Explore the Hudson Valley's Famed Outdoor Art Exhibits, Gardens & Historic Sites

The Hudson Valley is a verdant area of New York State, synonymous with sculpture parks, lush gardens, and historic homes. It is a destination ripe for outdoor explorations amid nature – and man’s – stunning creations. This year, discover the natural parks and gardens of the Hudson Valley, from a modernist home set amid 75 acres of lush grounds just an hour north of NYC, to roaming one of the “world’s best gardens” on a misty morning.

Discover outdoor art exhibits, gardens, and historic sites in the Hudson Valley, including:

For a wild, heady profusion of nature, head to Manitoga in Garrison. Once the home of industrial designer Russel Wright, the center is a National Historic Landmark and one of the few 20th century homes with landscaping that is preserved and open to the public. Stroll the nature trails, or take a guided tour of Dragon Rock, Wright’s name for his home.

Art Omi Sculpture and Architecture Park was founded in the belief that “artistic expression transcends economic, political, and cultural boundaries,” a philosophy that is more relevant than ever. Roam 120 acres of grounds and see stunning sculptures set against the Hudson Valley’s scenic woodlands and fields. Art Omi is open to the public, though parking is limited and certain safety measures are currently in place such as wearing a mask and maintaining proper social distance from others.

Experience artwork inspired by ancient Mayan and Aztec culture right here in the Hudson Valley at Opus 40, an outdoor sculpture park that took Harvey Fite, the man behind Opus 40, 37 years to create. Fite harvested blue stone from quarries on the grounds to shape the world-famous park’s distinctive look and feel. A visit here is like stepping into a fairy tale landscape. Currently, the number of guests allowed to visit is limited to groups of five, and guests are required to sign up and purchase tickets in advance.

For anyone with a passion for Hudson River School paintings, a visit to the founder’s home is a must. Thomas Cole was a British expat who fell in love with the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains. His ramblings around the Hudson Valley led to a new style of painting, one that became synonymous with the region. Cole’s home and studio are currently closed to visitors, but guests can wander the grounds, and continue to explore the vistas captured by Cole and his contemporaries on the Hudson River School of Art Trail. And Cole’s home happens to be the first stop on the multi-destination trail.

Access the 250-acre grounds of Olana State Historic Site free of charge. The former home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church, a contemporary of Cole’s and his first student, and the grounds overlook the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. Select tours are currently available for a guided experience, including the Olana Outdoor Tour: Landscape and Architecture. Tickets are available for purchase online. Masks are required and social distancing guidelines are in place.

Between the river towns of Hudson and Catskill, connecting Thomas Cole and Frederic Church’s historic homes, is the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. The bridge, also known as the Hudson River Skywalk connects these two important figures in American art history and offers a new way to experience the places they called home. Be inspired as you traverse the Hudson River, and explore the grounds of both Cole’s home, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and Church’s Home, Olana State Historic Site.

Recognized as one of the “best gardens in the world,” Innisfree is a masterpiece of rock, wood, flower, and tree. There are elements of Modernism, Japanese, Chinese, and Romantic design evident throughout. It is a garden that took landscape designer Lester Collins 50 years to realize under the patronage of Walter and Marion Burt Beck. Currently open for limited visitation, all guests must register to visit in advance.

This multi-dimensional park and arboretum offers an incredible array of experiences, even with a few attractions closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. From a Chestnut tree grove to the Chinese Friendship Garden, and the Lasdon Historic Tree Walk, a trip to Lasdon is different each time you visit. Tour the formal garden of the Lasdon Memorial Garden and breathe the heady scents of the fragrance garden, or visit the Veteran Memorial Path honoring veterans from Westchester County. The trails and gardens are open for walking, and social distancing guidelines are in place.

While the main buildings of the Rockland Center for the Arts are closed to visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions, the grounds and Catherine Konner Sculpture Park are open on weekends with social distancing guidelines in place. Roam the 10-acre grounds and be captivated by the sculptures located throughout the park. Guests must wear masks.

This 500-acre museum offers guests the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the region while enjoying the artistic anachronism of large sculptures set purposefully around the grounds. Storm King’s grounds are open to the public with a limited number of guest entries available throughout the day. Ticket reservations are a must, and are available on the center’s website.

Located in the Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Hamptonburgh, the Orange County Arboretum offers 35 acres of rolling fields, gardens, and shady woodlands. Discover the arboretum’s collections of trees and plants, and enjoy views of the Shawangunk Mountains in the distance. The grounds are open from dawn until dusk and admission is free of charge. Guests must wear masks, and practice social distancing.

Be sure to check each attraction’s website for the most up-to-date information about social distancing guidelines, tickets, and any additional protocols.

Now, book a ticket, take a drive, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley Region.