In the Hudson Valley, each season calls for a costume change. Summer dresses in green fields and autumn trims itself with fiery forests. Winter wears a coat of white and spring bedazzles with blooms.
The reasons to visit this region are as varied as its four seasons. Big Apple urbanites head here for small-town escapism, while nature lovers visit for the abundance of parks. A thriving art scene attracts discerning sophisticates, and bustling main streets are steps from high-octane hiking trails.
Plan a trip by considering which season best suits your style. With so much to do, you might decide you'd like to follow in the footsteps of NYC’s wealthy denizens and purchase a Hudson Valley home to watch the area change year-round.
High season in the Hudson Valley runs from June through October
Best time for outdoor festivals
Hudson Valley summers buzz with city slickers seeking pastoral retreats. Hiking trails and freshwater lakes entice travelers to explore the natural landscape, while performance festivals and outdoor museums attract urban aesthetes. Be sure to plan ahead – lodging fills up months in advance and goes for top dollar, particularly on holiday weekends.
Autumn entices leaf peepers, who gather to gaze at the colorful forest canopy. Check a fall foliage prediction map and book a visit around the season's peak. Harvest celebrations and Halloween-themed events draw large weekend crowds through October.
Look for deals during shoulder season: April and May, November and December
Best time to stroll through charming towns
Muddy April gives way to balmy May – when pastel buds erupt around the countryside. Seasonal shops reopen for business by Memorial Day and tiny towns spring back to life. The warmer the weather and the larger the crowds make an early spring excursion. You’ll be able to save a little money on lodging, but be prepared to contend with brisk weather.
November and December go from cool to ice-cold, and the occasional snowstorm blows through as winter begins. A few temperate days may still surprise hikers, and holiday displays enchant by the year’s end. Snuggle inside a boutique hotel or amble along main streets to search for locally made gifts.
Explore the winter landscape from January to March
Best time for snow sports
The Hudson Valley slows down during winter, with seasonal businesses closing or limiting hours. Bone-chilling temperatures enchant snow bunnies who love skiing and snowshoeing; indoor adventurers spend the season appreciating museums and galleries. Winter is a great time to visit without breaking the bank. Hotels offer cheap deals and planning a last-minute trip is possible.
January is a winter wonderland
The Hudson Valley becomes a frosted spectacle during its coldest month. Snowshoe across the blanket of white at Fahnestock Winter Park, race down well-groomed slopes at Catamount Mountain, or don a pair of skates to make figure eights at Bear Mountain Ice Rink.
Key event: Storm King Winter Weekends.
Visit a museum in February
Icy exploits might fend off cabin fever, but visitors don't need to brave the outdoors to enjoy February. Indoor activities provide an equally powerful antidote to the winter doldrums. Check out the Dia:Beacon's contemporary art exhibits and the Vanderbilt Mansion’s Gilded Age interiors.
Key event: Black History Month Kingston.
Find a cozy cafe in March
Icy melt-off from winter's end makes muddy hiking conditions. Avoid the mess by getting cozy inside a coffee shop or local brewery in towns like Cold Spring and Hudson.
Key events: Dutchess County St Patrick's Parade, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.
April means muddy trails and budding trees
Early spring might mean mucky hikes and erratic weather, but it also means blooming daffodils and budding trees. Remember to bring a coat – the snow might be gone, but temperatures remain chilly.
Key events: Hudson Valley Mac and Cheese Fest, Wappinger Creek Water Derby.
May delights with blooms and birds
By mid-May, the Hudson Valley is in full bloom, with migratory birds like scarlet tanagers and rose-breasted grosbeaks making surprise appearances among the flora. Memorial Day marks the return of summer's seasonal residents, but warmer weather is still a few weeks away. Bring a sweater to combat cool evenings.
Key events: Apple Blossom Festival at Barton Orchards, Mayfest Farmers and Makers Market, Albany's Tulip Festival, Kaatsbaan Spring Festival.
Head to a hiking trail in June
Crisp mornings and warm afternoons make early June ideal for outdoor excursions. Take a kayak tour to Bannerman Castle, hike the infamous Breakneck Ridge or stroll across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge to the Olana estate. Big crowds arrive by the month's end.
Key events: Poughkeepsie Pride, The Great Hudson River Revival, Bard Summerscape.
July is filled with outdoor events
The Hudson Valley's hottest month is also the most action-packed. Celebrate July 4 in a historic Revolutionary War town like Kingston, see theater al fresco at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival or kick back at a drive-in movie theater to catch the latest blockbuster. Expect high prices and fully-booked hotels.
Key events: Queer Summer Nights, Orange County Fair, Walden's Music in the Grove, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Fourth of July.
August is for campfires and farmers markets
Jump in a spring-fed lake to beat summer's swelter. Sit by a campfire to watch the Perseid meteor shower blaze across the night sky. August is the time to feast on fresh-picked blueberries, sweet corn and zucchini – all in-season and sold at local farmers markets.
Key events: Dutchess Fair, Putnam County Wine & Food Fest.
Celebrate summer's bounty in September
Seasonal crowds disperse after Labor Day, and trees begin their autumnal transition by the end of September. Enjoy the end-of-summer harvest at fairs, food festivals and art markets throughout the region.
Key events: Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival, New York Renaissance Faire, Columbia County Fair, Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest.
October is peak leaf-peeping season
Fall foliage turns forest canopies kaleidoscopic by mid-October. Go leaf-peeping at an outdoor sculpture park-like Storm King or Art Omi to compare the handiwork of human hands and nature. Sleepy Hollow, the town made famous by Washington Irving and his fictional Headless Horseman, is a kitschy port of call for Halloween enthusiasts.
Key events: The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, Walktoberfest on the Walkway, Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.
November is best for budget travelers
A few balmy days might surprise in early November – particularly in lower Hudson Valley towns like Nyack. Still, late autumn generally means frigid temperatures and the occasional frost. This month is ideal for budget travelers, who take advantage of cheaper hotels thanks to fewer tourists.
Key events: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, Basilica Farm & Flea.
Find unique holiday treats in December
Stick to cheerful towns like Millerton, Hudson and Beacon. The many boutiques, art galleries, and antique stores lining their main drags are great for finding one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. Wintry weather occasionally covers the landscape in snow. Come prepared with proper clothing.
Key events: Poughkeepsie's Celebration of Lights, Kevin McCurdy's Holiday Spirit Festival, Sinterklaas Festival Day.
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