Poughkeepsie is a city in the heart of the Hudson Valley in Dutchess County, New York. Its name is derived from the phonetic interpretation of the local Native American phrase for “the reed-covered lodge by the little water place.” Although reed-covered lodges are relics of the past, the phrase is very accurate for the city, which sits on the bank of the Hudson River.
The area is home to several estates built in the years before and during America’s Gilded Age. Vanderbilt Mansion is a short drive outside the city. The grounds feature formal Italian gardens and a small park with beautiful views of the Hudson River, particularly at sunset. Walk through the halls of this Beaux-Arts mansion on a guided tour. Take guided tours or enjoy the grounds of other nearby estates like Maple Grove or Locust Grove.
Vassar College, an elite liberal arts institution, is located in Poughkeepsie. The college grounds feature an arboretum with over 200 varieties of trees. Explore the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, which houses an extensive display of Asian, European and American art and artifacts. The college also hosts plays, concerts, dance performances and other acts throughout the year.
Explore the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley at one of Poughkeepsie’s many parks. Peach Hill Park is the city’s largest park. It has 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) of trails that go past an apple orchard, the scenic highest point in town and woods bordering the Hudson Valley. Take a step back in time at Springside, the former estate of Vassar College founder Matthew Vassar. The grounds, gardens and farm are open to the public and provide a wonderful family excursion.
Investigate the lively downtown scene in Poughkeepsie. Check out the various restaurants and shops or take a stroll along the riverfront. Poughkeepsie’s combination of Hudson Valley beauty and college town cultural scene makes it a city well worth visiting.