A beginner’s guide to Dutchess County
You might not have heard of Dutchess County , but you’ll certainly have heard of nearby New York City.
Located only 72 miles north of The Big Apple, Dutchess County is a relaxing contrast to the bustling city. Here you can unwind, eat fresh produce, and explore some of New York State’s fascinating historic sites. Plus, the county is also close to New York Stewart International Airport. Here’s everything you need to know before your first trip to Dutchess County.
Things to do
Treat your taste buds
Dutchess County is a foodie haven brimming with a wide variety of cuisines including Farm Markets, fine-dining restaurants, wineries, distilleries, and brewpubs. At the helm of the culinary scene is The Culinary Institute of America, ranked as the leading culinary school in the United States. They offer student-guided tours and four student-staffed public restaurants.
Farm culture is massive in Dutchess County and if you drive along any road you’ll likely pass a family-owned farm where you can stop and pick-your-own produce, shop their farm stands, or join them during family-oriented festivals.
Locally owned vineyards offer tasting sessions – and sometimes even relaxed outdoor concerts. The Dutchess Craft Beverage Trail features award-winning wineries, distilleries and breweries where you can tour and taste a wide variety of locally produced handcrafted spirits.
Soak up some culture
Dance, drama, film and music all have a home in Dutchess County. In fact, Dutchess County is home to numerous international celebrity film stars and musicians and serves as the location for multiple movies and television shows.
During the day there are museums and art galleries to explore, including Dia:Beacon one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to large installations by world-renowned artists from the 1960s to the present. At night you’ll find bars and restaurants with live music. For something a bit different, you can also visit glass-working studios and watch artisanal glassblowers perfect their craft.
Walk through history
In Dutchess County you get to choose which historical period you visit. Will it be the pre-Revolutionary War, the Gilded Age, or the early 20th century?
Bannerman Castle Island on the Hudson River is a unique attraction but the National Historic Sites in Hyde Park are some of the most popular in all of New York. There you can tour Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage (the only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady), the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (who is the only president elected to four terms), the gravesite of Franklin and Eleanor in the Roosevelt Rose Garden, and explore the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, America’s first presidential library and the only one used by a sitting president.
Fun with the family
Dutchess County also has its fair share of family-friendly activities. Some of the best include Soukup Farms where you can tour their maple-making process and sample their pure maple syrup, the Dutchess County Fair, Mid-Hudson Children's Museum, SplashDown Beach Waterpark, Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome with biplanes and airshows featuring vintage aircraft, and Trevor Zoo, caring for more than 180 animals including 8 endangered species as the country’s only accredited zoo managed by high school students.
Explore the great outdoors
Make the most of Dutchess County’s beautiful landscape with an impressive range of outdoor recreation that includes biking, hiking, horseback riding, golf, kayaking, archery and skeet shooting. If you’re looking for something a little calmer, there are a number of scenic parks that are perfect for a picnic and afternoon stroll including the not-to-missed Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge.
Dutchess County features antique, boutique, handcrafted and indoor mall shopping and is located close to Woodbury Premium Common Outlets, one of the largest outlet centres in the world.
How to get there
Dutchess County is primarily served by New York Stewart International Airport, which is also a major airport hub for New York City itself. Budget airline Norwegian Airlines runs direct flights from Edinburgh. If you’re doubling-up a stay in the Hudson Valley with NYC (which many people do) you can jump on a train for a scenic ride along the Hudson River from Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station.
Where to stay
Dutchess County is all about relaxation and that is what most accommodations offer. Lodging options include private bed and breakfasts, historic inns, budget-friendly motels, and family-oriented campgrounds. Three hotels that we recommend are the Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast, Beekman Arms Delamater Inn and the Hyatt House Fishkill
When to go
Dutchess County is a year-round destination, however many people choose to visit between early and mid-October when the autumn hues are at their best.
Other important information
- Dutchess County is considered the dividing line between downstate New York, and upstate New York.
- Like all the United States you need to arrange your visas in advance, the official language is English and the currency in US Dollars.
- Dutchess County is easy to reach by train (only 90 minutes) from Grand Central Terminal (Metro-North Railroad) and Penn Station (Amtrak) in NYC.
- Car hire in Dutchess County is simple with rental service pickup from local train stations and makes Dutchess a great hub to explore the Hudson Valley and other regions of New York State and neighbouring New England.