Visiting big cities is often the highlight of any excursion, whether you're traversing the U.S. or exploring some of Europe's most famous destinations. However, there comes a time when you need a respite from the bustling streets, and the Hudson River Valley is one of the best places in the the U.S. for such a divergence. Located not far from New York City, the Hudson River Valley offers some of the most picturesque scenery in the country, and there is plenty of activity for everyone from art enthusiasts to lovers of adventure travel.
Walkway Over the Hudson
This stunning bridge, which is located in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was originally built in the late 19th century as a way for trains to cross the Hudson River, but more recently it has been used exclusively as a pedestrian walkway. In fact, when it opened in 2009 it became the longest footbridge in the world, spanning more than 6,700 feet across the waterway. But according to Lonely Planet, there's more to the bridge than it being a simple path. The view of the riverbanks is hard to top, and it's an especially good place to check out the Fourth of July fireworks if you happen to be in the area.
There's no lack of impressive buildings and residences along the banks of the Hudson River, but the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park is certainly one of the best. The estate offers a window into the lavish lifestyle of one of the country's wealthiest families, and it certainly does not disappoint. The 54-room mansion is the centerpiece of any trip to the compound, but the sprawling complex also features intricately designed landscapes and a number of lavish gardens that are worth exploring as well.
Bear Mountain State Park
It would be a mistake to leave the Hudson River Valley without getting to experience its landscape up close, and Bear Mountain is a good place to start. Situated on the river's west bank, the park has everything from a lake and a zoo to a cafe and a hotel, but its unquestioned highlight is Bear Mountain itself. Driving or hiking up to the top of the peak, where there's a lookout tower and other good vantage points, will surely stand out as one of the best parts of your trip.