Hudson River Valley Road Trip
This longtime retreat for harried New Yorkers has emerged as a destination.
Just in time for the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s initial voyage up the river, the Hudson Valley has emerged from a deep slumber. The landmark mansions and mom-and-pop storefronts have been joined by galleries, performance spaces, and flourishing restaurants; locals run the gamut from farmers to art-world heavy hitters (Is that Brice Marden at the local tavern?). History meets new energy in our ideal weekend mix.
Related: America’s Best Road Trips
Tips: October is the optimal time to soak up the pastoral charms of New York7rsquo;s Hudson River Valley, with its abundant foliage in vivid transition and average temperatures in the crisp mid-fifties.
Carrie Haddad Gallery
Haddad was a Hudson pioneer, planting Hudson's first gallery on Warren Street in 1991.
Everyone goes to Swoon, to the point where it’s impossible to imagine the town without its pressed-tin ceilings and tattooed and eyebrow-pierced waiters catering smartly to the patrons whose steady conversations thrum their way from Manhattan’s TriBeCa to Hudson’s Warren Street. As for the ethereally crisp shoestring fries, don’t ask for ketchup. “They don’t believe in ketchup here,” the waitress tells a visiting friend. The “they” in question are co-owners Jeff Gimmel and Nina Bachinsky-Gimmel. Jeff has survived the power lunch scene at New York’s media-buzzy Michael’s Restaurant, where he was the executive chef, and Nina has worked the pastry departments of the Union Square Café and Le Bernardin. Which is to say this is some serious cooking. Every day there is a new surprise, verging on revelation: local zucchini pancakes with duck prosciutto topped with slivers of fresh radish. Or how about a truly flavorful martini from the bar; the secret is in the boutique vermouth. Hold the ketchup, indeed.
A diner serving comfort foods such as hamburgers and fish-and-chips. Book a patio table for a quieter setting.
Country Squire Bed & Breakfast
Originally built as a rectory, this restored Victorian inn with five guest rooms is within walking distance of Warren Street's plentiful antiques shops and boutiques.
Mercato, Red Hook
Mercato is an Italian gem, the dining room’s creamy walls full of everyday cheer. Francesco Buitoni, red bandanna–clad descendant of the famed Italian pasta family, makes sweet, almost milky meat ragùs that are to die for, while his house-made spinach pappardelle is the king of green-colored pastas. Diners jam the homey restaurant for chef Francesco Buitoni’s homemade pappardelle and a chance to spy what Mario Batali (Buitoni’s former boss) just ordered.
From the window of a cute-as-a-bug trailer emerge fat burritos and guacamole-topped quesadillas—and that’s just about the entire menu. Chow down at a picnic table in the shade at this summertime-only operation.
Terrapin Red Bistro
Choose your own bun, cheese, sauce, and extras to dress the Coleman natural-beef burger.
Save room for house-made cookies at this indie movie house.
The stationery store extraordinaire stocks whimsical gifts and housewares: birdhouses, bookends, ribbons, and hand-blocked quilts from India.
The 11 rooms mix old and new, as in flat-screen TV’s atop antique bureaus. Pub grub and a carved 19-foot-long bar make the downstairs tavern a neighborhood hot spot.
Set on an estate that once belonged to Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandparents, Kaatsbaan provides dance companies with studios and a performance space as large as the Metropolitan Opera stage. Check the calendar for shows from the likes of the American Ballet Theatre.
Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
At Bard College, Frank Gehry’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts hosts cultural events as creative as its architecture. For four weeks this summer, the Spiegeltent, a mirrored pavilion staging everything from circus acts to saucy cabaret, sets up camp.
No New York institution displays monumental modern art better than Dia: Beacon. The former Nabisco factory shows notable works like Richard Serra’s 1997 Torqued Ellipses. 300,000 square feet is filled with contemporary mixed-media installations, monumental sculpture, and brainy, envelope-pushing experiments.
After a five-year renovation, the 1854 Rhinecliff Hotel is once again a bustling hub. The nine rooms have balconies that seem to float over the Hudson. Fair warning: they also hover over Rhinecliff Station’s railroad tracks, so be prepared to hear the whistle blow.
Walkway over the Hudson
Few public works aim as high, literally, as the old Poughkeepsie Highland Railroad Bridge—now called the Walkway over the Hudson, which is currently being revamped. When it reopens in October 2009, it will be the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, spanning 1.28 miles across the river.
Athens Hotel at the Stewart House
The property was built in 1883 and underwent a restoration in 2010. The inn’s bar and restaurant feel almost Southern, like something out of a Mark Twain Mississippi tale. Only the sumptuous murals of nearby inlets done in the lush and romantic Hudson River School style remind you where you are. Everyone knows everyone else here. Siobhan, the bartender, makes a superior, Tabasco-heavy Bloody Mary and a cocktail with bright Hudson Valley vodka, cranberry, and lime.
The highlight of this animal farm is Apple, the potbellied pig whose bristly coat is an almost meditative pleasure to pet and who may very well try to eat you (in a good-natured piggy way). Human accommodations are entirely unpretentious, with rooms facing out to the distant peaks. A handy path winding past a talkative brook and some happy-looking goats leads to complete contentment.
Mount Merino Manor B&B
Set on 100 acres; the seven guest rooms have antique furnishings and some have fireplaces.
Chef-owner Daniel Nilsson's DNA may well be found in the Swedish specials he presents each week, like the toast Skagen, with its judicious use of dill, cold shrimp, and delectable whitefish roe.
Max Dannis, a former management consultant, and his wife, architect Linda Gatter, opened the restaurant Local 111 in Philmont in 2006. Linda and Max, both detail-oriented MIT grads, wanted their restaurant to be completely accessible yet sophisticated, a place where the local volunteer firefighters could have a great time. The couple turned a former two-bay service station in the middle of town into a stunner of a contemporary dining space. They updated the concrete floors, the bay doors, and flashes of metal, but turned them oddly homey and inviting through a series of little touches: a vibrantly colored landscape on one wall; an original fan; a 1940's Coke ad recovered from underneath someone's floorboards.
Rodgers Book Barn
Rodgers has more than 50,000 items, including record albums in mint condition, crammed into every cranny of the place and guarded by a sleepy spaniel. Opened in 1972 at the crux of two never-traveled roads, the barn feels like a temple for America's remaining readers, and the best place to spend a rainy country afternoon.