Fall foliage cruises on the Hudson

One of the greatest things about living in New York City is our proximity to the Hudson River. If you're looking for a fun family outing, how about a cruise up the Hudson? And since the leaves are just starting to change, the view should be spectacular. There are several companies that offer Hudson River cruises — from 90-minute tours to week-long excursions. Here are some of your choices:

New York Waterway 1-800-53-FERRY www.nywaterway.com

New York Waterway doesn't just ferry commuters from home to work and back, they also offer numerous sightseeing cruises. Some offered this fall are:

North Hudson Cruise — Leaving from the foot of Main Street in Tarrytown, this two-hour narrated cruise sails up to the Bear Mountain Bridge and back. It runs every Saturday and Sunday at 1:15pm from May 15-November 7. Adult tickets are $16 and children are $8.

Autumn on the Hudson — This 90-minute narrated tour leaves from the South Dock at West Point. You'll sail past some of the most beautiful parts of the Hudson, including Boscobel, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Mount Beacon. Cruises are scheduled at noon on Saturdays and Sundays from October 9-31, except for days when there is a West Point football game. Call for the current schedule. Adults $12, children $6.

Fall Foliage and West Point Cruise — If you're looking for an all-day cruise, cruise up the Hudson in a high-speed catamaran and enjoy nature's beauty as the trees lining the banks of the Hudson change from their summer green to autumn's orange, red and yellow. The boat docks at West Point and you can tour the U.S. Military Academy or have lunch in Highland Falls. $60 for adults, $30 for children. Cruises leave Pier 78 at West 38th Street at 9:15am.

Manhattan Sightseeing Cruises — After you've had your fill of Mother Nature and want to check out some manmade beauty, NY Waterway also offers numerous narrated cruises around Manhattan, including a two-hour, 90-minute and twilight options. I took my family on the Twilight Cruise this summer, and highly recommend it. There's nothing quite like Manhattan at night!


Hudson Highlands Cruises 845-534-SAIL www.commanderboat.com

Built in 1917, the historic M/V Commander cruises out of West Haverstraw, West Point and Peekskill. Narrated cruises are offered on weekdays and some weekend days. Cruises leave from West Haverstraw at 10am and arrive at West Point at noon. Then the Commander leaves West Point at 12:30pm and cruises past Bannerman's Island, returning to West Point at 2pm. From West Point, the Commander sets sail at 2:30pm for West Haverstraw, and arrives at 4:30pm. The cost varies depending on how long you're on the boat, because you can choose to cruise only one or two parts of this journey: adults $14-$26, and children $12-$24.

Hudson Highlands also offers a narrated cruise out of Peekskill on the last Saturday of each month from May through October. It leaves at 12:30pm from Riverfront Green Park in Peekskill and travels north toward West Point. The boat passes under the Bear Mountain Bridge and travels past Fort Montgomery, Highland Falls and Garrison Landing before arriving back at Peekskill at 3:30pm. Reservations are required; the cost is $18 for adults and $15 for children.


Hudson River Adventures 845-220-2120 www.frontiernet.net/~hudrivad

Drive to Newburgh to hop onboard the Pride of the Hudson. This two-hour narrated cruise will take you past Pollepel Island, Cold Spring, Storm King Mountain, Breakneck Mountain and on to West Point. Cruises leave on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. There are also 5pm cruises on Saturday and Sunday. Adult tickets are $15.75, children ages 4-11 are $13.75, and children 3 and under are free.

On October 9, Hudson River Adventures is offering a special cruise, Hauntings on the Hudson, from 4-6pm. Storyteller Jonathon Kruk will delight your youngsters with spooky stories and interactive skits, all while you're taking in the breathtaking scenery. Adults $17, children $15.

Hudson River Recreation 1-888-321-HUDSON www.kayakhudson.com

If you prefer to take the river at a slower pace, Hudson River Recreation can put you in charge of your own boat. Your own really small boat, that is. They offer kayak tours on the Hudson departing from Sleepy Hollow, New Rochelle and Nyack. The tours generally run from mid-May to late September or early October, depending on the weather. Call for the current schedule. Tours are either two or three hours. On the Sleepy Hollow tour, a trained guide leads you by the Tarrytown Lighthouse and then you'll paddle under the Tappan Zee Bridge. The New Rochelle tour lasts for two hours, and you'll paddle your kayak around Echo Bay and into the Long Island Sound. Hudson River Recreation recommends the tours for kids 8 and older, and double kayaks are available for parents to share with a child. Tour prices vary from $30 per person for a two-hour tour to $60 for the three-hour tour. A double kayak costs $90 for a three-hour tour.


River Valley Tours 845-255-1955 www.rivervalleytours.com

If you've got time, River Valley Tours offers week-long boat adventures up the Hudson. On this combined boat and bus tour, which begins on October 10, you'll spend your days traveling by boat from New York to Albany, stopping along the way to visit Rockefeller's Kykuit, Boscobel, and the Mohonk Mountain House. All this cruising doesn’t come cheap; prepare to shell out $1,975 for the week.

For any cruise, make sure you bring sweatshirts or jackets, as it can get chilly on the water. Most boats have bathrooms and snack bars. It's a good idea to make advance reservations, and some cruises require them. Since bad weather can keep a boat in port, and some boats can be chartered privately, always check before you leave to make sure your cruise is still scheduled.

Wet and beastly!

Cruising on the water is great for many kids, but some want a ‘thrill’ ride. The Beast offers just that— a speedy 30-minute ride that takes you into New York harbor and past the Statue of Liberty. The Beast goes 45 mph and when the water’s choppy, the ride is bumpy. And no matter how smooth the ride, at that speed, you will get wet. The Beast, part of the Circle Line family, is for those 40 inches and taller.

Where: Pier 83, West 42nd Street and 12th Avenue

When: Weekends through October, noon-dusk, on the hour

How much: $16 adults, $10 ages 12 and under

For more info: (212) 563-3200; www.circleline42.com

— J.A.