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Top Ten Free Things to do in Dutchess County

  1. Explore the CCS & Hessel Museum at Bard College: Features contemporary art exhibitions, curated by graduate students at this recently expanded and renovated museum. Thursday-Sunday from 11am-6pm. Annandale-on-Hudson. 845-758-7598. www.Bard.edu/ccs.

  2. Picnic on Mount Beacon: With spectacular views of the Hudson River Valley, Mt. Beacon is a challenging but rewarding hike. Follow one of the steep, dirt trails up the mountain and spot the ruins of the incline railroad along the way. Hiking boots are recommended; bring water and snacks. Open 9am to dusk; not for the inexperienced hiker. Trail entrance at the intersection of Howland and Wolcott Avenues in Beacon. www.ScenicHudson.org 845-473-4440.

  3. Spanning 1.28 miles over the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Highland, the Walkway Over the Hudson is an aerial State Historic Park. This restored historic railroad bridge hosts 500,000 visitors annually who walk, bike and run 212 feet above the Hudson River. Enjoy unparalleled views north to the Catskill Mountains and south to the Hudson Highlands. Easily accessible from the Poughkeepsie Train Station. Open 7 days www.walkway.org per week from 7am – dusk.

  4. Find out about local sports figures: Travel through Dutchess County's history of sports at the Sports Museum of Dutchess County. Saturday & Sunday 11am-4pm, group tours arranged by appointment. Wappingers Falls off Wheeler Hill Road. www.sportsmuseumofdcny.org 845-473-0903, 297-9308.

  5. Experience art in a whole new light: The Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY encompasses art, film and music via ongoing exhibits, programs and open studio times. Free admission and free drop in art activities for K-12 youth and their families at the Art Nest. Open Fridays 3-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 12-5pm. Special children’s programs offered during the summer and school year. Accessible via Metro North. 37 Furnace Bank Road, www.wassaicproject.org Wassaic.

  6. Step back more than 200 years at Van Wyck Homestead Museum. The 1732 structure once served as an officer’s headquarters for the Continental Army. The museum is open weekends from June – October 1pm-4pm and for special events. Route 9, Fishkill. www.fishkillhistoricalsociety.org 845-896-9560.

  7. Enjoy a summertime swim in the Hudson River: River Pool in Beacon provides a safe area for swimming and wading in the Hudson River for people of all ages. Open during the summer months, Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm-6pm. Lifeguards are on duty whenever the pool is open. Located within walking distance from the Beacon train station. www.riverpool.org.

  8. Delve into the history of art at Vassar College. Enjoy the spacious campus while investigating art from Egyptian times to the present at the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Museum, designed by Cesar Pelli. Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, late night Thursdays until 9pm, and Sundays 1pm-5pm. 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie. 845-437-5632. www.fllac.Vassar.edu.

  9. Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center has more than 1,000-acres. The working farm teaches natural history, ecology and farming programs. Free seasonal events throughout the year, and open barn and greenhouse Saturdays and Sundays from 11am – 1 pm. Trails and grounds sunrise to sunset for hiking, fishing, birding and snowshoeing. Rt. 9D, Wappingers Falls. 845-831-3800 www.stonykill.org.

  10. Stroll along the Poet's Walk Romantic Landscape Park. 120 acres of gardens, trails, gazebos, and breathtaking views of the Hudson River. Has encouraged inspiration for poets and artists alike for years, from Washington Irving to Pete Seeger, so don't forget your notebook! Off River Road in Red Hook. 9am to dusk. 845-473-4440 www.ScenicHudson.org.

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