It’s that time of year when the snow begins to fade from the Hudson Valley landscape and spring rolls in with longer days, more sunshine, and activities galore in the scenic region’s great outdoors. Hudson Valley communities come alive in the spring, offering visitors and residents alike a chance to slow their tempo, be inspired and engage the senses with sights, sounds and fun things to do. Designated by Congress as a National Heritage Area, the Hudson Valley is the ideal destination for intrepid explorers. Hikers, bikers, kayakers and leisurely walkers can’t get enough of its natural beauty and countryside charm. There are farms to visit, quaint towns to roam and exciting history to absorb. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it and so much more. Here are some quintessential Hudson Valley events already in full bloom.
Churchtown Dairy, Hudson, New York
Got milk? Visit Churchtown Dairy, a 250-acre working biodynamic farm in Hudson, New York, that promotes sustainable agriculture and regenerative communities. Environmentalist Abby Rockefeller, kin to a long line of philanthropic Rockefellers in the State of New York, owns the land and built the dairy with support from the Foundation of Agricultural Integrity. The centerpiece round barn, with its great vaulted dome, exposed wood beams and adjoining 1830s homestead, is a sight to behold. Visitors are welcome to roam the medicinal plant gardens, experience milking every morning and afternoon, view cheesemaking and visit the farm store, which sells organic raw milk and cheeses and select cuts of meats. A mile-and-a-half circular walking path through the fields is being developed to help visitors enjoy the pastoral landscape. For upcoming events and tour information, visit churchtowndairy.org.
Art Omi, Ghent, New York
Explore the larger-than-life modern sculptures of Art Omi, a not-for-profit arts center in Ghent, New York, featuring a 120-acre sculpture and architecture park. The walkable fields, which are open every day during daylight hours, provide the setting for large-scale works of internationally recognized contemporary and modern artists, thoughtfully displayed across rolling farmland, wetlands and wooded areas. Popular Saturday-morning workshops for young artists ages 5-12 include an outdoor adventure and hands-on art-making activity: 518-392-4747, www.artomi.org.
Innisfree Garden, Millbrook, New York
Contemplate nature at Innisfree Garden, a unique example of garden art based on principles of Chinese landscape design. The once-private meditative garden now is open to the public beginning in May. With 150-acres of streams, waterfalls, terraces, rocks and native plants, it’s no surprise TV personality and retail guru Martha Stewart once said, “When people come visit New York, this is the garden I love to take them to:” 845-677-8000, www.innisfreegarden.org.
Bannerman Castle, Hudson Highlands State Park, New York
A visit to the historic Bannerman Castle, a one-of-a-kind architectural landmark along the Hudson River, is a must. About 50 miles north of New York City and only 1,000 feet from the Hudson River’s eastern shore, the abandoned Scottish-style castle — which stored military surplus goods in the early 1900s — sits on tiny Pollepel Island near Fishkill and Beacon. Estuary Steward, a 44-passenger boat, ferries tourists to Bannerman Island-Hudson Highlands State Park every weekend from Newburgh and Beacon. Visitors also can arrange kayak tours or guided walking tours given by Bannerman Castle Trust historians from May through October. Be sure to check the special events calendar for movie nights and theatrical events, including the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: 845-203-1316, bannermancastle.org.
Zipline Adventure Tours in Hunter, New York
Winter may be over, but popular ski destination Hunter Mountain is still an ideal getaway for families, nature lovers and thrill-seekers. Experience New York Zipline Adventure Tours, recognized as the highest, fastest and longest zipline tree canopy tour in North America. For exhilarating and breathtaking views, visitors can soar 600 feet above ground on a zip line over mountains, streams, waterfalls and wildlife. The New York Zipline Adventure Tour at Hunter Mountain offers several courses, including the longer, faster and higher Skyrider Tour. For adventurers who have never zip-lined, the family-friendly Mid-Mountain Tour, which lasts approximately two hours and is led by professionally trained, super-safety conscious guides, is a good place to start. Guests can zip from tree to tree, landing on specially built platforms high up in the tree canopy: 518-263-4388, www.ziplinenewyork.com.
Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, Highland, New York
Discover breathtaking views from the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. The mile-long bridge, spanning the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County to the Town of Lloyd in Ulster County, formerly carried New Haven Railroad trains from New England to the west and now offers epic views 212 feet above the river. Stop for a picnic on the Poughkeepsie waterfront or stroll through Franny Reese State Park on the opposite side. If you want to spend more time, there’s a Walkway Loop Trail through both towns: 845-454-9649, www.walkway.org.