Kykuit, the sprawling hilltop estate of the Rockefeller family is a must-see in the Lower Hudson River Valley.

Kykuit, the sprawling hilltop estate of the Rockefeller family is a must-see in the Lower Hudson River Valley. Photo © Kris, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

A handful of majestic estates line the Hudson River, representing several centuries of architectural and cultural trends including American Renaissance, Georgian, Federal, Romantic, Greek Revival, and Gothic Revival. Many have been turned into interpretive museums that are open to the public.

Here are some of the most popular mansions to visit:

  • Kykuit: The sprawling hilltop estate of the Rockefeller family is a must-see in the Lower Hudson River Valley. The three-hour Grand Tour is well worth the time investment.
  • Union Church of Pocantico Hills: After a Kykuit tour, stop here to admire stained glass windows designed by Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall for the Rockefeller family.
  • Sunnyside: The Romantic-style home of Washington Irving, America’s first man of letters, is a whimsical place right on the river’s edge just south of Tarrytown in Westchester County.
  • Lyndhurst: Financier Jay Gould’s former residence, also near Tarrytown, is considered the finest example of Gothic Revival style in the United States.
  • Boscobel House and Gardens: This restored neoclassical mansion near Cold Spring is the home of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.
  • Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site: FDR’s presidential library and museum are just up the road from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
  • The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York.

    The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York. Photo © Steven Phraner/123rf.

  • Vanderbilt Estate: Fifty rooms range from Renaissance to Rococo, and the lawn is a great place for a summer picnic in the Mid-Hudson River Valley.
  • Montgomery Place: Built in the Federal style, this riverside estate presents scenic views of the Catskill Mountains.
  • Clermont State Historic Site: The Georgian-style estate of Robert Livingston Jr. reflects the influence of seven generations of the prominent Livingston family.
  • Olana State Historic Site: Romantic landscape painter Frederic Church designed his Persian-style home after a trip to the Middle East.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Hudson Valley & the Catskills.