6 Scenic Hudson Parks to Visit

Over the past year our family has become familiar with Scenic Hudson Parks. Founded in 1963, this environmental group works to conserve, protect, advocate and educate. There are currently 45 Scenic Hudson Parks located throughout the Hudson Valley in 8 different counties. With the arrival of warmer weather, now is a great time to get outside and visit some of these parks. Below are 6 Scenic Hudson Parks that we think are worth visiting. We hope to visit many more parks this year! Have you been to any Scenic Hudson Parks? Which one is your favorite?!

Dutchess County:

Madam Brett Park (Beacon) – Visit this park if you love waterfalls and don’t want a strenuous hike. Read our full blog post for additional information.

Mount Beacon Park (Beacon) – Visit Mount Beacon if you want a more strenuous hike with amazing views.

Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park (Poughkeepsie) – Enjoy the walkway if you want beautiful views and an easy, flat path. Read our full blog post for more information.

Putnam County:

West Point Foundry Preserve (Cold Spring) – Visit the West Point Foundry Preserve if you want an easy hike mixed with history and some pretty views. Read our full blog post for additional information.

Ulster County:

Black Creek Preserve (Esopus) – Visit Black Creek Preserve if you want to cross a cool suspension bridge and get some up close views of the Hudson River.

Falling Waters Preserve (Glasco) – Visit Falling Waters Preserve for up close views of the Hudson River and a couple of small waterfalls.

Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park (Highland) – You can also access the Walkway over the Hudson across the river in Highland. Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing (Peekskill) – Visit Peekskill Landing if you want up close views of the Hudson River with easy paved walkways and restaurants within walking distance.

Snow Tubing in the Hudson Valley

Winter has arrived in the Hudson Valley. The temps are cold and we did have some snow at one point! Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, you can still enjoy some outdoor winter fun. Snow tubing is a fun activity that requires no special equipment or skills, just warm clothes!

We were planning on going snow tubing this past weekend, but the Christmas storm melted all the snow! We are going to hold off on going until we get more snow. However, most of these places make their own snow and are operating. As always, check directly with the location for up-to-date information. Here are some of the places we found where you can go snow tubing in the Hudson Valley.

Holiday Mountain (Monticello)
99 Holiday Mountain Road
Monticello, NY 12701
(845) 796-3161

Holiday Mountain snow tubing sessions sell out quickly. Be sure to call (845) 796-3161 to book your session. Snow tubers must be 44″ tall.

Cost: $20 for a 2 hour session. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling (845) 796-3161.

Sessions: 2 hour sessions on Friday, Saturday, Sundays and holidays

Hunter Mountain (Hunter)
64 Klein Avenue
Hunter, NY 12442

Hunter Mountain has tubing lanes that are almost 1,000 feet long, the longest of any of the destinations listed. Children have to be at least 36″ to snow tube. Tickets have to be purchased 48 hours in advance of your intended date.

Cost: $25 for a single tube, available for any rider over 44″
$35 for a double tube, for an adult and child between 36″ and 44″

Sessions: 2 hour sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Mount Peter (Warwick)
51 Old Mount Peter Road
Warwick, NY
(845) 986-4940

Mount Peter has a multi-lane 600 foot snow tubing run with a carpet lift to get you to the top of the mountain. Riders must be at least 42″ tall to ride in a single tube. They have tandem tubes for those riders 36″ – 48″ that can ride with an adult. Online reservations/ticket purchasing is highly recommended. For children under 42″ tall, Mount Peter has a Little Tikes tubing hill.

We went snow tubing here several years ago and had a blast! You can read more about our experience.

$35 for a 1.5 hour session weekends & holidays, $25 for the Little Tikes hill
$30 for a 1.5 hour session weekdays, $20 for the Little Tikes hill

Sessions: 1.5 hour sessions, Thursday – Sunday (check the website for sessions times)

Plattekill Mountain (Roxbury)
469 Plattekill Road
Roxbury, NY 12474
(607) 326-3500

Plattekill has two tubing lanes that are 500 feet long. A conveyor carpet lift to get you to the top of the mountain. Children have to be at least 3 feet tall to snow tube. Plattekill only has single tubes, but related parties can go tubing with the tubes together as conditions warrant.

Cost: $27 for a 2 hour session, $79 for a season snow tubing pass
Tickets must be purchased in advance online

Sessions: 2 hour sessions Saturdays and Sundays, 11 AM – 5 PM

Windham Mountain (Windham)
360 County Route 12
Windham, NY 12496
(518) 734-4300

Windham Mountain has six, 650 foot snow tube lanes in their Adventure Park. Enjoy a conveyor ride up the mountain.

Cost: $25/person. At this time, reservations and pre purchasing tickets is not available. It is recommended that you call ahead to check availability.

Sessions: 3 hour sessions, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays

West Point Foundry Preserve {Cold Spring}

Don’t let the name of the West Point Foundry Preserve fool you. It’s across the Hudson River from West Point, and it’s one of Scenic Hudson’s parks located in Cold Spring. This 90 acre preserve is an outdoor museum, showcasing the remnants of the ironworks and machine shop that operated from 1818 to approximately 1911.

West Point Foundry Information

Don’t expect a strenuous hike when you visit the West Point Foundry Preserve. There are several historical exhibits that you can view while enjoying more of a leisurely stroll. You can listen to an audiovisual tour of the Foundry as you walk to learn more about the sites.

West Point Foundry Gun Platform

The yellow-marked “Foundry Trail” is approximately one mile in length. The first stop on the trail is a recreation of the Foundry’s gun platform. This is the site where each cannon was tested prior to delivery to the military. The target was Storm King Mountain across the other side of the river. Unexploded ordinance was still being cleared off the mountain as recently as 1999.

West Point Foundry walking path

There is a metal pathway for smooth, flat walking. We were fairly surprised to find this path right in the woods

West Point Foundry 1865 Office Building

The next point of interest on the path is the 1865 Office Building. The Civil War was the busiest time for the West Point Foundry, as it produced thousands of cannons and millions of shells for the military. It used to be a massive complex including railways, shops and offices. However, the only structure remaining is this office building. Work has been done to preserve this building, but it is not open to the public. It’s believed that the building is in fairly good shape since it was built just prior to the sharp decline in foundry business following the Civil War. It didn’t get a lot of heavy use.

West Point Foundry Boring Mill Water Wheel

The Boring Mill Water Wheel onsite is a partial replica, to scale, of the original wheel that helped power some of the machinery that produced various products the Foundry made.

West Point Foundry stairs

As you pass the Boring Mill overlook, you take the staircase up to the hiking path. From here, the trail splits and you can go left to finish the yellow trail or go right to link up to the red trail.

We opted to continue on the yellow trail which then brings you back to the parking lot. We highly recommend continuing past the parking lot to the blue “Cold Spring and Foundry Cove” trail. This trail will take you into the town of Cold Spring.

However, we walked this trail just to the overlook. The staircase leads up to a viewing platform of Foundry Cove. There are several benches available to sit and enjoy the views. Unfortunately, we visited on a pretty cloudy day. I can see myself coming here in the future with a book and some snacks to enjoy some time in nature and to soak up the scenery. With some sun and some more fall foliage and this view will be spectacular!

The Details:
West Point Foundry Preserve
68 Kemble Ave.
Cold Spring, NY 10516

Parking: Free in parking lot

Admission: Free

Hours: Open daily, dawn to dusk

*There is a restroom onsite

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Madam Brett Park and Tioronda Falls

Madam Brett Park {Beacon, NY}

Hidden in the outskirts of the city of Beacon, you will find Madam Brett Park. This 12 acre park is one of the 45 parks created by Scenic Hudson. The park may be small, but it is here that you will find the impressive Tioronda Falls.

We visited this park mid-day on a recent Saturday afternoon. There is a small parking lot that can hold about 16 cars. There is also room along the gravel entrance road to park, although I’m not sure this is sanctioned parking.

There are two hiking trails that can be accessed at Madam Brett Park. The white trail runs 0.6 miles and the red trail is a 700 feet loop that is connected to the white trail. Our main reason for this visit was to see Tioronda Falls rather than getting in a hike. I love waterfalls and am on a quest to see as many as I can in New York! From the parking lot, it is a short walk to reach the falls.

There are a couple of different viewing spots of the falls, depending on how close you want to get. The closer you get though, the more adventurous you have to be. First there’s a short iron catwalk that must be traversed. Luckily, there’s a railing to hold on to.

Then, you will have to walk across the ledge of the Tioronda Dam. There happened to be a fallen tree lying across it, possibly from the recent Hurricane that passed through.

The end of the trail and the highest viewing spot of the falls is this observation deck. However, there were already people sitting up there and they didn’t look like they were leaving any time soon. Since we were practicing social distancing, we didn’t join them.

We ventured down off the trail to get to this closer view of the falls. We didn’t stay long, as there were other groups waiting to come down. However, it was so picturesque.

There was a lot of foliage overgrowth. But don’t be deceived. Although these flowers are pretty and were attracting lots of butterflies, they are actually an invasive species.

After you view the falls, walk past the parking lot to access the boardwalk that runs adjacent to Fishkill Creek. This will lead you to the rest of the white trail.

You will walk past the remnants of the Tioronda Hat Works. In January of 2017, a massive fire broke out here. Fortunately, fire fighters were able to prevent the fire from reaching the boardwalk. We turned around shortly after crossing the boardwalk. However, the white trail continues to the marsh.

The Details:
Madam Brett Park – A Scenic Hudson Park
560 South Avenue
Beacon, NY 12508

Parking: Free
Open: Dusk to dawn, year-round
Length: White trail – 0.6 miles
Red trail – 700 feet loop
You can access the Dennings Point Trail via the white trail

*There are no bathroom facilities here
*Dogs are allowed on a leash
*Fishing, X-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted
* Be careful making the turn into the park. You must drive through a narrow, one-lane underpass. Both entering and leaving, we had close calls with other cars.

8 Hudson Valley Gardens and Sculpture Parks To Visit

Summer has arrived and we are all itching to get outside and explore. Thankfully, New York State has slowly started to reopen. Here are 8 Hudson Valley gardens and sculpture parks that you are able to visit. Of course masks must be worn and social distancing rules apply. However, it’s a chance to get out and explore the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Please check directly with the organization for the most up-to-date information.

Art Omi (Columbia County)
1405 County Route 22
Ghent, NY 12075
(518) 392-4747

Art Omi is a 120 acre art and sculpture park in Ghent, NY.

Admission is free.

Parking is limited during this time and visitors will be turned away if the parking lot is at capacity.

Face masks must be worn in the parking lot and when passing others. Social distancing rules apply.

Restrooms are not open.

Brunel Sculpture Garden (Ulster County)
Junction of Route 28 & DeSilva Road
Boiceville, NY 12412
(845) 205-3839

The Brunel Sculpture Garden is located on 1.3-acres and is home to over a dozen statues and sculptures. Emile Brunel was an artist who decorated his property with sculptures inspired by Native American art seen on his travels. 

Open Daily:  1 – 5 PM for self-guided tours

*Admission is free.

*Please follow social distancing guidelines.

Innisfree Gardens (Dutchess County)
362 Tyrrel Rd.
Millbrook, NY 12545

Innisfree Gardens is a 185-acre garden located in Millbrook, NY.

Open: Wednesday – Sunday

Admission: $10/adults, $5/seniors, $5 children (5-15), Free/children 4 & under

Entrance by timed reservations only. There are three different time slots: (10 AM – 12 PM) (12:30 PM – 2:30 PM) and (3 PM – 5 PM).

*All visitors in the reservation must arrive together in one vehicle.
*Face masks must be worn and social distancing rules apply.
*Open rain or shine. Tickets are non-refundable.

Lasdon Park (Westchester County)
2610 Amawalk Road
Katonah, NY 10536

Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veteran’s Memorial consists of 234-acres of open grass meadows, woodlands and gardens.

There is also a Dinosaur Garden that is fun for kids to walk through and an online scavenger hunt.

Open Daily: 8 AM – 4 PM

*Trails and garden are open for walking.
*Bathrooms are closed.
*Social distancing rules must be followed.

Olana State Historic Site (Columbia County)
5720 State Route 9G
Hudson, NY 12534
(518) 828-1872

Although public programs and tours are currently closed, the 250-acre landscape (State Park) is currently open.

Open Daily: 8:30 AM – 6 PM

*Social distancing rules must be followed.

Opus 40 (Ulster County)
50 Fite Road
Saugerties, NY 12477

Opus 40 is a world-famous sculpture park and museum. It includes 6.5 acres of walkable sculpture, .5 acre meadow and more than 50 acres of walkable trails.

Admission: $11/general admission, $8/seniors and students

Open Thursday – Sundays, 11 AM – 3 PM

Visits are a maximum of two hours for groups of 5 or fewer only.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are non-refundable.

Parking is limited during this time.

Orange County Arboretum (Orange County)
41 Grove Street
Montgomery, NY 12549
(845) 615-3830

The Orange County Arboretum includes  35-acres of gardens, trees, shrubs and more.  It is operated and maintained by the County Parks department along with the Friends of the Orange County Arboretum.

Open Daily:  Dawn to Dusk (6 PM on weekends)

*Admission is free.

*Face masks are required for admission and social distancing rules must be followed.

*No street parking. 

Wethersfield Estate & Gardens (Dutchess County)
257 Pugsley Hill Road
Amenia, NY 12501

Wethersfield Estate & Gardens is the home of Chauncey Devereux Stillman. There are three acres of formal Italian garden and seven acres of wilderness garden to explore. The estate is currently closed.

Open: Gardens are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM (June – September)
Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk

*The Garden fee is waived this season as a gift to the community

*Restrooms are closed

*Face masks must be worn and social distancing rules apply.

Taking a Ride with the Catskills Rail Explorers

Imagine you and your family are gliding through the forest along railroad tracks. As you advance, you can see and hear the Esopus Creek rushing by. You may spot birds and wildlife among the trees that border the track. Well, you don’t have to imagine this, you can actually enjoy this experience up in the Catskills!

The Catskills Rail Explorers is located in Phoenicia, NY, in Ulster County. It shares its parking lot with the Empire State Railway Museum, which was unfortunately closed the day of our visit.

When you book a ride with Rail Explorers you can choose a tandem explorer, for two people or a quad, which seats up to four riders. They make this a family friendly experience and children of all ages are able to enjoy riding. However, everyone needs a seat. The seats are adjustable and are able to be moved closer to the pedals.

When you arrive you must first check in. Waivers must be signed and here you can purchase water, clothing and souvenirs. The explorers are preassigned and labeled with name cards, so there’s no need to rush to get a certain explorer.

The Catskill ride is 8 miles round trip and travels along the Esopus Creek and through the woods of the Catskill Mountains. The explorers come with electric motor assistance, so you are not pedaling entirely on your own! This is especially helpful for families with young children!

Each explorer rides independently and travels at their own pace. It’s really beautiful to see the mountain views and ride along the Esopus Creek.

The only time that all explorers are connected is when crossing Route 28. It is super safe, as railroad crossing barriers come down across all lanes. Plus, a Rail Explorer guide stands in the street with flags until everyone has crossed. Tandem and quad explorers can be connected for the entire ride if you have a large party and want to ride together.

Safety, as I mentioned, is taken seriously by Rail Explorers. Besides the main Route 28 crossing, there are a couple of side streets that the railway crosses. A guide stands in the intersection and will direct traffic for the explorers to safely cross. These crossings may also involve high fives with your guide as you pass!

At the end of the 4.1 mile trail, there is an approximately 15-20 minute break while the guides turn the explorers around for the trip back. It’s fun to watch them do this while you stretch your legs. There is also seating available where you can relax and take a snack break.

Be sure to take the Rail Explorer guide up on the offer for a family pic before heading out for your ride!

The first leg of the trip was much easier for us than the return. After the explorers were turned around and we were headed back it started to rain. Fortunately, there are umbrellas in each explorer. However, during the ride our pedal assistance motor stopped working. We had to pedal the entire trip back on our own….which was slow and a lot of work! But we did it and got a great workout!

A visit to the Catskills isn’t complete without a ride on the Rail Explorers! It’s such a unique and fun experience that is great for all ages. Check out our short video:

(Thank you Catskills Rail Explorers for hosting us. As always, all opinions are our own.)

The Details:
Catskills Rail Explorers
70 Lower High Street
Phoenicia, NY 12464
1(877) 833-8588

Hours of Operation: Thursday – Sunday, now through November 3

Parking: Plenty of free parking is available in their lot.

Price: $85 for a tandem explorer (2 riders, $42.50/person), $150 for a quad explorer (up to 4 riders, $37.50/person)

*They ask that you arrive 15-30 minutes before your scheduled tour. A waiver needs to be signed and they want to ensure that all parties have arrived.

*Dress accordingly! We visited at the end of September and it was very chilly! Be sure to bring sweatshirts and jackets, depending on when you visit.

*The rail explorers go out rain or shine. They have two large umbrellas on the quad if needed. However, you may want to wear or pack rain gear if there is rain in the forecast.

*There are storage baskets in the back of the explorers where you can keep loose items and belongings.

*Bring drinks and snacks. There is a 15-20 minute break where they turn the rail explorers around. This is a great time to hydrate and refuel.

*Check out the website for special tours! They are currently running a stargazing evening tour with hot cider and donuts (Saturday at 7 PM) and a Beer and Pretzels tour (Fridays at 4:30 PM).

*Rail Explorers currently operate in two other locations: Las Vegas and Rhode Island.

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Exploring Dover Stone Church

Fall is the perfect time to go hiking! I highly recommend exploring Dover Stone Church in Dover Plains, NY for a day of outdoor family fun. Back in the spring, my daughter and I enjoyed a nice visit here.

Let me be clear right at the start, Dover Stone Church is not actually a church. It’s actually a cavern, formed over the years, in a silhouette reminiscent of a cathedral’s stained glass window. The property was originally private but was purchased by the Town of Dover in 2002, when it became available for sale. Through grants and donations, the property has been renovated and expanded. In the summer of 2015, three miles of nature trails were opened for visitors to enjoy.

But let’s back up. Before you get to the cavern, you must park across the street in the school parking lot (only when school is not in session). After crossing the street, a sign helps point you in the right direction.

A giant sign welcomes you the Dover Stone Church!

And then you encounter this amazing view! This was taken back when we visited in May. I’m sure the view with the fall foliage is just as spectacular!

You pass another welcome sign and a display that gives a short history of the Dover Stone Church.

It’s a short 0.25 mile hike from the pedestrian path to the trails. On the way you cross a footbridge where underneath, the Stone Church Brook flows.

As you approach the Stone Church will pass a sign directing you to the hiking trails towards the left. Stay to the right to visit the Stone Church.

The path toward the Stone Church is pretty rocky. As you get closer to the Church, the rocks are also wet and slippery.

There are some pretty neat views of the brook.

But, of course, the Stone Church is the main reason for this visit!

The cavern was briefly closed in July of 2019 due to rockfalls in the cave. It has since reopened, but you are warned to use caution and enter at your own risk. If attempting to enter the cave, be cautious and wear appropriate footwear. Some minor rock hopping is needed to get inside. But I highly recommend going inside if you can. How often can you see a waterfall inside of a cave?!!

The Stone Church Cave Trail is only 0.3 miles round trip. After we got our fill of the cave, my daughter and I went off to hike. The red trail and yellow trails are each 1 mile round trip and the blue trail is 1.5 miles round trip. The trails are well marked with colored trail markers. We hiked the red trail which was an easy hike with no notable features.

I’d love to visit the Dover Stone Church again with the whole family, since only my daughter and I made this trip. The four of us can try out the other trails.

The Details:
Dover Stone Church
3128 NY-22
Dover Plains, NY 12522

Parking: Park across the street in the Dover Elementary School parking lot (when school is not in session) and at Frescho 22 Plaza, 3156 NY-22 (when school is in session)

Hours: Open 7 AM to 7 PM, weather permitting

*No swimming is allowed
*There is a carry in, carry out policy
*Pets must be leashed
*Altogether, our visit took a little over an hour including photos at the Stone Church and a one mile hike on the red trail.

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A Visit to the Hudson Valley Food Hall {Beacon}

Our family loves food halls! Food halls are an upscale equivalent to a mall food court. We love having a variety of food options available but being able to eat together in one location. We’ve been to City Kitchen and Urbanspace Vanderbilt in New York City multiple times. So when we heard that Hudson Valley Food Hall was opening in Beacon, we of course had to check it out.

Hudson Valley Food Hall is located at 288 Main Street in Beacon. The building was formerly inhabited by the Roosevelt Theater. The food hall is directly across from the Howland Public library and Glazed Over Doughnuts. From northern Westchester County it was approximately a 35 minute drive.

We planned to have a late lunch at the Hudson Valley Food Hall and arrived at 1:45 PM. The place was fairly busy when we got there. There are several food options from six different food vendors:

Bombay Wraps

Green House Salads

Hudson Valley Seafood

Katie Rose Bakery

Miz Hattie’s Southern BBQ

and Momo Valley.

Our first stop was Bombay Wrap, which also had the longest line during our visit. We opted for The Big Meal which includes rice with a choice of sauce, roti, two subji (fillings/mains), a samosa and a drink for $12.99.  For our subji we got the Chicken Curry and Paneer Tikka, on the recommendation of the cashier. When we asked for his suggestions, he mentioned that these are two of their popular dishes. Everything was delicious but a bit spicy. That was fine with us, but the kids aren’t huge fans of spicy food. Overall, I think it’s a great value for the price.

We then stopped at the Momo Valley stand.  Momos are South Asian dumplings native to areas like Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.  Established in 2018, besides momos, Momo Valley offers a noodle soup bowl, a chicken over rice bowl and an Everest platter (Nepal’s national fish that includes lentil soup, rice, veggies, dry curried meat, fermented daikon or carrots, and sautéed greens). 

We opted to share a mixed momo bowl, which includes two grass-fed beef, two chicken and two spinach and cheese momos for $10. The momos are served steamed, though you can get them fried for an additional cost. We liked how each momo flavor is wrapped differently to differentiate them.

The Hudson Valley Food Hall doesn’t have a liquor license yet, so no alcohol is served.  The plan is for the Roosevelt Bar to serve cocktails which showcase local spirits made in the Hudson Valley. At the time of this posting, the food hall still did not know when they will receive their liquor license. For now, it’s an ice cream and soda bar.

We tried a peach and basil soda. The syrups come from More Good, a local Beacon company that, besides hand-crafted soda syrup concentrates, also sells a variety of teas and bitters. A 16 oz. soda is $2.95 and besides Peach and Basil, other flavors include Concord Grape, Cherry Cola, Root Beer, Ginger Ale and Cassia Kream.  We loved how the serve the sodas in a glass with a metal straw.

Although we did not try any ice cream, the menu looks delicious! The ice cream is homemade from the Mapleview Cafe in Poughkeepsie.

The food hall is narrow with limited seating. There is an upstairs dining space with a couple of additional tables and chairs.

We enjoyed the couple of items that we tried during our visit. We like how the food hall aims to showcase chefs and food from around the Hudson Valley. However, we wished that there was more unique food offerings. Overall, we are very happy to see a food hall in the area and wish the Hudson Valley Food Hall great success!

The Details:
Hudson Valley Food Hall
288 Main Street
Beacon, NY 12508

Hours: 11 AM – 9 PM, 7 days a week
Hudson Valley Seafood is open 9 AM – 6 PM
Once the Roosevelt Bar opens, food vendors will be staying open later

Parking: Street parking – see tip below

*Expect to wait a few minutes for your food, especially during busy times.

*Main Street on a weekend in Beacon is BUSY! We recommend taking the first available parking spot you find and hope you are good at parallel parking! We parked a few blocks down from the food hall and made the short walk.

* The Beacon Farmer’s Market takes place on Sundays from 10 AM – 3 PM, right down the street from the Hudson Valley Food Hall. After you enjoy lunch at the food hall, you can make a stop at the market to stock up on veggies, baked goods, cheese and much more!

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Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden {North Salem, NY}

Secluded in the back roads of North Salem is a small taste of Japanese culture right here in Westchester County.  The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden is a hidden treasure of beauty that aims to connect and promote an appreciation of Eastern and Western culture.  My kids both visited the Hammond Museum on school trips after studying Japan.  Last summer, I enlisted my daughter to accompany me on my first visit.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to post about our visit to the Hammond Museum until now.

“But what’s the use of having collections if people can’t see them?” – Natalie Hays Hammond

When you arrive you enter the gardens through the museum. The museum was designed by Natalie Hays Hammond and built in 1957 to showcase her collection of antiques and artifacts that she acquired through her travels.  The art in the galleries change several times over the eight months that the museum is open.

Artist Rosalind Schneider's exhibit Transformed Realities at the Hammond Museum.

We were able to see artist, Rosalind Schneider’s, Transformed Realities exhibit, just before it closed. Currently art exhibits in the galleries are closing mid-June, with new, yet unannounced exhibits replacing them.  Full Bloom, Sculpture in the Garden is on display for the entirety of the season. 

Through the gallery is the entrance to the gardens.  I don’t believe that there’s one way to visit the Japanese Stroll Gardens.  Once you pass through the tea house entry you can go either right or left. The garden path is circular, so whichever direction you choose, you will eventually make your way back to the tea house.  The gardens are designed with the Japanese design principles of balance and harmony.  Balance, in a Japanese garden, is asymmetrical and you will find odd-numbered and triangular groupings.

To the right of entry is the Zen Garden. Also known as karesansui (dry mountain water).  Rakes are available for visitors to create patterns in the rocks.

If you continue on the path to the right you will see the pond to your left and the Katsura Trees and Bamboo Grove  on your right. Bamboo is important to Eastern culture.  From food, to paper, furniture and even planking for houses, the bamboo plant is highly useful.  However, some species are used for ornamental purposes in landscape gardens, like the ones here.

Waterfall Garden at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden.

To the left of the entry is the waterfall garden.  This is a tiny waterfall that is almost hidden by all of the ferns and mountain laurel.  The water flows from east to west, shadowing the sun’s path.

Straight ahead of the entry is the pond.  I recommend taking some time to sit on the benches by the pond and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty.  If you look closely, you may be able to spot one of the ten turtles that inhabit the pond. Listen and you will probably hear the frogs croaking. The day of our visit the staff was prepping for a wedding later that day.  So we didn’t walk out to the island.

There are a couple of different statues and sculptures located throughout the gardens and this beautiful gong.

Off one of the garden paths you will find The Garden of Buddhist Saints. These are sixteen stones that honor the enlightened followers of Buddha.

There is much more beauty and nature to be found at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden, than what I showcased here. If you are looking for some peace and tranquility, this is a place that you must visit.

The Details:
Hammon Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden
28 Deveau Road
North Salem, NY 10560
(914) 669-5033

Hours: Open May – November (see website for specific dates)
Wednesday – Saturday 12 PM – 4 PM

Admission:  $5/adults, $4/seniors, Free/Children 12 and under.  Free for members.

Parking:  Free parking available on the grounds

Tips and Notes:
*As a first-time visitor, my daughter and I spent approximately an hour visiting the museum and garden.

*If you have some time, bring a book and sit on a bench by the pond.

Snow Tubing at Mt. Peter

New York has finally gotten a substantial amount of snow! For those families, like ours, who don’t ski, snow tubing is a fun winter family activity. We enjoyed our first snow tubing experience last year at Mt. Peter in Warwick, NY. Mt. Peter is a perfect for a day trip and only about an hour’s drive from northern Westchester County.

Neither my husband nor I had been snow tubing before, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We had made reservations for a 3-5 PM Saturday tubing session. (Reservations are highly recommended, as they have limited two hour sessions.) We arrived at Mt. Peter a little early to make sure we had time to get our snow gear on. The 1 -3 PM session was still taking place when we got to the snow tubing area so we got to watch others snow tube down the hill for a little bit.

Mt. Peter has six snow tube lanes that are 600 feet long. Once our time slot began we walked over to the attendant to get a tube. You can choose between a single or tandem (double) tube. You must be 42″ to ride in a single tube. If under 42″ you MUST ride in a tandem tube with an adult. Fortunately, both our kids were over 42″ so we got to enjoy both single and double rides.

You carry your tube onto the carpet lift that takes you up to the top of the hill. There are attendants at both the top and bottom of the hill. They let you know when it is safe to start tubing. The speed of the runs vary, depending on the size of the person, as well as the snow conditions. I found that my tube kept slowing down and stopping near the bottom of the hill. I ended up trying my daughter’s tube and went speeding down the hill, almost too fast for my liking! Over our two hour session we went down the hill at least 8 times, maybe even more. The lines at the top of the runs get backed up, but move fairly quickly.

We had such a fun time snow tubing! This was a great way for us to enjoy some outdoor winter family fun. Food is available for purchase in the onsite cafeteria. However, the town of Warwick is a short drive away and has lots of restaurants where you can grab a late lunch or dinner after your snow tubing adventure!

The Details:
Mt. Peter
51 Old Mt. Peter Rd.
Warwick, NY 10990
(845) 986-4940

Wednesday – Sunday: 11 AM – 1 PM, 1 PM – 3 PM, or 3 PM – 5 PM
Friday and Saturday: additional 5-7 PM session

$30 weekends/holidays
$24 non-holiday weekday

*Make reservations to guarantee you get the date and time that you want.
*Dress warmly! Snow pants and waterproof gloves are highly recommended!
*Bring a signed and printed waiver with you to help speed up the checking in process.

*There is a Little Tikes tubing play area for children under 42″. As my children are older, we did not experience this area. For additional information, please check out the Mt. Peter site.