There is no better way to enjoy the incredible beauty of Dutchess County, the heart of the Hudson Valley, than to pack a picnic and head out to one of these spectacular spots!
- Bowdoin Park
Ideal for families as well as for large and small groups, Bowdoin is a perfect spot for a get-together. The 301-acre park in the Town of Poughkeepsie offers scenic views of the Hudson River, pavilions, numerous picnic tables, grills and lots of open areas for picnicking. When you're done munching, you can hike the 4+ miles of well-maintained trails, view the wetland areas from the two built-in boardwalks, observe the wildlife or just sit on a bench and enjoy the beauty of the park. There are also a number of athletic fields, a nationally recognized cross-country race course and an award-winning handicapped-accessible playground for the kids. Wappingers Falls. (845) 298-4600. www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/DPW-Parks/PPbowdoin.htm
- Burger Hill Park
You'll need sturdy shoes to get to the top of Burger Hill but the view will be worth it! Panoramic vistas of the Hudson River Valley including the Shawangunk Ridge, Catskill and Taconic Mountains, Stissing Mountain and the Berkshires are what you'll get at the top of this 550-foot hill. The 76 acres of this beautiful rural park offer a truly unique place to picnic in Dutchess County. Rhinebeck. (845) 876-4213. www.scenichudson.org/parks/burgerhill
- Innisfree Garden
Enjoy your lunch in the designated picnic area and then take a stroll through this amazing 150-acre public garden where "the ancient art of Chinese landscape design has been reinterpreted, without recourse to imitation, to create a unique American garden." Visitors will be enthralled by the stunning streams, waterfalls, terraces, retaining walls, rocks and plants as well as the 40-acre glacial lake. Fee. Millbrook. (845) 677-8000. www.InnisfreeGarden.org
- Lakeside Park
This 290-acre park in Pawling is made for an all-day outing and picnic! There are picnic tables, shelters and pavilions where you can set up your eats. Then, when you're ready to work off those calories, you can play a game of pick up at one of the athletic fields, ride on the bike trails or hike the nature trails including part of the Appalachian Trail which runs through the park. www.nynjtc.org. Kids will love the playground and on hot days, you can cool off at the beach. You can even rent a boat there to tool around in. Fee. Pawling. (845) 855-1131. www.Pawling.org
- Montgomery Place
True peace and serenity can be found at this 380-acre historic site overlooking the Hudson. Spread out your picnic blanket and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the sprawling lawn while you decide what to do next. Maybe you'll take time to read a good book under the shade of a tree or a nap in the warmth of the sun. Or, you may decide to take a walk through the lush gardens, visit the arboretum or wind your way along the woodland trails. Laid out over a hundred years ago through a hemlock and mixed hardwood forest, you can follow the trail all the way to the cascading waterfalls of the Saw Kill River. Picturesque orchards border the estate and delicious fruit is available in season at the Montgomery Place Orchards Farm Stand. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk. Admission to the grounds is free, but there is a fee if you'd like to take the house tour available on Saturdays from June4-September3. Annandale-on-Hudson. www.bard.edu/montgomeryplace/visiting
- Poets' Walk Romantic Landscape Park
A well-stocked picnic basket and someone you love are the only things you need for a romantic outing at this inspirational spot in Red Hook. Stroll through the 120 acres of rolling meadows, gardens and forests. Pause at the rustic Overlook Pavilion for breathtaking views of the majestic Hudson River and the green-blue peaks of the Catskill Mountains. Poets and artists alike have been drawn to this spot for years. Washington Irving, who gave the park its name, is said to have come up with the idea here for "Rip Van Winkle" while gazing across the river at the Catskills. Red Hook. (845) 473-4440. www.BeaconFarmersMarket.org
- Riverfront Park
Coming from outside of Dutchess County? Why not take the train to Beacon? At the north end of the station is Riverfront Park where you can take advantage of the picnic tables and barbeque pits before heading off to shoot hoops, play tennis, volleyball or go fishing. There is a terrific playground for the kids who will also undoubtedly enjoy a summer dip in the River Pool! www.riverpool.org If you're there on a Sunday, be sure to stop by the Beacon Farmer's Market for delicious local foods to enhance your picnic. www.BeaconFarmersMarket.org
South of the Beacon train station lies Long Dock Park. An exciting riverfront destination boasting a kayak pavilion and beach for launching boats, rehabilitated wetlands and meadows that attract wildlife, and the restored, historic Red Barn, now Scenic Hudson’s River Center for arts and environmental-education activities. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available. One of the most popular attractions in the park is Beacon Point, a shoreline installation by renowned artist George Trakas. The work projects out over the river, making it a perfect place to fish, sunbathe and enjoy the magnificent vistas.
Those who like to hike can take the one-mile path along the Hudson on the Beacon Shoreline Trail to historic Denning's Point, home of the new Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries (BIRE) Center for Environmental Innovation and Education. After you explore this state-of-the-art learning center, walk the wooded loop trail before heading back to the train station. Check for the BIRE's programs, walks and lectures www.thebeaconinstitute.org. Beacon. (845) 838-5024. www.cityofbeacon.org/features/waterfront
- Taconic State Park, Rudd Pond Area
The Rudd Pond Area, in the northeastern part of Dutchess County, is a rural wonderland. With views of the Taconic, Berkshire and Catskill Mountains this 225-acre park is made for people who love the great outdoors! In addition to picnicking, there is camping, hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and biking. Whether you are there for an afternoon or an overnight stay, the Taconic State Park is full of great adventures just waiting for you! Parking & camping fees. Millerton. (518) 789-3059/1-800-456-CAMP. www.nysparks.com/parks/141/maps.aspx
- Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
There are a number of picnicking options at this Gilded-Age country palace that was once home to Frederick Vanderbilt. The famous overlook is a spectacular spot to take in the rolling hills of the grounds that lead down to the Hudson River. You'll also find ample room for picnicking, lounging or a game of Frisbee on the expansive lawns. A stroll through the gorgeous Italian Gardens is a must and the three-mile-long riverside hiking trail is yet another great way to enjoy this historic property. www.nps.gov/vama. The Music In The Parks series is held all summer long, alternating between the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site and Staatsburgh State Historic Site just north. www.staatsburgh.org Bring your picnic to one of these free concerts held on the lawns of each site on alternating Wednesday evenings. Check the web site for the schedule. Hyde Park. (845) 229-9115/Weekends (845) 229-7770. www.HistoricHydePark.org
- Wilcox Memorial Park
Tucked in the northeast Town of Milan is this 615-acre gem. Formerly the estate and farm of Mrs. Frederick P. Wilcox, this Dutchess County Park still contains many of the 18th century farm buildings that dot the landscape.
With four covered pavilions, Wilcox Park is a popular place for company picnics, family reunions, birthday parties and other events. This family-friendly park boasts two lakes at its center where you can relax and enjoy the tremendous beauty of the wildlife and your surroundings. You can fish from shore or from a rented boat. Paddle boats are also available to rent. Swimming is allowed at the lower lake where there are lifeguard facilities, a bathhouse and snack bar. New since 2016 – 18 Hole Disc Golf! For many families, this is first place they bring young kids to experience camping!
The 5+ miles of hiking trails which include a scenic overlook of Stissing Mountain and the Catskills make it a perfect spot year-round. Other activities at Wilcox include mini golf and the camping. Check the web site for details about hours and any related fees. Stanfordville. (845) 758-6100. www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/DPW-Parks/PPwilcox.htm