Spooky & Other Hudson Valley Attractions

Posted by Mary-Frances Walsh on 10/16/2014
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Hudson Valley, Tauck, Travel


I’m not a scary movie fan, but come Halloween… I do love a good thrill, especially one with a sense of humor. And that’s just what comes to mind when I think of Ichabod Crane, plodding home alone on a dark autumn’s night, past a menacing swamp, across a haunted bridge, after an evening of ghostly tales… as he meets up with a dark-cloaked horseman on a powerful black steed… only to realize that the horseman’s head sits on his saddle – instead of his shoulders.

Washington Irving’s short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, was set near the settlement of "Tarry Town" – some 25 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. While the story has roots in Old World folklore, Irving’s ill-at-ease schoolteacher and the frightful Headless Horseman helped put the Hudson Valley on the international map. They were part of a collection of Irving’s tales published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1820), which turned him into a celebrity both in Europe and America.

By the mid 1800s the Hudson Valley had become a popular getaway for city-bound New Yorkers. Its mountains, forests and fresh air made it a popular weekend retreat, particularly for those anxious to escape the risks of city-plentiful communicable diseases like tuberculosis. So too, the growing awareness of healthy lifestyles and the novel idea of a vacation made the Hudson Valley’s proximity to New York City a perfect venue. Train service from Manhattan also helped!

During the Gilded Age, wealthy industrialists and businessmen with names like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Gould and Morgan began purchasing property in the Hudson Valley. Some 65 grand estates were built along the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Sometimes called “millionaire’s colony,” the area grew to be one of the wealthiest places of its size in the country. These estates played an important role in their local economies, employing scores of local tradesman, designers and household workers.

While the haunts of Irving’s tales still permeate the Hudson Valley today, there’s much more to enjoy in this historic, culturally rich, and beautiful region of the U.S. – not to mention its reputation for farm-to-table culinary prowess. Not surprisingly, the Hudson Valley (which stretches north from the upper tip of Manhattan for some 150 miles), was named a “Top 20 Destination in the World” in 2013 by National Geographic. Here are some of the attractions featured on Tauck’s 10-day The Hudson Valley, a journey beginning in Montreal and ending in Manhattan.

boscobelBoscobel House and Gardens
Built in the early 1800s by a British loyalist who settled down in the Hudson Valley after the Revolutionary War to take up life as a gentleman farmer, this stunning home exists today thanks to the efforts of local preservationists. The house was reconstructed on a new site with a commanding view of the Hudson River in the late 1950s. Boscobel, where Tauck guests enjoy a private tour and lunch, contains one of the nation’s leading collections of furniture and decorative arts from the Federal period.

kykuitRockefeller’s Kykuit
Meaning “lookout” in Dutch, this six-story classical stone house overlooking the Hudson River was built in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil – said to be the richest man in the world at the time. The estate was home to four generations of Rockefellers, including Nelson Rockefeller, 49th Governor of New York and 41st Vice President of the U.S., whose amazing collection of 20th-century sculpture still graces its terraced gardens and pavilions. Tauck guests enjoy a private tour of the home’s main rooms and gardens.

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
Set on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River, “Springwood” was the birthplace of F.D.R. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), 32nd President of the U.S. Raised here as an only child, he went on to be the father of six children and the only U.S. President to win four elections. Although the estate was owned by his mother Sara, Springwood remained the place he considered home, and frequently returned to, throughout his presidencies. On a private tour, Tauck guests learn the stories that made this a living family’s home, their staff members, and the important role that the estate played in the local community.

West Point
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was founded on a commanding bluff overlooking the Hudson River in 1802 and quickly became an elite school in engineering and the sciences. Its early graduates played major roles in expanding the boundaries of the U.S.; they surveyed railroads, explored new territories, built roads, bridges and canals, and mapped the growing country. The academy later turned its focus more narrowly on military training, preparing many cadets who went on to become household names during times of war – Grant and Lee and Eisenhower, MacArthur and Patton. Tauck guests arrive here for a private tour by boat, after a cruise on the Hudson River.

mohonkMohonk Mountain House
Set on acres of unspoiled Hudson Valley beauty, this Victorian castle resort dates back to 1869 when it was founded by Albert Smiley and his brothers. Influenced by his Quaker beliefs, Smiley organized many annual forums for international and national leaders here with a focus on seeking approaches to resolving conflicts through arbitration rather than war. Still operated by his descendents, the resort has won numerous awards through the years, including being named “One of the World’s Best Places to Stay” by Condé Nast in 2014. Tauck guests enjoy a two-night stay here on The Hudson Valley.

gigiGigi Market
While farm-to-table conscientiousness has swept fine eating establishments across the country, the Hudson Valley was an early hub for the movement. Its tenets – awareness of how food is grown and the pleasures of eating fresh, locally grown foods – thrive in this region of plentiful farms, ranches, culinary artisans, wineries, craft breweries and cider houses. In the town of Red Hook, Tauck guests visit the Gigi Market, a café and farmers market owned by cookbook author Laura Pensiero. A highlight of the tour, our guests enjoy lunch, Hudson Valley wine tasting and a chance to chat with a local farmer.

Sleepy Hollow Legends Live On
Finally, the rolling hills and Hudson River views that Washington Irving popularized live on in the present-day village of Sleepy Hollow, named after the glen that Ichabod Crane nervously traversed on that dark night. Today it’s a neighboring village to Tarrytown, where Tauck guests spend a night before heading on to New York City. Although not visited on tour, it’s fun to know that the Old Dutch Churchyard here (circa 1690) is the spot where Ichabod sought shelter from the Headless Horseman. And Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (1849), listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the gorgeous resting place of Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Samuel Gompers and Elizabeth Arden – not to mention Washington Irving.


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