Up the Hudson River, 85 miles north of the Big Apple, Poughkeepsie is the county seat of Dutchess County. It was founded by the Dutch in the 17th century and once served as New York's capital; later, it was for many decades a major industrial center due to its excellent links to New York City (river, rail and road). Industrialist families connected with the city or its immediate surroundings include the Vassars, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. Many meeting venues in Poughkeepsie are associated with the former homes of these and other wealthy families.
The nearest airport is Stewart International Airport (SWF), 25 miles to the south in the city of Newburgh. US Airways Express, Delta Connection and Jet Blue service such cities as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, and the "international" in its name derives from it offering seasonal flights to Cancun, Mexico. Other airports in the area include Westchester, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy.
The nearest Poughkeepsie has to a convention center is the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, in which the 15,475-square-foot Mair Hall has space to host 3,050 persons.
Hotel venues in Poughkeepsie are upscale to midrange: these include the 200-room Grand Hotel Poughkeepsie, which can host meetings for up to 200 persons; the 153-room Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, which has space for up to 800; the 149-room Courtyard by Marriott Poughkeepsie, which can host 40; the 129-room Hampton Inn & Suites, with space for 75, and the 36-room Inn at the Falls, which has space for 140.
Many of the event venues in Poughkeepsie are associated with Vassar College. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, for example, has wonderful function spaces, as does the Entrance Pavilion and Taylor-Van Ingen Hall. Another arts center is the Marist College Art Gallery, with 3,200 square feet of exhibition space. Residing in Poughkeepsie was Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, and his gorgeous Locust Grove Estate, an 180-acre site with an Italianate villa, has a view of the Hudson River, the West Gallery for 150 persons and lawn space for more. The Italian Center, also known as the Casa Italiana, is the center of the city's Italian community and has space for up to 250 persons. Lastly, Empire Cruises runs the pleasure boat M/V Mystere, which can be rented out of Poughkeepsie for Hudson River cruises.
Restaurants in Poughkeepsie with event space include the Shadows on the Hudson, which has both a trendy interior for groups of up to 100 persons and amazing river views; in-town Cosimos, with a more austere but still pleasant aura; Bonefish Grill, a chain restaurant, but a great one, and with space for groups; the very cool, much-praised Artist's Palate, with space for 70, and Amici's, also on the river and with space for groups of up to 50.