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Chuang Yen Monastery

Discover, enjoy, spend the day!

places to go in the Hudson Valley- Monastery, Travel Journal, activities with kids


A monastery may seem like an unlikely place to spend the day with your children, but I assure you that they are going to have a ball while learning all about Buddhist culture! Chuang Yen Monastery, located in Carmel, NY and is super easy to get to; right off the Taconic Parkway. Parking and entry are both free, which is perfect for families on a budget who still want to get out, and do something fun!

There is so much to explore at this free, hidden gem. Chuang Yen is home to the largest indoor Buddha in the Western Hemisphere, and trust me it’s a site to behold. It is housed in a large temple that is just magical. Filled with cultural paintings as you walk all the way around the base of the sitting Buddha. Kids will get a kick out of taking off their shoes and walking barefoot throughout the temple! There are cushions for meditation and my daughter loves to sit in front of the huge statue on her cushion and tell him all her worries. It is such a peaceful experience.

There is plenty to explore outside as well, my daughter loves the red wooden “mazes” that surround the ponds. There are walking trails all throughout, that are well marked and very appropriate for all ages and abilities. The trails lead to hidden benches, and terraces that overlook the pond where you can view fish, turtles and other native wildlife. The day that we were there, we sat on one of the terraces overlooking the pond, ate a snack and quietly watched the fish dart back and forth. 

Some of the other paths you can explore are right in front of the temples, they are lined with stone statues of lions and Buddha as well as a huge gong.

Another path will lead you to The Thousand Lotus Memorial Terrace where the ashes of the deceased are kept, and remembered. The terrace is not at all morbid, and is filled with flowers, making it a beautiful and peaceful place. There are matches and incense available and you can light your own incense to remember a loved one or just to observe and participate in more of the Buddhist culture.

We have visited the monastery numerous times and have always enjoyed ourselves. There is plenty of room to run, play and explore. Your family will feel as if they have stepped into another world while never leaving the Hudson Valley.

Some basic information and tips when visiting the monastery:

  • You can bring a picnic onto the property and there are plenty of places to eat, but they ask that you only bring vegetarian items. Pb&j is what we always bring! They do serve a vegetarian lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, which is open to the public.
  • The property is not very stroller friendly, the temples have large stone stairs and the pathways are riddled with tree roots. I suggest good walking shoes and baby wearing.
  • The property is open to the public everyday April-January, 9am-5pm.
  • There is a small gift shop and they do accept donations, please consider leaving a donation or purchasing something from the gift shop when you go, this will keep them open for years to come so we can all continue to enjoy!
  • This is a place of worship so please be respectful when inside the temples, there are monks and other practicing Buddhists praying and meditating during certain times. Save squealing and laughter for the outside areas.
  • Remember to wear bug spray, there are lots of mosquitoes around the pond and please check for ticks as we are in the Hudson Valley.

For more information on the monastery visit their website

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