I was lucky enough to grow up in one of the most beautiful places in the world. No, I didn’t go shopping after school on Parisian city streets or spend my summers lounging poolside in Thailand. My formative years occurred in a place about two hours north of New York City. If you’ve never heard of the Hudson Valley, do yourself a favor and Google it now. More than likely, rich images of the Hudson River, golden autumn leaves, and snow-capped mountains will overflow your computer screen.
In my opinion, the Hudson Valley is New York’s best kept secret. It’s where city dwellers escape for a weekend getaway and a break from the smog, traffic, and overall chaos of the Big Apple. In contrast, the towns along the Hudson River offer quaint storefronts, award-winning restaurants, and picturesque landscapes. One visit to the valley and I guarantee you’ll be hooked for life.
Where It Is
The Hudson Valley is about a two hour car ride or an hour and forty minute train ride north of New York City. If you really want to get a taste of the magnificent New York scenery, rent a car and drive along the smooth stretch of highway to glimpse the ever-changing trees and breathtaking skylines.
When To Go
As a state, New York changes significantly from season to season. Winters are freezing, while summers are hot. That being said, if you enjoy one extreme over the other, book your trip for that time. There’s always something going on the the valley! Otherwise, your best bet is to plan a trip in spring or fall, when the temperatures are mild and the scenery is stellar. Personally, I think nothing beats driving along the winding city streets in the fall, when the leaves change colors to rich reds, browns, and yellows.
Your Itinerary: Day 1
Recommended Stay - Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn
This classic village inn is located in the heart of Rhinebeck, New York. In your downtime, I definitely recommend a casual wander around town. The hotel is within walking distance of some of the best shops and eateries in all of the valley.8:00 am - Breakfast at The Eveready Diner in Hyde Park
The fact that this diner has been featured on Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives should give you a clue to how amazing it is. This valley staple has a menu with everything you could ever want. My favorites include the Frittered French Toast when I’m in the mood for something sweet and the Crab Hash when my tastebuds crave something savory.10:00 am - Tour the Vanderbilt Mansion
Take a short drive to one of my favorite spots in the whole Hudson Valley. I come here in spring and summer for casual picnics and walks around the estate. In fall and winter, I love to tour the house and check out the holiday displays. There’s a Christmas tree in every room! Whatever the season may be, make sure you take a few minutes to sit at one of the benches overlooking the valley. The view is breathtaking!12:00 pm - Go on a hike / Visit the spa at Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk is a can’t-miss destination on your Hudson Valley tour. It has some of the best hiking and climbing trails in the area. Of course, it also has some dreamy spa options if you’d rather kick up your feet than wander the paths. Or, if you want a real treat, spend an hour or two on a nature adventure and then treat yourself to one of the many spa services available.
2:00 pm - Lunch at Babycakes Cafe in Poughkeepsie
Take a scenic journey to Babycakes Cafe, a hotspot for locals and college students alike. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was something of a regular here while I was in school. Babycakes is just that good! Although their lunch menu changes seasonally, you can’t go wrong with any of their quinoa plates, like the Quinoa Salad, or their quiche options, which feature fresh, seasonal ingredients.Also, while their lunch menu is incredible, their breakfast and dessert options (like the bread pudding pictured above) are just as delicious. I highly recommend their Peppermint Patty hot chocolate paired with any of the delectable pastries and tarts in their dessert display!4:00 pm - Find antiques in Hudson
The Hudson Valley is a treasure trove for any antique lover. For the best finds (and as a way to walk off lunch!), head to scenic Hudson for an abundance of vintage stores and shops. In fact, the town boasts such an abundance of old-timey goods that it is nearly impossible to walk away empty handed.
6:00 pm - See a movie in a new way
If you plan on visiting the HV area during the colder months, take a break and stop by one of the region’s independent theaters for a movie. The Downing Film Center
in Newburgh andUpstate Films
in Rhinebeck are two of the most well-known. If you stop by during summertime, you have to catch a flick at a drive-in theater! They are very popular with the locals during the warmer season. Whether you choose to pack your own snacks or pick up some concession stand classics once you get there, you’ll be sure to have a memorable (and tasty!) experience.8:00 pm - Dinner at Cinnamon Indian Bistro in Rhinebeck
Step outside your comfort zone and order some of the best Indian food you’ll ever try at Cinnamon’s. Start things off with one of their amazing naan selections, such as the Goat Cheese or Peshawari naan. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with the Chicken Tikka Masala, the Lamb Biryani, or the Saag Paneer. The flavor combinations are incredible!That’s all for Day 1. Stay tuned for Day 2 of the Hudson Valley experience, coming to the blog soon!