Get ready for 21 top things to do in Dutchess County, New York! Perfect if you are planning a getaway to Dutchess County or if you want to get inspired for future travels.
Dutchess County is New York City’s backyard and an amazing county to explore. It’s less than two hours away from the Big Apple, hence its nickname New York City’s backyard.
And it totally feels like you are in a different world. From the busy streets of New York City to the peaceful, green, and scenic Hudson Valley. You come here to relax, enjoy nature, learn about history, and taste excellent cuisine.
The main attraction of the Hudson Valley and Dutchess County is the natural beauty of the Hudson River and the surrounding mountains! Here you can do many outdoor activities like hiking, visiting Innisfree Garden, and going apple picking.
But there’s so much more to do! Visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home, Presidential Library and Museum, fly in a biplane at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, taste the most delicious ice cream of the county, and have fun at SplashDown Beach’s outdoor water park.
We highly recommend coming to Dutchess County over the weekend, when most things are open and there are many things going on, like markets, biplane shows, festivals, and other events. Enjoy everything this amazing county has to offer!
Where is Dutchess County?
The ideal getaway from New York City is just located 1.5 hours north of the city in the stunning Hudson Valley. And Boston is 3 hours away by car!
Dutchess County is located along the Hudson River in the state of New York. Surrounding counties are Columbia County in the north, Putnam County in the south, and Orange County in the west, on the other side of the Hudson River.
On the east, it borders the state of Connecticut.
How to get to Dutchess County?
If you travel to Dutchess County from New York City, you can easily hop on the Metro-North Hudson Line or Harlem Line! Or take an Amtrak train from the Moynihan Train Hall, which is the fastest option.
We love traveling to Dutchess County by train as the views on the way, especially of the Hudson River, are amazing.
The Hudson Lines goes from Grand Central Terminal in New York City directly to Dutchess County. With stops in Beacon, New Hamburg, and Poughkeepsie.
The Harlem Lines also goes from Grand Central Terminal in New York City to Dutchess County, but to the eastern part of the county. It stops in Dover Plains, Wingdale, Wassaic, and Pawling for example.
It’s also possible to travel to Dutchess County with several bus companies. And of course by car! The following highways are in and around Dutchess County: US Route 9 (north/southbound), l-84 (east/westbound), NY Route 22 (north/southbound), and the Taconic State Parkway (north/southbound).
When you make your way to Dutchess County by public transportation, we highly recommend renting a car to see most during your Dutchess County trip!
It’s possible to see a lot of the county in a few days if you have your own transportation. If you only rely on public transportation, you might need to skip a few activities on this list with things to do in Dutchess County.
Top Things to do in Dutchess County
It’s time to talk about the top things to do in Dutchess County. And make sure to read until the end of the article, where we share about the best restaurants in Dutchess County, hotels in Dutchess County, and a Dutchess County map!
- Visit Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Home and Presidential Library
A must thing to do in Dutchess County is visiting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home, Springwood, and presidential library. Especially if you are interested in American history.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, also known by his initials FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States, from 1933 till his passing in 1945. FDR was a member of the Democratic Party and is the longest-serving President of the United States. He is still the only president to serve the United States more than two terms.
FDR was born in Dutchess County, in Hyde Park, and you can visit his birthplace and lifelong home. Learn more at the National Historic Site and in the presidential library about Franklin D. Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, the Great Depression, the New Deal, and WW2.
The presidential library on the Hyde Park estate is one of 13 presidential libraries across 11 states in the country. Americans travel all around the United States to visit them all. To learn more about history, the presidents and their families, the historical decisions that have been made, the issues of those times, and the historical background of the states.
Make sure to also explore the other ground of the estate, as it’s a beautiful green place to discover. Not to miss is the rose garden and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s grave.
- Dutchess County Towns and Cities to Visit
Dutchess County has many amazing towns and cities to visit. And the ones not to miss during your Dutchess County trip are Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and Rhinebeck.
Beacon is located in the South part of the county, Poughkeepsie in the middle, and Rhinebeck in the North. The drive from Beacon to Rhinebeck takes a little less than an hour, so it’s possible to see and do a lot in a short time!
Every place has something different to offer, but they all have something in common: they all have the most charming boutiques and eateries! Plus, there’s beautiful nature everywhere!
Other lovely towns in Dutchess County are Wappingers Falls, Hyde Park, Tivoli, Millerton, and Millbrook.
- Cross the World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge: The Walkway Over the Hudson
One of the top things to do in Dutchess County is walking over the Poughkeepsie Bridge, also known as The Walkway Over the Hudson.
The bridge is 1.28 miles (2 kilometers) long, making it the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world (according to their own website!).
Walk over the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie on the east bank to Highland on the west bank and enjoy the fantastic views on the way! And it’s not only possible to walk on the bridge, but you can also bike on it. Make sure to bring your camera with you as you want to capture those beautiful views.
Enter the bridge in Poughkeepsie either from the stairs on 131 Washington Street or go up in the glass elevator from Upper Landing Park.
Our recommendation is to take the elevator at least once, as it’s a cool experience with beautiful views on the way. And from Victor C. Waryas Park, next to Upper Landing Park, you have great views of the bridge.
In 1889 the bridge opened as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge and operated until a fire destroyed the tracks in 1974. In 2009, it re-opened as the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.
And we are glad it has been rebuilt, as walking over the Hudson is a wonderful thing to do in Dutchess County.
- Eat at the Culinary Institute of America
Getting hungry after all the exploring? Then we have a great recommendation for you! Dutchess County is home to The Culinary Institute of America and this is an amazing place to visit. Not only for the delicious food but also for the beautiful campus! According to Condé Nast, it’s one of the 50 most beautiful college campuses in America!
Chefs and students from all over the world come to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park to learn everything about culinary arts and hospitality. And you can eat their food!
At the cooking school, you can find multiple restaurants with food made by people in education. Go to the Bocuse Restaurant for example to eat French food made with modern cooking techniques, to the American Bounty Restaurant to celebrate traditional American cuisine, and to Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici for Italian food.
Make sure to make a reservation in advance, especially for the world-class restaurant Bocuse. And afterward, you can go to the Apple Pie Bakery Café for sweets and to the Brewery at the CIA for a drink!
- Head to the Modern Museum Dia Beacon
Beacon is one of the towns in Dutchess County you have to visit. And in the town, there’s a museum not to miss for modern art lovers, like us!
Dia Beacon is a wonderful modern art museum located in an old Nabisco factory. The building itself is already a piece of art as it’s full of light, spacious, and we love the industrial vibes. It’s one of the largest exhibition spaces in the United States for modern art!
The installations and exhibitions are always impressive at Dia Beacon, you can easily spend two hours wandering around the museum. If you get hungry or thirsty, there’s a café for something small!
Advised is to book a ticket in advance for Dia Beacon if you want to go! And if you don’t have a car to get to the museum, the free Beacon loop bus runs from the train station to Dia Beacon.
Traveling around the States? We also love Miami and its museums and street art!
- Enjoy Nature at Innisfree Garden
Innisfree Garden is a Chinese and Japanese-influenced garden near Millbrook. It’s created over a 50-year span and features a big lake, different plants, terraces, sculptures, streams, waterfalls, and a mixture of rocks.
The garden is a wonderful place to wander around, slow down, and enjoy nature. Take your time and explore everything it has to offer. It’s been named one of the world’s 10 best gardens, so go see it yourself! Not to miss in the garden is the amazing wish tree!
Walk the trail around the lake if you want to go for a longer walk. The shortest path around the Innisfree Garden lake is about 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) long.
Bring a picnic to eat on the way! There are no food services in the garden. A toilet is available at the parking place. Visiting Innisfree Garden is one of the best things to do in Dutchess County if you like nature and gardens.
Good to know: Innisfree is closed during the winter and there’s an admission fee.
- Visit the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
The Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is a historic house museum in Dutchess County. The 54-room house was one of several homes owned by Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt. And it’s now open to the public! Get a glimpse into a past world, which was only known by an elite few.
Frederick was a member of the American family of Dutch origin Vanderbilt, who were once the wealthiest family in the United States. The Vanderbilt mansion was built by the family and is one of the most intact examples of estates built by wealthy industrialists in the 19th century.
Make a reservation for a tour to see the inside of the house and learn about its history, decor, and Beaux-Arts architecture.
It’s also possible to walk on the grounds of the estate, for free, and enjoy the beautiful gardens and breathtaking views over the Hudson River!
- Grab a Coffee at The Crafted Kup
Arguably the best coffee in Dutchess County (definitely in Poughkeepsie) is found at The Crafted Kup! The Crafted Kup is a homey coffeehouse with delicious coffee, smoothies, a range of teas, and yummy baked goods.
It’s usually busy at The Crafted Kup, as it’s a popular spot in Poughkeepsie. Sometimes there are even long lines! Vassar College is just around the corner, so many students also come here. It’s the perfect spot to get some work done, to meet with a friend, or to just sit and relax with a cup of coffee!
Good to know: they are vegan-friendly! And if you have questions, the friendly staff and owners are always happy to help you.
- Get Adventurous and Visit Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island
If you arrived in Dutchess County by train, there’s a high chance you’ve already seen Bannerman Castle from the train window. The island and castle are an eye-catcher from the train and can’t be missed!
Bannerman Castle is located on Pollepel Island, just south of Beacon. A long time ago, the castle was built as a military warehouse. Francis Bannerman was looking for storage space outside the big city and found it while canoeing on the Hudson.
He began construction on a simulated Scottish castle, and these days you can visit the island and remains of the castle! Due to safety issues, it isn’t possible to go inside, sadly. But you can admire the castle from up close on Pollepel island
Book a tour in advance and enjoy a scenic boat ride from Beacon first. On the island, there will be a guide to show you around and tell you everything about its history. If you want to arrive with your own kayak or canoe, you can book a self-guided tour.
Good to know: from the dock to the start of the tour, there’s a 72-step climb. And tours are not available during the colder months of the year.
Visiting Pollepel island is definitely an adventurous thing to do in Dutchess County!
- Discover the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
Earlier we talked about visiting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home and presidential library as a must thing to do in Dutchess County. But so is the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site!
It’s the first and only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady, how inspiring! Eleanor called her former home Val-KiII, and after the passing of Franklin, it became Eleanor’s primary residence.
The estate is located about two miles east of Springwood, Franklin’s home, so make sure to combine both! Learn more about Eleanor herself at Val-KiII and how she fought for woman’s rights and how nontraditional proactive her role as First Lady was. Plus, how she established Val-KiII Industries with friends to employ local farming families in handcraft traditions.
There’s a lot to learn about this impressive and inspiring First Lady! Make sure to hike up to Top Cottage too.
- Have Fun at SplashDown Beach
If you are wondering what to do in Dutchess County on a warm summer day, head to SplashDown Beach! America’s biggest little water park is in Dutchess County! Fun for young and old guaranteed at the water park.
Relax and tube down the lazy river, race next to each other on the Arctic Plunge Racer, go on one of the largest raft rides in the Northeast, ride the waves in the Monster Wave Pool, and get adventurous in the half-pipe! Or go and lay on the beach.
With over 50 interactive features, there’s a lot to do at SplashDown Beach!
- Fully Relax at Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck
We can all use some relaxation after a day of exploring, right? Why not head to one of Rhinebeck’s newest gains: Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck!
Rhinebeck is a lovely town in Dutchess County and since spring 2019 you can stay in the heart of Rhinebeck at Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck. We had the pleasure to stay here in 2021 and enjoyed every second of it!
From massages, salt saunas, thermal pool, to the modern room with fireplace, and dinner at the French-inspired American restaurant.
And that’s not everything they offer, there’s also a gym, resting area, and steam rooms. In short, this is where you want to stay and relax!
- Go Apple Picking in Dutchess County
Fall is a great moment to visit Dutchess County as the trees have the most amazing fall colors. Especially the sugar maple trees, which are native to eastern North America, are turning into the most incredible bright red, orange, and bronze colors!
And fall is the perfect time to go apple picking, which is a popular activity in Dutchess County! You can go apple picking at many farms in the county, which makes for a fun outdoor activity for everyone. And especially for families as many farms also organize special activities for kids.
Roam through Dutchess County while enjoying the stunning fall colors and visiting farms. And this is also the moment to visit pumpkin patches!
For apple picking, we recommend checking the following farms: FishkiII Farms, Barton Orchards, Cedar Heights Orchard, Greig Farm, Mead Orchards, and Meadowbrook Farm. For the best pumpkins, head to Dykeman Farm!
Make sure to also taste some apple cider and eat apple cider donuts, so yummy!
- Stop by Montgomery Place Orchard Market
One of the absolute best things to do in Dutchess County is going to one of the markets. Especially during the summer months, there are farmers’ markets everywhere in the county!
Farmers are important in Dutchess County, and here you can enjoy one of the richest agricultural experiences in the Northeast. So make sure to try some local goods or bring something home! From vegetables, fine fruits, to meats and cheeses, you can find it all.
As times and locations of farmers’ markets can change, we want to include a market in this list that’s always there from about mid-June until Thanksgiving on Wednesdays till Sundays: the Montgomery Place Orchard Market.
On the Montgomery Place Orchard Market, you can find up to 70 apple varieties grown on their family-run farm, vegetables, other fruits, flowers, apple cider donuts, among other local foods!
- Ride a Biplane at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
By far the coolest thing to do in Dutchess County: riding a biplane at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome! Enjoy Dutchess County from above and ride in a unique old little airplane. Make sure to bring your camera or phone to make some cool videos and pictures.
If you don’t want to ride on a biplane, it’s also possible to watch a show and visit the museum! The museum features antique airplanes from 1900-1935, and some still even fly in shows.
In 2022, shows are every Saturday and Sunday, from June 18 until October 16. And if you want to enjoy a ride in a biplane yourself, biplane rides are possible before and after the shows. If you want to fly on a weekday, get in touch with them for a reservation!
It’s a fun and unique place to visit, therefore we highly recommend visiting Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome for a show and possibly a biplane ride too!
- Have Breakfast at Bread Alone Bakery
You can’t visit Rhinebeck and not enjoy some freshly baked goods from Bread Alone Bakery! Especially perfect if you want to get some breakfast. Or lunch!
Bread Alone Bakery is a family-owned bakery operating since 1983. And not only do they sell the most delicious things, but they also do it with local, organic, and responsibly sourced goods. Their purpose is to serve honest food and minimize further harm to the planet, and we love that!
Get a sandwich, some sweet goods like cakes, soups, baguettes, croissants, or great coffee! Their bread selection is big and made with organic grains. Vegan options are available too!
Get something to-go or sit on their terrace!
- Events in Dutchess County
Let’s continue with some amazing events happening in Dutchess County. And the Dutchess County Fair is one of the events not to miss!
Every county has its own fairgrounds and County Fair. The Dutchess County Fair is super fun and one of the best summer fairs happening in the area.
The Dutchess County Fair happens every August at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. It’s a food lover’s dream, and there’s always so much going on. Think about music performances, classic fair rides, face painting, a flea market, games, and talent shows.
Other exciting events happening at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds are The Rhinebeck Crafts Festival, NYS Sheep & Wool Festival, Handcrafted Oktoberfest, Rhinebeck New York Cider Festival, and The Wonderland of Lights.
Of course, there aren’t only events happening at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, but in the whole county! First Friday Poughkeepsie is a monthly food, are, and music festival.
And Second Saturday Beacon is a celebration of Beacon’s galleries, restaurants, and other businesses. Tea and coffee lovers should visit A Cup of the Valley Festival in Poughkeepsie.
Keep an eye out on Big Gay Hudson Valley’s website for any gay events happening in the valley!
- Enjoy Ice-Cream at Fortunes
Fortunes is an awesome colorful ice cream sport in the heart of Tivoli, with arguably the best ice cream in the whole state! Perfect for a warm summer day.
Biran and Lisa, the owners of Fortunes, decided everyone had to try their homemade fresh, seasonal, quality ice cream. And we totally agree, as their ice cream is super yummy and super fun!
When they moved back to Tivoli they missed something in the magical town: an ice cream place! When they heard their dream spot, 55 Broadway, was available, they seized the opportunity to do something they had never done before: sell ice cream! It was their fortune. And Fortunes was born!
With interesting ice cream flavors like pineapple avocado, caramel popcorn crunch, upstate fruit punch, sweet tea with lemon, there’s a lot of ice cream to try! There are also vegan and dairy-free options available.
- Explore Vassar College and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Poughkeepsie, also called The Queen City of the Hudson, is home to Vassar College. Visiting Poughkeepsie is a must, and why not wander around the beautiful Vassar College for a bit too?
It’s a private liberal arts college and one of the historic Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters are seven liberal art colleges in the United States that are historically women’s colleges. Now everyone is welcome to study at Vassar College.
On the college grounds, you can find the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, which is an art museum, gallery, and exhibit space. It features a selection of classic and modern art. Think about paintings, photography, and ceramics! See works from European masters like Picasso and American painters like Jackson Pollock.
Admission is free!
- Stay at America’s Oldest Inn: Beekman Arms
We had the pleasure to stay at America’s oldest continuously operating inn, Beekman Arms! The inn is located in the heart of Rhinebeck in a historic old building.
It’s a great place to stay if you are into such special places! Don’t expect many modern facilities at Beekman Arms as it feels like you are stepping back in time entering the inn. It’s a special feeling! Beekman Arms is rife with American history!
And the list of names of famous people who stayed at the inn is impressive! Quite some presidents of the United States like George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton. And celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Pfeifer, Jon Bon Jovi, and Miley Cyrus.
At the Beekman Arms is also a restaurant and cute garden to enjoy some food in!
- Go Hiking in Dutchess County
Last but definitely not least, go hiking in Dutchess County. Dutchess County is a great place to visit for the hiking lovers under us, so it can’t be missed in this list with top things to do in Dutchess County!
Visit mountains, trails, walking paths, and more while enjoying the Hudson River Valley landscape. Hike up mount Beacon, try the Appalachian Trail through southeastern Dutchess County, visit Poets’ Walk Park, head to the top of Ferncliff Forest, explore Mills Norrie State Park, and enjoy the cool rock formations at Dover Stone Church. There are many options.
And don’t forget the Dutchess Rail Trail Park, which is a 13 miles (21 kilometers) paved abandoned railroad in central Dutchess County. These days it’s a shared path dedicated to bikers and walkers!
For more information about hiking in the county, see the website of Dutchess County.
Best Restaurants in Dutchess County
Dutchess County has amazing restaurants! Trying different foods is definitely one of the top things to do in Dutchess County. Especially when they are locally produced!
Below we will tell you about some restaurants not to miss during your time in Dutchess County. From some fine dining options to places for a quick bite! And the best vegan restaurants in Dutchess County.
Of course, we talked about the Culinary Institute of America earlier in this article, which is a must-visit too!
Cinnamon Indian Cuisine
Located in the center of Rhinebeck you can find the restaurant Cinnamon which serves Indian dishes. We love the ambiance and food here!
With interesting combinations from Asian and South American cuisine, Twisted Soul is an amazing restaurant in Poughkeepsie to check! And there are many vegan options on the menu.
A former church turned into an American restaurant! For some fine dining in Rhinebeck, you go to Terrapin! Terrapin has a main dining room, casual bistro side, and farm-to-table menu with delicious food.
A retro-style diner that’s been around for decades. It can get very busy here, especially on the weekends, so be prepared!
Aba’s Falafel has the best falafel of Dutchess County! And it’s maybe even the best falafel we’ve ever had! Go here for lunch and be amazed.
Brasserie 292 is a French-style brasserie in Poughkeepsie. For fine dining in Poughkeepsie, you go to Brasserie 292. The food is incredible here and the atmosphere wonderful.
The vegan restaurant of Dutchess County! Végétalien is a 100% plant-based restaurant and juice bar in the heart of Beacon. Their menu changes based on seasonal ingredients. And are all sourced from different farms in the Hudson Valley. It’s not open at night, so go here for breakfast or lunch!
Another popular vegan restaurant in Dutchess County, Wildflower Café, is sadly permanently closed.
Hotels in Dutchess County
There are many amazing hotels in Dutchess County to stay at! And as you’ve read, there are many things to do in Dutchess County, so we highly recommend exploring the county for a couple of days.
Especially if you come from the big city and want to fully recharge. Relax is the number one rule in Dutchess County! No matter if you come here for a romantic getaway, family vacation, or a fun trip with friends!
Below we tell you about a couple of great hotels in Dutchess County, in different towns, to stay at. From boutique hotels, charming bed and breakfasts, budget-friendly motels, to luxuries Parisian-style hotels, and nationally branded hotels, there’s something for everyone.
Hotels in Beacon
Stay at The Roundhouse in Beacon and fully enjoy this industrial-chic hotel with hip dining! The hotel is set in a former circular factory and is located at a magical spot, beside Beacon Falls.
If the weather allows it, there’s an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the waterfall and landscaped gardens. Or book a hotel room overlooking the waterfall. In any case, you will have a good time here!
Beacon Hermitage is a cute bed and breakfast on the base of Mount Beacon, making it the perfect location for hikers! There are many state hiking trails nearby.
It’s a great escape from the city, but within 10 minutes by car, you are in the city center of Beacon. The picturesque town Cold Spring is also not far away.
Also important, the hosts are very friendly, and it’s an LGBTQ+ friendly accommodation.
Hotels in Poughkeepsie
Courtyard by Mariott Poughkeepsie is a modern hotel located 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) from Vassar College and has an indoor swimming pool, Bistro restaurant, and 24-hour market for snacks.
The hotel is recently renovated, so you now can comfortably enjoy everything it has to offer!
Want to stay more in the city center of Poughkeepsie? Then Quality Inn Poughkeepsie might be a good option. Especially as the restaurant Twisted Soul, the coffee shop The Crafted Kup, and Vassar College are around the corner. We talked about all three earlier in this top things to do in Dutchess County article.
Quality Inn offers good rate rooms and has an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and 24-hour front desk.
Hotels in Rhinebeck
Since spring 2019 you can stay in the heart of Rhinebeck at Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck. And we loved every second of our stay at this Parisian-style luxury hotel! From the massages, salt saunas, thermal pool, to the modern room with fireplace, and dinner at the French-inspired American restaurant.
And that’s not everything they offer, there’s also a gym, resting area, and steam rooms. In short, this is where you want to stay and relax!
The Gables of Rhinebeck is also a hotel in the heart of Rhinebeck, though it’s a lot smaller compared to Mirbeau Inn. This charming hotel only has 4 rooms and is located in an old historic house. It’s like a fairytale house!
And don’t forget to enjoy their beautiful garden or play badminton on their court.
Things to do in Dutchess County Map
Our trip to Dutchess County was made possible in partnership with Dutchess County Tourism. Nevertheless, everything we wrote in this top things to do in Dutchess County article are our own writings, opinions, and tips!
Enjoy Dutchess County! Do you have any questions or do you want to add something to this what to do in Dutchess County guide? Drop it below or send us a message.
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