The palisades above New York’s Hudson River valley have played host to some of the city’s most famous (and fabulously wealthy) families. From Rockefellers to Roosevelts to revolutionary war era estates, these stately homes are hidden gems – hidden, sometimes, by confusion about how to get there. We’ve made it easy for you. Check out our handy reference guide to these spectacular mansions, and start your journey!
381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
If spectacular sculptures, expansive views, and manicured gardens are your thing, head to the old summer estate of John D. Rockefeller and his descendants. This incredibly wealthy family was known for their astounding art collection, as well as restrained, elegant taste, and it shows in the lovely gardens and grounds of Kykuit (pronounced KIGH-coo-it, sort of). To get there, take the Metro-North train from Grand Central to Tarrytown. You’ll start at the Philipsburg Manor (also a fun spot to tour), where a shuttle bus will ferry you to the mansion. Visits are by guided tour only, and you can choose between several options, from quick to extensive. (Don’t forget to check out the coach barn too, if you want to see the hotrods of the day.)
519 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538
The birthplace of Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, as well as the site of his and Eleanor’s graves, Springwood is more than just a home, it’s a piece of history. As well as hosting the very first presidential library, the quaint “Top Cottage” at the eastern end of the estate is well worth a visit if you want to see how Roosevelt relaxed with his intimate friends and allies. By transit, take the Metro-North from Grand Central, or Amtrak from Penn Station, into the Poughkeepsie station. The Dutchess Country Transit offers an hourly shuttle service year round, Monday-Saturdays excluding holidays, to get you to this and other historic mansions of the area, and the National Parks Service also runs a shuttle from the Poughkeepsie station to help get you to Springwood on Sundays and holidays in the summer months.
1 Clermont Avenue, Germantown, NY 12526
As founding fathers go, the Livingstons hold pride of place, having been signers of the Declaration of Independence and having had the honor of swearing in George Washington as our first president. Their elegant Hudson Valley mansion with its jaw-dropping river views and stunning gardens has been through a lot, having been burned to the ground in 1777 by British forces, and rebuilt bigger and better than ever by subsequent generations of this influential family. Today it’s an historic landmark, and you can tour the gorgeous grounds, stroll nature trails, or view the original belongings of the family inside. Many lovely events from concerts to dance recitals to ghost tours to classes in horticulture and beyond are hosted throughout the year. Arrive by Amtrak to Rhinecliff, or Metro-North to Poughkeepsie. From there, however, you’ll have to catch a cab, or take a Zipcar, Uber, or Lyft.
1601 Route 9D, Garrison, NY 10524
This outstanding Neoclassical mansion looks like it’s been there forever, but oddly enough, a hundred fifty years after it was built, it had fallen into ruin and was demolished. The remains were salvaged by passionate preservationists, then moved, piece by piece, fifteen miles to its present location in Garrison, NY. With gracious orchards, a revolutionary war era kitchen where you can watch a demonstration of early American cooking methods, and wonderfully preserved Federal style furnishings and art, entering Boscobel is like entering a bygone era. To get there, take the Metro-North’s Hudson Line to Cold Spring. From the station, grab an Uber, Lyft, taxi, or a seasonal trolley. It’s about 1.5 miles to Boscobel from the station.
5720 Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534
Frederick Church was known in his day as a landscape artist of great importance, and his whimsical home – part Moorish palace, part Victorian manse – showcases his unique vision, brought to life by famed architect Calvert Vaux, who also built many of the structures in Central Park. The entire estate was engineered to appeal to the aesthetics of the visitor, and to this day guests enjoy the ornamental ponds, paths, and well-placed overlooks, making Olana a wonderful daytrip getaway from the city. To get there, take Amtrak to the Hudson, NY station, where you can get a taxi for the short trip to the estate.
Van Cortlandt Manor
525 S Riverside Ave, Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520
On a summer weekend, there’s no more patriotic outing than a jaunt to Van Cortlandt Manor, in the lovely Croton-on-Hudson area of the Hudson River Valley. Built by the wealthy Van Cortlandt family starting in the late 1600s, and added onto over the generations, the stone manor house and grounds are a picturesque throwback to early post-colonial days, granting visitors a glimpse at life in simpler times. There’s even a period-appropriate tavern, a restored ferry house, and demonstrations of daily activities from brickmaking to spinning, cooking and crafts, which kids especially will find fascinating. Don’t miss the Halloween antics at the Great Jack o’Lantern Blaze in October as well. To get to Van Cortlandt Manor, take the Metro-North from Grand Central Station to the Croton-Harmon stop, then walk a little over half a mile from the station.