Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in Kingston, NY

  • Published 2023/02/27

The county seat of Ulster County, New York, Kingston is a city located to the north of New York City, separated by 91 miles.

A blooming town for tourism, Kingston is a popular hub for its historical value and natural beauty.

Uptown Stockade Area, Midtown Area, and Downtown Waterfront area are the three neighborhoods that primarily comprise the city.

While Uptown is notable for its quaint feeling with its numerous historical buildings and monuments, the Downtown Area was made famous for being the best place for artists.

Revitalize yourself through a trip to the historic city of Kingston, and partake in the city’s rich and bustling culture.

If you plan a trip to Kingston, New York, here is a list of the best things to do in the city.

Check Out the Historic Items at theHudson River Maritime Museum

Exterior of Hudson River Maritime Museum

Brian Logan Photography /

Established in 1979, the Hudson River Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving and researching the maritime history of the Hudson River and its tributaries.

The museum houses many historic vessels, ship models, and lifeboats.

You can go through its extensive collection of archival records, paintings, photographs, and blueprints on your visit to the museum.

In addition, the museum highlights its collection of machines, ships, and boats from America’s steam era of transportation.

The industries on display include ice harvesting, bluestone quarrying, and boat making, among others.

It also hosts several events like Basic Sailing for youths and adults that you can participate in.

Explore the Collections at the Senate House State Historic Site

Exterior of the Senate House

Amy Wilkins /

Rich in historical value, the Senate House State Historic Site was the original meeting place of the New York State Senate.

Through its collection of artifacts, portraits, archives, and furniture, the Senate House portrays a magnificent image of colonial life.

In addition, it hosts many events, from scavenger hunts to 18th-century educational programs.

Facade of the Senate House State Historic Site

Andre Carrotflower, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can participate in one of the house’s several tours and become an audience to the historical re-enactment events conducted throughout the year.

There are also several picnic spots on the ground, and you can sit down with your loved ones for a picnic brunch.

Overall, visiting the Senate House provides an enriching experience that brings you closer to American history.

Have a Picnic at Robert Post Memorial Park

A memorial park overlooking the Hudson River and close to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, the Robert Post Memorial Park is an ideal picnic spot.

The park offers stunning views of the river and its adjacent habitats.

You can spend a lazy day here with your family, picnicking on the several picnic tables that the park provides.

You can also barbecue and spend quality time with your loved ones.

There are several slides, climbers, monkey bars, and swings to keep the young ones in the group occupied.

The park has a soccer field and a basketball court, among others.

It also has fishing provisions, so bringing your fishing pole is advisable.

Learn about Railways attheTrolley Museum of New York

Trolley at Trolley Museum


Trolley Museum of New York is a not-for-profit organization that is among the most popular tourist hubs in Kingston, NY.

It is located on the original site of Ulster and Delaware Railroad yards, and the museum is at the engine house site from before the 1900s.

A train ride in the Trolley Museum offers a scenic view of the Hudson River Valley.

Interior of the Trolley Museum of New York

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

You can take a ride on one of the rail trolleys and, through the various exhibitions it hosts, learn about the railways’ history and their contribution to the Hudson Area development.

A Visitor’s Centre in the museum offers video viewing facilities and observing centers overlooking the restoration shop.

An orange trolley at the Trolley Museum of New York

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Drop by the Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge

Daytime view of Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge

Brian Logan Photography /

The first north-south automobile highway of New York, the Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge, is an engineering marvel.

It crosses the Rondout Creek and connects Kingston city to the little hamlet of Port Ewen.

Since its first built in 1921, it has been a prominent landmark in the city, directing traffic in and around Rondout Creek.

Structure of the Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge

Brian Logan Photography /

Endearingly nicknamed “Old Bridge,” it was built to replace the unreliable Rondout Creek ferry service.

In addition, the bridge offers a scenic ride between Port Ewen and Kingston, offering the visitors an impressive view of Rondout Creek as it empties into the Hudson River.

If you are an architecture buff interested in bridges, the Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge is a must-visit in Kingston, NY.

View the Artefacts at theMuseum Of Rhinebeck History

Located at the historic site of Quitman House, the Museum of Rhinebeck History aims to collect, preserve, and research the town’s history.

The letters, books, journals, photographs, portraits, and archives in this museum provide a detailed view of local life in the Hudson Valley.

In addition, you can attend the numerous exhibits that the museum hosts to trace Rhinebeck’s history through the ages.

The museum also houses an elaborate collection from the World War I era to commemorate the sacrifice of soldiers from Rhinebeck.

Their collection includes one uniform, airplane propellers, a draft registration card, and other artifacts.

Both you and your young one can have an educational experience examining the items on display in the museum.

Discover the Catskill Mountain Railroad

Train of the Catskill Mountain Railroad

JackSpot /

The Catskill Mountain Railroad began operating in 1982, connecting the Catskill Mountains with the Hudson River Valley.

It is a heritage railroad built to preserve and maintain the railroad corridor around the year.

The Railroad hosts various events for its visitors that ensure a fun ride.

Locomotive at Catskill Mountain Railroad

JackSpot /

One among them is the Polar Express event, where every passenger gets to meet the Easter Bunny and is served a bag of candy.

Hop on a train from the Railroad to experience the natural beauty of the Catskill Mountains.

You can join in as the train moves through some of the oldest farms in the United States and gradually climbs its way up the Hurley Mountains.

See the Items at Matthewis Persen House Museum

The Matthewis Persen House Museum, named after its longest resident Matthewis Persen, is a residence-turned-museum due to its historical significance.

In a 1999 discovery, the house was found to be constructed in five phases between 1621 and 1922.

A visit to the house gives you an idea of the rich local history of Kingston, how the place developed, and its original inhabitants.

Further, an archaeological dig of the house unearthed 22,000 artifacts dating as early as 1500 BC.

You can spend an entire day studying these items closely and move your way through these relics, including ancient pottery, books, livestock, and clothing.

Appreciate Artworks at Artbar Gallery

The Artbar Gallery is the perfect place to visit in Kingston, NY, for the artist in you.

It is a venue of 1200 square feet and is one of the most exceptional art galleries in Hudson Valley.

Majorly contributing to the art scene in the city, the art gallery is famous for hosting several events and exhibitions throughout the year.

The venue is a work of art, exuding elegance and taste to the numerous visitors who grace its steps.

Its unique wine bar is famous for sourcing locally and internationally produced-food and wine.

In addition, the gallery features avant-garde paintings, photography, and sculptures, among numerous other artworks.

You can visit Artbar Gallery on your trip to Kingston to steep yourself in art and converse with the artists and other art lovers like yourself.

Take an Art Class at Kingston Ceramics Studio

Kingston Ceramics Studio is a hidden gem of the region in the heart of historic uptown Kingston.

It has become integral to art education for children, adults, and families.

The studio offers pottery classes and workshops for all skill levels.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Kingston Ceramics Studio provides a creative space where anyone can have fun while creating beautiful works of art.

With various class options available, from one-time workshops to multi-week classes, there’s something for everyone at the studio.

Participants learn practical skills such as hand building, throwing on the wheel, and glazing techniques.

Practice Your Swing at Wiltwyck Golf Club

Established in 1933, Wiltwyck Golf Club is the top family-friendly semi-private club in the middle Hudson Valley.

Robert Trent Jones created the golf course at Wiltwyck, and it is well known as a critical test of championship golf.

Wiltwyck is truly a golfer’s paradise with its championship course and numerous amenities offering something for everyone.

The grounds feature a pool, exercise center, tennis and pickleball lanes, a banquet hall, and indoor and terrace dining in a casual yet beautiful setting.

For people of different ages and skill sets, it offers the finest-in-class golfing experiences.

Check Out the Exhibits at Volunteer Firemen’s Museum

Exterior of Volunteer Firemen's Museum

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Volunteer Firemen’s Museum is a unique museum dedicated to preserving the history of volunteer firefighting in the historic Rondout section of Kingston.

They committed to preserving the legacy of volunteer firefighters while educating current generations about their essential role in keeping our communities safe.

Visitors to the museum can explore a variety of exhibits, including original fire engines, hand-painted fire helmets, and other rare objects related to firefighting.

The museum offers educational programs for children and adults on basic fire safety and how modern firefighters work with their communities.

In addition, visitors can participate in hands-on activities such as operating a real fire engine or trying on vintage firefighter uniforms.

Reconnect with Nature at Seed Song Farm and Center

Seed Song Farm and Center is a unique place to visit in the Hudson Valley.

The sustainable farm offers visitors a variety of activities and experiences, from educational classes to meals prepared with fresh ingredients grown on-site.

The mission of Seed Song Farm is to promote community resilience through education and building relationships with nature.

The center provides educational opportunities for students of all ages through workshops, field trips, classes, summer camps, and more.

Visitors can choose from gardening basics, permaculture design principles, fermentation techniques, and cultural heritage knowledge sharing.

The farm also serves delicious meals from seasonal garden ingredients or local farmers’ markets.

Relax at Zephyr Float

Zephyr Float is a new relaxation center designed to help patrons escape the challenges of everyday life.

It offers a sensory deprivation experience that combines floating in a pod filled with two feet of salt water and light therapy to provide an environment for complete relaxation.

The experience at Zephyr Float is designed to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and increase endorphins.

During each session, customers will float on their backs in one of their four pods, filled with 25 percent Epsom salt solution.

The temperature and salinity levels are monitored constantly to ensure maximum comfort throughout the 60-minute session.

Once inside the pod, customers can adjust the lighting from complete darkness to multiple colored LED lights for added ambiance or close their eyes and drift off into peaceful serenity.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Views atMills Norrie State Park

Winter scene at Mills State Park

John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Mills Norrie State Park is a memorial site that, coupled with the nearby Margaret Norrie State Park, spans a staggering 1000 acres.

The Hudson River runs along the western boundaries of the park, offering visitors a breathtaking view of the waters.

Additionally, numerous birds populate the area, making the park an ideal site for birding.

View of an island from Mills Norrie State Park

Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park also has several trails, and you can enjoy a quiet walk or hike while absorbing the stunning views.

Other activities that the park offers are cycling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

You can also indulge in a round of golf at the Dinsmore Golf Course, one of the first public golf courses in the US, located inside the Mills Norrie State Park.

Participate in a Guided Tour at Wilderstein

Exterior of Wilderstein Historic Site

Rolf Müller (User:Rolfmueller), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A perfect example of Victorian architecture, Wilderstein Historic Site is a house museum that was once the property of Margaret Suckley, a close confidante and cousin of Franklin D.Roosevelt.

You can opt for a guided tour across the property and educate yourself on US history through the various exhibits the house hosts.

Apart from the above, Wilderstein Historic Site also conducts several events and activities like sculpture tours and fundraisers.

In addition, the house has an extensive collection of personal effects like letters, books, photographs, and furniture that speak volumes about the local culture of the place.

Make Friends with the Animals at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Sheep at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

EQRoy /

If you are an animal lover, Catskill Animal Sanctuary is the place for you.

The 150-acre area is a refuge for 11 species of farmed animals rescued from cruelty and abandonment.

They offer guided tours across its grounds and educational programs for kids.

A welcome hut at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

EQRoy /

You can choose between Regular tour tickets and Family tour tickets of 90 and 60 minutes, respectively.

You can explore the sanctuary at your leisure while making friends with the farm animals.

They also host programs to educate visitors on animal cruelty by sharing stories of how they rescued these animals.

Pigs at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

EQRoy /

Pay a Visit to theEsopus Meadows Lighthouse

Exterior of the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse /

The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse was originally built in 1871 to warn the incoming ships on the Hudson River of mud paths and dangerous shallows.

It is the only Hudson River lighthouse to remain under the supervision of the US Coast Guard.

Nicknamed “The Maid of the Meadows,” the lighthouse is a quaint little building on the Hudson River.

If its historical significance interests you, you can visit the lighthouse by charting a boat ride from Rondout Creek.

However, the lighthouse is visible from the Mills Mansion in Mills State Park or Norrie Point State Park.

Aerial view of Esopus Meadows Lighthouse


Engage in Outdoor Adventures atFerncliff Forest

Snow-covered trail at Ferncliff Forest

schoukse /

The Ferncliff Forest is a local gem known as the second-best old-growth forest in the Hudson River Valley.

The 200 acres of forest area had been home to Sepasco Indians for hundreds of years and remains of hand-dug wells, old foundations, and root cellars can still be seen.

The forest authorities offer activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, and picnicking.

On your trip to the Ferncliff Forest, you can climb its main attraction- the fire tower to witness a splendid view of the entire forest.

Further, you can apply for a camping permit if you want to camp for a night or two in the forests.

Scenic view from Ferncliff Forest fire tower

Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the Sunset atOverlook Mountains

Overlook Mountains from the fire tower

Otherlleft, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The cliffs of the Overlook Mountains provide incredible views of the Hudson River down below.

You can walk the quiet trail to the Overlook summit through a gravelly path and, once atop the mountains, enjoy a beautiful sunset or a calming evening with your loved ones.

There is also a fire tower that you can climb to enjoy a birds-eye view.

Further, you can walk a little from the trailhead to visit the Buddhist Temple that looks right out of a Tibetan landscape.

Wander around the Poets’ Walk Park

The grounds of Poets’ Walk Park

Amy Wilkins /

Bring out the poet in you during a walk through the serene landscape of the Poets’ Walk Park.

The place has been made famous by writers like Washinton Irving, who frequented the park during his time.

He is rumored to have come up with the idea of Rip Van Winkle by gazing across the moors at the Catskill Mountains.

Overlook pavilion at Poets’ Walk Park

Nancy Kennedy /

The musical songbirds in the area, the deep ravines, and the majestic vistas will inspire you on your visit here.

The landscape hasn’t changed over 170 years, so you can experience how it was in the old days.

During your visit to the park, you can bike, dog-walk, ski, snowshoe, and even wildlife watching.

A wooden bench at Poets’ Walk Park

Nancy Kennedy /

Final Thoughts

Kingston, NY, is a great destination to explore, full of historical sites and outdoor activities that will please everyone in your family.

The city boasts a rich history and vibrant culture; it is the perfect place to spend a weekend with friends, family, or yourself.

Whether you’re looking for a museum to visit, a hike, or an activity with the kids, Kingston has something for everyone.

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