Some of the most interesting places to visit in Orange County, New York are made even better because they are absolutely free. Open all year long, these Hudson Valley museums and attractions provide great entertainment no matter what the season. All are family-friendly with exhibits and things to do that will grab the attention of visitors of all ages.
Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame
This handsome museum in downtown Goshen has riveting state-of-the-art and interactive exhibits that tell the history of America’s first sport. Sit in a real sulky, call a race, and commune with a talking horse. Harness racing in the movies shows you how the sport was captured in Hollywood. For some real excitement, the 3-D simulator puts you in the driver’s seat racing to the finish line. The museum overlooks the Goshen Historic Track where you can watch the trotters in training almost every day. Take a sandwich into the grandstand and you’ll see the horses being put through their paces. In June and July there is a small fee to watch the grand circuit racing events.
National Purple Heart Hall of Honor
On this very site General George Washington awarded the very first Badge of Military Merit, the forerunner to what we know as the Purple Heart. One of the originals is on display. This interactive museum presents a moving tribute to those who have received the Purple Heart and all who have served in wars fought by the United States.
The museum is on the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site Mid-April through October, costumed interpreters and demonstrations offer an interactive look at 18th century life.
Across the street is the Last Encampment of the Continental Army with replicas of military huts that housed Revolutionary War troops. This site also offers nature trails, an observation trail, and picnic facilities.
There are nine Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum sites across the nation, and Orange County is fortunate to have one of them in Newburgh. Visit changing exhibits from the world’s largest private holding of important original manuscripts and documents. The archives include documents on literature, science, religion, history and art.
Just down the street, take a stroll along the river walk at the Newburgh Waterfront. In addition to the beautiful scenery, there are seasonal music and art events held here.
You can spend hours viewing the galleries at West Point Museum. Situated in a beautiful building behind the West Point Visitors Center in Highland Falls are a wide range of exhibits on history and art relating to the United States Military Academy Corps of Cadets, US Army and the History of Warfare dating back to Egyptian times.
The Sterling Forest State Park Information Center beautiful lodge-style building with nature and history exhibits and a huge diorama of the 7,000-acre park, will motivate you to get out on the trails. Free organized hikes and fascinating lectures by park educators will keep you coming back time after time.