Located about two hours north of New York City, Hyde Park provides the ideal recipe for the perfect getaway. Starting with a serving of culinary richness, visitors can add a heavy helping of National Park Service sites to explore. Then visitors can add equal parts year-round outdoor recreation and historic home tours. From Spring to Fall, visitors will find a wealth of top things to do in Hyde Park, New York. It is no wonder why the elite made this area their home for generations.
I first stumbled into Hyde Park and nearby Rhinebeck close to 25 years ago, visiting the Culinary Institute of America. I don’t remember what I ate, but I remember I wanted to return. When one of my kids decided to go to the same culinary school, it was an easy yes. On my first visit in years, I wanted to see the most that I could. I did, and I’m here to share.
You might be longing for a getaway, then Hyde Park and the surrounding towns are ripe for the picking. Your kid might have moved to one of the area’s many colleges, like Vassar College, Marist College or Bard College along with the Culinary Institute of America. If so, you’ll be spending a few weekends in the area over their college years.
As a mom of college kids, I realized they don’t want you hanging around too much after the car is unloaded. So I find fun stuff to do in between.
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
With views of the Hudson River, the Roosevelt estate consists of 1,000 acres, 50 historic buildings, gardens and 34 miles of trails. This is the home of the 32nd and the longest-serving president, Franklin D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, it also includes the first presidential library. It is one of the top things to do in Hyde Park New York.
From the depths of the Great Depression to the New Deal to WWII, Roosevelt was elected president for an unprecedented four terms. The Roosevelts returned to this home often during their tenure in the White House and the home offers an in-depth look at the man before the presidency.
The estate was originally purchased by James Roosevelt and his first wife. After her death, James Roosevelt remarried Sara Ann Delano, and FDR was born at this home two years later.
During James Roosevelt’s tenure, the estate was expanded by purchasing the adjoining properties and renaming the place, Springwood. After graduating from Harvard, FDR married Eleanor Roosevelt, a cousin, and they moved into Springwood with his mother Sara. They had six children.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt is buried in a garden on the property. This is the only property in which a president was born, continued a lifelong relationship and finally buried on-site.
Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center
This is the first stop at most National Park Service sites. Named after the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Vice President during the FDR’s third term. This modern building offers an interpretive film.
The Home of FDR Tour
The home known as Springwood was built in 1793 and then renovated in 1850 to add Italianate design elements to its exterior. The Roosevelts expanded the home and added Colonial Revival elements in 1916 to accommodate their growing family.
To enter the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt House, one must be on a guided tour. Each tour visits 15 rooms in the house across two floors.
The home is large though homey and filled with personal effects from the Roosevelt family. Visitors enter the house via the entrance hall as they pass to the largest room of the house, the library.
The music room was redecorated for the King and Queen of England’s visit in 1939. The monarchs were in the U.S. looking for support in WWII.
On the second floor, the tour goes through the bedrooms including FDR’s and Eleanor’s along with numerous guest rooms. In addition the the King and Queen of England’s overnight stay, other notable guests included Winston Churchill.
Home Tours are $10 per person for those 16 and older, free for those 15 and younger. They are offered starting from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are offered seasonally from May 1 until mid-October.
The FDR Presidential Library and Museum
Located on the same property, the FDR Presidential Library and Museum is managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. In addition to housing the documents from the Roosevelt presidency, the FDR Presidential Library includes interpretive displays explaining the turbulent times of his presidency.
To visit the FDR Presidential Library, a separate ticket is required. Tickets are $10 per person for those 16 and older, free for those 15 and younger.
The FDR site is part of the Hyde Park, it connects with the Hyde Park Trails. This system includes 34 miles of trails that connect the three NPS units along with a state park along with city parks.
The Grounds are open seasonally from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for April 1- August 31. and earlier for the rest of the year. The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Located at 114 Estates Lane, Hyde Park, NY. This property adjoins the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site and both can be toured in one day.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
The venerable Vanderbilt Family had a house in Hyde Park as well. Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt were actually neighbors of FDR, so it is easy to see both homes. It is one of the top things to do in Hyde Park, New York.
This residence was a seasonal home and designed by McKim, Mead, & White. The Vanderbilt’s purchased the property in 1895. George Washington’s physician Dr. Samuel Bard, horticulturist David Hosack and descendants of John Jacob Astor all had owned the property previously.
Originally over 600 acres, now the site is 211 acres and includes frontage along the Hudson River. This Vanderbilt Mansion focused on enjoying the outdoors, especially outdoor games. As opulent as it is, it is still much smaller than other Vanderbilt-built homes like The Biltmore Estate and those in Newport, Rhode Island.
The exterior is an example of Beaux Arts classism and features Corinthian columns and three stories. The 54-room mansion has formal rooms on the main floor and includes furnishings from Europe, sourced for the house. The property features gardens for fruits and vegetables along with flowers, and areas for growing meat, poultry and dairy.
After the death of Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt, the heir donated it the the National Park Service since a buyer could not be found. The Vanderbilt Mansion was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1940.
Things to do at the Vanderbilt Mansion
The Pavilion Visitor Center
Originally built for the Vanderbilt’s while the main home was being constructed. After they moved into the mansion, it housed the visiting bachelors.
This is where most tours start, and it offers an interpretive area. Especially helpful, I found a chart with the extended Vanderbilt Family and the home each constructed.
Restrooms are located at the Visitor Center. Visitors purchase tour tickets inside.
Vanderbilt Mansion Tours
The top activity at the Vanderbilt Mansion is touring the private home. The guided tours take visitors through the front door as they enter like a guest to the Vanderbilt home.
Depending on the ranger, each tour is different though visitors will learn about the Vanderbilt Family. Details about the home’s construction along with design features are also discussed.
The Vanderbilts took great care in furnishing the home. Many of the priceless antiques were sourced in Europe, and the home includes several throne chairs.
The tour usually goes through about 18 rooms in the house across three floors. This includes taking the servants’ stairs and exploring the working level of the Vanderbilt Mansion.
Explore the Vanderbilt Gardens
During your visit tour the formal gardens known for its Italianate design elements, popular in the Gilded Age. The gardens were originally developed in 1799 by William Bard, a previous owner.
The grounds offer extensive trees like oak, maple, beech, hickory and chestnut. However, it offers some specimen trees like ginkgo. The trees are showy during the fall color season.
The gardens are located about 700 feet from the Vanderbilt Mansion.
Hiking and Walking at Vanderbilt Mansion
Since the Vanderbilt Mansion is part of Hyde Park, it connects with the Hyde Park Trails. This system includes 34 miles of trails that connect the three NPS units along with a state park along with city parks.
Kids and Pets at Vanderbilt Mansion
The Junior Ranger program guides families through the park. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the patches the Park Rangers present after completing their booklets. Head to a visitor center for more information and a booklet.
The Junior Ranger program features two different booklets the Vanderbilt Mansion. The Railroad Explorer and its Vanderbilt Mansion Junior Ranger booklet.
The Vanderbilt Mansion welcomes pets as long as they practice the principles of the BARK program.
B–Bag waste and dispose of it in the trash
A–Always leash your dog for their safety and others
K–Know where you can go
Leashed dogs are welcome on the grounds and the trails. Only service animals are allowed in the mansion itself.
Mansion tours are $10 per person for those 16 and older, free for those 15 and younger. Mansion Tours are offered starting at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are offered seasonally from May 1 until mid-October.
The Grounds are open seasonally from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for April until 8 p.m. The Pavilion Visitor Center is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Located at 81 Vanderbilt Park Rd, Hyde Park, NY. This property adjoins the FDR National Historic Site and both can be toured in one day.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
The 22,275-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve is home to Lake Minnewaska. It is on the Shawangunk Ridge, or the Gunks, 2,000 feet above sea level and part of the Appalachian Mountains.
During the summer, Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting offer guarded swimming beaches, surrounded by forest. During the fall, Minnewaska State Park Preserve is the place for fall color.
In addition to enjoying Lake Minnewaska, visitors often take the .2-mile Awosting Falls Connector Trail to the 60-foot Awosting Falls. Additional Bogerman Falls, Rainbow Falls and Stony Kill Falls are located in the Minnewaska State Park.
Minnewaska State Park features 35 miles of carriage roads used for biking and hiking trails and 50 miles of hiking trails. Rock climbing is popular in the park as well.
Camping is available at the tent-only Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground.
Located at 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson, NY Opens at 9:00 a.m. with seasonal closing hours. Parking is $10 per car. It is west of New Paltz in Ulster County so visitors will need to cross the Mid-Hudson Bridge to get there.
Olana State Historic Site
The home of Frederic Edwin Church, one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting, is another historic home to explore in the Hudson Valley. This was Frederic and his wife Isabel’s primary home, and they raised four kids on the property.
In addition to being an accomplished artist, Church traveled the world as evident in his house. Designed with Calvert Vaux, who worked with Frederic Law Olmstead, Church melded different influences into an Orientalist-style home. Using Victorian, Persian and Moorish elements, the building’s architecture is set off by its warm color palette.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965, it is one of the few artist-owned and designed estates owned that remained intact. The property overlooks the Hudson River and offers views of the Catskill Mountains to the west.
Located at 5720 NY-9G, Hudson. Open daily from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (or sunset). The grounds are free to enjoy. However, to tour the home a tour ticket is required. Prices start at $12 for adults (kids 16 and younger enter for free), and there are several different tours. Reservations are required.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
Inside of the Ogden Mills & Ruth Livingston Mills State Park, old house lovers can tour their Beaux-Arts mansion, designed by McKim, Mead, and White (who designed the Vanderbilt Mansion after this project). Overlooking the Hudson River, this statuesque home is another of the Gilded Age Mansion of the area.
This home was one of five homes they owned, and they used it primarily in the fall. Ruth Livingston Mills loved to entertain, and this home played heavily into that.
The interior offers gilded furniture, silks over the windows and oil portraits hanging from the wood paneling that were hallmarks of the great homes of the day. The public rooms meld European romanticism, backed by the deep pockets of the American Industrialists.
Visitors will find tapestries from Europe and cherubs painted on the ceiling. For all the old-world antiques, this home featured the latest in plumbing and electrical.
Located at 75 Mills Mansion Drive, Road #1, Staatsburg. Open year-round, Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed for November 1 until Thanksgiving for holiday decorating. Home tours are by reservation and cost $10 for adults, students are $8 and kids 12 and younger are free.
Clermont State Historic Site
As the former estate of the Livingston family, seven generations of the notable family lived on the land. The Georgian home was built in about 1740.
Robert Livingston was involved in crafting the Declaration of Independence. For that reason, the estate was burned by British forces in 1777.
Rebuilt between 1779 and 1782, the house remained in the family. It was donated to New York State in 1962 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Located at 1 Clermont Ave, Germantown. Gardens are open year-round from 8:30 a.m. to sunset. The visitor center is open year-round from Friday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Thursday through Sunday during the summer). Home tours are offered during the summer Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the hour. Parking fee is $5. Home tours are $7 for adults and kids (12 and younger) enter for free.
Perched around Tyrell Lake, Innisfree Gardens is a 185-acre site that fuses Asian design principles with North American plant selections using stacked stone terraces, steps and water features. It was the country residence of Walter and Marion Beck, and landscape architect Lester Collins, Dean of the Landscape Architecture program at Harvard University, worked on Innisfree Gardens for 55 years.
Located at 362 Tyrrel Road, Millbrook. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free to enter.
Walkway Over the Hudson
Spanning the Hudson River, this steel cantilever bridge was used for trains. Now, it is a pedestrian bridge that is 1.28 miles long and connects the towns of Poughkeepsie and Highland. Known as the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, it offers sweeping views of the Hudson Valley.
Open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. Westside parking lot is at 87 Haviland Road, Highland. Eastside parking lots is at 61 Parker Avenue, Poughkeepsie. There is an elevator on the east side. It is free to enter.
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum
Dedicated to aviation of the Pioneer Era, World War I and the Golden Age of Aviation between the World Wars, visitors can tour its aircraft, many still airworthy. However, most visitors come for the popular weekend airshows. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum also offers biplane rides during the week.
From mid-June to mid-October, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum showcases 15 to 20 flying antiques. Saturday’s show is dedicated to the History of Flight. Sunday’s air show is the WWI dog fight spectacular. Adult (18+) admission is $28 and kids (6 – 17) get in for $13 with those 5 and younger entering for free.
Biplane rides are a must for aviation enthusiasts. This is your chance to be a barnstormer. I did it, and it was exhilarating.
Located at 9 Norton Rd, Red Hook. Reservations are required along with two passengers and up to 4 can fit into the open-air cockpit. The 15-minute Biplane rides take off during the week and cost $100 per passenger.
Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College
Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, the Richard R. Fisher Center is located on Bard College. In Gehry’s signature titanium sheathing, this intimate performance center is similar to Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles.
The Fisher Center offers a full lineup of performances from theater and dance productions to opera and orchestra performances. It also hosts engaging speaker series.
Located on Manor Ave. on the Bard College campus, Annandale-On-Hudson. Admission is required to performances though it is easy to drive by and see the building.
Where to Eat in Hyde Park
Culinary Institute of America Student Restaurants
As the premier culinary school in the U.S., one of the best places to eat in Hyde Park is the Culinary Institute of America. It offers several restaurants, each serving a different seasonal menu.
As student-run restaurants, the service is attentive. All the entrees are student-prepared, under the watchful eye of the kitchen’s chef instructor.
In fact, one of the CIA students might be my son. He is a culinary student.
The CIA’s farm-to-table restaurant features New American cuisine. For foodies, request one of its tables overlooking the kitchen.
The Parker House rolls are exceptional. The beer is brewed at CIA. And save room for dessert.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. for lunch and 6 – 8 p.m. for dinner. Reservations recommended.
Named after the culinary legend, Paul Bocuse, this restaurant focuses on re-imagined French cuisine. The menu and execution is the most refined at Bocuse.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. for lunch and 6 – 8 p.m. for dinner. Reservations recommended. Reservations recommended.
Ristorante Caterina de Medici
Named after the Florentine noblewoman of the de Medici family, Caterina de Medici features a menu regional Italian menu. Items included wood-fired pizzas and calzones along with pasta dishes.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. for lunch. No reservations are required.
Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe
The breakfast and lunch spot on the CIA campus. It offers barista-made coffee drinks along with baked goods, made in-house by the CIA pastry students.
Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The CIA offers a one-hour public tour, offered at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. All restaurants are located on the CIA campus at 1946 Campus Dr., Hyde Park. The restaurants follow a student calendar so they are closed from mid-December to the end of the year and the month of August.
Shadows on the Hudson
Overlooking the Hudson River, the Shadows on the Hudson offers an expansive outdoor seating area. Forty feet over the river below, Shadows on the Hudson is also a popular happy hour spot, especially with its Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.
Shadows on the Hudson features a New American menu, with stand-outs like its Burrata with local in-season tomatoes and its clam pot with Littlenecks and garlic roasted mashed potatoes. Its raw bar features many seafood options from New England
Entrees range from its house-made pasta and beef options like the Porterhouse or the NY Strip. For a bit of decadence, the Maine Lobster is the go-to (and pair it with the truffle fries).
The dessert menu is worth saving a bit of room. Shadows on the Hudson serves artfully created desserts that are both delicious and beautiful.
The Sunday Brunch Menu is a prix fixe menu and features a carving station.
Located at 176 Rinaldi Blvd., Poughkeepsie. Open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday 10;30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
The Corner at Hotel Tivoli
In a 100-year-old building, diners can enjoy a farm-to-table meal al fresco on its front porch or inside in its art-forward eclectic dining room. Its menu features the bounty of the region with fresh versions of Mediterranean classics, like Burrata or Hummus.
Its menu changes with the season, and during my visit, I ordered The Corner’s Hanger Steak. It was accompanied by a grilled caesar and boquerones along with shishito peppers.
For those interested in a drink at its luxurious marble bar, a special bar menu is available. It is the perfect accompaniment to The Corner’s wine-by-the-glass list, local beer and artisan cocktails.
Located at 53 Broadway, Tivoli. Open Thursday to Monday from 5:30 – 9 p.m. and Sunday Brunch from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
In an old house, The Amsterdam offers a menu of New American classics starting with house-made charcuterie and a rich selection of cheese, most from New York.
Entrees range from Roasted Duck Breast or Chicken, both offering crisped skins paired with tender meat. House-made pappardelle, pork tenderloin along with Salmon and a NY Strip round out the options. During my visit, truffle fries were on the menu and delectable.
Located at 6380 Mill St., Rhinebeck. Open nightly from 5 – 9 p.m., brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Inside a 200-year-old church, this farm-to-table restaurant offers a farm-to-table experience with indoor or outdoor patio seating. Its Red Bistro offers a lunch menu focused on burgers and sandwiches, including local Hudson Valley Cattle Company Hamburger.
For my visit, I chose the Terrapin Rueben, one of its specialties, on rye with melted Swiss and Pastrami. It also offers lots of appetizers and tapas.
For its dinner menu (reservations recommended), Terrapin offers entrees that are free-range and grass or grain-fed. Diners will find pasta on the menu along with soups, salads and fish entrees.
Located at 6426 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to midnight (11 p.m. on Sunday).
Main Course Catering and Marketplace
This popular lunch spot is perfect for take-out lunches from trips to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Its menu offers salads and panini sandwiches as well as barista-made drinks and tea infusions.
Main Course Catering and Marketplace sells wine and craft beer. On Sundays, it offers a Brunch Menu.
Located at 175 Main St., New Paltz on the west side of the Hudson River. Open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Closed Monday.
New York City isn’t the only place known for its chrome-plated diners that resemble railroad dining cars from the 1950s, Hyde Park features one. Inside, diners will find booth seating and an extensive menu, including breakfast served all day.
The Eveready Diner still sports a soda fountain and churns out the ice cream treats. Its pies and cakes are made in-house. During my visit, I sampled its Hudson Salad, with apples from its orchard. Diners will find all the American food classics, from New York deli sandwiches to hamburgers and dinner classics.
Located at 4184 Albany Post Rd., Hyde Park. Open daily from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Bread Alone Bakery
Inside this modern bakery, visitors will find a host of breads made with organic flour. In addition, Bread Alone is a popular breakfast spot and serves barista-made coffee drinks along with other pastries.
Located at 45 E Market St., Rhinebeck. Open daily from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Montgomery Place Orchard Market
This roadside produce stand is a quaint pit stop and stocked with the bounty of the Hudson Valley. It is one of the best places for local foodie gifts and the best place to buy fruit for picnicking and snacking.
Located at 4283 NY-9G, Red Hook. Open seasonally Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Harney & Sons
For a tea drinker, Harney & Sons Tea makes me swoon, so I was delighted to hear that it is blended in New York’s Millerton. The factory is not open for tours though I ventured out to the Harney & Sons Tea Shop and Tasting Room.
It’s a small thorough shop stocked with the majority of the Harney & Sons Teas in their tins. Along with tea, find niceties like tea serve ware. There’s even a cafe in the back of the store with an excellent lunch along with a patio.
Located at 13 Main St., Millerton. Open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Samuel’s Sweet Shop
This is the destination for old-school candy. As a bonus, it sells barista-made coffee. Owners include Hilarie Burton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Paul Rudd and his wife Julie along with Andy Ostroy.
Located at 42 E. Market St, Rhinebeck. Open Sunday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fortune’s Ice Cream
For a freshly made cup or cone of ice cream, Fortune’s in Tivoli is the answer. During my visit, I mixed its cherry ice cream with chocolate. Divine.
Located at 55 Broadway, Tivoli, NY. Open seasonally from Thursday to Monday from noon to 10 p.m.
Where to Stay
Hyatt Place Poughkeepsie
Located along the major thoroughfare Route 9, the Hyatt Place in Poughkeepsie offers suite-style rooms close to attractions along the Hudson River, like the Walkway over the Hudson—the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge along with historic homes and several colleges, including Vassar College, Marist College and the Culinary Institute of America.
The lobby offers an expansive gathering place, a dining and lounging area with light meal options including cocktails (additional cost) and an additional complimentary hot breakfast. The Hyatt Place Poughkeepsie offers an outdoor dining and lounging space as well.
The Hyatt Place Poughkeepsie amenities an indoor pool, and a fitness center. For EV owners, there is charging in the hotel parking lot.
The rooms at the Hyatt Place Poughkeepsie are suite-style and include a mini-fridge and a settee. The furniture allows for in-room dining and remote working.
The beds are comfortable and dressed with white linens and include mounted bedside lights. The bathroom includes a glass-enclosed shower with a marble surround, along with a separate vanity area with a stone countertop and lots of light.
With its convenient location, visitors can enjoy the sites of the Hudson Valley, like the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Franklin D. Roosevelt House, both National Park Service sites.