15 of Hudson Valley's best family day trips

Planning a summer staycation? We've got you covered

Storm King Art Center in New Windsor

Vacations can be exhausting. By the time you pack up, get the kids ready, double and triple-check that everyone has their toothbrushes and bathing suits, and arrive at your destination, you could need a vacation from your vacation.

Read more: Your complete guide to summer fun!

This summer, skip the hassle without compromising the fun at our favorite Hudson Valley staycation spots.

The Castle Fun Center

109 Brookside Ave., Chester


Bring your A game to The Castle. Games you can challenge your family to include laser tag, go-kart racing, mini golf, rock climbing, arcade favorites, and more! 

Washington’s Headquarters

84 Liberty St., Newburgh


The nation’s first publicly owned historic site is right here in the Hudson Valley. Explore the very spot where Washington insisted on democracy and wrote a letter to state governors that influenced the Constitution. Afterward, stroll along the Hudson riverfront, just a short walk away.

Read more: 70 places to visit this summer!

Read more: 2015 best festivals and fairs


Storm King Art Center

1 Museum Rd., New Windsor


Kids of all ages love this giant outdoor sculpture park, where its pristine 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 sculptures. There’s lots of room to run around while getting a dose of culture, and the outdoor café provides boxed lunches if you want to picnic on the grounds. Check out this year’s newest installation “Water Source” by artist Linda Benglis, which includes large-scale water sculptures and fountains.


Bannerman Castle

Pollepel Island, Hudson River


Check out the remains of the Hudson River’s own historic castle, a staple of the region since the American Revolution. Just like back then, the castle is only accessible by boat. You can work your muscles and kayak there yourself, or settle in for a passenger ride. Tours leave from Newburgh or Beacon.


Ulster County


Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa

220 North Rd., Milton


If you need a getaway that will have you home before lunch tomorrow, sneak over to Milton’s very own bed & breakfast and spa for beautiful views, world-class spa treatment, and delicious meals cooked from locally grown ingredients. Families can troll through the orchards, visit the livestock barn and their herd of rescued alpacas, and check out their honey bee apiary.


Lake Minnewaska

5281 Route 44-55 Kerhonkson


Lace up your hiking boots and fill up your water bottles for a day at Minnewaska. Located on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, the park offers 25 miles of hiking trails with waterfalls and scenic views all along the way. You can also bring your bike, and if you get hot, take a dip in the water at Swimmer’s Beach.


Pinegrove Dude Ranch

30 Cherrytown Rd., Kerhonkson


It’s impossible to be bored at the ranch. Whether your thing is horseback riding or horseshoes, rock climbing or hot stone massages, or swimming by day and enjoying a campfire at night, Pinegrove’s got it all. A day pass includes lunch, the pool, petting zoo, horse back riding for a nominal fee, and children 7 and under get free pony rides. They also have a jump pad, playground and daily children’s activities.


The Saugerties Lighthouse

168 Lighthouse Dr., Saugerties


Soak up the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley at this 1869 landmark. The lighthouse makes a perfect backdrop for a romantic overnight getaway or a peaceful family day in nature. Enjoy a nature walk and a picnic lunch by the shore next to the lighthouse.


Emerson Resort & Spa

5340 Route 28, Mt. Tremper


Take some time to unwind at the spa after you get hyped up at America’s largest kaleidoscope, a 56-foot- tall kaleidoscope that features a vibrant multimedia presentation sure to wow every member of the family.


Catskills Animal Sanctuary

316 Old Stage Rd., Saugerties


Show some love to horses and farm animals that have been rescued from neglect. Take a group tour or a vegan cooking class to learn all about the different ways to be compassionate toward animals — while enjoying delicious food. 

Dutchess County


Locust Grove

2683 South Road, Poughkeepsie


Jet off to Italy without ever boarding a plane! This elegant mansion inspired by the Italian countryside of the 1850s is as beautiful as it is serene. Call ahead to request an educational program for the kids during your visit.


Vanderbilt Mansion

119 Vanderbilt Park Rd., Hyde Park


Take a trip to one of the oldest estates in the region and get a glimpse of how the historic elite used to live. Even if you’re not a millionaire, the Vanderbilt family’s old stomping grounds will sure make you feel like one.



3 Beacon St., Beacon


With 240,000 square feet of exhibition space inside a converted Nabisco box-printing facility, the museum owns 31 acres along the banks of the Hudson River, and is adjacent to 90 acres of riverfront parkland. It is a 5-minute walk from the Metro-North train station in Beacon, and this summer’s Community Free Day, held July 11, includes engaging interactive workshops for kids.


Sullivan County


Lake Superior State Park

342 Dr Duggan Rd., Bethel

845-794-3000, ext. 5002

Spend a day at this 1,409-acre state park, which features a sandy beach with a swimming area as well as areas for picnics. There’s also a volleyball court, a playground and barbecue grills, and you can rent a rowboat or a paddle boat. Fishing is allowed for those with a fishing license.


Columbia County



5720 State Route 9G, Hudson


Art and history come to life on the 250-acre estate of Olana. The former home of famed Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church offers stunning views across the landscape he himself spent 40 years designing. The family’s home looks almost exactly the same as it did 100 years, and paintings from Church’s personal collection still grace the walls today. Check their website for special family-friendly weekend events, like building your own terrarium, garden picnics, or a lesson in catching dragonflies.

Elora Tocci is a freelance writer born and raised in the Hudson Valley. She currently works as a communications assistant at Teach For America in New York City.