An inspiration for artists, a scenic escape for New York City dwellers, a vital artery for commerce, and a designated American Heritage River, the Hudson River plays a crucial role in many facets of New York State life. The river is a magnet for locals and visitors, attracting pleasure cruisers, campers, history buffs, and hikers alike.
The Hudson River runs for 315 miles (507 kilometers) from its source in the Adirondack Mountains all the way to New York City before finally emptying into the Atlantic. Though easily accessible from other cities such as Albany and Kingston, most visitors encounter the Hudson during trips to New York City. You can see the river from many of west Manhattan’s top attractions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; and the High Line, an elevated park set along a disused railway track.
Cruises on the Hudson depart from piers on Manhattan’s west side. Choose between dinner, sightseeing, or sunset city cruises, or opt for longer cruises that travel beyond the boundaries of the Big Apple to destinations in the Hudson Highlands, such as Bear Mountain. Most Hudson River cruises feature on-board commentary about the area’s history and architecture.
For a unique perspective on the winding waterway, take a helicopter ride, enjoying bird’s-eye views of the river, the Manhattan skyline, and the George Washington Bridge. Seasonal fall foliage helicopter tours showcase the rust-red and golden leaves of the Hudson Valley’s woodlands.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Hudson River is a magnet for sightseers who want to soak up views of both NYC and the peaceful Hudson Valley countryside.
Bring an extra layer, as it can feel colder out on the river than on dry land.
Some Hudson River cruises can accomodate wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Within New York City, you can experience the Hudson River all along the 11-mile (18-kilometer) Hudson River Greenway, a traffic-free walking and cycling path beginning at Battery Park (ride the 4 or 5 subway to Bowling Green station) in Lower Manhattan. The route runs through Hudson River Park, Riverside Park, and Fort Washington Park.
Departing from Grand Central Station, the Metro-North Hudson Line train brings passengers into the Hudson River Valley, running along the east bank of the river as far as Poughkeepsie.
When to Get There
Hudson River sightseeing tours run year-round, with open-air sightseeing decks in summer and enclosed, heated interior decks in winter. The Hudson Greenway is best enjoyed in spring, summer, or fall. Go early in the day for the quietest experience. The Hudson Valley is at its prettiest during the fall apple-picking season.
The Famous Hudson Valley Fables
It was acclaimed writer Washington Irving who helped put the Hudson River Valley on the map, with the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, which was published serially throughout 1819 and 1820. The most well-known stories in the series were “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Fans of Irving’s work can visit the author’s old home, Sunnyside, near Tarrytown.