As the weather begins to change here in the Hudson Valley, I find my kids and I spend more and more time outdoors. Kids should be outdoors to help build their immune system, their problem solving skills, and imagination. It also helps them to sleep better, my kids are much happier and the obvious one exercise. Fortunately, the Hudson Valley has ample opportunity to be outdoors. Below are my favorite places to take my two and four year old. These are areas that I can relax and let my kids be free to explore. Win, win for everyone.
I absolutely love Fishkill Farms farm. I discovered this place when we were living in Westchester County and when we moved to the Hudson Valley I was excited that our new home was near my most favorite place. This farm doesn’t have designated “play” areas but is just a perfectly laid out farm for the kids to use their imagination and making their own unprompted play.
Our typical visit to the farm starts with u-pick from whatever mostly organic produce is available at the time. It is important to me that my kids see where their food comes from and take part in collecting food for our home. They look forward to this every time we come and we usually spend at least and hour picking. After we have picked we head to the numerous picnic tables and have a picnic lunch. On the weekends during the growing season you can purchase burgers and more from their outdoor grill. After the kids are done with their lunch I just relax and watch them roll down the hill, check out the chickens and bunnies, and play on the stage that bands use during some weekends. Sometimes we even get their delicious ice cream.
We usually go to the farm during the week since I am fortunate enough to stay home with the kids and I like to avoid crowds. If you do decided to go on the weekend be sure to get there early. It can get quite busy especially during apple picking season.
My husband and I discovered this park on a random exploration drive and it is my top playground for the kids. It is a good 20 minute drive for us but I am able to relax while watching my kids play. When looking for a playground I have a few criteria that makes my life easier when I am by myself with the kids. First a fence. There is only one entrance to this playground which means that my runner has no way to get out. Second there has to be enough equipment for the kids to play safely and equipment to challenge them. They are never going to learn how to take some physical risks if I only take them to playgrounds that are suitable just for their age. And lastly, I have to feel relaxed while I am there or I hesitate to go back. Benedict Farm Park encompasses all of these requirements, therefore I drive 20 plus minutes for the kids to play here. What I also love about the park is that there is a river in walking distance from the playground for the kids to throw sticks and rocks into. My kids love to go to playgrounds but they really love the water. Our typically day there consists of playground time followed up with time by the river. Then we head home.
Saugerties Lighthouse is a place we take all our out of town guest. The short but decent length trail is beautiful. The kids find all kinds of flowers and other interesting plants along the way. They also get to cross over a small bridge and walk barefoot. (The tail is made up of sand.) Once you get to the end you see the beautiful lighthouse on the Hudson that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. During the summer months there are lots of people swimming in the Hudson River here. There are very few places deemed safe to swim along the Hudson and Riverkeeper does water testing during the summer months. you can check out their test results here. Lastly, be sure to check the tide table before venturing out. You will not be able to get on the trail or back to your car if the tide is in. Great day trip to take the kids and have a picnic along the Hudson.
DuBois Farms is my stand by kid friendly farm. I know I said Fishkill is our number one farm but this comes in close behind. The kids love it here. They have everything from little houses for the kids to play in, pick your own and farm animals. On the weekends there are pony rides for the kids. This place a first generation farm and they are doing it right. Friendly staff, very clean, and the kids have hours of fun here. I enjoy taking the kids because it never seems overly crowded (haven’t been here on a weekend) and it is really relaxing for me. We personally don’t do much u-pick here but we always make sure to stop in the farm store and pick up one of their many amazing products to choose from.
I have to admit, this park just entered my top five today. My husband and I took the kids here last summer and did not enjoy ourselves. The day we came there was some sort of day camp going on and it was very crowded. With two very small kids at the time it was just too much for me. I knew that I could not keep track of them by myself so we didn’t go back, until two days ago and then again today.
During the week with school in session the playground was a bit busy but not enough to make me panic that I wouldn’t find my kids. We went with a couple other mothers and kids and everyone had a great time. They played on the playground and then threw rocks and sticks into the lake. If you have the season pass you can rent a rowboat from the park for $10 and have the boat all day. So today we went back with my husband and spent a few hours on the lake in the boat. Once we were away from shore we let the kids have the oars and they had a blast. We ended up going mostly in circles but we didn’t have an agenda and the kids were having fun. This park definelty became a favorite over night.
Most of the things I posted are free things to do with the kids around the Hudson Valley except for Chadwick Lake Park. I do however encourage you to at least purchase something from the farms when you go there and definitely keep it clean. It is their livelihood and they are kind enough to let you spend time on their property. But most of all have fun. Please be sure to comment if you have a favorite place you like to take your kids in the Hudson Valley so we can all discover new places.
Written by Jamie Jackson