25 Best Things to Do in Poughkeepsie, NY

Poughkeepsie, NY skyline
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Poughkeepsie is a picturesque city nestled amongst the trees in the scenic Hudson River Valley.

It’s gifted with abundant natural beauty.

You can enjoy and experience nature in the tranquil atmosphere of this region while being close to city life.

It features towering mountains, dense and sprawling forests, diverse flora and fauna, a mesmerizing river, serene lakes, historic sites, remarkable galleries and museums, and numerous parks.

The spectacular Hudson River meanders through the city.

There is plenty of 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 in Poughkeepsie, New York:

Enjoy a Refreshing Stroll on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

Walkway Over the Hudson
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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.

History marker at Hudson State Historic Park's footbridge
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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.

People at the Hudson State Historic Park's walkway
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Travel Back in Time at Locust Grove Estate

Exterior of Locust Grove Estate
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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 into this house.

Today, it is a museum that 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.

Exterior of the Locust Grove Estate
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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 mesmerizing 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.

Explore Art at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

This visual arts gallery is affiliated with Vassar College and is a popular tourist attraction.

Established in 1864, it has over 20,000 exhibits featuring works by both regional as well as international artists.

Explore the gallery and check out the outstanding pieces of art.

Experience 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.

Snap loads of pictures with the stunning backdrops at this park.

Watch a Show at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House

Bardavon Opera House
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

This historic theater 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 theaters in the country.

Name sign of Bardavon 1869 Opera House along the street
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

Featuring grand architecture, the building dates back to 1869.

This is a great place for a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Front exterior of the Bardavon 1869 Opera House
Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

Take a Scenic Drive on the Mid-Hudson Bridge

Mid-Hudson Bridge
Colin D. Young / Shutterstock.com

This magnificent bridge runs parallel to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park and is one of Poughkeepsie’s prime attractions.

Mid-Hudson Bridge view at night
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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 breathtaking vistas.

Far aerial view of the Mid-Hudson Bridge
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Visit Mid-Hudson Children's Museum

Aerial view of the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This award-winning children’s museum provides hands-on learning experiences to kids through its numerous interactive exhibits.

It features a science center, playgrounds, a garden, educational programs, themed open-ended exhibits, and plenty more.

With around 80,000 visitors every year, this museum helps children develop skills such as communication, literacy, and decision-making.

A weekly farmer’s market is also hosted on the grounds of the museum on Mondays from June to September.

This is an amazing place to visit if you’re traveling with family.

Appreciate Art at Barrett Art Center

Exterior of the Barrett Art Center
Pksherpa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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, along with various artifacts owned by the Barrett family depicting the region’s lifestyle, art, and culture in the past centuries.

Entry to the art center is absolutely free for all.

Explore the Hiking Trails in Springside Landmark

The last original building of Springside Landmark
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Springfield consists of picturesque landscaped gardens designed by the renowned 19th-century landscape designer Andrew Downing.

It is his only surviving work.

Interestingly, this historic site was formerly the property of Matthew Vassar, the founder of Vassar College.

Go hiking on the verdant trails that once used to be carriage roads and admire the natural beauty that surrounds the place.

Have a Picnic at Victor C. Waryas Park

Victor C. Waryas Park
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This riverside park offers magnificent views of the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

It’s 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 at Spratt Park

Go for a refreshing swim in Spratt Park’s pool during summers.

The park also features basketball courts, baseball fields, and a playground.

It’s a great place for working out and is frequented by locals and tourists alike.

Enjoy a Range of Outdoor Activities at Peach Hill Park

This park features nature trails traversing a former apple orchard.

It’s popular for hiking, exploring nature, birding, geocaching, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the Hudson Valley and the surrounding majestic mountain ranges.

The best time to visit is in the spring when the apple blossoms are in full bloom.

You can pick the fruits during winter.

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 all throughout the year, from sunrise to sunset.

Play Golf at the McCann Memorial Golf Course

From the very beginning in 1972, players of all golfing abilities were welcome at McCann Memorial Golf Course.

It took a man with a vision, James J. McCann to make it happen, though.

When he left his money on the table for this project, this brought together Stephen Kay and William F. Mitchell, who designed many awesome playing courses.

The New York not-for-profit corporation, McCann-Caven Golf Courses, Inc., operates the McCann Memorial Golf Course.

It's available to visitors and residents of both the City and Town of Poughkeepsie.

The club has reasonable fees for both green fees and cart use.

Their friendly staff will assist you, regardless of your level of experience.

They also have a practice area with golf carts, a full bar, and a restaurant that can cater intimate gatherings and large parties.

They even feature an elegant banquet hall, making this place the perfect choice whether you’re seeking a more relaxed social event or a formal affair.

Go Fishing at Morgan Lake Park

Morgan Lake offers is a great place to bring your family for some fishing.

It's a small lake with lots of algae, so you'll have to move around if you want the best source of fish.

You'll want to try out every spot before deciding on your favorite, but it's worth spending a few hours wading to wait for that special fish.

Once you pull it in and see how much fun it was for your kids, nothing can beat that smile!

With 213 feet of elevation and an area of 19 acres, Morgan Lake Park is also an excellent place to play golf while admiring the scenery.

You can have an all-around relaxing yet fun time with your friends or family by any means necessary (picnic included).

You can also watch a wave of ducks sticking together like a cohesive group that manages to stay in formation while moving up and down the lake.

But you'll need to venture deeper into the park for that experience.

There's little parking at the lake, but you can use the rail trail lot down by the highway.

Get a Taste of Thai Cuisine at Thailicious

Whether you're looking for a quick bite or planning a full-on dinner date, head to Thailicious at 138 South Avenue in downtown Poughkeepsie.

This charming Thai restaurant features a wide array of delectable dishes from the Land of the Smiles that are sure to please any palate.

Thailicious brings a taste of the Thai culture to American life with the most delicious meals that are a full 10/10.

The owner and chef started her business with a food truck and has now expanded to open her own restaurant.

Their Som Tam Salad, Tom Yum Goong, and Chicken Satay are deliciously flavored.

And their signature sauce will leave you wanting more!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Be a Guest in the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

The home of the 32nd president of the USA is an 11-minute drive from Poughkeepsie.

It still retains the original furniture, paintings, library, china, home décor, and 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.

Front entrance of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
Deror_avi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

A greenhouse outside Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
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Enjoy Nature at Illinois Mountain Park

Green forest of Illinois Mountain
Gyrobo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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 winter.

Bring along a delicious picnic to enjoy while admiring the scenic views of the sprawling greenery here.

Tour the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

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.

Exterior of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

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.

Try an Array of Wines at the Kedem Winery

Known for its 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 absolutely free of charge.

It is a 15-minute drive away from Poughkeepsie.

Enjoy Spectacular Vistas at Franny Reese State Park

Franny Reese State Park
CE Photography / Shutterstock.com

This park offers spectacular clifftop views of the Hudson River, the Mid-Hudson Bridge, and the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

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.

Map sign of Franny Reese State Park
KMarsh / Shutterstock.com

In the winter, 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.

An abandoned estate at Franny Reese State Park
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Explore the Wilderness at Roosevelt Farm Lane Trail

Roosevelt Farm Lane Trail is a 1.8-mile trail that traverses densely forested areas of Hyde Park.

It is frequented for hiking and biking.

In the winter, this is a popular site for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

The snowy winter landscape here is a stunning visual to behold.

The trail is a 13-minute drive from Poughkeepsie.

Walk in the Woods at Winnakee Nature Preserve

Winnakee Nature Preserve is located on a site that was formerly the estate of Colonel Archibald Rogers, a close friend of Franklin Roosevelt.

Today, it features a vast network of hiking trails that attracts myriads of visitors.

Enjoy an invigorating hike in the tranquil atmosphere of woods here.

Take in Stunning Views at Johnson-Iorio Memorial Park

Climb to the top of the cliffs located at this riverfront park to enjoy panoramic and captivating views of the city, the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, and the mesmerizing river.

The clifftop 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.

Final Thoughts

Poughkeepsie is a great city to live in and is ideal for visitors who would like to take in the authentic New York State culture and lifestyle.

Of course, that’s not to say Manhattan doesn't have its charms—it certainly does.

However, Poughkeepsie has some interesting features that make it particularly attractive to off-the-beaten-track tourists looking to discover the hidden gems.

To really see what Poughkeepsie is all about, and to learn more fun facts about the Queen City of the Hudson, check out this list and make sure to have every spot on your list checked off during your visit!

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