The Splendor of the Hudson River Valley
Daydreaming and Day Trips
New York’s Hudson Valley is thick with historical sites, gorgeous estates and important landmarks, many of them near to or overlooking the glorious Hudson River.
Many are beginning to open again to the public, although often with COVID-19 social distance restrictions. But the grounds of many of the estates remained open even during the pandemic. Even if you can’t enter the houses, the sprawling landscapes usually have hiking trails and exquisitely manicured gardens. And admission is generally free.
Here are four estates in the Hudson Valley with grounds that will be well worth a day trip.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
One of the region’s oldest estates, the Vanderbilt Mansion towers visually over the nearby Hudson River. Visitors will be surrounded by nature as they explore outdoor exhibits including the White Bridge and formal gardens with a European touch.
The estate is on the Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, N.Y. For more information and directions, go to www.nps.gov/vama/index.htm.
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
The 32nd president’s home in Hyde Park, Springwood, is closed not only for COVID-19 but also for restoration work, but the magnificent grounds and trails remain open. You can combine your visit here with your trip to the Vanderbilt mansion, which is about 10 minutes away by car.
For more information and directions, go to www.nps.gov/hofr/index.htm.
Staatsburg (Mills Mansion) State Historic Site
Sometimes referred to as a “hidden gem,” the estate of turn-of-the-last-century financier Ogden Mills descends gracefully to the Hudson River.
The Gilded Age mansion has 65 rooms and 16 bathrooms, but the grounds are even grander and serve as a perfect spot for a picnic. Of the estate’s original 1,600 acres, the state site still has 192, ample space to spread out and be socially distant.
Outdoor programming has been offered through August and will likely continue into the early fall. The Friends of Mills at Staatsburg also are planning a Gilded Christmas celebration Dec. 4.
For information, go to www.eventbrite.com/o/staatsburgh-state-historic-site-30613960064.
To learn more about the estate and to get directions, go to www.millsfriends.org. The estate is near the Old Post Road in Staatsburg, N.Y.
Locust Grove Estate
The home of code creator Samuel F. B. Morse, this Italianate mansion on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie offers less grandeur than the other properties on this list but it has 5 miles of former carriage roads that are now walking trails. The 200-acre property has grand trees, lofty hills and views down onto the Hudson River. For directions and more information, go to www.lgny.org.
This is just a small taste of the bounty of beautiful manors and properties in nearby New York State. Better-known nearby properties include painter Frederic Church’s magnificent Olana on Route 9G in Hudson (www.olana.org); Montgomery Place in Red Hook, with its impressive orchards and which is now part of Bard College (www.bard.edu/montgomeryplace/visiting); and Boscobel in Hudson, which is offering outdoor activities including Ascend Yoga in its West Meadow (www.boscobel.org).
For a more extensive list of Hudson Valley estates, many of them along Route 9, go to www.hudsonriver.com/history/great-estates-hudson-valley.
Jeffrey Seitz recently completed his Master’s Degree in English at the State University of New York at New Paltz.