A Peaceful Trip Back in Time at Boscobel House and Gardens

7/23/16 - By Christi O'Donnell

 Overlooking West Point, Constitution Island and the Hudson River, Boscobel House and Gardens is a wonderful place to step back in time and take a break from our modern rush-around world. Originally built in Montrose, N.Y., and moved to its current location in Garrison in the 1950s, Boscobel House dates back to the early 1800s.

Throughout the year Boscobel hosts a variety of family-friendly events, in addition to the tours, picnicking, hiking and sight seeing opportunities that are available April through December. We have what you need to know about visiting these immaculately restored grounds, which reflect the grandeur of when it was home to one of Westchester’s wealthiest women. 


The grounds of Boscobel are rather small and very manageable even for the smallest legs. The trek from the parking lot to the ticketing office (and bathrooms!) is a short one that takes visitors along a beautiful path lined with old apple trees. There is a small gift shop and garden just beyond the entrance; visitors can't get beyond this point without a ticket. Once you walk a bit further down the path, the view expands to to a breathtaking overlook of West Point directly across from the Hudson River below.

The enormous lawn at Boscobel is perfect for little legs to run around. 

A large lawn perfect for picnics, running around and chasing fireflies stretches out in all directions and, if you wander a bit to the left, visitors will be delighted to find a small turtle pond and the entrance to a short discovery trial.

Children under age 6 get in for free. The only wheeled devices permitted are strollers, so leave the bikes and scooters at home. Families should keep in mind that there may be artists working on the grounds, many of whom welcome curious (but careful) eyes and questions, and that self-guided grounds tours are available—which may be better (and cheaper!) than longer, more formal tours. The second Saturday of each month is set aside for special Bring The Kids! tours. Keep reading for more information on special events at Boscobel!

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
Above all else, Boscobel may be most well known as the site of the yearly Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Open during the late spring and summer each year, this under-the-tent festival offers adults and families the opportunity to watch engaging and imaginative interpretations of Shakespeare’s work as the sun sets over the Hudson River. Most performances are open to children ages 5 and up; a few special days are set aside for families with young children as well.

Going hand-in-hand with the Shakespeare Festival, the grounds of Boscobel have a reputation for being the most gorgeous picnic spot in the lower Hudson Valley. During the festival and on weekends in May through June there is food available for purchase on site; visitors are also welcome to bring their own food and to picnic at any of the tables set up on the grounds. On Saturday mornings the Cold Spring Farmer’s Market is set up in the parking lot of Boscobel. We suggest stopping at the market in the morning to purchase your food for the day, touring the grounds and then picnicking outside.

Bring The Kids! Tours
On the second Saturday of every month, these indoor and outdoor tours focus of a specific theme and are designed for children ages 5 to 11. There are hands-on activities and take-home crafts during each tour. Take note: space is limited and tickets must be bought in advance. 

Perfect for little legs and curious senses, the Frances Stevens Reese Woodlands Discovery Trail forms a 1.25-mile loop around the grounds. Along the way there are rustic constructions to discover (a gazebo, benches, a bridge and a summerhouse), all built from native Eastern Cedar. See if you can find the waterfall!

Snapping Turtle Walk
A local event since 1994, this yearly educational demonstration teaches children and adults about the history of snapping turtles in the Hudson Valley. Meet live snapping turtles and then go out in search of nesting females. 

Rhyme Time By The Hudson
Learn about the history and hidden messages in common nursery rhymes during this educator-led program for preschoolers and caregivers. Interactive games, songs and storytelling will tie in with the history of the Hudson Valley. 

Family Bonfire Night 
Each fall Boscobel hosts a giant bonfire complete with songs, stories, marshmallows, music, stargazing, and glow sticks.  It is a night of old-fashioned fun just before the nights become too chilly to enjoy.

Introduced in 2014, Sparkle takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout December and allows visitors to see Boscobel decked out in old fashioned holiday splendor. There are candlelight tours, holiday musical performances, stilt walkers, twinkling lights, carolers, hot cocoa and plenty of magic. 

All photos by the author. 

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