterfall in the state of New York. One of the USA's oldest tourist attractions, this straightforward 0.6-mile round-trip hike to the Viewing Platform offers beautiful views of Kaaterskill Falls and the Kaaterskill Clove. 

4. See urban expansion in action

Best for urban explorers
The redbrick streets of Newburgh sprung up in the wake of the American Revolutionary War, after George Washington abandoned his barracks by the riverbank. What remains today is an up-and-coming city of shops with a distinctive Latin flavour, courtesy of Mexican immigrants. Brooklynites come to support esteemed snackbars like Tacos Uriel and quaff local MegaBoss IPA at the Wherehouse Pub, then take the ferry across the Hudson to the artistic town of Beacon. 

Live out bucolic idylls at Stone Barns, enjoying fresh produce and roam the lavender rows.

Live out bucolic idylls at Stone Barns, enjoying fresh produce and roam the lavender rows. 

Photograph by Luis Ruiz for Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

5. Watch the ‘farm to fork’ movement in action 

Best for the eco-conscious 
An hour’s drive from the city, Stone Barns is an agricultural idyll adhering to a four-seasons farming culture. On land donated by Peggy Rockefeller, coriander and chard grow in neat rows; lavender fields splay out to the orchard. Visitors get free rein to roam the pastures and watch farmers at work in the lambing barn. But you’ll need to book ahead to dine on the likes of lamb belly and aubergine puree at Michelin-starred restaurant Blue Hill.

6. Explore the Storm King Art Center

Best for culture lovers
Monolithic steel artworks form a skyline on the rolling meadow by Storm King Art Center, providing weekend visitors with Manhattan-calibre art. On rainy days, visitors can duck into the hilltop museum to view smaller works by legends like Louise Bourgeois and Donald Judd, but the real draw here is the contemporary sculpture, dominating 500 acres of wilderness. 

7. Travel back to the American Revolutionary War

Best for history buffs
American general Anthony Wayne seized control of the Hudson River in a midnight bayonet attack at Stony Point, a British garrison jutting into the river. Orchestrated by George Washington in 1779, the surprise assault reversed the course of the war. The rewilded battlefield is the site of the Hudson’s first lighthouse, built in 1826 and today a quaint museum that hosts ‘lantern tours’ and battle reenactments. The historic Putnam County, on the east side of the Hudson River, is where the 'great chain' was anchored during the Revolutionary War. Also in Putnam County is the Beverly Dock, where Benedict Arnold made his escape to the British ship, Vulture, after being exposed as a traitor. 

The Main House at Olana is a unique feature of the Hudson Valley, a nod to ...

The Main House at Olana is a unique feature of the Hudson Valley, a nod to Persian design traditions.

Photograph by Peter Aaron OTTO

8. Go shopping in Hudson and Cold Spring

Best for treasure-hunters
Warren Street once led down to a whaling port; today, it leads to an exceptional shopping area. Top New York designers source chandeliers and shaker chests at Theron Ware, near the public square, and scout midcentury sofas at Finch. LikeMindedObjects is a favourite of Millennials for its slouchy fashion and upcycled homewares. Or you can pose against your fantasy ride at Moto, a motorcycle shop and cafe. The historic village of Cold Spring has plenty to offer in its downtown; antique stores, hip boutiques and a wealth of delicious restaurants all await visitors. Don’t forget to stop at Moo Moo’s Creamery for a delectable treat. 

9. Admire artistry at Olana State Historic Site

Best for design-lovers
Frederic Church co-founded the Hudson River School, a coterie of landscape painters who captured misty mountain vistas. But Church’s greatest work of art was the Persian-inspired mansion that lords over his estate, adorned with stained glass, intricate mosaics, silk rugs and paintings by his friends. The grounds have since become a showcase for daring young New York sculptors. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, located in the village of Catskill, is also worth a visit. The former home of Hudson River School of Art founder, Thomas Cole, it's open for tours, events and workshops throughout the year. 

Plan your trip

Fly into New York City and hire a car for a self-drive adventure or take the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Station to Tarrytown, Cold Spring, Beacon or Poughkeepsie. The Amtrak service stops in Yonkers, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff, Hudson and Albany. Visit for detailed itineraries throughout the region, from cider-tasting to leaf-peeping, hiking and boating. 

Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media:


Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2023 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved