Finally, it’s fall! The trees are ablaze with color, and leaf-peeping is definitely on the brain. While some families make a whole weekend of it (Vermont, we see you), it’s easy enough to cross the bridge for the day into the Hudson Valley, which boasts some of the most spectacular leaves of the season. These family-friendly spots also have spirited and seasonal themed events, so they’re ideal for a daycation. But make plans soon—like the season, the peak leaves are fleeting, so best to go in the next few weeks.
Featured image photo credit: istock.com/Ultima_Gaina
Here are 3 family-friendly spots for leaf-peeping in the Hudson Valley:
Bear Mountain State Park in Rockland County, NY
If your family loves an adventure, the hiking and biking trails are key spots to marvel at the varying shades of fiery leaves. When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded: The Perkins Memorial Tower offers breathtaking 360 degree views of rolling hills and the Hudson. After, head to the Trailside Museum and Zoo where you can check out animals like bears, coyotes, and reptiles, or take a walk through the butterfly garden. On October 26, Boo at the Zoo offers lots of Halloween spooky fun, including making Halloween treats for the bears to eat– watch as zookeepers feed it to the bears while kids watch from the sidelines.
FDR State Park in Westchester County
It’s 40 miles north of NYC, which makes it a perfect relaxing leaf-peeping experience. Pack your lunch and plan to spend hours here: Amid the beautiful tree-dense space, you’ll find picnic areas, a newly renovated playground which includes rock climbing walls and swings, and scenic views of beautiful Lake Mohansic and the Crom Pond.
Before you head back, a must-see is the Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. It’s a spectacular display of over 7,000 hand-carved Jack-O-Lanterns that runs through the end of November. Your little ghouls and goblins will gush over the various displays that include a medieval castle, a pumpkin bridge, a pumpkin planetarium, and a Statue of Liberty, all with synchronized lighting and an original soundtrack. Plan to spend about 90 minutes walking through it, and also enjoying the Museum of Pumpkin Art, devoted to the Jack-O-Lantern. The Blaze sells out some weekends, so best to buy tickets ahead of time.
Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park in Dutchess County
For a truly breathtaking landscape of every shade of yellow, orange, red, and green you can imagine, head up to this historic state park which spans the Hudson River between Highland, NY in Ulster County and Poughkeepsie, NY in Dutchess County.
The park and walkway are accessible from both sides of the river. Standing 212 feet above the water and spanning 1.2 miles long, it’s the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. There’s a glass elevator up to the park or down to the Poughkeepsie waterfront, which will bring you to the most colorful trees in the area. While you’re there, stop by the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum which features hands-on exhibits and programs for the whole family, like Tell Me a Story, a new interactive exhibit where kids can create their own adventures.