Tour the Decorated Great Estates & Historic Homes in Dutchess!
As the holiday season opens, our Great Estates have hung up their ribbons and bows, set up the Christmas trees, and created a festive atmosphere. The historic homes are dressed in their finest, reflecting periods in American history from the Revolutionary War to the Gilded Age, up to World War II. Six mansions and three Colonial homestead offer open houses and tours.
The Hudson Valley’s always been valued for its breathtaking scenery. From the 19th century on, a country home allowed the American aristocracy to entertain in a style meant to impress. Those fortunate enough to be invited guests treasured the lavish décor, dancing and feasts with elaborate table settings.
The tradition continues, as the Great Estates are now mansion-museums. There are holiday Whodunits just for children at Staatsburgh and a Yuletide Tea at Wilderstein. Visit one or all; each has its own charm. A visit to a beautifully decorated estate will indisputably get you into the holiday spirit!
Wilderstein Historic Site
Tours offered Thanksgiving weekend, November 24 – 26, & December weekends. Dec. 2 & 3(Sat & Sun), 9 & 10(Sat & Sun), 16 & 17(Sat & Sun), 23(Sat), FDR's cousin Daisy’s 1888 home is adorned by celebrated area florists and designers, becoming a magical holiday wonderland. Complimentary hot mulled cider and cookies. Tours are self-guided, with a docent in each room to share information. Also open Dec. 26 – 27. 1 - 4pm. $11, $10/st. & sr., under 12 free. www.Wilderstein.org
Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 24 – 26, & December Saturdays & Sundays. Tour the lavishly decorated 25 mansion rooms on three floors and Sundays: Holiday House Hunt: Families, enjoy a holiday-themed scavenger hunt! Fairies and elves have decorated the mansion. Come see the fantasy world they’ve created. Begin your adventure with a sweet treat and hear storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi. A special poem guides kids through rooms of glittering decorations to search for the tiny homes of the elfin residents. Can they find where the Christmas Tree Fairy, Reindeer Elf, and Snow Fairy are living this winter? 12 – 4pm. Show times at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15, and 3:15pm $8, kids 6 and under free. Arrive by 3pm to enjoy the entire program. $11, $6 ages 6-18.
Tours from Dec. 26 - 30. 10am - 5pm, last tour at 3:15pm. Self-guided tours Sundays, 12 - 4pm. 2683 South Road/Rte. 9, Poughkeepsie. 845-454-4500. www.LGNY.org
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
Thurs. - Sun., Nov. 24 - Dec. 22, & Dec. 26 - 31: “A Gilded Age Christmas” at Staatsburgh State Historic Site. Much like Scrooge, you can visit a Christmas past at the extravagantly decorated Mills family mansion. Experience Christmas in turn-of-the-century style, recreating the atmosphere of holidays long-ago in one of the great Hudson Valley estates. The mansion is opulently adorned with enormous trees and elegant floral arrangements! Thurs. – Sun., 12 to 4 pm, last tour at 3:30 pm. Special evening hours on Fri., Dec. 15, from 6 - 8 pm, with festive live music, costumed interpreters and shopping in the museum gift shop. $8, $6/sr., age 12 & younger free.
Sundays brings a wonderful holiday tradition for families and kids! Enjoy a “Holiday Whodunnit” as kids find clues to solve a mystery in the historic mansion, festooned with lavish decorations! 12 – 4pm. $8/person, kids 6 and under are free. 75 Mills Mansion Dr., off Old Post Rd., Staatsburg. 845-889-8851. www.nysparks.com/historic-sites/25/details.aspx and www.facebook.com/StaatsburghSHS
Nov. 24 - Dec. 31: The National Park Sites in Hyde Park are all decorated for Christmas! The first two are open daily; Val –Kill is open Thurs. – Mon. Holiday Open House from 11 am to 8:30 pm. on December 3.
- Vanderbilt Mansion is lavishly decorated for the holidays this year after skipping 2016 for renovations. Refreshments by the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association. Live music all day and evening, visits from the park mascot and more. Be sure to have your family photo taken in front of one of our trees. Check out www.NPS.Gov/VaMa
- Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “FDR Home for the Holidays at Springwood”, decorated as they were during the Roosevelt presidency. There are readings from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol". Open House 12/9, 9 am - 5pm, free tours all day. Refreshments served at the Wallace Center. Rte. 9, Hyde Park. 845-229-9115. www.NPS.Gov/HoFR
Eleanor Roosevelt's Christmas at Val-Kill (Open House 12/9, 4 - 7 pm, free tours of Val-Kill decorated as it was during Mrs. Roosevelt's lifetime. Refreshments and music provided by the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association. Access to Val-Kill is by shuttle, which leaves from the Wallace Center at the FDR site. No onsite parking at Val-Kill. 20% off regular prices in the museum shop. Hyde Park. 845-229-5302. www.NPS.Gov/ELRO
Sat., Dec. 9: 12th annual Children's Reading Festival, photos with Santa and making of Holiday Cards for Troops at The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum, Henry A. Wallace Visitors Center. 1- 4 pm. Live music, free photos with Santa from 1 - 3 pm. Make holiday cards for sailors on the USS FRANKLIN AND ELEANOR ROOSEVELT beginning at 12pm. Children's book authors read from and sign copies of their books. Featured books available for purchase in the New Deal Store in the Wallace Center. Presented by the Roosevelt Library and Friends of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District. Refreshments served throughout the afternoon. 845-486-7770. Rte. 9, Hyde Park.
Sat., Dec. 16th: Christmas Open House at Clermont State Historic Site! A great day for families! Explore the mansion at your leisure enjoying the holiday decorations with docents available to answer questions in each room. Cider and cookies will be available in the visitor’s center. 11am – 4pm. Free. (518)537-4240. 1 Clermont Rd., Germantown.
Colonial Homesteads Celebrate Christmas
Sun, Dec. 17: Holiday Candlelight Tours at Mount Gulian Historic Site. Tour the Colonial homestead aglow in candlelight, decorated with fresh greens, ribbons and bows, and sparkle. Holiday refreshments. 4 - 7 pm. $10, $8/senior, $6/child. Festive Holiday Candlelight Tours: Tues. - Wed. Dec. 19 & 20. Visit the homestead beautifully decorated with ribbons, bows, fresh greens, and candles of course! 1 - 5 pm (last tour at 4). $8, $6/senior, $4/child. 845-831-8172. 145 Sterling St., Beacon.
Sun., Dec. 3rd: the Old Dutch Christmas Open House takes place at The Elmendorph Inn. Enjoy the festive best for the holidays, featuring student musicians, hot mulled cider, homemade cookies and fresh-baked bread from the "beehive" oven. An annual tradition to launch the season and not to be missed. 1-4pm. Free. 845-758-1920. 7562 North Broadway, Red Hook.
Brinkerhoff Historic Site. Annual Christmas Open House hosted by the East Fishkill Historical Society. Fresh greenery fills the homestead. Enjoy music, cookies, mulled cider and eggnog to celebrate the start of the holidays. 1-4pm. (845) 227-4136. 68 N. Kensington Dr., Hopewell Junction.
Special Formal event
Fri., Dec. 15: Christmas on the Hudson. Holiday Gala at the Vanderbilt Mansion! Guests are treated to elegant hors d'oeuvres, champagne cocktails, extravagant decorations and holiday music, plus a unique opportunity to enter Frederick Vanderbilt's bedroom suite and private bath and have their photo taken in front of the room's historic fireplace. Formal attire requested. 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Tickets are available here. 119 Vanderbilt Park Rd., Hyde Park
Special Programs for Families:
Nov. 24, Santa on the Walkway. West (Highland) entrance of Walkway Over the Hudson. Elevator Status, call: 845-834-3641. 1-3 pm.
Two children’s programs in December, Staatsburgh’s Holiday Whodunit and a “mouse house” craft workshop. The Holiday Whodunit is Sun., Nov. 26 and each Sunday in December except Christmas Eve from 1 - 4 pm. Children ages 6 to 11 and their families are invited to solve a “history mystery.” They become detectives, interviewing costumed interpreters, who portray Gilded Age houseguests and servants. Children typically take 45 minutes to an hour to complete the program. The young detectives then enter a drawing with their guess as to “whodunit,” for prizes provided by the Friends of Mills Mansion and Oblong Books. 845-889-8851.
Dec. 2 & 3: A Child’s Christmas at Clermont State Historic Site! Drop in for stories read under the Christmas tree and treats for children ages 3-10. 10 am - 12 pm. $4. (518)537-4240. 1 Clermont Rd., Germantown.
Sat., Dec. 9th: Yuletide Tea at Wilderstein. One lump or two? Festive holiday happening featuring a variety of tea, finger sandwiches, and homemade delectables. Tour of the mansion included. $30, $20 per child. Reservations necessary. 330 Morton Rd., Rhinebeck. 1pm. 845-876-4818.
Thurs., Dec. 28: Children's Holiday Tea at Mount Gulian Historic Site. 145 Sterling St., Beacon. Make an old tradition your new one during school break! Relax and enjoy delicious dainty sandwiches and homemade desserts. Learn about a bygone era in an authentic setting where social teas were once standard fare. The Tea is held in the homestead’s two beautifully decorated main rooms, at tables set with linens and fine china. Craft project. Prepaid reservations by 12/15. 12-2pm. $22; $17/child. 145 Sterling St., Beacon. 845-831-8172.