These Historic Sites in the Hudson Valley Offer Affordable Fun

Looking for a fun day trip that won't break the bank? Catch scenic views and learn local history at historic sites in the Hudson Valley.

There’s a ton to do and see in the Hudson Valley, whether it be musical performances, outdoor destinations, or foodie-approved dining experiences. But let’s face it: Sometimes all that fun can get a little bit pricey. If you’re looking for engaging activities and scenic sight-seeing around the region—but don’t want to shell out too much dough—why not spend an afternoon at a historic site? At these storied mansions, battlefields, and cemeteries, you can explore the rich past of the Hudson Valley at little to no cost.

Free Sites

Knickerbocker Mansion

Schaghticoke

 

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Tour the 1780 historic home of the impactful Knickerbocker family in Rensselaer County and learn the history and culture of Old Schaghticoke. The seasonal tours and educational programs offered at the site will immerse you in one of Rensselaer’s captivating historical treasures. 

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New York State Capitol Building

Albany

 

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Tours of the magnificent building that has housed the center of government for New York since the 1880s are open to the public. These 45-minute guided tours offer a glimpse into areas such as the Hall of Governors, legislative chambers, and the Governor’s Reception Room, among other significant sites.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Stony Point

 

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This famous Revolutionary War site of the Battle of Stony Point features the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River. Visitors can explore the grounds where Brigadier General Anthony Wayne left his pivotal mark in 1779. The lighthouse built in 1826 symbolizes the historical navigational advancements during this time As you dive into the historic landscape, enhance your experience by interacting with the interpretive programs such as cooking and blacksmith demonstrations.

Val-Kill (Eleanor Roosevelt Site)

Hyde Park

 

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The only National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady, the quaint cottage of Eleanor Roosevelt is available to visit by guided tour. Discover the history of the building and experience stories of family holidays spent at the property. This site offers a unique and intimate glimpse into one of America’s most influential first ladies.

West Point Foundry and Preserve

Cold Spring

 

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Many of the artillery cannons, steam engines, and ironclad ships produced in New York during the 1800s were made at this Cold Spring ironworks. The preserve offers an enriching outdoor adventure and is truly a beacon of innovation of the 19th-century American industry.

Bang for Your Buck

Historic Huguenot Street

New Paltz


Informational walking tours are offered for this historic district of uptown New Paltz where the French Huguenots first settled in the late 1600s. Explore the 10 acres of grounds in New Paltz, a site rich in heritage of the Indigenous people who originally settled on these landsGeneral admission for tours runs $12; seniors, students, members, and children younger than 13 pay $10; veterans, active military families, and children younger than six may enter free.

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Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site

Vails Gate

General Henry Knox and other prominent Revolutionary War figures utilized the grounds at Vails Gate as their military headquarters. Travel into the late 1700s and experience both the milling and trading operations at the historic site. Tours cost $5 per person.

Locust Grove Estate

Poughkeepsie

 

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Get a stunning, elevated view of the Hudson River from the porch of Samuel F. B. Morse’s historic villa, along with lush gardens and waterfalls along carriage-road hiking trails for free. The museum includes original works of art and reproductions of Morse’s telegraph models showcasing the early 20th century. Tours of the picturesque villa, on the other hand, are $20 per person.

Olana State Historic Site

Hudson

 

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With 250 acres of an artist’s vision, the grounds of the Olana State Historic site were designed entirely by painter Frederic Edwin Church, along with the Victorian villa that overlooks it all. This beautiful blend of nature and art is the perfect destination for any scenery lover. Tickets vary in price depending on the tour—landscape tours are $12 per adult, whereas mansion tours cost $20 per adult.

Senate House State Historic Site

Kingston


The first meeting for the New York Senate took place at a modest stone house in Kingston. Go on an 18th-century scavenger hunt or view colonial artwork and furniture at this site. You can also take a glimpse into the past via historic reenactment events throughout the year. Tours are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and free for children 12 or younger.

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence

Albany

Engage in interactive tours at an important base for the Northeastern Underground Railroad Movement, where you’ll learn about the history of the Underground Railroad from the perspective of Black abolitionists from that historic time. Tours are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for children 5-12, and free for children four or younger. If you have a party of 10 or more, schedule a guided walking tour to Downtown Albany.

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

West Point

 

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West Point is the oldest occupied military post in the nation and George Washington’s most strategic position. Tour the academy grounds—which boast scenic views of the Hudson River—or opt for the cemetery tour, where you’ll learn about the lives and accomplishments of those in the West Point Cemetery. Guided tours start at $20 for ages 12 and older and $15 for ages between 3 and 11, depending on each individual tour.

Washington’s Headquarters

Newburgh

 

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Visit the site where General Washington rejected the notion of a monarchy in America and founded what would become the Purple Heart. The museum’s standout exhibit showcases over 1,300 objects from the diverse collections of Washington’s Headquarters. Then, climb to the top of the Tower of Victory for a breathtaking view of Mount Beacon. Tours are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and free for children 12 or younger.

Memberships & Deals

Historic Hudson Valley Membership

A Historic Hudson Valley membership can grant you entrance to such sites as Philipsburg Manor, the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, and Sunnyside, the estate of famous author Washington Irving, who penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. A family of four can access all of these sites, plus events like the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, as part of a membership package. Family memberships (two adults and up to two children) are $195, family plus memberships (three adults and up to three children) are $275, dual memberships are $120, and individual memberships are $75, with a $15 discount for seniors.

Empire State Parks Pass

 

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For $80, you get admission and parking at all NYS parks including local favorites such as Bear Mountain, Harriman State Park, and the Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, plus popular tourist destinations in New York like Niagara Falls and the Robert Moses State Park on Long Island. The pass can be shared among members of a household and is not assigned to a specific car, meaning the whole family can take advantage of a membership.

National Parks Free Entrance Days

On select national holidays throughout the year, National Parks are free to enter without charge. In 2024, entrance fee-free days are April 20, June 19, August 4, September 28, and November 11. Also, thanks to the National Parks Service’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, all fourth-grade students can visit the parks for free during their entire school year and into the summer.

Related: 4 Great Day Trips for Spring Adventures in the Hudson Valley

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