Poughkeepsie is a picturesque city nestled amongst the trees in the scenic Hudson River Valley. It is gifted with abundant natural beauty. You can enjoy and experience nature in the tranquil atmosphere of this region while being close to the city life. It features towering mountains, dense and sprawling forests, diverse flora and fauna, a mesmerising river, serene lakes, historic sites, remarkable galleries and museums, and numerous parks. The spectacular Hudson river meanders through the city. There is plenty scope for outdoor recreation here, such as biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, birding, snowshoeing, skiing, and several others. Here’s a list of the best things to do while vacationing in Poughkeepsie.
Enjoy a refreshing stroll on the Walkway Over the Hudson
Dating back to the late 19th century, this historic bridge is a prime tourist attraction in Poughkeepsie. Formerly a railroad bridge, it crosses the scenic Hudson river and is one of the longest pedestrian footbridges in the world. Enjoy the spectacular vista of the sunset and the river from this bridge and take a relaxing evening stroll here. Access to the bridge is absolutely free.
Travel back in time at Locust Grove Estate
Encompassing 200 acres, this estate consists of a mansion, landscaped gardens, nature trails, dense foliage, and an art gallery. The Italian style mansion dates back to the mid-19th century. Formerly, it was the summer home of a famous painter and inventor named Samuel Morse. After his death in 1872, the Young family moved in to this house. Today, it is a museum which has been maintained to exactly represent how the mansion would have looked like if the Young family members were still residing here. It features the original furniture, home décor, books, paintings, and china belonging to the family.
Tour the museum and the picturesque flower gardens. Additionally, the site features ancient carriage roads which are currently used for hiking. These trails traverse verdant forests and offer views of the mesmerising Hudson river which flows nearby. Various events are hosted here throughout the year. Owing to its captivating beauty, this is a popular venue for weddings and other social gatherings. Check out the inspiring pieces of art at the gallery located here.
Enjoy nature at Illinois Mountain Park
This park is popular for hiking and mountain biking. It features miles of trails that meander through the densely forested landscapes of Illinois mountain. Breathe in the fresh air and experience nature while enjoying your morning workout here. You can spot a vast array of wildlife, such as coyotes, owls, frogs, foxes, rabbits, muskrats, and plenty more. The multiple lakes on the site provide access to fishing and swimming. The snow-covered mountain makes this park ideal for snowshoeing in winters. Bring along a delicious picnic to enjoy while admiring the scenic views of the sprawling greenery here.
Be a guest in the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
The home of the 32nd president of the USA is a 11 minutes’ drive from Poughkeepsie. It still retains the original furniture, paintings, library, china, home décor, sculptures belonging to the Roosevelt family. The library features over a million stamps, lithographs, hundreds of model ships, thousands of books and naval paintings, coins, medals, and more. The music room features a piano and several pictures autographed by renowned personalities. You can view his collection of mounted birds in the mansion’s entrance hall. Tour the grand house and learn about the fascinating lifestyle of the former president.
Explore Art at Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
This visual arts gallery is affiliated to Vassar College and is a popular tourist attraction. Established in 1864, it has over twenty thousand exhibits featuring works by both regional as well as international artists. Explore the gallery and check out the outstanding pieces of art.
Tour the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
This library consists of millions of historical documents and artifacts belonging to Franklin Roosevelt when he was serving as president of the United States. It features several thousand books, pictures, and film recordings. You can watch the films at the theatres located in the museum. The several interactive exhibits provide information on the various important highlights of Roosevelt’s presidential terms.
Enjoy spectacular vistas at Franny Reese State Park
This park offers spectacular cliff-top views of the Hudson river, the Mid-Hudson bridge, and the Walkway Over the Hudson. Go hiking on the verdant trails that traverse this park. The sprawling greenery and picturesque views make it a perfect spot to enjoy a nice summer picnic. In winters, visitors flock to this park for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It is named after Franny Reese who saved it from demolition by a real estate business that wanted to construct a housing complex on the site. It is open from dawn to dusk and entry is free for all.
Riverside hiking at Quiet Cove Riverfront Park
Located on the banks of the Hudson river, this park is a popular site for picnics and other social gatherings. It offers incredible views of the serene river and is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing riverside stroll. Cook some delicious burgers on the grills in the park and spend your day relaxing and enjoying the views. The decks on the water provide access to fishing. Click loads of pictures with the stunning backdrops at this park.
Watch a show at Bardavon Opera House
This historic theatre presents plays, musicals, concerts, dance performances, film screenings, orchestra, and plenty more. It attracts close to 80,000 guests every year and is one of the oldest theatres in the country. Featuring grand architecture, the building dates back to 1869. This is a great place for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.
Scenic Drive on the Mid-Hudson Bridge
This magnificent bridge runs parallel to the Walkway Over the Hudson and is a prime attraction of Poughkeepsie. Constructed in the early 20th century, it offers gorgeous views of the river, its picturesque banks, and the city. Enjoy a scenic drive on this bridge and appreciate the breath-taking vistas.
Visit Mid-Hudson Children's Museum
This award-winning children’s museum provides hands-on learning experiences to kids through their numerous interactive exhibits. It features a science centre, playgrounds, a garden, educational programs, themed open-ended exhibits, and plenty more. With around 80,000 visitors every year, this museum helps children develop communication skills, literacy skills, decision making ability, and more. A weekly famer’s market is hosted on the grounds of the museum on Mondays from June to September. This is an amazing place to visit if you’re travelling with family.
Appreciate Art at Barrett Art Center
This contemporary art gallery features works by various national and international artists. It was founded by a renowned regional artist named Thomas Weeks Barrett Jr. and his colleagues in 1935. It has rotating exhibitions and conducts various lectures and events throughout the year. The Barrett family lived in Poughkeepsie since the early 20th century. The permanent collection features artworks by the founder and various artifacts belonging to the Barrett family which depict the lifestyle, art, and culture of the region in the past centuries. Entry to the art centre is absolutely free for all.
Hiking in Springside Landmark
Springfield consists of picturesque landscaped gardens designed by the renowned 19th century landscape designer Andrew Downing. It is his only surviving work. Go hiking on the verdant trails that once used to be carriage roads and admire the natural beauty that surrounds the place. This historic site was formerly the property of Matthew Vassar, the founder of Vassar College.
Wine Tasting at The Kedem Winery
Known for their Kosher wine and grape juice, this winery dates back to 1948. Pay a visit here and try out their delicious wines. In addition to their own collection, they also offer various imported wines. The tastings here are absolute free of charge. It is a 15 minutes’ drive from Poughkeepsie.
Picnicking at Victor C. Waryas Park
This riverside park offers magnificent views of the Mid-Hudson bridge. It a popular picnic spot featuring barbeque grills, a playground, picnic tables, a diner, and a dock. You can sit on one of the benches of the park and enjoy a good book in the tranquil atmosphere or take a stroll by the Hudson river and admire the natural beauty that surrounds the park.
Beat the Heat
Go for a refreshing swim in Spratt park’s pool during summers. The park also features basketball courts, baseball fields, and a playground. It is a great place for working out and is frequented by locals and tourists alike.
Explore The Wilderness
Roosevelt Farm Lane Trail is a 1.8 miles trail that traverses densely forested areas of Hyde Park. It is frequented for hiking and biking. In winters, this is a popular site snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The snowy winter landscape here is a stunning visual to behold. The trail is a 13 minutes’ drive from Poughkeepsie.
Walk in the Woods
Winnakee Nature Preserve is located on the site which was formerly the estate of Colonel Archibald Rogers, a close friend of Franklin Roosevelt. Today, it features a vast network of hiking trails which attracts myriads of visitors. Enjoy an invigorating hike in the tranquil atmosphere of woods here.
Johnson-Iorio Memorial Park
Climb to the top of the cliffs located at this riverfront park to enjoy panaromic, captivating views of the city, Walkway Over the Hudson, and the mesmerising river. The cliff top is an amazing place to watch the sunrise or sunset and features towering trees and vast spreading woods. You can enjoy a picnic here against the splendid backdrop. Additionally, the park features a memorial to two soldiers who lost their lives in war.
Peach Hill Park
This park features nature trails traversing a former apple orchard. It is popular for hiking, exploring nature, birding, geocaching, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Enjoy the breath-taking vistas of the Hudson valley and the surrounding majestic mountain ranges. The best time to visit is in spring when the apple blossoms are in full bloom. You can pick the fruits during winters. This park is also the highest point in the city. Being a dog friendly park, this is an ideal place to walk your pet. It is open throughout the year from sunrise to sunset.