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Explore the Hudson Valley Aboard These Riveting River Cruises

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Adobe Stock | Photo by ALAN

Hop aboard a Hudson River cruise to marvel at the region’s many breathtaking historic sites, natural landmarks, and wildlife.

Who wants to remain indoors when the Hudson River beckons? Local river cruises showcase the very best of the region’s wildlife, natural wonders, and historic sites. Vessels glide past notable landmarks like Bannerman Castle, Vanderbilt Mansion, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, to name a few. Climb aboard these river cruises for glorious sunsets, live music and dancing, and, of course, spectacular Hudson Valley views.

Bannerman Castle Cruises

Beacon, 845.831.1001

Bannerman Castle is one of the most recognizable sights along the Hudson line of the Metro-North train tracks. Similarly, it’s one of the best river cruise destinations. Munitions dealer and prominent businessman Francis Bannerman started construction on the simulated Scottish castle in 1901. Now, more than 120 years later, Hudson Valleyites continue to enjoy the island’s unique landscape and breathtaking views.

All it takes to transport passengers from Beacon’s riverfront to the island’s wonderous shores is a charming 30-minute cruise. Volunteers of the Bannerman Castle Trust lead walking tours once on the island, showcasing a fascinating history of ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Trips last a total of 2.5 hours, and reveal the entirety of Bannerman Castle’s ruins and gardens. In addition, local foodies can up their tour to include a dinner on September 4, when Chefs Noah Sheetz, Rebecca Joyner, and five chefs from around the state create a delicious five-course meal. Dine to the sounds of local musicians Tony DePaolo and the Judith Tulloch Band. Follow the Bannerman Castle Trust for special events on the island, including outdoor movie screenings, live theater performances, and much more. Book tickets online and in advance to ensure entry.

Dutch Apple Cruises

Albany, 518.463.0220 

Relax on the Hudson River and enjoy scenic Albany sunsets aboard the Dutch Apple II. Dutch Apple River Cruises offers dazzling evenings on a triple-decker boat.

On the top level, sip cold craft beers like Wrench NEIPAs from Industrial Arts and Raspberry Blonde Ales from Fort Orange Brewing. In addition, dine on classic snacks like mozzarella sticks, nachos, and burgers. The two-hour trip runs from Albany south to Castleton and showcases gorgeous golden hour views. Bring binoculars and try to spot bald eagles native to the region, and pay close attention to the rich narration provided by the Hudson River historian onboard. Once a month, boogie down to live music from local bands and tribute acts. Find a full schedule of events online, where tickets can be reserved.

Hudson Cruises

Hudson, 518.500.2524

Nestled in the Catskills of Columbia County, Hudson is the perfect port for gorgeous river cruises. On a typical sightseeing tour aboard the ‘Lil Spirit of the Hudson, passengers see some of the region’s most iconic landmarks from a new vantage point. Vistas of Frederic Church’s Olana, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, to name a few, are trip highlights. In addition, Hudson Cruises showcases the serenity of local wildlife. Discover bald eagles, blue heron, ospreys, and the nesting grounds of great Peregrine falcons. Finally, every expedition is equipped with a fully stocked bar.

For those seeking a little extra intrigue, murder mystery cruises have “set sail” in the past. Explorers can also check out Athens from the weekend ferry. Contact Hudson Cruises for weddings and private events, and purchase tickets by phone.

Hudson River Cruises

Kingston, 845.253.5965

Few experiences on Kingston’s Rondout are as unforgettable as a trip on the Rip Van Winkle II. Hudson River Cruises upgraded its longtime workhouse, the original Rip Van Winkle, a few years ago. The new vessel boasts three decks, top-notch dining, and seating for up to 400 passengers. Passengers aboard the Catskills-themed ship choose from a whole slew of cruise packages.

Sightseeing tours cruise up and down the Hudson showcasing some of the region’s most lauded destinations. Get an up-close look at historic structures like the Rondout Lighthouse and the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. Marvel at the pure decadence of waterfront properties, like the Wyndcliff Mansion, The Vanderbilt Mansion, Payne Mansion, and Staatsburg’s impressive Mills estate. The basic tour embarks from Kingston’s Rondout, while the premiere package leaves from Waryas Park in Poughkeepsie—perfect for day-trippers. Sunset cruises are especially romantic, and often feature deck-rocking live music and dancing. Stay tuned for special events like beer tastings, farm-to-table dinners, and more. Lovebirds looking to tie the knot on the water can book the Rip Van Winkle II for rehearsal dinners, ceremonies, and wedding receptions.

Hudson River Adventures

Newburgh, 845.220.2120

Board the Pride of the Hudson and glide past West Point, Storm King Mountain, and other spectacular sights. This Hudson Valley river cruise offers open-air seating on its spacious sundeck, as well as the comfort and shelter of a climate-controlled main salon. Don’t worry, indoor passengers! Massive wrap-around windows ensure that no guest of the Pride misses a single moment of the tour.

Trips depart from Pride’s Landing in Newburgh and are narrated by the ship’s captain. Marvel at the history of George Washington’s 1850 headquarters, Constitution Island’s “great chains,” and Breakneck Ridge’s quarry (which supplied granite for the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty’s base, and New York City’s streets). This Orange County tour showcases the lowest point in the Hudson River, aptly named “World’s End,” as well as the highest point between the Catskills and the Atlantic Ocean, Mount Beacon. Purchase tickets online or by phone.

Related: Kayaking, Paddleboarding, and Whitewater Rafting in the Hudson Valley

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