Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes when you get off the train at the Poughkeepsie Station. This walkable city on the eastern shore of the Hudson River offers lots of great places to explore just a short walk from the station.
You’ll immediately spot the world-famous Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. (It used to be a railroad bridge until a fire in 1974 permanently shut it down. It sat abandoned until it re-opened as the Walkway in 2009.) You can walk from the station to the Walkway in about 10 minutes. Cross over the Hudson River to the Highland side and back—that’s 2.5 miles roundtrip—and take in the stunning 360-degree views. Bike rentals are available, too. Two rail-trails join the walkway and head out into the hillsides in either direction. On the east side of the river, the trail continues another 0.3 miles to a connection with the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail; on the west bank, it connects to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, which extends nine miles to New Paltz.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, walk into the city. Grab a delicious oversized sandwich at Lola’s, right by the Walkway, or ramble a little farther to the city’s Little Italy neighborhood, with small winding streets, beautiful churches and lots of delicious goodies. The legendary Rossi’s Italian Deli offers up to die-for chicken cutlet sandwiches, and other Italian delights; it’s almost like you are in the heart of Rome. On your travels throughout the Queen City, check out the art deco 1869 Bardavon Opera House. The beautiful old theater, with lush red decor, offers world-class music, dance, theater and more. If you are lucky, you’ll catch a show—the Temptations and Natalie Marchant are both slated to appear in 2023.
Enjoy a late afternoon coffee at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory (PUF), a historic 22,000-square-foot factory building that has been meticulously renovated to a thriving mixed use-space, with a focus on food, art and housing. Check out the Clinton House, an 18th-century Georgian Stone Building on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1765, the house was used from 1777-1783 when Poughkeepsie was the capital of New York State. After a 1783 fire General George Washington’s New Windsor Cantonment ordered carpenters to rebuild and enlarge the house. The house is named after George Clinton, New York’s first governor, who called Poughkeepsie home for 21 years. During your travels, gaze at the beautiful Dutch revival Poughkeepsie Post Office, built as part of the New Deal from 1937-1939. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lived in nearby Hyde Park, was intimately involved in planning the building’s design and laid the cornerstone at the Post Office’s dedication Inside, famous murals depict six scenes in local and state history.
After checking into the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, you’ll want to take an Uber to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), one of the top culinary schools in the country. Try to dine at one of their four student-run restaurants. One word: reservations. This is a very popular experience—from the top-notch food to the stunning Hudson River views.
The American Bounty Restaurant focuses on products from the Hudson Valley. The beautiful Bocuse Restaurant combines classic French cuisine with ultra-modern cooking techniques. (It’s named after the post famous chef in France, Paul Bocuse.) Authentic Italian cuisine is the star at the Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici, which has a sophisticated dining room overlooking a stunning herb and rose garden—as well as the Hudson River. Stop by for a coffee or a delicious sweet treat at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.
Other Poughkeepsie restaurants include Brasserie 292, a traditional French bistro on Main Street and Mill House Brewing Company which makes several of their own beers and serves up top-notch comfort food.
The following morning, fuel up for your adventures with a hearty brunch. Continue to take in spectacular views—and spectacular eats and creative cocktails— at the sprawling Shadows on the Hudson. Alternately, the traditional Palace Diner, which is open 24/7, offers oversized plates of almost everything imaginable.
Take a car over to the Vassar College area; wander the beautiful, 1,000-acre brick campus—and check out their first-rate art museum, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. It displays works from antiquity to contemporary times, from ancient Egyptian sculptures to modern American paintings. (Catch the special ‘Body Matters’ exhibit through September 2023.) The neighborhood is full of funky shops and creative, international eateries. Try Twisted Soul, which dishes up eclectic street-food offerings, plus bubble teas & designer cupcakes. Or have coffee and a pastry at the Crafted Kup.
Finish your tour at the Locust Grove Estate; the home of telegraph inventor Samuel Morse is now a museum and nature preserve. Set on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, the Estate includes an Italianate mansion open for tours, 200 acres of landscaped grounds with five miles of hiking trails, and a visitor welcome center with art galleries, museum shop, and classrooms for educational programs. It’s the perfect spot to ponder your Poughkeepsie travels—and to plan your next trip.
Amtrak’s Empire Service, Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express lines service the Poughkeepsie Station (POU); an hour and a half ride from Penn Station, and a one-hour ride from Albany-Rensselaer Station. The cost is around $50 for a round-trip ticket with sufficient advance purchase but the price can vary. Free WiFi is available and you can bring small dogs, but there are restrictions and reservations are needed. A collapsed, small-wheeled, folding bicycle may be allowed on trains if smaller than 34″x 15″ x 48″. Additionally, guests can roll their bikes on the train thanks to Amtrak’s new carry-on bicycle service on the Empire Service and Maple Leaf trains. It allows bicyclists to roll their bike onto the passenger coach and hang it on the bike rack – no box or bag is required.
For timetables and schedules visit amtrak.com.