Poughkeepsie, New York
In the heart of New York's Hudson Valley sits this friendly town surrounded by farms, orchards, and stables. Founded in 1713, Poughkeepsie was the second New York state capital and a major political hub. Today, the bucolic college town is the county seat of Dutchess County and a designated National Heritage Area. River cruise ships stop at Waryas Park on Main Street.
What We Love
Farm-Fresh Food: All sorts of deliciousness is grown or raised in Dutchess County. Check out Adams Fairacre Farms, a former farm stand that's evolved into a sizable market/greenhouse. Stock up on apple cider doughnuts, local cheeses, fresh strawberries — or whatever is in season. Bring it all back to the park where the ship’s docked for a picnic with a view.
Locust Grove: Located in town, this gorgeous mansion is one of the Hudson Valley’s many historic estates. Inventor Samuel Morse commissioned the house set on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River as a summer home in 1850. Tours are by appointment only — daily May–October; weekends in the off-season months. The grounds and visitors center are open daily April 11–December 31; Monday–Friday, January 1–April 11.
Best Known For
The Walkway Over the Hudson: The first thing you’ll notice about this town is the steel-and-concrete bridge spanning the river. This is the longest car-free footbridge in the world, and the views are amazing.
Vassar: Since politics and manufacturing have gradually withdrawn from Poughkeepsie, the town is known as a center of education and culture. As one of the most famous women’s colleges of the Northeast (coed since 1969), Vassar is a landmark. The expansive art museum has free admission and the Powerhouse Theater, housed in a former power plant, is an exciting incubator of major works.
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Who It's Best For
Leaf-Peepers: In autumn, the Hudson Valley is afire with spectacular foliage, and the walkway — with its bird's-eye view — is an exceptional vantage point.
Architecture Buffs: The town is a bonanza of architectural gems, with hundreds of Registered Historic Places in several designated districts. The protected buildings are mainly homes. There are Queen Anne houses, Victorian mansions, Greek Revival estates, and many other beautifully preserved period buildings. The Gothic-Italianate Vassar Institute is of particular historic and architectural significance.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Take the Beaten Path: While the visitor-friendly areas of Poughkeepsie are just that, other neighborhoods are not. Stick to the greatest hits when exploring on your own.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.