A National Heritage Area steeped in history, natural beauty and a burgeoning foodie scene, the Hudson Valley is an hour’s drive north of NYC. Explore the region’s famous wineries, take a river cruise, or hike the breathtaking Walkway Over the Hudson. You’ll also discover Revolutionary War forts, battlefields and heritage sites, a wide array of museums and galleries, and a bustling arts and cultural scene.
The region is dotted with the magnificent estates of industrial and political titans like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Roosevelt. These estates – including Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in West Point and the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site – are open to visitors throughout the year.
Before European arrival, the region was inhabited by several Native American societies, from the Munsee Indians of the lower Hudson (also known as the Lenape) to the Mohicans and the Mohawks of the upper Hudson. Early Dutch settlers learned survival techniques from these communities and adapted many of their cultural, social and diplomatic practices. Manhattan, for instance, retains the Munsee Indian name Mannahatta (“the island of many hills”) and the Mohican name Mahicanituck (“river that flows both ways”).
When explorer Henry Hudson arrived in 1609 in search of a shortcut to Asia, the river was viewed as an inhospitable wilderness, full of wild animals, poisonous snakes and mountains too high to scale. Those who followed him saw the region as a rich resource, however, and its beautiful landscapes, rivers and streams soon lured settlers.
In the mid-19th century, Thomas Cole’s paintings of the Hudson Valley’s natural beauty launched a new art movement called the Hudson River School. Cole infused transcendentalism and its reverence for nature into his works, and his images became renowned nationally and internationally.
As the nation’s wealth grew, the region attracted powerful families who built magnificent mansions on both sides of the Hudson. Tour the estates of the Rockefellers, Roosevelts and the Livingstons, or learn about America’s military history at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Today, the region’s rich history is alive and well with stunning architecture, gorgeous landscapes, and a vibrant culture that continues to draw new generations of visitors. The Stockade District in Kingston showcases amazing 17th and 18th-century Dutch Colonial architecture, including the Four Corners, the only intersection in the country where all the buildings date from before the Revolutionary War. Visit the newest addition to this collection, Rough Draft Bar & Books, in a 17th-century building that once housed a tavern.
Other highlights include the Hudson Valley Contemporary Arts Center in Beacon, which was once an Nabisco factory and houses a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art. In nearby Poughkeepsie, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site invites guests to tour the home where America’s longest-serving president struggled with polio and transformed our government into what we know it as today.