The magnificent estates along the Hudson River were built using the best architects, landscape artists, and decorators of their day. These estates have been meticulously restored and are open to the public for tours.
Philipse Manor Hall, Yonkers : The oldest of the Hudson River estates, originally built for Dutchman Frederick Philipse in the 1680s. The grounds are no more, but the house is nicely restored.
Sunnyside, Tarrytown : Writer Washington Irving’s former abode, full of gables and towers, beside a pond with swans.
Lyndhurst, Tarrytown : Financier Jay Gould’s magnificent Gothic Revival estate, designed by the great Alexander Jackson Davis in 1838.
Philipsburg Manor, Tarrytown : A reconstructed 17th- and 18th-century manor house complete with costumed guides and a working gristmill. This is an especially good place to take kids.
Kykuit, Tarrytown : The former Rockefeller estate, famed for its magnificent grounds and collection of modern art.
Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson : A lovely 18th-century stone-and-clapboard house that’s half-English, half-Dutch. It’s not as well known as the Tarrytown mansions and therefore a good place to visit on summer weekends.
Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie : A romantic octagonal villa that was once the summer home of artist-scientist-philosopher Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph. This is one of the smaller estates.
Roosevelt Estates, Hyde Park : Perhaps the most interesting of the Hudson River estates. Springwood, FDR’s former home, is a deeply personal place; adjoining it is a first-rate library-museum. Nearby is Eleanor Roosevelt’s equally personal Val-Kill .
Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park : The most extravagant of the Hudson River estates, built in a posh Beaux-Arts–style. Go here to drool over lavish furnishings, gold-leaf ceilings, Flemish tapestries, and the like.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site, Staatsburg : A vast, 65-room mansion on a hill. Edith Wharton based the Trenor estate in The House of Mirth on this place.
Wilderstein, Rhinebeck : A playful all-wooden Queen Anne mansion set on grounds designed by Calvert Vaux. This is one of the smaller estates.
Montgomery Place, Annandale-on-Hudson : Perhaps the loveliest of the river estates, with every line, every inch, perfectly in place. Built in 1802, it was remodeled in the 1860s by Alexander Jackson Davis.
Clermont State Historic Site, Germantown : A grand mansion, with an especially fine front lawn lined with black locust trees.
Olana State Historic Site, Hudson : An eccentric Persian-style castle, perched high on a hill. Built by Hudson River School painter Frederic Church in 1870.