I love Hudson Valley region! If I could, I would drop everything and travel to its every little (and not so little) historic town. As it happens, I don't have the luxury of doing just this exact thing. Instead, I take a one-at-a-time approach and try to see one or two new towns each time I'm in NY.
Last year Mom and I and M went to Hyde Park for what turned to be a nice stroll around the Vanderbilt Mansion. We skipped the 2-hour long tour because M was just too little and too restless. Also last year Dad and I and M drove to Poughkeepsie for an afternoon at a Mid-Hudson Valley Children's Museum.
This time around I really wanted to see Van Cortland Manor . My brother came up from NJ for the day and the four of us - him, Mom, myself and M - drove up to Croton-on-Hudson. We decided not to take Dad with us since he's really not into living history, historical interpreting, craft presentations, and kitchen gardens. He just doesn't get it at all. So he was just too happy to stay home.
It was a pretty short trip. Basically, we went on a tour around the manor and the ferry house, walked around the garden and saw some crafts demonstrations - blacksmithing, brick making, spinning, and weaving. M was a bit restless throughout the tour, but managed to behave well. He showed little interest in the historic buildings and furnishings (I think it's reasonable that a 3-year old doesn't care about period furniture or paintings). He was a bit more interested in blacksmith's tools and the bellows. He also liked the brick-making presentation, although refused to try it himself - too messy plus he'd have to take his shoes off to walk in the clay pit.
But what he absolutely loved was the weaving demonstration. The coolest part of the demonstration was that they had 2 small tabletop looms set up for the visitors to try their hand at weaving. M simply had to try that. I helped him a bit - lowering and raising the levers, pushing the shuttle through, etc. He spent quite some time at the loom before moving on.
On the way back we stopped for ice-cream in Sleepy Hollow (would love to live there some day, except the houses are outrageously expensive). When I was putting M to sleep tonight I asked him the usual "what did you like the most about today" question. His response was "the loom, Mommy!"