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The Bear Mountain Bridge in the NY Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley Travel Guide

The Hudson Valley is a picturesque region that lies along the Hudson River to the north of New York City. It is known for its breathtaking mountain views, a rich history, and quaint towns that draw visitors up on weekend trips from New York City. 

Each of the small towns in the Hudson Valley is unique. Some have great hiking trails, some take you back in history, and others feature a great dining scene. I have been lucky to spend a great deal of time in this area and explore what the Hudson Valley has to offer.

Table of Contents

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Where is the Hudson Valley?

The Hudson Valley is a scenic region in New York State that extends about 150 miles northward from the northern edge of New York City to the capital city of Albany, following the course of the Hudson River. Nestled between the Catskill Mountains to the west and the Taconic and Berkshire Hills to the east, the valley is characterized by its lush landscapes and rolling hills.

The region is divided into three main areas:

Lower Hudson Valley: Westchester and Rockland counties, closest to New York City

Mid-Hudson Valley: The counties of Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, and Sullivan

Upper Hudson Valley: The capital district around Albany, that includes Columbia, Greene, and Rensselaer counties

New York State Map Highlighting the Hudson Valley.
Hudson Valley Map

The Hudson Valley’s proximity to New York City makes it a popular destination for those seeking a retreat into nature and history without straying too far from urban amenities. Its towns and cities are known for their vibrant arts scenes, historic landmarks, farm-to-table dining, and nearby outdoor recreational activities, making the Hudson Valley a diverse region worth exploring.

Best Time to Visit the Hudson Valley

One of the great things about the Hudson Valley is that it is an excellent year-round destination. The ski areas are popular in winter. People flock to the area for the great hiking from the spring into fall. Summer is the busiest season as the towns fill with tourists and people from NYC take weekend getaways. Then in the fall,

  • Autumn: This is arguably the most picturesque time to visit the Hudson Valley. The region is well known for its colorful foliage as the mountainous landscape transforms into a stunning palette of red, orange, and yellow leaves. Fall also brings harvest festivals, apple picking, and wine tastings, making it a popular season to visit.
  • Summer: Summer is ideal for those looking to explore the Hudson Valley’s outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking, and exploring the numerous state parks. There are also many cultural events, music festivals, and farmers’ markets. This is the busiest time of year and also the most expensive as families rent vacation homes and people from NYC flock to the towns for weekend getaways. This is my favorite time of year to sit outside and enjoy the local wineries.
  • Spring: As the snow melts and temperatures warm, the valley blooms with flowers and greenery. People come to visit botanical gardens, go hiking (which lasts through the fall), and enjoy the outdoors before the summer crowds. The weather can be a bit unpredictable at times, so packing layers is advisable.
  • Winter: While this is the slowest season for most of the region, the chiller winter has its own allure for those who enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports offered in the Catskills. The holiday season brings festive markets and events to the towns throughout the valley. It’s a magical time for those who appreciate the serene beauty of a snowy landscape.
Summer is the best time to visit the New York wineries such as Benmarl in Marlboro
Banmarl Winery in the Summer

What are the Best Towns to Visit in the Hudson Valley?

The Hudson Valley is dotted with charming towns and cities, each offering its unique blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and dining. Most of these towns have small hotels or Bed & Breakfast style accommodations so that you can explore them by foot. And then they are a great base for driving out to the activities in the more rural areas.

Here are some of the best towns to visit in the Hudson Valley.


Known for its vibrant arts scene, Beacon is home to Dia:Beacon, one of the largest contemporary art museums in the United States. This riverside town also offers quaint shops, delicious eateries, and beautiful hiking trails, including those leading up to Mount Beacon. Beacon is on the train line from NYC.

New Paltz

Offering a blend of outdoor activities and historical sites, New Paltz is home to the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, ideal for hiking, biking, and climbing. The town also features the historic Huguenot Street, showcasing stone houses from the early settlers. Because this a bit west of the Hudson River, you will likely want to drive here.

Cold Spring

This riverside village offers stunning views of the Hudson Highlands and a quaint Main Street filled with antique stores and cafes. It’s also a gateway to outdoor adventures, with easy access to hiking at Breakneck Ridge and the Hudson Highlands State Park. Cold Spring is on the train line from NYC.

My Favorite Orchards to Go Apple Picking


As New York’s first state capital, Kingston is rich in history, evident in its vibrant Uptown Stockade District. The town also offers a bustling waterfront with dining and recreational activities. The Metro-North train from NYC does not go this far, but there is an Amtrak station in nearby Hudson, which you can then Uber from. But while the stockade district is walkable, I recommend having a car.


Once a whaling port, Hudson is now renowned for its impressive antique shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. Its vibrant, creative atmosphere and historic architecture make it a must-visit for culture lovers. 


With its well-preserved architecture and tree-lined streets, Rhinebeck boasts a quintessential small-town charm. It’s famous for its antique shops, boutiques, and the Dutchess County Fair, one of the largest in New York state. This is one of the more upscale destinations in the Hudson Valley, and so hotels and restaurants are on the pricey side.

How to Get to the Hudson Valley

Getting to the Hudson Valley is relatively straightforward, whether you’re coming from within New York State or traveling from further afield. Here’s how to make your way to this scenic region:

By Car

By Car: By far the easiest and most common way to get here is by car. Afterall, it is a rural area spread out over several counties. Driving offers the most flexibility for exploring the entire Hudson Valley, with the region accessible via several major highways. In particular, Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway) runs north-south through the valley, and Interstate 84 runs east-west. These offer easy access to many of its towns and attractions.

By Train

The Hudson Valley is well-serviced by train, offering a scenic and convenient option for visitors. The Hudson Line of Metro-North Railroad provides service from Grand Central Terminal in New York City to various towns along the eastern shore of the Hudson River. It runs alongside the west bank of the Hudson River and stops at popular destinations like Peekskill, Cold Spring, Beacon, and ends in Poughkeepsie. This is the most popular transportation for people taking weekend trips to the Hudson Valley from NYC. new.mta.info

Amtrak also runs through the Hudson Valley connecting stations further north than Poughkeepsie such as Rhinecliff, Hudson, and Albany.

You can take the train to the Hudson Valley on the Metro North Railroad
Metro North - Hudson Line

By Bus

Various bus services connect the Hudson Valley to New York City and other parts of the state and country. Companies like Trailways and Greyhound offer routes to key locations in the region, providing an affordable travel option.

By Plane

By Air: For those flying in, the closest major airports are Albany International Airport (ALB) in the northern part of the valley, Stewart International Airport (SWF) in Newburgh in central, and Westchester County Airport (HPN) in the southern part. The major airports in the New York City area such as John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark Liberty International (EWR) are about an hour drive or longer if you are taking the trains up from them.

Hotels in the Hudson Valley


Hotel Kinsley


Maker Hotel


Beekman Arms


Wildflower Farms

The above are just some of my favorite hotels in the Hudson Valley. Click on my posts about individual towns to get more details and see more hotel options. And also check VRBO for rentals in the Hudson Valley.

Things to Do in the Hudson Valley

Dine & Shop in the Villages

Much of the Hudson Valley centers around its stunning natural landscapes, but it’s also home to a collection of charming villages that allow you to experience the region’s rich history, arts, and dining. Whether you’re exploring the upscale boutique shops in Rhinebeck and Hudson, delving into the artistic enclave of Woodstock, or enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the college town of New Paltz, each village offers a unique blend of attractions and experiences.

Runa is a restaurant in New Paltz that serves French Cuisine, wine, and other food in a nice atmosphere.

Go Apple Picking

New York state is the 2nd largest apple producer, so it should be no surprise that apple picking in the Hudson Valley is a quintessential fall activity. Fishkill Farms, Dubois Farms, and Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm are just some of the many orchards in the Hudson Valley.

My Favorite Orchards To Go Apple Picking

Taste a Flight of Hard Apple Cider

Not all apples grown in the Hudson Valley are meant to be eaten. Many apple orchards also produce hard cider from what they grow. Many offer several varieties of cider for you to taste. Some of the best known cideries are Angry Orchard, Bad Seed Cider, and Kettleborough Cider House.

Kettleborough Cider House makes cider from apples at Dressel Farms in New Paltz

My Favorite Places For Hard Apple Cider

Visit a Winery

Did you know New York has its own wine trail? The Shawangunk Wine Trail is a collection of family-owned wineries in the Hudson Valley. Stop in for a wine tasting and learn about the history of NY wine. Brotherhood is America’s oldest winery and Benmarl is the oldest vineyard in America.

Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery is one of the best wineries in the Hudson Valley, New York. It is in the town of Gardiner.

Dine at the CIA

It’s not the government agency, but rather the Culinary Institute of America. And it’s known as one of the world’s premier culinary colleges. The campus in Hyde Park features several restaurants run by students that are open to the public. You might try a meal served by a future Michelin chef at a fraction of the price. They even have a student brewery. Reservations required.

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is one of the premier culinary colleges in the world. It is in Hyde Park, NY in the Hudson Valley.

Take a Hike

The mountainous terrain of the Hudson Valley makes from some great hiking trails. Breakneck Ridge near Cold Spring is known for a challenging and rocky ascent with rewarding views of the Hudson River. And the Mohonk Preserve offers a variety of trails suitable for all skill levels, with stunning views of the Shawangunk Ridge.

Breakneck Ridge is the most popular hiking trail in Cold Sprin, NY

Visit Dia Beacon

Dia is a contemporary art museum situated in a former Nabisco box-printing factory along the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon. It features a vast collection of modern and contemporary art, with installations by renowned artists such as Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, and Dan Flavin. Because of its proximity to the Beacon train station, it is a popular day trip for NYC residents.

Dia is a contemporary art museum in Beacon, NY

Go Skiing

There are several ski resorts in the Catskill Mountains, including Hunter Mountain, Windham Mountain, Belleayre Mountain, Catamount Mountain Resort, and Mount Peter Ski Area. While these mountains aren’t as big as those out west, they cater to every ski level are under a 3-hour drive from NYC.

Hunter Mountain is a popular resort for skiing and snowboarding in New York

Walk Across the Hudson River

The Walkway Over the Hudson is a historic and scenic pedestrian bridge that spans the Hudson River, connecting Poughkeepsie on the east side and Highland on the west. It was originally built for trains but is now the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. Walk, run, or bike across while enjoying spectacular views of the Hudson River.

The Walkway Over the Hudson is a pedestrian bridge that connects Poughkeepsie on the east side of the Hudson River to Highland on the west.

Hudson Valley FAQ

Is the Hudson Valley Good for Digital Nomads?

The Hudson Valley certainly isn’t a hotspot for digital nomads. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. you might find that working from a vacation rental property is the best, as WiFi is generally good to residential homes throughout the area. But if you are looking to work from places like coffee shops or breweries, then it varies dramatically from town to town.

Kingston is one of the better towns for coworking in the Hudson Valley because it has two coworking options. But several of the coffee shops don’t have WiFi. On the other hand, New Paltz might be the worst choice for coworking, as the businesses have the most limited WiFi options of all the towns I have stayed in.

These cowork spaces offer private offices, dedicated or open desk seating, conference rooms, and booths for private calls. 

  • CoWork Kingston: This large space has a variety of options ranging from day passes to unlimited monthly rates.
  • Barnfox: Monthly membership here gives you access to their locations in Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Hudson, and Livingston Manor.
CoWork Kingston is a coworking space in the Stockade district.

Do I Need a Car in the Hudson Valley?

If you plan to visit one of the towns along the Metro North Railroad or Amtrak and don’t expect to explore the surrounding areas, then you can get by without a car. These towns include Beacon, Cold Spring, and Hudson.

But if you might want to drive to towns that don’t have a train station such as New Paltz or Kingston. And if you plan to leave the towns to visit apple orchards, wineries, or go hiking, then you will most certainly need/want a car.

What is the Difference Between a Village and a Town?

A village is an incorporated area within a town. It has its own government and often its own services (police, water, sewer). Residents of a village pay a portion of taxes to both the village and town.

The villages are generally what’s viewed as the “downtown area” of the town. Sometimes they are named the same. The village of Fishkill is within the town of Fishkill and the village of New Paltz lies within the town of New Paltz.

But sometimes they don’t share the same name. For example, the village of Cold Spring is within the town of Philipstown.

Even more confusing is that sometimes a village can be within 2 differnt towns! for example, the village of Rhinebeck is moslty within the town of Rhinebeck, but also some of it is within the town of Red Hook.

New York can be very confusing with cities, towns, villages, and hamlets.

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Thanks for reading and I hope my travel guide for the Hudson Valley in New York is helpful! Check out some of my other blogs below!