Summer in the Hudson Valley is a ripened fruit—sweet and packed with juicy goodness that elicits joy and nourishment with every bite. The options for summer fun come in so many varieties, and sources of adventure, serenity, and beauty abound. Come try some of our favorite local establishments and make lasting memories.
Here are eight good ideas, for any random day or for those special moments when the ordinary just won’t do:
1. Outdoors on another level. You may have heard that the Shawangunks offer some of the world’s finest rock climbing, from beginner’s routes to intense challenges. Alpine Endeavors operates a climbing school at the foot of the Gunks to get you up there with confidence. Try out the twelve forest challenge courses at Catamount Aerial Park in Columbia County, or the New York Zipline at Hunter Mountain—our ski resorts offer summertime thrills aplenty. Not to be outdone, Windham and Plattekill offer thrill-packed Bike Parks.
3. one with the skies.
Mountain Wings Hang Gliding in Ellenville has all you need to learn to soar the updrafts over the gorgeous Rondout Valley. Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner has brought the thrill of free fall to hundreds of thousands over four decades; their tandem instructors will guide you safely, and you’ll get a video of the experience to take home.
2. dive into art.
The Hudson Valley has epic art museum experiences that will thrill your heart and expand your mind. A few examples, any of which is worthy of a day or more in itself: Storm King Art Center in Mountainville has the largest collection of modern outdoor sculpture in the nation. Dia:Beacon is one of the largest (160,000 square feet) modern and contemporary art venues in the US. Olana State Historic Site in Greenport, near Hudson, is a rich tapestry of architecture, furnishings, stencils, and details that take you into the mind and life of a seminal Hudson River School artist.
4. get on the river.
Tivoli Sailing offers cruises, charters, and tours—Sunset Champagne, Historic Mansions, and Bird Watching are three top choices—as well as a popular Adventure Sailing School for kids and lessons for adults. Their holistic approach to the experience blends hands-on sailing skills with Hudson River-specific ecology and culture to provide a one-of-a-kind river outing. Hudson River Cruises in Kingston has been creating memorable river journeys for over 35 years. Come aboard the Rip van Winkle II to enjoy guided sightseeing tours, sunset cruises, craft beer tasting or music cruises, and leaf peeping in the fall. Private custom charters also available. New in 2021: offering select departure dates from Poughkeepsie!
5. eat, drink, and be transported. Our craft beverage revolution, not to mention our preexisting wineries, have given birth to a tour industry that understands that the only thing better than touring breweries, wineries, and distilleries is to do so without having to drive. HUDSON VALLEY BUCKET LIST will pick you up at the Beacon train station or your favorite lodging and indulge you with a scenic wine tour, punctuated by a gourmet picnic lunch. The folks at the NEW YORK BEER TRAIL organize creative itineraries of breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries that not only refresh, but also inform. And, there’s no better way to spend a weekend than touring the wineries of the Shawangunk Wine Trail.
6. picnic like a robber baron.
The great estates of the Hudson Valley’s Millionaire’s Row have, appropriately enough, evolved into recreational resources shared by all. That means the VANDERBILT MANSION and ROCKERFELLER ESTATE gardens, to name just two examples, are ideal picnic spots, as these early residents understood location and viewshed. A little research will let you handpick a history lesson to go with your picnic lunch. Nearby local eateries will supply you with to-go delicacies that the way-back-then owners might have envied.
7. park it!
LEGOLAND in Goshen is slated to open this summer with seven distinct Lego-themed worlds to explore. Nearby in Wallkill, DINOSAUR KINGDOM uses animatronic tech to get you a Jurassic Park-level experience without the getting eaten part. If you’re after a retro classic, try PLAYLAND PARK in Rye, home to one of the 100 surviving wooden roller coasters in the US along with a host of other rides, a beach, and a museum exploring the park’s nine decades of good times.
8. take a slow ride on the rails.
From Phoenicia, RAIL EXPLORERS USA offers pedal-powered rail bike tours along the onetime Ulster and Delaware line. Here again, that’s but the tip of the iceberg: Our network of rail trails is second to none, so you can have a custom self-guided pedal power adventure just about anywhere you like. Many of the rail trails have been incorporated into the EMPIRE STATE TRAIL, meaning you’ll find lots of historic info and local tips.