Once down-and-out, Poughkeepsie is working hard to revitalize itself. Lovers of the quaint should look elsewhere, because despite a fresh coat of paint, Poughkeepsie retains a spoonful of grit. This rough-around-the-edges quality won’t deter city slickers. A slew of attractions, eateries and businesses have recently opened, so this town is ripe for explorations. It only takes 90 minutes to get here via Metro-North, making it an inexpensive and easy day trip from NYC.
Walkway Over the Hudson
The Walkway Over the Hudson anchors the city’s push for urban renewal. It’s a landmark railroad bridge connecting Dutchess and Ulster Counties that has been transformed into an all-weather linear park and trailway. This 1.28-mile pedestrian bridge offers excellent river views as you hike, bike or blade the span. Think High Line, only without the massive crowds. A new 21-story elevator connects the walkway to the train station, eliminating the steep uphill walk.
Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum
The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is a fabulous destination for families with children ages 0-6. They offer exhibits that get kids moving, exploring, building, pretending, collaborating, creating and discovering. Nearly everything is hands-on with a focus on nature, science, literacy, art and music. Little visitors will be having such a ball they will never notice that they are developing foundational learning skills as they play. It’s all just steps away from the train station, in the heart of the rejuvenated Hudson Riverfront neighborhood.
The Hudson Valley is noted for its grand homes, where assorted Roosevelts and Vanderbilts once romped. Locust Grove was the home of inventor Samuel Morse (Morse Code), and is one of the area’s lesser-known estates. It is comprised of a 40-room Italianate villa, elegant gardens and five miles of scenic hiking trails for public enjoyment. It’s two miles from the train station, so you may pedal or walk. If you prefer a four-wheel ride, cabs wait at the train station.
The Roosevelt Ride
Leave the car at home and get comfortable with history. The National Park Service operates the absolutely free Roosevelt Ride shuttle service from the Poughkeepsie Metro-North Station seven days a week, from May 1st through November 1st. Take any Metro-North Hudson Line train that arrives in Poughkeepsie by 10:33 am weekdays, 10:36 weekends and catch the waiting shuttle. Or take a 5-minute cab ride.
The shuttle will take you to your choice of Hyde Park’s historic sites. Visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, Eleanor’s beloved Val-Kill, Franklin’s retreat Top Cottage and the Gilded Age Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. The shuttle drops you back at the train station at 5pm, leaving you plenty of time to have dinner in Poughkeepsie before you hop on the train home.
The Eats + Drinks
Mill House Brewing Company
The Mill House Brewing Company aims to provide an authentic Hudson Valley dining experience. The menu showcases the best products that local farmers, cheese makers, roasters and artisans can offer. The proprietors are hometown folk, so their commitment to the region is from the heart. Located in a meticulously rehabilitated building, house brewed ales and lagers will wet your whistle. The CIA-trained chef has created a menu that features homemade sausage and charcuterie, wood fired pizzas and baby back ribs. There’s a kids menu and old-fashioned deserts like banana cream pie. The Mill House is about an eight-minute walk from the train station.
The Culinary Institute of America
Several miles north of Poughkeepsie sits one of the world’s most respected culinary schools, the Culinary Institute of America. The people at the CIA are serious about cooking. They are also seriously committed to using the finest local resources that the lush surrounding farmlands provide. Take a morning cooking class or simply walk the grounds where so many top-notch chefs have trained. Dine at one of four restaurants staffed by current students and the next Anthony Bourdain may be refilling your water glass. You’ll need to take a taxi from the train station to get to the CIA. The ride takes about 10 minutes and costs approximately $12.
How to get there: Metro-North’s Hudson Line offers scenic views during your 90-minute journey. Fill out the online Bicycle Permit and you can bring your bike and cycle the day away.