The Hudson Valley has an expansive history filled with many enchanting estates, regal mansions, landmarks, early settlements, and other historic sites. The region has been home to former presidents, business entrepreneurs, inventors, painters, writers, and many innovative individuals. Drawn by the area’s spectacular scenic views, it is no wonder these prominent individuals felt at home here. This fall, consider visiting one or all of them to get a taste of the Hudson Valley’s rich and diverse cultural history—as well as breathtaking views that celebrate the region’s precious Hudson River and beautiful fall foliage.
Home to painter Frederic Church and his wife Isabel, this Victorian-inspired architectural masterpiece with Middle Eastern decorative motifs welcomed many traveling and visiting artists from abroad to land on the banks above the Hudson River, offering them a reprieve from their city lives to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Many paintings and pieces of art have been inspired by and created at Olana. Tours are available to see the interior and external grounds of the site. Visitors can enjoy taking in the beauty of Hudson River from a bird’s eye view in this estate overlooking the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
Clermont was home to the Livingston Family. Robert R. Livingston, Jr., most well-known for drafting the Declaration of Independence, was also the first US Minister of Foreign Affairs. In addition, he administered the oath of office to George Washington, helped to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, and assisted in developing steamboat technology with Robert Fulton. Plan your day trip to explore this historic site featuring 500 acres of majestic gardens, woodlands, and meadows nestled near the Hudson River.
bard college: the montgomery place campus (annandale-on-hudson)
Formerly known as the Montgomery Place, this 19th-century historical estate was purchased by Bard College and was the home of Janet Montgomery Livingston—the sister of Robert R. Livingston. The southern region of the estate, known as the Wilderness, contains the oldest oak forest in the Hudson Valley. Enjoy hiking trails throughout the area with scenic river views and waterfalls.
kykuit (sleepy hollow)
Derived from the Dutch word kijkuit meaning “lookout,” this 40-room estate has been home to four generations of the Rockefeller Family, starting with John D. Rockefeller (creator of Standard Oil) who at one point was the richest man in America. Situated on top of Mount Pleasant in Westchester, visitors can view large sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and other art forms while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. Visitors can also take a grand tour at the estate to learn about Kykuit’s rich history and deeper cultural implications.
haunted huguenot street
If you’re looking for a fright along with a history lesson, head over to the 17th-century French Protestant settlement in New Paltz. From October 12th through the 28th (Thursdays—Sundays), you can enjoy a “haunted” tour of the old stone houses located next to the Wallkill River. Enjoy a candlelit stroll through the cemetery as well as a tour of four other historical structures. Visitors can also hear stories ranging from old Lenape legends to firsthand accounts of paranormal activity experienced by former residents of Huguenot Street. Arrive early in the afternoon to explore the nearby nature preserve, offering inspiring views of the dreamy, pastoral farmlands, formerly home to the Esopus Indians, and the Shawangunk ridge.
vanderbilt mansion (hyde park)
Located on the banks of the Hudson River in Dutchess County, this 17th-century Italian-Renaissance-style mansion is one of the oldest Hudson River estates. Explore the architecture, gardens, and houses of this Gilded Age estate while learning about some of the wealthiest families in America and experiencing serene views of the Hudson River from above.