Hudson River Valley
Thank God for the Vanderbilts," a society columnist once wrote."The Vanderbilt family can always be relied upon in times of dullness to furnish either news or a sensation of some kind." The Vanderbilts could also be relied upon to build fabulous houses, expressions of their nearly limitless wealth. All eight grandchildren of "the" Vanderbilt, Cornelius ("Commodore"), owned mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City, as well as country "cottages."
The famous Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park was built by the Commodore's grandson Frederick, who bought Hyde Park, as the property was known, in 1895. The property was eventually donated to the federal government, and it has been open to the public since 1940. Except for some of the owner's belongings, the mansion and its contents remain unchanged from the time the Vanderbilts lived here, as if their country retreat were ready for a weekend visit.
Visitors can tour the home, Visitor Center with exhibits and bookstore. The grounds feature breathtaking views of the Hudson River and distant Catskill Mountains. The Formal Gardens, once abandoned, have been restored.
Walkways are paved. The paths to the gardens are gravel and generally wide and level. A 3.3-mile trail connects the Vanderbilt estate with Franklin D. Roosevelt's home. Bicycles are prohibited on the unpaved trails. They are generally wide and level, although some parts are steep, wet, and rough. See MAP of the FDR/Vanderbilt grounds.
Regularly scheduled tours or self-guided tours are offered, depending on visitation level. Talks by National Park Service rangers are held on a regular basis. Programs vary, and include themes dealing with the lifestyle of the Vanderbilts and their contemporaries, industrial expansion, turn-of-the-century technology, and landscape architecture.
The Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association carries books, postcards, and other items for sale in the Visitor Center on the grounds. The Mansion and Visitor Center are accessible by wheelchair. Parking for buses and RVs is available. Handicapped parking is also available.
Visitors can purchase a combination pass to the Home of FDR National Historic Site, FDR Library & Museum, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site at a reduced cost.
No lodging or camping is available at the Vanderbilt Mansion. A wide variety of hotels, motels, and camping sites are available in the area. For information call Dutchess County Tourism. Shopping, restaurants, and grocery stores are available in Hyde Park.
For contact information, see Practicalities page.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication