Spring is right around the corner. Or, it’s here already, depending on how you look at things. We haven’t had much snow, and the temperatures have been downright balmy most of the time. Nonetheless, many seasonal attractions in the Catskills and Hudson Valley won’t be open until April. So we’ve decided to include two Upstater Destinations this week: Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, which you can enjoy now, and Storm King Art Center, which you can enjoy in the spring.
Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, whose mission is to “create responsible caretakers of our environment,” has two locations. The Outdoor Discovery Center is located in Cornwall, and it focuses on bringing visitors outside to observe the wonders of nature surrounding them. The Center’s programs usually start at 10am, and they have programs scheduled for the winter months. Learn about the Awesome Opposum on February 25th. Or, sign up for the Maple Sugar tours at the Center throughout the month of March, which is prime maple sugaring season. The tour place through the Center’s sugar bush forest, and tours end at the farmhouse for a maple sugar taste test. Dress appropriately. The grounds can be muddy in March. But once winter wanes and April rolls around, the salamanders will be out in full force. You can learn about them and then go in search of them during the Center’s Weekend Nature Program on April 1st.
The museum’s Wildlife Discovery Center is in Cornwall-on-Hudson, and it is the home of the Meet the Animals series, which takes place Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm year-round. There are also a variety of other winter weekend learning programs. Check the website for dates and times. The Quest Hiking Trails are a great way to explore the indigenous flora and fauna of upstate New York, but the trails don’t open until April. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other opportunities at both the Cornwall and Cornwall-on-Hudson locations to get outside before spring rolls around.
Purchasing a membership to the Hudson Highlands Museum is a nice way to save on admission and support a great organization, but even if you’re not a member (membership gets you in free to a lot of events), admission prices are affordable. Most programs and activities are $5 for adults, $3 for children.
If you’ve never been to the Storm King Art Center, you’re in for a treat. Flanked by picturesque Storm King and Shunnemunk Mountains, the Art Center is a stunning 500-acre outdoor sculpture park, containing around 100 pieces from a multitude of acclaimed artists.
This year marks Storm King’s 50th anniversary, and the art center’s5+5: New Perspectives exhibition celebrates this milestone with ten artists’ sculptures new to Storm King. So even if you’ve experienced Storm King before but haven’t been in a while, it’s worth the trip back to see the new additions to the park. Additionally, the park is exhibiting The View From Here, which illuminates the rich history and evolution of Storm King through photographs, maps, archival documents and other media. The exhibition also touches on the conservation techniques of artwork that is constantly exposed to the elements, something many of us take for granted while observing these amazing pieces.
Storm King Art Center is currently closed for the season but will reopen on April 4th. Admission is a bit steep: $12 adults and $8 for kids grades K-12 and free admission for children under 5. Your best bet for seeing the park on the cheap is to go on the last weekends in June, July and August, when the art center offers pay-what-you-wish admission for all visitors. Bikes are available for rent at Storm King for $10 an hour (2 hour minimum), or $40 for the day. Just don’t try to bring your own bikes; they won’t let you ride them through the park.