8 Hudson Valley Museum Day Trips

Fall is the perfect time to take a train ride up the Hudson River or explore the Hudson Valley's many museums by car. With colorful scenery and beautiful weather, these 8 museums offer a robust schedule of events for the entire family including special exhibitions, Halloween events for children, and harvest themed celebrations. Take a date, bring the family, or head up there solo.

  • 01 of 08
    Dia:Beacon
    ••• Contemporary art installations at Dia:Beacon. Ɱ

    Contemporary art can be challenging, but there is no better setting than Dia:Beacon. Inside an old Nabisco box-printing factory that floods with natural light, visitors experience major pieces like Richard Serra's epic "Torqued Ellipses", long-term installations by Walter de Maria, and the beautiful and terrifying "negative sculptures" by Michael Heizer. 

    Founded in 2003 after major donor and Barnes & Noble CEO Len Riggio observed the abandoned factory from his helicopter, Dia:Beacon has quickly become one of the world's best and most respected institutions for contemporary art exhibitions in the world.

    Security guards double as museum educators and thoughtfully engage with visitors to discuss the artworks on display and help provide some context to understand them better.

    Even if art isn't quite your thing, the beautiful grounds and views of the Hudson River make this a very worthy day trip as does the excellent cafe. (Try the tres leches cake.) 

    Take the...MORE Hudson Line train on Metro-North to Dia:Beacon for a spectacular view of the river. The museum is within walking distance of the train station as is the town of Beacon filled with great shops and restaurants though there is also a shuttle bus. Be sure to check the website for current lectures and programs.

  • 02 of 08
    Hudson River Museum
    ••• Modern entrance to Hudson River Museum. Daniel Case

    Originally the Yonkers Museum of Science and the Arts, the museum has expanded time and time again since 1919 and now contains the Glenview Mansion built in 1877.

    The collection includes period rooms with furniture and decor as well as a planetarium which has a robust schedule of events and programs. The museum also hosts art exhibitions and offers many children's and family programs including arts, crafts, and science projects. This museum is especially recommended for families with young children.

  • 03 of 08
    Trophy Point, Battle Monument dedicated to Civil War veterans, circa 1897, West Point Military Academy, New York, USA
    ••• Getty Images/Danita Delimont

    Military history museum buffs cannot miss the West Point Museum with its collection of more than 60,000 Army historical artifacts. The Pershing Center on the Academy's grounds in Garrison are the center of the museum though its holdings are displayed throughout the Military Academy's buildings. Explore the beautiful grounds overlooking the Hudson River on your own or with a guide. Make sure to check the ​Army football schedule ahead of time as game days are extremely busy at the Academy.

  • 04 of 08
    Sunnyside Manor
    ••• Washington Irving's Sunnyside Manor. Creative Commons

    A classic autumn trip in the Hudson Valley is to Sunnyside, the home of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" author Washington Irving. The fascinating manor has a colorful blend of architectural styles and is surrounded by nature–winding paths and gardens designed by Irving himself. Inside are many of the original furnishings plus numerous objects related to the author's famous story.

    While a trip to Sunnyside is lovely in the spring or summer, October is the ideal month the homes connection to "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is celebrated with events and a shadow puppet performance of the story for children. Visitors can also take a spooky walk through the woods.

    It's easy to get to Sunnyside by train (take the Metro North Hudson line to Irvington) or by car.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    USA, New York State, Hudson Valley, Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, historical footbridge and buildings
    ••• Getty Images/fotog

    When the American Mary Philipse married Englishman Robert Morris, the couple set up residence in the Manhattan countryside, in what is now the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan's oldest house. When the Revolution broke out, Morris remained loyal to the crown and relocated the family back to England. Meanwhile, Philipse's family remained on their land along the Hudson in what is now lower Westchester.

    Today Philipsburg Manor provides visitors with an experience of life in an 18th-century home. Special attention has been paid to the history of the 23 slaves who lived there and the home provides a rare opportunity to learn about slavery as it existed in the northern colonies. Exhibitions and tours highlight the role of Caesar, an enslaved man who ran the grist mill on the property.

  • 06 of 08
    Boscobel
    ••• Boscobel

    The Boscobel mansion is an outstanding example of Federal Style architecture. What's more amazing to some is how it survived being demolished in the 1950s after it was purchased for a mere $35. Money and support were rallied by the "Friends of Boscobel" to move the house from Montrose in Westchester County all the way up to Garrison, NY near the West Point Academy.

    Originally owned by the historic Dyckman family, Boscobel, whose name comes from Italian for "beautiful forest", hosts many events and weddings, and offers guided tours and events. In the fall, drive across Route 9D at sunset to view the autumn leaves and some of the Hudson Valley's most beautiful homes. Stop at Boscobel for a Ghost Tour with a paranormal investigator, a police detective, and a psychic.

  • 07 of 08
    Storm King Art Center
    ••• Getty Images/Waring Abbott

    Storm King is among the world's very best sculpture parks. Opened in 1960, the park is set on 300 acres and buffered by an additional 2,100 acres that are now designated by the State of New York as Schunnemunk Mountain State Park. The lush surroundings make this the ideal museum to fully experience the height of fall foliage in the Hudson Valley.

    Originally conceived as a museum devoted to the Hudson River School of painters, the founders committed to a modern sculpture park instead. Like MASSMoCA, sculptures seem to rise organically from the earth so that nature becomes a gallery and the works themselves seem to change with the light and seasons.

  • 08 of 08
    Olana, home, studio and estate of the Hudson River School artist, Frederick Church, Hudson, Columbia County, New York
    ••• Getty Images/Barry Winiker

    The town of Hudson is full of great restaurants, shops and art galleries which makes it a great destination for a long weekend away rather than just a day trip. The town boasts an opera house and the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) for performance art. Hudson is also a point of pilgrimage for devotees of the Hudson River School of Painters for which Olana is an important stop.

    Olana State Historic Site was designed by its owner, painter Frederick Edwin Church. Olana includes Victorian, Moorish, and Persian design motifs and furnishings collected during Church's travels throughout the Middle East. A visit to Olana is a rare opportunity to see an original artist's studio from the late 1800s. Tours are extremely popular and reservations must be booked well in advance. Additionally, consider a scenic drive through the Catskills from Olana.