Explore the Hudson Valley

Experience The Hudson Valley

Take the Kids!

  |   May 1, 2021  |  Comment

Pictured above: New York Zipline at Hunter Mountain

The Hudson Valley comes chockablock with world-class family activities. There’s something for everyone, activity-wise, in the region. Namely, the region’s status as an historic hub means it comes littered with visitor-ready Colonial sites and former stomping grounds of bigwigs of yore. There are also several museums that focus their gaze beyond the arts, covering maritime history, motorcycles, vintage airplanes, and more. Get straight to the source food-wise, with an outing to a pick-your-own farm. Finally, don’t miss out on the region’s rich recreational opportunities, running the gamut from good, old-fashioned family fun (think mini-golf and scenic train rides) to adrenaline-inducing, white-knuckled thrills (zipline, anyone?). Here’s our curated list for the ultimate family-friendly activities to help get you out the door to see and do more. 

Interactive Museums

The region is dotted with family-friendly museums that offer interactive exhibits to entrance the kids and tell the story of the Hudson Valley. Delve deep into the influence of the river itself at the waterfront Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston. Hudson River sloop Clearwater—a working boat/advocacy tool/historic replica—founded by Pete Seeger to bring environmental awareness to the river, is also based on the Kingston waterfront and offers public sails on its 106-foot sloop. 

Another environmentally focused spot is the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall, with its emphasis on environmental and wildlife education, along with nature-based play. It offers camps for kids as well as walks on its campus to excite kids’ innate curiosity about the natural world.

Immerse yourself in living history at the Museum Village of Old Smith’s Clove in Monroe, where costumed interpreters portray a slice of 19th-century American village life in open-air vignettes. Employing a large,  collection of eclectic artifacts, the museum provides hands-on educational experiences and exhibits that illustrate the transition from a rural to an industrial culture and economy in America. Visit the candle shop, school house, blacksmithery, wagon shop, and general store to get a feel for life in the 1800s.

There are several quality museums dedicated to aficionados, too—hop on your chopper (or at least pretend to) and make your way to the massive Motorcyclepedia in Newburgh, a temple to all things motorcycle (more than 600 models are on display, dating from 1897 through to today). Aviation enthusiasts, meanwhile, won’t want to miss the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, where vintage plane displays and air shows abound (you can even ride in a biplane). Or, hit up the Fireman’s Firefighting Museum in Hudson—it’s the world’s largest firefighting museum, with a staggering 90 fire engines on display, some dating back to the 1700s. 

U-Pick Farms

Forget farm-to-table. In the Hudson Valley, you can go farm-to-arm. Indeed, the fertile valley yields a long and bountiful growing season. Add to that an open-door policy with many local farms that feature fun extras like corn mazes, live music, and petting zoos, making farm-hopping a beloved pastime. The fall harvest season may get all the glory, when the apple orchards and pumpkin patches reel in the crowds, but the U-pick season stretches from early spring to late fall, with everything from berries to cherries, and from peas to peaches, to be grabbed and devoured. 

For brimming-with-activities farms that are sure to please kids of all ages, try Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson, which boasts everything from a jumping pillow to a petting zoo to hay rides and apple cannons; or Hurds Family Farm in Modena. If it’s apples specifically that you’re after—and the pies, cider, strudels, and cider doughnuts that come with them—don’t-miss destinations include Soons Orchards in New Hampton, DuBois Farms in Highland, and Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz (which also makes its own line of ciders and has a large outdoor eating area). 

Outdoor Recreation 

With its abundant parks and reserves, the Hudson Valley comes loaded with practically every recreational opportunity you can imagine in the great outdoors—whether out on the mountains (think skiing, rock-climbing, mountain biking), in the forests (like hiking and birdwatching), or on the water (fishing, swimming, boating). But don’t get caught in the same old circuit—there are many ways to experience the sublime scenery of this four-seasons playground…with a bit of a twist. 

Horseback riding is one perpetually popular outing. Try Juckas Stables, in Pine Bush, or make a weekend out of it at the Pine Ridge Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson. Want a thrill? Amp things up a notch with a whirl on New York Zipline at Hunter Mountain—billed as the longest, fastest, and highest zipline in all of North America. For a more mellow day trip, head to Rail Explorers in Phoenicia, which takes pedal-bike rides to abandoned Catskills railroad tracks. Also in Phoenicia, rent a tube for an exhilarating ride along the Esopus Creek, with mainstay Town Tinker Tube Rental (this water adventure is not for the youngest of the crew). Or, kick back on the heritage Catskill Mountain Railroad for a decidedly smoother, yet no less scenic, railroad ride along the Esopus Creek, paired with Catskill Mountain views. The railroad is also beloved for its themed seasonal offerings. 

Consider just about anything else that’s on your recreational checklist—whether you want to go bowling (try the Spins Bowl chain, with a standout outpost in Poughkeepsie), get in a round of mini-golf at the region’s courses or regular golf (tee off at the top-rated The Links at Union Vale in LaGrangeville), or jump the night away at Bounce, a trampoline sports center in Poughkeepsie.

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