One of the most comfortable and efficient ways to see and learn about the 10-county expanse that comprises New York State’s Hudson River Valley is as a passenger on the Amtrak Empire Service train or the Metro-North Hudson Line. Both trains depart from New York City’s Grand Central Station and run along the east side of the river to Albany.
The Hudson River Valley
The Hudson River Valley is blessed with a bounty of natural resources as well as man-made historical and cultural attractions. These include the majestic Hudson River and all the bridges, islands, mansions, castles, lighthouses and changing landscapes—that dot the map along the train route.
The Valley encompasses 10 distinct counties (Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Columbia and Rensselaer County, east of the Hudson; and Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Greene and Albany Counties to the west). As a long-time resident of Westchester, I’ve been dazzled by all this area has to offer, always finding out about another attraction I would like to visit.
There’s an app for that
Whether you are a resident or a tourist, a free, newly-released mobile app can serve as your guide as you ride the rails (or you can cheat, and follow it from home, too).
In partnership* with the National Park Service, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (one of 49 such Congressionally-designated areas around the country) has developed the free, Hudson River Train Tour App.
How it works
This mobile app allows passengers to learn about the richly endowed region outside their windows as they ride the train, downloadable from the iPhone and Android app stores and also on Google Play. (The app requires an Internet connection and works better from a window seat.)
Once you download the Hudson River Train Tour app and turn on location services, the app will tell you about sites you are approaching, in real time, that are close to various railroad stations.
Users get to choose the theme(s) that interest them, such as Freedom & Dignity, Nature & Culture, and Corridor of Commerce. “Voices of the Hudson,” a complementary audio series, allows users to listen to stories associated with the views outside their windows.
Why leave the Big Apple?
Whether visiting New York City for business or pleasure, there is always the urge to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, and see a more relaxed part of New York State, whether for only a day or longer. The breathtaking views along the Hudson change with the seasons but visiting during the fall foliage season is a particular treat.
Once on the train, Westchester (in the lower Hudson Valley) is the closest county to New York City. Just a short distance from the train, you can visit Kykuit, home to four generations of Rockefellers; Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the resting place of author Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow); and Lyndhurst Manor, a Gothic-style stone villa built with Sing-Sing marble that was mined by prisoners.
Itineraries (including hiking trails) and free brochures to help plan your trip are also available online from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area website.
*Other project partners include Amtrak, Dutchess Tourism, Hudson Valley Tourism, Metro-North Railroad, National Park Service Trails and Rails Program, and Scenic Hudson.
This post is sponsored by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, who provided all the photos as well.