I've spent my entire adult life living near the Hudson River - first in the West Village and now up here in its namesake valley. But until last week, I'd never actually gotten into the water. This was in part due to lack of skills and equipment - I'm not a great swimmer, and I don't own a boat or jet ski. It didn't occur to me that a little bit north of home I could find an affordable vessel, and expert instruction in how to pilot it. At The River Connection in Hyde Park, Marshall Seddon offers approachable instruction in top-end boats. During my 2-hour tour with the Hudson Valley Women in Business, we navigated the changing current while admiring interesting riverfront architecture and splendid wildlife (including several bald eagles).
If you're looking to make a day of it - start off with your kayak trip, then head to the nearby Culinary Institute of America for a hearty lunch. From there, you'll be a stone's throw from two important properties: the Vanderbilt Mansion Historic Site, and the Home of FDR National Historic Site. Both are well worth a tour. Wrap up with a stop at the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, and dinner at the Artist's Palate if you've stayed late enough.