I can’t believe it when I talk to some of my friends and find out that they’ve never been to some of the coolest places in Dutchess County.

I recently found out that one of my closest friends has never seen the Roosevelt or Vanderbilt Mansions. Maybe because I grew up in Orange County, it was a destination of many class trips when I was in elementary school. Two mansions, one day, and lots of history. I have not been in years, but I’m going to make it a point to grab my friend and visit these awesome sites that are less than five miles from my house.

Have you been to the Walkway Over the Hudson? It’s my go-to destination when we have out of town guests, but I haven’t been on it for a while. I can actually walk to the entrance from my house. The Walkway offers some of the best views in the Hudson Valley. I think I’ll try to take a stroll on it this week. Because it’s beautiful and I can.

How about Dia:Beacon? An amazing collection of art from the 1960s to the present. It’s so close to home, yet I’ve never been there. I’m adding it to my list of local things I want to check out. And while I’m there I think I’ll visit some antique stores and enjoy a great meal at one of Beacon’s many fine restaurants. Beacon is a tourist destination these days, so I’m going to look at it through a tourist's eyes.

Back when I was a kid, going to the Culinary Institute was not easy. You had to make reservations way in advance and it was very expensive. It’s come a long way, and it’s much more tourist-friendly these days. Sure, you can get an expensive and exclusive meal, but you can also visit the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. It’s relaxed, reasonably priced, and you can just drop in. Or The Egg which is home to the CIA’s on-campus brewery. And once again, the views are amazing.

Last year I finally visited Wing’s Castle in Millbrook. This awesome castle was built piece by piece over the years by the late Peter Wing for his family. I actually know the Wings and never went there until last year. I’m so glad I did. It’s a quirky and beautiful house with views to match. And I did the guided tour. Now I bring out of town guests there.

Dutchess County is full of treasures. It’s rich in history, but it’s also full of fun. Great restaurants and breweries, more drive-ins than most states, several music venues and one of the best county fairs in New York. Live here? Try being a tourist for a weekend. Live out of town? Come on over for a visit, I promise you won’t be disappointed.