Scrolling through my Facebook feed recently, I saw a blog post titled Top Five Outdoor Places To Bring Your Child In the Hudson Valley. Being a savvy reader of my Facebook feed, Atlantic articles, and Instagram, I could infer from the post what it said and didn’t bother to read it. All research aside, what I did decide to do was write my own top five list. So, here goes!
Top Five Places To Go With Your (Rural or Urban) Kids In the Hudson Valley:
- That Dirt Pile: You know the one, it’s under that street tree growing up through the blue stone sidewalk outside your front door. Lucky for you, the people that planted the tree understood they needed to leave about three inches extra around the trunk for the tree to grow near a street and sidewalk. Fortunately for your kid, the tree was planted 75 years ago, has never been taken care of, and has grown so wide that it’s pulled up and cracked the sidewalk. Besides creating an excellent tripping hazard, there’s lots and lots of loose dirt. It’s on the sidewalk, it’s between the roots of the tree, it’s collecting around the curb, it’s being blown by the wind, it’s everywhere! Best part is, there’s probably dog poop somewhere near it too and you won’t notice till your kid has stepped in it or picked it up. Marvelous! …and a true Hudson Valley experience!
- The Trees: Being a Hudson Valley resident for most of my life, I’ve noticed an abundance of trees in the region. Some trees are quite short and skinny, but grow out in all directions (I think they may be bushes). Some trees are tall, lose their leaves in the fall, and are big and strong enough to climb on. Along with being in cities and country sides, the variety of trees is astounding. Yet, I have noticed some similarities too. For instance, most trees have green leaves or needles in the summer and they offer shade from the sun. All trees have limbs which periodically drop branches. These branches, better known as sticks, make terrific accessories for (and I can’t be more limiting in this statement) ANYTHING! I have seen trees lying on the floor of the woods or an abandoned back lot, rotting and creating habitats for insects, small animals, fungus, and wet dirt smell. Whether horizontal or vertical, it seems that trees offer an endless variety of engaging activities for kids. But, this is just my humble opinion.
- The Hudson River: What is so great about living in the Hudson Valley is that you don’t always need a car to get where you’re going. And this is truly the case when heading for the river. Just hop on your bike, strap your kid on too, or (better yet) let them take their own bike and head for the water. Because it’s a valley, you can just coast downhill till you get to the river. You know, because it’s the lowest area in the valley. (This sounds right in my head, but may not be correct when you take into account geography.) When my brother was three, he got on his Big Wheels and set off down the driveway of our house. In no time at all, he was flying down the driveway (because it was actually quite steep) and rode into a ditch on the side of the road. With my parents running and yelling after him to stop, he happily found himself in marshy, stale ditch water. I am convinced that if he had understood how to steer, he could have made it to the Hudson River. At the time, we lived about 30 miles away. Regardless, the Hudson River makes a tremendous resource, encouraging action packed adventure and infinite developmentally appropriate challenges all year long.
- Rock Outcroppings: A long, long time ago, there used to be a thick sheet of ice that covered the entirety of the Hudson Valley. That was back when there were four seasons, one of which was called winter. Anyway, as the ice melted, it left rocks scattered around, and carved rolling mountains known as the Catskills. These magnificent conglomerates of rock attract people (kids and adults) from all over the world who like look at them, climb on them, sit on them, stand on them, and/or spray paint ‘Reg + Samantha 4 EVA’ on them. The good thing about rocks is that they come in all different sizes. You can decide to put a few in your pocket, or you can decide to move one to your house with a backhoe. Either way, kids of all ages and nationalities love the rocks around here. So, as a Hudson Valley parent, you should take advantage of the rocks too!
- Fields: What’s so great about fields, you ask? I mean, other than the remarkable view they offer of the Catskill Mountains in the setting sunlight after a perfect day outdoors with your family. Well, fields can incorporate all the other four places on the list of ‘Top Five Places To Go With Your (Rural or Urban) Kids In the Hudson Valley’! “What the what!” you say. Yes, it’s true. Fields tend to have trees lining the edge of the grounds. And, remarkably, some fields even have trees scattered in the middle, surrounded by long grasses that sway gently in the wind. A large field may also offer a few enormous boulders (dumped by that thick sheet of ice from long, long ago) that are too big for farmers to move. Around the boulders there is always a stunning amount of dirt, or soil if it’s really dark brown. And, to top it off, many fields have a stream or estuary leading to the Hudson River that runs directly through them. Fields also exist in cities, but they are known by a more exotic name, abandoned lots. City fields also have trees, rocks and water, but the trees may be stunted, the rocks are pavement, and the water is a sewer drain. Alas, it’s still better to get outside than to stay cooped up indoors… and city or country, you can still have that awe-inspiring Hudson Valley experience!
So, get out there with your kids and enjoy the best places to go in the Hudson Valley!