Storm King Art Center. All works by Mark di Suvero. Frog Legs, 2002. Lent by the artist and Spacetime C.C., New York. Center: Mozart’s Birthday, 1989. Gift of Maurice Cohen and Margo Cohen. Neruda’s Gate, 2005. Lent by the artist and Spacetime C.C., New York. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.
There’s nothing like getting local knowledge straight from the experts. Sure, you can wander the Hudson Valley on your own and have a blast; in fact, we encourage it. But if you’d like to become an expert on what you’re seeing and doing, there’s no better way than checking out an organized tour. Tour guides have made an in-depth study of the places they’re showing you, and can offer a deeper view—the culture of our area’s special spots, the lore and stories that make a visit unforgettable.
They can point out the quirks and features you might miss on your own. They’ll make sure you get to see the loveliest views, taste the finest flavors, understand what happened 200 years ago, or connect an artist’s work with her life story. So make some time for a tour on your next Hudson Valley weekend. Even if you’re a longtime local, you can find a tour that will help you see the region in a whole new way; if you’re a newcomer, just be ready to have your mind blown.
Ton the water
Lighthouses, mansions, and historic waterfronts are strung like gems between Kingston and Hyde Park and can be viewed aboard the historic and comfy Rip Van Winkle on the two-hour narrated tours offered by Hudson River Cruises, based in Kingston. The Pride of the Hudson, based in Newburgh, offers guided tours of the glorious and historic Hudson Highlands between Newburgh and West Point. To the north, Hudson Cruises, Inc. offers both daily public cruises and private charters from its home port of Hudson. And if you want to get really up-close and personal with our big river, check out the variety of beginner-level kayak cruises offered by Storm King Adventure Tours out of Cornwall. Want to get a closer look at those lighthouses? The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse can be explored on the second Saturday of each month, July through October (contact Hudson Cruises for more information).
The Rondout Lighthouse, still in operation as a navigational aid, is open for scheduled guided tours organized by the Hudson River Maritime Museum. The Saugerties Lighthouse, which has been restored as a B&B and “Living Museum,” can be reached by a walking trail; guided tours are available on Sunday afternoons from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Storm King Art Center. Alice Aycock, Three-Fold Manifestation II, 1987 (refabricated 2006). Gift of the artist. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.
Step inside a Frederic Church painting with a self-guided Digital Landscape Tour at Olana State Historic Site in Hudson. Let a highly trained docent lead you through the wondrous outdoor sculptures of the Storm King Art Center; they offer both general and specialized tours that dig into a specific theme or topic within the 500-acre display. At Dia:Beacon, an hour of guided thematic and interactive touring is free with the price of admission, stepping off at 1pm each Saturday and Sunday.
eats and drinks
To get a taste of our burgeoning beverage scene full of wineries, cideries, and distilleries, check out the Shawangunk Wine Trail, a beautiful wander through unparalleled scenery along which are fifteen unique family-owned vineyards for your touring and tasting pleasure. They’ve recently partnered with Angry Orchard Hard Cider, which also offers tours and tastings. Still thirsty, my friends? Dutchess County and the Hudson-Berkshire region also have wine trails.Once their season begins in late May, Hudson Valley Food Tours will be offering “culinary crawls” through the fine restaurants of Rhinebeck Village and a tasty blend of urban art and Main Street eats on its Savor/Art & Food Walking tours of Poughkeepsie. And on any weekday, you can take a student-guided
tour of the Culinary Institute of America campus in Hyde Park and see how great chefs are made in the Valley.
The Friends of Historic Kingston offer two walking tours in the area: on the first Saturday of each month they lead visitors through the 1658 Stockade National Historic District, taking a look at the city’s birth as a Dutch settlement and its role as the cradle of New York State; and on the last Saturday of the month they offer tours of the Rondout National Historic District, with its rich legacy of immigrants in a riverport town. At Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz, you can get an in-depth look at life in a French Huguenot settlement: three houses and a reproduction church are open as museums. If military history interests you, West Point
offers three different guided tours daily: an hour and fifteen minutes of exploring the historic campus, a two-hour tour that adds a ramble through the cemetery, or a two-hour tour that includes a close look at the restored Fort Putnam.
So where does all that great food come from? Get to know the rich earth of the Rondout Valley with the help of Stick To Local Farms (stick2local.com), which offers a map of farms that welcome visitors and organizes bike tours. Collect stickers from ten farms on the map and you will be rewarded with mini-golf passes and a copy of the Stick to Local Farms Cookbook! Fishkill Farms, Kinderhook Farms, Stone Barns Center, and Hawthorne Valley Farms offer tours of their Eastern Hudson Valley spreads on which you can learn about sustainability, biodynamics, and the realities of farm life.
homes, sweet homes
The great estates are legendary. Wealthy and prominent families of the 18th and 19th centuries chose the loveliest locations for their splendid haunts along the Hudson and the finest designers and artisans to perfect them. Clermont, the Germantown mansion of the Livingston family; Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, the Italianate villa of artist and inventor Samuel Morse that was redecorated around the turn of the century by wealthy art collectors; and the Gilded Age splendor of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park are just three of many that offer regular tours. For a look at how the other other half lived, take an hour-long tour of the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park. We invite you to explore our magazine and website pages and create your own self-guided adventure. Antique tour of Saugerties and Hudson? Biking tour of our extensive and growing rail trail network?
Retail therapy tour of boutiques or gift shops? Our Eat-Stay-Play guides to individual communities and our Meet the Owners profiles offer ideas that can be customized for every taste. Wherever you go, you’ll find friendly locals eager to fill you in on bits and pieces of the scoop. HAPPY TOURING!