Your Guide to the Hudson Valley’s 10 Unique Counties

The Hudson Valley’s 10 counties are rich in history, dining and drinking destinations, recreational activities, and natural beauty.

Learn more about each of the Hudson Valley’s 10 counties and what makes them so special.

Hudson Valley counties

Albany

Population: 316,659
Median Home Value: $263,800
Median Household Income: $78,829
Median Property Tax: $3,526

The heart of the state’s Capital District, Albany County ranges from farms in the west to the urban bustle of the City of Albany. Situated on the west bank of the Hudson, the city is the focal point of state government, housing the NYS Capitol building. The region has also been dubbed Tech Valley due to an influx of high-tech businesses and research centers. Other historical sites—like Schuyler Mansion—are sprinkled throughout. Outside of the city, there are plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy the outdoors, including the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Thacher State Park, Cohoes Falls (the second-largest waterfall in the state), and The Huyck Preserve.

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View of North West Corner of the NYS Capitol Building in Albany, Albany County.
View of North West Corner of the NYS Capitol Building in Albany, Albany County.

Columbia

Population: 60,470
Median Home Value: $283,700
Median Household Income: $81,741
Median Property Tax: $3,605

Framed by Massachusetts and the Berkshires to the east and the Hudson River to the west, Columbia County’s landscape varies from rolling hills and hiking trails to art hubs and heritage sites—Olana State Historic Site, the estate of notable 19th-century landscape artist Frederic Edwin Church, is one of over 50. While there is plenty of farm country for those seeking a rural lifestyle, the county is also home to Hudson, the industrial city turned vibrant cultural center. Hudson is a prime destination for artists, musicians, and, of course, shoppers; and home to many of the best restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels in the region.

Dutchess

Population: 297,150
Median Home Value: $348,700
Median Household Income: $94,578
Median Property Tax: $4,873

Located centrally on the east side of the river, Dutchess County is a mix of lively cities (including Poughkeepsie and Beacon), creative towns like Rhinebeck, and quaint villages such as Millbrook and Pawling. Throughout the county, you’ll find quite a few acclaimed colleges including Bard, Marist, and Vassar. Foodies from across the country—and even the world—flock to study and dine at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. For history buffs, Dutchess houses destinations such as the Vanderbilt Mansion, Samuel Morse’s Locust Grove Estate, and the FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic sites.

The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, in Annandale-On-Hudson, Dutchess County.
The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, in Annandale-On-Hudson, Dutchess County, Hudson Valley.

Greene

Population: 47,062
Median Home Value: $229,500
Median Household Income: $70,294
Median Property Tax: $2,584

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With an uber-rural setting, Greene County is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tranquility seekers alike. Southern Greene holds a section of the Northern Catskills, which is especially good for new hikers and skiers; check out the gorgeous scenery at Kaaterskill Falls in the warmer weather, and hit the slopes at Hunter or Windham as soon as snow falls. Plenty of dining and shopping options are available throughout the villages—like Catskill or Coxsackie—and cultural sites are scattered throughout the county. The home and studio of American painter Thomas Cole is a popular stop.

Sterling Forest State Park in Tuxedo
Sterling Forest State Park in Tuxedo, Orange County.

Orange

Population: 407,470
Median Home Value: $337,800
Median Household Income: $91,806
Median Property Tax: $5,586

In the middle of all the action is Orange County, bordering both the Hudson and New Jersey to the southwest. Several notable spots are the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, LEGOLAND New York Resort, and the Storm King Art Center (plus Stewart International Airport). Its vast span contributes to its diverse attractions and cultures: Middletown, Newburgh, and Port Jervis offer up urban vibes, while Warwick and Pine Bush have more peace and quiet. Another draw? The doable commute to the city; whether by car or the Metro-North train line.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site
Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site resides in Orange County in the Hudson Valley.

Putnam

Population: 98,060
Median Home Value: $421,800
Median Household Income: $120,970
Median Property Tax: $7,331

One of the region’s smallest counties, it’s still overflowing with activities that will draw residents and visitors alike. From Boscobel House & Gardens to Magazzino Italian Art to Manitoga, an active arts culture is thriving in Putnam. Spend a day walking the main streets of Carmel, Cold Spring, and Brewster, or get out and explore the nearly 12-mile Putnam Trailway segment of the Empire State Trail and the sprawling wilds of Clarence Fahnestock State Park. Proximity to train lines, the Taconic State Parkway, and neighboring Connecticut are all great news for commuters, too.

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Rensselaer

Population: 159,305
Median Home Value: $230,800
Median Household Income: $83,734
Median Property Tax: $3,529

The northern-most county of the Hudson Valley, Rensselaer contains thousands of acres of parks, more than 500 lakes and ponds, plus a growing number of cutting-edge companies, research hubs, and entrepreneurial centers. Much of this influx was spurred by the proximity of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Downtown Troy has also emerged as a regional shopping and dining center with a rich past. The city of Rensselaer, another expanding residential and business area, lies on the east side of the Hudson River, directly across from Albany.

Rockland

Population: 340,807
Median Home Value: $528,900
Median Household Income: $106,173
Median Property Tax: $8,268

Look to Rockland County for the intersection of small-town living and suburban amenities. Even though it’s only about 30 miles north of Manhattan, there’s plenty of greenspace to enjoy—check out Harriman and Bear Mountain state parks when you need a break from the bustle. The county is also home to two shopping hubs: The Shops at Nanuet and the Palisades Center Mall. The boutiques and cafés that line the water towns of Nyack and Piermont are perfect for browsing and chilling. Rockland Community (Suffern) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Sparkill) colleges are among the higher education options.

Ulster

Population: 182,333
Median Home Value: $288,400
Median Household Income: $77,197
Median Property Tax: $4,208

Nearly the size of Rhode Island, Ulster is known for the great outdoors and artsy towns. Hundreds of thousands of acres—including the Catskill Forest Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve—hold pristine waters and woodlands. The county is also renowned for its rich farmland, orchards, and wineries. Smaller villages like Rosendale and High Falls feature charming shops and mom-and-pop eateries; New Paltz is an educational and social hub; and Kingston, with cafés, galleries, shops, and a growing cultural and waterfront scene, is both a great place to live or spend a weekend.

Westchester

Population: 990,817
Median Home Value: $619,000
Median Household Income: $114,651
Median Property Tax: $9,003

With its close proximity to NYC, it’s no surprise that Westchester County is home to quite a few busy cities and suburban towns—including White Plains and Yonkers—but there are also cute villages in the mix that add variety, such as Chappaqua and Katonah. Plus you’ll find everything from historic sites like Van Cortlandt Manor to the Hudson River Museum, and more. Westchester has it all: top-rated public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities; world-class shopping, dining, and hotels; a lively arts and cultural scene; and extensive medical and business services.

Related: These Are the Top Realtors in the Hudson Valley in 2024

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