The Vanderbilt Estate tour was a highlight of my recent trip to New York and the views are not to be missed!
Hello there! While watching Hallmark movies (Christmas!!!) and editing more pictures of my recent trip to New York over the weekend, I felt I absolutely had to talk about the Vanderbilt estate tour.
Probably what was most interesting about touring the Vanderbilt estate was the stark contrast between that and the Roosevelt estate we visited just the day before. While both are situated in Hyde Park, New York and feature stunning views of the Hudson River Valley — the comparisons pretty much end there.
At the Roosevelt home, you could tell it was a place for family. The Vanderbilt estate however? All about showing off newfound wealth in the gilded age. I’m talking rooms that look like knockoffs at the Palace of Versailles with luxe furnishings, ornate molding, solid marble walls and vast gilded ceilings.
Vanderbilt Estate Tour
It was on the perfect sunny afternoon that my mom and I popped over to the Vanderbilt Estate after enjoying a wonderful lunch at the New York Culinary Institute. As a national park, the scenic grounds are open to the public for free but for a small donation of $10 per person you’re welcome to tour inside the home as well.
Within the first couple minutes of our Vanderbilt Estate tour, my mom and I knew we were in for a treat!
Our tour guide was a petite, 82-year-old woman with an oversized ranger hat and sassy sense of humor. Before entering the home she talked about the history of the estate and the Gilded Age time period. At that time there was a great divide between the wealthy and the working class. As such, the Vanderbilts took it upon themselves to line the property with trees and build an underground tunnel for servants so they wouldn’t have to be bothered with the sight of physical labor on the working farm across the way. How nice of them! Right?
Revisiting the Gilded Age
It was definitely interesting to hear the disdain in the voice of our tour guide in recalling the Vanderbilts’ way of seeing themselves as so far above the working class. This superior attitude of their’s was actually kind of humorous when you toured through the home and took in furnishings and decor modeled after Marie Antoinette’s stylings. It all created a cold and rather desperate environment that sought to flaunt wealth rather than use it for the greater good.
I found myself recalling an article I’d read just two days prior in The Washington Post that reviews the state of our current economy and how the national debt is ballooning and only growing under the Trump administration and Congress…despite reports of a “strong” economy. Thinking on the dangerous, unsustainable road we’re currently on while being so up close and personal with the Vanderbilts’ Gilded Age estate really cast a dark shadow on the whole experience. You simply couldn’t admire the lavish surroundings without thinking of the struggles so many other Americans faced during that time.
That’s the thing with history, though, they tell you it’s bound to repeat itself and it does.
Drawing Room Ceiling
How About the View?
The biggest showcase of the Vanderbilt Estate tour was no doubt the GORGEOUS views of the Hudson River Valley and Catskills Mountains.
Remembering that this is a national park with the grounds open to the public for free, I find myself jealous of everyone who lives in the area that gets to visit these views as often as they like because – wow. They are breathtaking! The Vanderbilts may not have decorated to my taste, but I could certainly get used to looking at views like this every day. Couldn’t you?
If you’re ever in the Hyde Park, New York/Catskills region – I do think the Vanderbilt estate tour is well worth your time. For the ultimate experience, I also recommend visiting the neighboring Roosevelt estate for comparison to see which one you like better. The more traditional, homely feel of the Roosevelt home definitely was my favorite but there’s no denying the views from the Vanderbilt home are somehow even better.
In case you missed it, I shared all about touring the Roosevelt estate and presidential library in this post. About 20 minutes away, we also stayed in the charming town of Rhinebeck. See where we stayed, what we ate and more in my Rhinebeck Travel Guide.
Thank you so much for reading!
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