Looking for a fun, yet historical, day trip? What about a trip to the mansions of Hudson Valley? Vanderbilt … Roosevelt … Let’s go!
When we visited the Rhinebeck area for our Jones Dairy Farm trip in February, Sarah and I planned to leisurely check out some of the sights before heading home to our kids. You know, before my kids called and asked if I could come home early. We thoroughly explored the downtown Rhinebeck shopping area, and just before hopping on the highway homeward bound, we made quick visits to the mansions in the Hyde Park area. Although a chilly weekend, the scenery was gorgeous nonetheless.
Vanderbilt Mansion was our first stop. What struck me most about this first stop was the sheer immensity of the mansion. All things considered, it’s huge by today’s standards. Which means it was positively ginormous back in the day. The original construction began in 1764, when the Gilded Age was all the rage. It sits on over 200 acres of beautifully maintained grounds, just east of the Hudson River. It is a National Historic Site, and with its proximity to New York City and the railroads, the mansion became prime real estate in the Hudson Valley. With over 54 rooms, it was the epitome of grandeur, and in the early 1940s, parts of the mansion even served as quarters for President Roosevelt’s Secret Service to stay.
One hour guided tours are available daily, and entrance to the grounds and parking are free. There is a small gift shop inside the visitor’s center that features great little treasures and souvenirs.
119 Vanderbilt Park Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538
Next up was President Franklin Roosevelt’s home. Or specifically, his birthplace and final resting spot. This mansion was closed while we were there, although we did take the time to scope out the beautiful grounds (again, free parking and grounds’ admission). With the Hudson Valley views and the open feeling at all the mansions’ properties, they are ideal spots to take a homemade picnic. Besides Roosevelt’s home, the property also contains the Presidential Library and Museum. The estate, also known as Springwood, served as a sanctuary to Roosevelt throughout various milestones, both Presidential and otherwise, and quieter times in his life. He summed it up perfectly when he said, “All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River.”
4097 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538
At both mansions that we visited, what struck me the most was the attention to detail. It was like no other, and certainly not something you see in present day mansions. The area was so peaceful, tranquil, we could have lingered there for hours.
You know, if it wasn’t ten degrees.
My son is a huge fan of all the architecture and property tv shows and these mansion tours are right up his alley. Since we only got to peek at two of them, and there are several more in the area, and we don’t live too far away, we’re planning to take a day trip in the coming months so we can check them out together. If you happen to be within reasonable driving distance, the Hudson Valley area makes a nice day or weekend trip … mansion touring, a winery visit, shopping in nearby Rhinebeck, and perhaps even dinner at the Culinary Institute of America. And, of course, an overnight at America’s oldest inn.
PS This 210 mile road trip, as outlined by National Geographic, is a wonderful primer to ensure you don’t miss a thing as you travel thorough the Hudson Valley highlights.