15 Best Things to Do in Putnam County, NY

Putnam County, NY
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Putnam County may be small, but its natural beauty and rich history have proven its potential for adventure through the years.

The county is filled with exciting sites and activities while being just an hour away from the bustling streets of Manhattan.

The county, with an estimated 97,936 population as of the 2021 census, is located between the Hudson River and the Connecticut state line and comprises six towns with three villages.

In all these localities, you will always find something to explore!

Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or a place to stay for a while, Putnam County, with its variety of offerings, will have something for you.

Find here the best things to do in Putnam County, New York.

Immerse in Art and History at the Boscobel House and Gardens

View of Boscobel House
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The Boscobel House and Gardens, a historic mansion turned into a museum, shows the grandeur of Neoclassical architecture in the quaint town of Philipstown.

The house, built between 1804 and 1808, became a nonprofit museum 60 years ago after preservationists restored its original grandeur and saved as much of the architectural elements as they could.

Fountain at Boscobel House and Gardens
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In the museum, you will find a collection of decorative art and furniture from the Federal era, including rare items that amaze you and inspire your creativity!

You will learn more about the history and artistry of these household items when you tour this place.

Boscobel House and Gardens also has 68 acres of grounds where you may enjoy a walk in the gardens or the woodland trail.

Narrow path at Boscobel House and Gardens
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The museum offers guided tours of the house and the grounds, so check with them when you visit!

You won’t just learn and appreciate art when you go to Boscobel House and Gardens, but also have a relaxing time with the grounds’ calming nature and a scenic view of the Hudson River.

See Archeological Wonders at the West Point Foundry Archeological Site

You will also find one of the United States’ most important industrial sites, The West Point Foundry Archeological Site, in the village of Cold Spring village in Philipstown.

The preserved site was once a manufacturer of the nation’s first locomotives, iron-hulled ships, machinery, and pipes for municipal water systems from 1818 to 1911.

In 2010, the government declared the West Point Foundry Archeological Site a National Historic Landmark, highlighting its cultural and historical significance in the state and the entire country.

When you go to the site, you’ll see Scenic Hudson’s Foundry Dock Park, where the ironworks’ loading dock was situated in the Hudson River.

You’ll also find an outdoor museum that opened in 2013, where you will learn of the foundry’s contributions to the Industrial Revolution, its role in the Civil War, and the area’s ecological renewal.

The West Point Foundry Archeological Site is an important destination in Putnam County, so make sure to pay a visit!

Glimpse the Beauty of Architecture at Manitoga

Scenic view of Manitoga
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When you go to Manitoga, you will not just see the marvelous architecture and landscape of the Dragon Rock House and Studio but also the Woodland Garden and the Russel & Mary Wright Design Gallery.

Located in Garrison, a part of Philipstown, the establishment is the former home of late American industrial designer Russel Wright.

It is also listed as a National Historic Landmark, ensuring the preservation of the 20th-century modern home and its groundbreaking design.

Scenic view of Manitoga
​English Wikipedia user Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Prepare to get awe-inspired when you visit the home in perfect harmony with the 75-acre woodland garden.

The Dragon Rock Studio is Wright’s personal space depicting Japanese influence in his work.

The Russel & Mary Wright Design Gallery, meanwhile, displays the one-of-a-kind product designs of Wright together with his wife.

Contact Manitoga for their guided tours and reservations.

Interior view of dragon rock studio
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Slow Down and Stay at the Putnam County Veteran’s Memorial Park

If you’re looking for an outdoor space where you can unwind and spend a quiet time, Putnam County’s Veteran’s Memorial Park is the one for you.

Located in the town of Kent, the park has a scenic view of greenery and a lake.

It offers pavilions for rental if you’re looking to celebrate an event or want to spend quality time with your friends or family.

One of the essential parts of the Veterans Memorial Park is the Putnam County Veterans Museum, which honors those who served in the armed forces.

The museum features a collection of authentic memorabilia dating from the pre-American Civil War.

Around the park, you’ll also find different memorial figures in honor of the war veterans, from a bronze angel sculpture to statues.

Go Hiking at the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve

Visitors hiking at Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve
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If you’re looking for more adventure, go to the 8,000-acre Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve and hike its 70-mile trail.

The mostly undeveloped park stretches from the shore of the Hudson River to a deciduous forest and the rocky ridges and summits in the area.

Just 50 miles north of New York City, the park preserve is a good hiking spot with a variety of terrains for beginners and experts.

Scenic view from Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve
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The Hudson Highlands and Hudson River also serve as picturesque backdrops for when you document your visit!

Aside from hiking, you may also enjoy other outdoor activities here, including boating, fishing, and birding.

The Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve reveals the natural beauty of Putnam County!

Trail head at Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve
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Discover the Roots of the County at Putnam History Museum

Don’t miss the chance to visit the Putnam History Museum when you find yourself exploring the area of Cold Spring village in Philipstown.

In this museum, you will find the essence of the county and learn about the place’s role in the nation’s history.

The museum offers exhibitions, programs, and events that will educate and fascinate you!

Events include lectures and galas; check with Putnam History Museum when planning your visit.

A library full of resources is also available for those interested in research.

You'll also find an 1818 West Point Foundry exhibition in the museum, so check it out to learn more about a significant and historic industrial site in the country.

Plan a Visit to the Chuang Yen Monastery

Exterior view of Chuang Yen Monastery
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When you go to Chuang Yen Monastery in the town of Kent, you will find the largest indoor statue of Buddha in the western hemisphere.

The monastery offers a tranquil ambiance that will inspire and give visitors wisdom.

Renowned architect I.M Pei is responsible for the pristine grounds of the Chuang Yen Monastery.

Display at Chuang Yen Monastery
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Aside from the monastery, you will find other beautiful buildings to explore!

You can rest your mind at the Zen Garden and the Seven Jewel Lake if you want to take a break from exploring.

Make sure to plan your visit and follow the ground rules when going to Chuang Yen Monastery.

Buddha statue at Chuang Yen Monastery
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Expand Your Knowledge and Artistry at Magazzino Italian Art

One of unique establishments you can explore at Putnam County is Magazzino Italian Art, a nonprofit museum and research center on Italian art.

Located in the village of Cold Spring in Philipstown, the museum introduces contemporary Italian art to the United States and the world.

It advocates for Italian artists and features the range of their creativity through different art styles and eras.

Since it opened its doors to the public in 2017, Magazzino Italian Art has become a cultural and art hub for all kinds of visitors.

So whether you’re an artist, an academic, or a new enjoyer, you’re welcome to visit this place and learn from the shared knowledge fostered in its community.

You’ll surely find yourself marveling at the beauty of knowledge and art combined!

Experience Farm Culture at Tilly Foster Farm

Pond at Tilly Foster Farm
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If you want the full farm-to-table experience and education that only Putnam County can give, visit the Tilly Foster Farm.

This place is truly a unique destination if you want to dabble in culinary arts and see natural beauty as well as historical attractions.

Tilly Foster Farm isn’t just a farm; it also has an educational institute that offers veterinary and food and agriculture-related courses.

Horse grazing at Tilly Foster Farm
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It also has its community gardens that produce award-winning and organically grown flowers, vegetables, and herbs.

Meanwhile, its farm fosters not just regular farm animals but exotic breeds.

While you’re there, try Tilly Foster Farm’s very own farm-to-table restaurant, Tilly’s Table.

Beyond the establishment’s offerings is the serene atmosphere of the farm grounds, where you can hike the trails and find peace with nature.

Road leading to Tilly Foster Farm
​English Wikipedia user Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go for an Adventure at the Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area

Another area worthy of your time is the Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area, located in the town of Patterson.

The 800-acre conservation area is the largest in Putnam County.

It is home to diverse wildlife, so you may chance upon different animals, from deer and bobcats to various songbirds and small mammals.

Specific trails are available for horseback riding and mountain biking, while hunting is only permitted during hunting seasons.

Another popular spot in the area is the excellent gorge waterfall, located north of the old Merritt campsite.

If you’re planning your visit to the Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area, feel free to contact authorities to know the rules and secure a trail map!

Watch the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Perform

Night view of Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival performance
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If you’re in the area, catch a show of Putnam County’s critically-acclaimed professional and non-profit theater company based in Garrison, Philipstown.

Since its foundation in 1987, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has established a reputation for its iconic productions staged under an open-air theater tent.

The theater company has also toured and performed in other theaters, bringing its productions to a broader audience.

There’s nothing like watching live performances, so go ahead and catch one of this theater company’s classical plays.

The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival proves that the local theater scene in Putnam County is alive and thriving!

Have a Lovely Walk at the Stonecrop Gardens

View of Stonecrop Gardens on a foggy day
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Stonecrop Gardens, located in the village of Cold Spring, is a must-visit for gardening and plant enthusiasts or anyone who appreciates the beauty of plants.

Since opening to the public in 1992, the garden has attracted visitors with 15 acres of diverse garden collection.

Pond at Stonecrop Gardens
Gerda Arendt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every corner of Stonecrop Gardens could be an object of fascination and a feast for the eyes.

In addition to the variety of gardens, the place also holds a conservatory, an alpine house display, a pit house with choice dwarf bulbs, and systematic order beds.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park

Nature trail along the Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park
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If you enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, you won’t have a dull moment at the Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park.

The 14,086-acre park is located in the town of Carmel.

It has everything from hiking trails and camping grounds to fishing and boating areas.

You can also have a relaxing time by setting up a picnic amid a scenic backdrop!

The Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park also holds other places that you may visit, such as the Taconic Outdoor Education Center and the Fahnestock Winter Park.

The winter park holds 20 kilometers of groomed trails perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the right season.

Don’t miss this destination when you’re in Putnam County!

Book Your Tee Time at the Putnam County Golf Course

If you’re a golf enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to visit Putnam County Golf Course.

Known for having a scenic view of the Lower Hudson Valley, you won’t just enjoy the game of golf but also the natural views.

The golf course retains the property's natural landscape, complete with rolling fairways and dramatic elevation changes.

The fairways and irrigation system in Putnam County Golf Course result in perfect playing conditions through different seasons.

Besides the golf course, this place also houses a restaurant and hosts events that you may catch sometime!

Drop By the Historic The Chapel Restoration

Entrance to  Chapel Restoration
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Before you leave Putnam County, make sure you’ve seen the historic landmark from the 1800s, The Chapel Restoration.

Originally a Catholic church, the building is now a renowned venue for cultural events and celebrations, including music performances, lectures, and literary readings.

The Greek Revival-style building was originally designed by Thomas Kelah Wharton, an immigrant from England, but was eventually damaged by test cannons.

After several damages and restorations, the building remains an iconic structure made even more appealing by its history.

Catch a glimpse of The Chapel Restoration when you’re in Cold Spring Village.

Final Thoughts

Putnam County has everything from a vibrant art scene to diverse natural wonders.

If you’re looking for the perfect destination that won’t take you more than an hour to travel, this place is the one for you.

Try exploring this list of the best things to do in Putnam County, New York.

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