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Top 10 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 12-6 p.m. 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 9 a.m. 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 7 a.m. – dusk.
     
  4. Find out about local sports figures: Travel through Dutchess County's history of sports at the Sports Museum of Dutchess County. Tours arranged by appointment. Wappingers Falls off Wheeler Hill Road. https://www.dutchess.org/museums/sports_museum_of_dutchess_county 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 3-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12-5 p.m. 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 1-4 p.m. and for special events. Route 9, Fishkill. www.fishkillhistoricalsociety.org 845-896-9560.
     
  7. Enjoy a summertime stroll at the Great Estates gardens and landscapes of Dutchess County. National parks, historic mansions, charming country homes and other stunning settings provide visitors with gorgeous scenery. Spanning the American Revolutionary War, the Gilded Age and World War II, these locales exhibit important pieces of Hudson Valley history. 
     
  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-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., late night Thursdays until 7 p.m. 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 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. 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. 9 a.m. to dusk. 845-473-4440 www.ScenicHudson.org.

BONUS Things

  • Download free Dutchess Tourism Trail Finder mobile passports for unique experiences throughout the county. The Connection Finder family fun trail is a mobile passport program offering deals, discounts and freebies at a variety of family-friendly destinations. Drive-in movie theaters, alpaca farms, baseball stadiums, creameries and more await! Our Zen Finder outdoor experience trail is your free ticket to over 30 hidden gem hiking trails. Compete with other Hudson Valley hikers to visit the most spots on the trail. Various check-in tiers earn stickers, water bottles and the grand prize of a Yeti cooler. 
  • See free outdoor concerts during spring, summer and fall. Catch everything from jazz to rock at historic mansions, farm breweries, scenic wineries and charming parks.
     
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