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Wave Hill, Boscobel and Stonecrop gardens

Reasons for heading up the Hudson River might include reliving your hippie days (Woodstock), catching sight of the Headless Horseman (Tarrytown) or going to the slammer (Sing Sing). But this spring, we're going to focus our upstate day trips around something a little cheerier: the Hudson Valley's most beautiful and accessible gardens.

For starters, both the Riverdale Wave Hill Gardens and Garrison Boscobel House and Gardens have teamed up with the Metro-North railroad to offer discounted packages that include train fare and admission price ($6 for Wave Hill, $13 for Boscobel).

Just 25 minutes from Grand Central, Wave Hill boasts 28 acres of gardens, including a conservatory for rare and endangered plants, and a full second-growth forest that circles the grounds' perimeter (and makes for a great afternoon stroll).

At Boscobel--50 miles north of the city--visitors can begin with a tour of the neoclassical mansion, before moving on to the stunning formal gardens with sweeping river views.

Meanwhile, in nearby Cold Spring (which requires a car or quick taxi ride from the Metro North stop) we love idyllic Stonecrop, the 12-acre former home of horticulturalist Francis Cabot. For just $5, you can roam among the wild rock-, water- and woodland-plants or sit peacefully in the English-style flower garden.

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