On a recent visit to Hyde Park in the Hudson Valley, we took our son for a tour of Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. It’s a remarkable property was built over a hundred years ago in 1898 by Frederick Vanderbilt, grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt.
The tour took us to see about 15-20 rooms of the 50-room Classical style mansion. One of eight heirs to his family’s fortune, Frederick purchased the property in 1895 and hired architect Charles McKim to decorate a “country house” in which the family could entertain guests during the spring and fall. He also used the property as a “gentleman’s farm,” often spending hours among its gardens and specimen trees. Beautiful pieces of art and sculpture are interspersed around the house and in the gardens. There are also pieces of grand antique furniture, Venetian ceilings, 15th century tapestries, gorgeous vases, Renaissance chairs, 16th century Florentine chests and rooms lined with gold and marble throughout the drawing room, bedrooms, library, and walls lining the stairs. We also went downstairs to the kitchen and saw where the servants used to live and work, which was very reminiscent of Downton Abbey.
Our guide told us tales about the lives of the Vanderbilt family which kept my son interested and on his toes. After the tour, we ventured outside to take photos of the stunning views of the Hudson River and the spectacular gardens. I could see spending more time there in the future, as the grounds are heavenly and there is so much to do in the area, including the Culinary Institute of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Home and great hiking opportunities.
Vanderbilt Mansion Tours
We got to the mansion thirty minutes before the last tour left for the day at 4pm. Tours are required in order to enter the mansion and the guide takes large groups in for each one, so it’s not hard to get a space on one. Children 12 and under are free. Older children and adults cost $10 each. The tour lasts about an hour and is very kid-friendly. The tour’s combination of architecture, history, antique,; history, Italian gardens and amazing scenery (the mansion sits on the banks of the Hudson River) make it an interesting experience for everyone. They have a shop with coffee and cookies if anyone gets hungry.
If you’re heading to the Hudson Valley soon, I highly recommend a stop to the Vanderbilt Mansion. It’s a day of history, education and amazing beauty.