The Hudson Valley is a great visual joy north of New York City, and one of its historical highlights is Hyde Park, home of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt. Hop on Metro North from Grand Central or 125/Harlem for a gorgeous ride that takes you into the Bronx and along the riverbanks with views of Manhattan and New Jersey as the train tracks hug the shoreline nearly all the way up to Poughkeepsie, nearly two hours north of the city. Any train ride on the Hudson River line is a pleasure; on a spring day with sparkling blue skies and fresh green leaves bursting on all the trees up this hills and mountains that slowly rise as you move north, it’s a treat. I can’t recommend it enough.
Once you reach Poughkeepsie, there are usually shuttles that can take you the few miles farther north to the Franklin Delano & Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites. I was tempted to wax political – after all, FDR was one of the masters of 20th Century American politics – but will limit myself to reminding everyone that the country had 50 years without a banking collapse, for the very first time in its history, after new regulations were put in place and enforced under FDR and subsequent administrations. (They’d been happening every 10 to 20 years from the 1780s until then.) It wasn’t until 1989 that we had another banking collapse, after eight years of Republican presidents who philosophically disapproved of government regulating business.
So in Hyde Park you have something for everyone: political history and the presidential library of FDR; the Eleanor Roosevelt historical site, which highlights her leadership in the drafting of the universal declaration of human rights (if you’ve never read this document, please do – it’s very visionary and though often ignored and disrespected, it represents admirably high aspirations), education, civil rights & integration, rights of women and children, and so on. There’s colonial history, colonial architecture, the chairs and tschotschkes the Roosevelt family collected, and simply lovely views over the Hudson Valley. A very enjoyable day trip from the city on a clear day – keep it in mind next time you have a free day in NYC!