The bright sun and warm breezes of summertime do more than make the living easy. The weather makes it easy to have fun for less than $15. Here are a few inexpensive outdoor (and a few indoor) ways to have fun during the summer months.
Not just for kids.
Kids’ stuff can be fun for the whole family:
Kelder's Farm in Kerhonkson offers the world’s largest garden gnome, mini-golf, a petting zoo, a jumping pillow, and a chance to pick a variety of fresh berries and vegetables. The petting zoo is free, but you can purchase feed for $1. For some, the biggest draw is the homegrown mini-golf course ($3.75), where you can nibble edible plants while you play. The jumping pillow is $5. 5755 Route 209. kelderfarm.com or call 845-626-7137.
At Hurd’s Family Farm in Modena, kids can slide down Sand Mountain, race the Tots Trike Track, ride the Cow Train, and visit a mini-maze. Families can feed the fish and other pet-friendly animals at the farm’s Critter Corner. The farm is open on Wednesdays starting July 24th, and starts its fall schedule at the end of August. Hurd’s Family Farm is located at 2187 Route 32. For more information, visit hurdsfamilyfarm.com or call 845-883-7825.
Forsyth Nature Center includes 24 animal exhibits and a dozen gardens that contain a variety of native flora. These exhibits feature a new turtle house, birds of prey, domestic and wild birds, small and large mammals, and a tropical amphibian and reptile greenhouse. Hours are 7am-7pm Monday through Friday, as well as 9am-5pm Saturday and Sunday. The center is located at 157 Lucas Avenue, Kingston. For more information visit forsythnaturecenter.org or call 845-339-3053.
Walk on the wild side:
One of the healthiest ways to have fun is to enjoy the nature that’s bountiful in the Hudson Valley:
The Ashokan Center is located on 374 acres of Catskill forests. Visitors can hike to the depths of the 350 million-year-old Cathedral Gorge and the Turnwood-Ashokan Covered Bridge or explore the lower Esopus Creek by canoe or foot. The center is not always open, so call ahead at 845-657-8333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The center is located at 477 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge. ashokancenter.org
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, located on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, provides beautiful views and features waterfalls, lakes, and hardwood forests. There is world-class rock climbing and 25 miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike, and enjoy. Swimming is also available in Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting. Parking is $8 per car. For more information, visit nysparks.com/parks/127/details.aspx or call 845-255-0752. The park is located at 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonksen.
Sam’s Point Preserve is found at the highest point of the Shawangunk ridge, south of Mohonk and Minnewaska State Park Preserves. Considered a national natural landmark, the Preserve is home to nearly 40 rare plant and animal species, as well as unique dwarf pine trees along the ridge top. It features waterfalls, streams, lakes, forests, and sheer cliffs with ledges. On a hot summer day, be sure to check out the ice caves. Parking is limited on weekends and holidays, so plan to arrive early, or better yet, on a weekday. The parking fee is $10. The Preserve is located at 400 Sam’s Point Road, Cragsmoor. For more information, call 845-647-7989.
Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy spectacular Hudson River views. One and a half miles long and connecting Highland and Poughkeepsie, it is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The parking fee is $5. The walkway’s official location is 87 Haviland Road, Highland. Hours vary, so contact the park at 845-834-2867 to be sure. For more information, visit walkway.org
Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center is free-of-charge and open year-round 9am-5pm daily. You can climb, bike, horseback ride, or run on the Mohonk Preserve’s trails. To access the land at any of the four trailheads, you need to have a current membership or pay a day-use fee. Children 12 and under are free but must be accompanied by an adult. Day fees are $12 for hikers and $17 for climbers and bikers. The Visitor Center offers many free nature programs. 3197 Route 44/55 Gardiner, NY. For more information, call 845-255-0919 or visit mohonkpreserve.org
More information about hiking and other outdoor activities can be found at midhudsonadk.org.
A View On Art:
If you enjoy art, there are plenty of free, fun ways to sample works by local artists:
For a start, Kingston, New Paltz, Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Saugerties, and Woodstock participate in Art Along the Hudson, which means that on designated days you can visit a variety of art venues. Check artalongthehudson.com for more information.
The Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz is open from 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sundays in June and July, and it is open on weekends in August. Admission is by donation, and on the first Sunday of every month there’s a free gallery tour. The museum is located on the SUNY New Paltz campus at 1 Hawk Drive. For more information, call 845-257-3844 or visit newpaltz.edu/museum
Storm King Art Center is an open-air art museum and sculpture garden with 500 acres of art-enhanced landscapes. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students. Children under five are free. The center is located at 1 Museum Road, New Windsor. For more information, call 845-534-3115 or visit stormkingartcenter.org.
If you like to mix art viewing with a little shopping, consider visiting Saugerties on the First Friday of the month. First Fridays offer visitors a chance to hear great music, sample local microbrews, shop, and check out galleries. Hours are 5-10pm. For more information, contact the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce at village.saugerties.ny.us or check their Facebook page for First Fridays Saugerties.
Flea Markets & Festivals:
Flea markets and festivals are a fun way to browse and people watch:
If rummaging for matching teacups sounds like your cup of tea, check out the Mowers Market on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday in Woodstock. There’s no admission fee. The Saturday Market is on Maple Lane, one block from Woodstock’s famous Village Green. For more information, call 845-679-6744 or email email@example.com.
To get the scoop on summer festivals, go to our events calendar at the end of this issue.
The Catskill Mountain Railroad provides fun and relaxing round-trip train excursions along the Esopus Creek through the heart of the Catskills. Departing from the Mt. Tremper station is the Esopus Scenic Train with fares of $12 for adults and $7 for children (ages 4-11). Also through the historic city of Kingston, departing from the Westbrook Station, is the Kingston City Limited with fares of $6 for adult and $4 for children (2-11). For more information, visit catskillmtrailroad.com or call 845-688-7400.
Learn all about it:
Museums are a fun way to cool down on a steamy or rainy day:
The Trolley Museum of New York displays trolley, subway, and rapid transit cars and provides an excursion ride that runs 1 1/2 miles between downtown Kingston to picnic grounds on the shore of the Hudson River at Kingston Point. It’s open from noon-5pm weekends and holidays. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (62+) and $4 for children (5-12). Children under five are free. The museum is located at 89 East Strand Street, Kingston. For more information visit tmny.org or call 845-331-3399.
History lovers may enjoy a visit to Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston. That’s where Revolutionary War rebels met to thumb their noses at British rule in 1777. The British retaliated by burning the city down, but the meeting place still stands and even offers free programs on summer weekends. A tour and museum admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and free for children 12 and under. 296 Fair St, Kingston, 845-338-2786
The Fred Johnston House is a must for lovers of historical homes and interior design. Guided tours of the Johnston House are offered May-October, Friday-Saturday, 11am-4pm, and Sunday by appointment. The fee is $5 for adults and $2 for children under 16. Special tours for groups or individuals can be arranged by calling 845-339-0720. The old postcard exhibit in the Friends of Historic Kingston (FHK) Museum next door is free. 63 Main St, Kingston, fohk.org.
FHK also offers Walking Tours of the 1658 Stockade National Historic District on the first Saturday of the month and of the Rondout National Historic District on the last Saturday. The tours are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 16. Free self-guided walking tours are available through the FHK Museum and Kingston Heritage Area Visitor Center. For more information, call 845-339-0720 or visit fohk.org.
The D&H Canal Historical Society and Museum preserves the history of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, particularly in Ulster County. The museum's exhibits include a working model of a lock, a life-sized recreated canal boat cabin, and a moving model of a gravity railroad brake car. The museum also maintains the Five Locks Walk, a national historic landmark. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. The museum, located at 23 Mohonk Road, High Falls, is open on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-5pm. For more information visit tmny.org or call 845-687-9311.
The Historical Society of Woodstock produces a new show each year that depicts a different aspect of Woodstock life. Open weekends, the museum is located at 81 Tinker Street. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Tours begin at 11:30am, 1pm, and 4pm. For more information, visit tmny.org or call 845-679-2256.
Entertainment for less:
A few venues in the area offer films, music, plays, and dancing for a song:
There are several places you can join in the fun and learn to dance. For example, Hudson Valley Community Dances puts on six to eight community dances (swing, Cajun, Zydeco, English country and ballroom) every month. No experience is necessary. Fees range from $8-$15. For more information, call 845-454-2571 or visit hudsonvalleydance.org. You can also learn to swing dance with professional instructors Linda and Chester Freeman for only $10 on the first Saturday of every month at MAC Fitness at 743 East Chester Street, Kingston. Lessons take place at 7:30pm, and the fun lasts till 10:30pm. For more information, visit got2lindy.com.
Kingston Parks “Movies Under the Stars” shows films for free throughout Kingston’s parks. For more information, visit kingstonparksmovies.wordpress.com.
The Rosendale Theatre has various programs and films, often for under $10. Visit rosendaletheatre.org or call 845-658-8989 to learn about upcoming events. The theatre is located at 408 Main Street, Rosendale.
New Paltz Cinemas, Orpheum Theatre in Saugerties, and Upstate Films in Woodstock and Rhinebeck all charge under $10 for films. And the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock offers some $10 concerts.
Farmers' markets are fun to explore and often offer free demonstrations and entertainment. For a full list and details on local markets, go to visitvortex.com/magazine/summer2012-farmers-market.