West Point, New York
The oldest military academy in the country has occupied this scenic bend on the western banks of the Hudson River since 1802. Officially, it’s a military post, but most visitors come to tour the prestigious school — Robert E. Lee, George Patton, and Dwight Eisenhower are just a few of the prestigious alumni — or watch a football game at one of the best-known playing fields in the country, Michie Stadium. Guided bus tours leave from the visitors center.
What We Love
Thayer Hotel: The Champagne brunch at this castle-like Gothic hotel is considered the best in the Hudson Valley.
West Point Concert Band: The Army’s oldest band is filled with musicians who hold advanced degrees in performance and music from around the country. The group tours around the country, but often has performances here.
Best Known For
Game Day: Football at West Point is more than just a game — there’s pageantry that makes every kickoff seem as festive as the Fourth of July. Highlights include a cadet parade, cannons, and the game-day ball delivered by parachuters leaping in precision from a helicopter.
West Point Museum: This is the largest collection of war memorabilia in the country. Displays range from an atomic bomb to Hitler’s mini pistol.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: The entire 16,000-acre campus is a treasure trove of military history, regalia, and tradition.
Leaf-Peepers: Being the oldest establishment on the banks of the Hudson translates to also having the best — and sweeping — views; the fall foliage displays from the historic campus are especially impressive.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
ID, Please: The only way to see everything on campus is on the bus tour. All U.S. citizens over the age of 16 must have a valid photo ID, while visitors from other countries — no matter their age — must present a valid passport.
Plan Ahead: There are no campus tours on football home game days or during graduation. If you want to attend a football game or dine at the Thayer Hotel when autumn colors are at their peak (most of October), it's best to book two to three months out. For graduation, the hotel is fully reserved four years in advance!
Melissa Klurman is a New Jersey-based contributor to Sherman's Cruise who also edits and writes for Frommer's Travel Guides.