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Last March, at the Philadelphia Travel and Adventure Show, I met a rep from the Dutchess County tourism board. I have family in the Poughkeepsie area, and visit up there twice a year – for New Year’s Eve, and to run the Dutchess County Classic in the fall. We got to talking, about that race, and funny enough the woman I met at the travel show was also involved in organizing the race! Funny how life connects like that.
One of my favorite things about traveling, writing and blogging is the connections made with others. So, I was so excited when the Dutchess County tourism board invited little man and I to come up for a night (they wanted us to stay longer – but we are so busy in the spring, isn’t everyone?) and explore some of the great activities Dutchess County has to offer. SPOILER ALERT: We LITERALLY had the best time on this trip, and I am so excited to share all the great things to do in Dutchess County with kids. This is a long weekend getaway you want to plan right now!
Momma To Go (and little man) would like to thank the Dutchess County Tourism board for sponsoring this trip. As always, all opinions are my own.
Things to do in Dutchess County with Kids
Dutchess County is located about 80 miles due north of Manhattan. It is a county bordered by the Hudson River on the west, Putnam County to the south, Columbia county to the North and the state of Connecticut to the east. From where I live on the South Shore of Long Island, the city of Poughkeepsie is exactly a two-hour drive. From New York City, you can take the Metro-North commuter train with several stops in Dutchess County. On the Hudson line, you can stop at Beacon, New Hamburg and Poughkeepsie. Or on the Harlem line there are stops further east, in Pawling, Temille River, Harlem Valley- Wingdale and Appalachian Trail. The closest airports are Stewart in Westchester, LaGuardia or JFK.
One could easily do a train day trip, or a quick over night, but to really explore you should drive or rent a car. Little man and I drove up on a Sunday morning, and rode from place to the place in the car – the drives were beautiful through lush greenery and rolling hills.
We visited Dutchess County in late May – right after all the rain and wow, what a beautiful time of year to go! Flowers were in bloom all over the place and the grass/trees were all so lush and green. I know that summer does get hot up in Dutchess, and it can be a bit muggy. I don’t think that would deter me from visiting, you can always catch a nice breeze off the river!
The fall is a very busy time of year in Dutchess, with tourists visiting to see both the beautiful foliage and to visit many of the area farms. Winters are cold, but most of the attractions we visited were open year-round. Some did mention having scaled back hours in the winter, so definitely something to check in advance!
Awesome Things to do in Dutchess County
First of all, there are SO MANY great things to do in Dutchess County! When the tourism board asked us to choose what we wanted to do, so many things on the list looked awesome! I am going to share about the activities we did, then give you a list of some other things to check out (which is really MY to-do list for our next trip).
Walkway Over the Hudson – In rating the trip, this was my number 1 and little man’s number 2 activity! The walkway over the Hudson is a 1.28 mile pedestrian bridge that connects Poughkeepsie on the eastern side of the Hudson River to Highland on the western side. In Poughkeepsie where we started, you can park at 61 Parker Avenue. You can then walk, bike, stroll, scoot, or rollerblade over the bridge! Little man and I walked almost to the other side, and back for a round-trip of 2.41 miles. With stops for many scenic pictures along the way! A visit to the walkway is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and beautiful views!
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome – This was little man’s favorite activity of the entire trip – and we visited before they even started the airshows for the season! We definitely need to go back this summer or fall to see the show!
The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a really cool museum/active runway where you can check out displays of old airplanes and cars (I Love cars!). On summer weekends, you can see a live airshow! And – get this – you can reserve a ride in a real 1929 bi-plane!
On the day of our visit, they were having a special event where folks who build and fly “rubber band” model planes gathered to share their aircrafts and to compete in flying competitions. Some of the folks took a liking to little man and let him fly several of the planes, and taught him how to fix the broken aircraft. He loved this! He also learned so much – the kinds of things you just don’t learn in a classroom. This visit was a truly a highlight for us and we do plan to go back to see the airshow and visit some of the other museum buildings that we did not have time for!
THIS was the type of plane little man was fixing and flying! I def recommend picking one up for a fun project!
Wilderstein – This was an activity that I really wanted to do, and I strongly believe that adults should have some say in planning a trip as well! But little man did tolerate the hour-long tour and in fact, he did learn a few things about history and architecture!
Wilderstein is a restored Victorian home, situated right on the Hudson river. Its last occupant, Daisy Suckley, was a distant relative, and close friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The house is full of beautiful design and antique treasures from her life which spanned from 1892 -1991 (can you imagine!).
We arrived at Wilderstein at 3:30 right in time for the last tour of the day. The tour began with a short introduction and then a video of Daisy herself! We then toured the outside of the home, followed by several rooms on the main floor of the house. We were led by a knowledgeable docent and there were two other kids on the tour. As little man said “That mansion would be good to visit for grown-ups if you like looking at old houses.” I’d say that is true, but for kids studying presidents or American History, this was a very educational activity!
Trevor Zoo – The Trevor Zoo is located on the campus of the Millbrook School, a co-ed 9-12th grade boarding school. As part of the curriculum, the students participate in zoo community service.
I thought this was a very unique thing for an AZA accredited zoo, but what I really loved about the Trevor Zoo was its lush, natural environments for all of the animals. We were fortunate enough to have one of the guides give us an extensive tour of the entire zoo. We learned so much about the animals and the mission of the zoo.
This zoo is a great size for kids of all ages – the zoo small, although there is lots to see, making it perfect even for toddlers! Since the high school students work with the animals, there are no dangerous or scary animals and for that reason as well, you can get pretty close to all the animals! The exhibits are grouped by continent and they have some very interesting animals. I especially liked the ones from Australia and Asia – emus anyone? Little man loved the snakes, and I thought the wild turkeys were just so fun to see running around! Again, I really loved the beautiful, well-maintained grounds and enclosures for the animals. I know we will definitely be back to bring baby girl and the Trevor Zoo is a must-see attraction for families visiting Dutchess County.
FOLLOW THE TREVOR ZOO ON INSTAGRAM TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ANIMALS
Hudson Valley Healing Center – We took a slight detour from sightseeing to stop in at the Hudson Valley Healing Center. Here we spent 50 minutes relaxing in the Himalayan Salt Cave. This was honestly one of our favorite parts of the trip!
In the salt cave, little man and I sat in one of the zero-gravity chairs and snuggled under a blanket. Soft music played and it was so relaxing! We felt great after we left!
I was nervous about bringing little man to the salt cave, but the Hudson Valley Healing Center is super family friendly. They have many events for families including kids yoga in the cave, and kids cave times! The Hudson Valley Healing Center also has a yoga and meditation studio as well as a retail shop. I would highly recommend booking a salt cave session for your family!
Dia: Beacon – Our last stop on our tour was the one I had been wanting to visit for years! I’m so glad I FINALLY made it to the Dia!
The Dia is a modern art museum located in the funky town of Beacon. This museum (and the main street of Beacon) is walkable from the Beacon Metro-North stop, so this area is a favorite of city escaping day-trippers!
I love modern art, even though I’m not really sure I “get” it. As for little man his mind was BLOWN! When I told him we were going to an art museum, he of course thought he was going to see paintings, drawings, and pictures. But modern art is so funky – a pile of dirt? Yeah, that’s art. A large barn filled with hundreds of hexagonal prisms? Yeah – art. And our favorite – the giant swirl maze things –well it is art and your kids will LOVE IT! The Dia is mostly indoors, so a great option anytime of year!
Fishkill Farms – Okay so technically our last Dutchess County stop was to Fishkill Farms. This farm is located right off Route 84 as you head west back toward the Taconic Parkway or 684. Fishkill Farms is a fall, apple picking paradise, but the farm stand is open year-round. On the weekends you can enjoy complimentary cider tasting – and by cider, I mean hard cider, not the stuff for kids!
On our way out we picked up some apples, candy, a jar of pickles and a bottle of Millbrook wine! Sadly, we did not get to visit Millbrook vineyards, but figured it would be a good gift for hubby! At Fishkill Farms you can purchase other local goodies, and enjoy them on the patio as you take in this gorgeous view.
Where to Eat in Dutchess County
Now Dutchess County is big, with a great restaurant scene! We ate at two places that I highly recommend – both for the food and service, as well as for the incredible river views (I’m a sucker for waterfront dining!).
Shadows on the Hudson – This restaurant is located in Poughkeepsie, up on the bluffs overlooking the Hudson River. To the north you can see the Mid-Hudson Bridge as well as the Walkway over the Hudson. Little man and I dined al fresco on a beautiful May evening. We loved watching the boats go by and feeling the breeze off the water!
As far as food – they had a really interesting menu! I had a veggie burger with sweet potato fries (delicious) and little man chose from the kids’ menu. Next time I need to go back with a group to try some of the appetizers – such as the Hot Peppers, Risotto Tator Tots, or the Burrata salad! Great wine and super friendly service – I highly recommend this restaurant!
Poughkeepsie Ice House – If you are looking for a quick lunch spot with great views, check out the Poughkeepsie Ice House. You can dine under a giant tent, just feet from the river! The Ice House also offers a varied menu – little man had a flatbread, I had an eggplant parmesan sandwich (random, I know but the bread was so good, as was the accompanying salad) and we dined with Nancy from the Tourism Board who loved her chicken salad!
During the colder months, the Poughkeepsie Ice House offers indoor seating in their waterfront restaurant. I loved the décor of their bar area – complete with ice saws since the ice house restaurant was really formerly a house for those who cut ice off the river – just like in Frozen!
Where to Stay in Dutchess County
You can do Dutchess County as a day trip, but I definitely recommend staying over! For this trip, we stayed at the Best Western Inn at the Falls. This hotel was centrally located and was right on the Wappinger’s Creek – hence the waterfall! The staff at this hotel was super friendly and we had a really nice room that would easily fit a large family. We had two queen beds, a pull-out couch, a desk area, a decent sized fridge and microwave!
The Best Western Inn at the Falls also offers a complimentary breakfast, and a full bar. Happy hour is served from 5:30-7:30 and guests can enjoy two complimentary glasses of wine or two beers! There is also a little patio off the dining room/bar area to enjoy your food or drink right alongside the falls. At this hotel there was plenty of free parking and we very much enjoyed our stay!
join little man for a tour of our room:
If you are looking for a great upstate New York getaway – with the kids, or even if you are leaving them home, I highly recommend a visit to Dutchess County. For us, it was only a two-hour drive, but we felt so far away from the suburban jungle of Long Island as we drove through the rolling hills and lush Dutchess landscape! There is also so much to do, we cannot wait to get back and explore more!
Have you ever been to Dutchess County?
pin for later:
OTHER AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN DUTCHESS COUNTY WITH KIDS:
Splash Down Beach Water Park – a summer water park!
Drive In Movie – There are three in Dutchess County, how cool is that?
DC Sports in Wappinger’s Falls – mini golf, bumper boats and golf simulators!
Rocking climbing at The Gravity Vault
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