The most popular visitor destination in Dutchess County is Hyde Park, once home to Franklin Delano Roosevelt , Eleanor Roosevelt , and a branch of the Vanderbilt family . Despite its blue-blood ancestry, the sprawling village is a downscale affair filled with aging shopping malls, tour buses, traffic jams, and motels named after the village’s famous former residents.
Hugging the riverbank between the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Roosevelt homes is the Hyde Park Trail, an 8.5-mile system of easy hiking trails, well marked by white-and-green signs. Maps of the trails can be picked up at the Wallace Center.
Opened to the public in late 2003, the Wallace Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (4079 Albany Post Rd./Rte. 9, 800/FDR-Visit, www.nps.gov/hofr , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is now the best first stop for visitors to Hyde Park. The center provides a good, comprehensive orientation to the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt sites, run by the National Park Service, through exhibits and an introductory film. Visitors can buy tickets and get directions here; a large café and museum shop are also on site.
Though many claim it’s a dying institution, a night at the drive-in is a great way to spend a summer evening. The Hyde Park Drive In (4060 Albany Post Road Hyde Park, 845/229-4738, nightly May–Sept., $7 adults, $4 children 5–12, show starts at dusk,) features two screens seemingly always bustling with friendly crowds. Bring blankets and lawn chairs or just recline the driver’s seat to enjoy the classic 1960s atmosphere.