Hudson River valley travel help
September 7, 2012 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I am headed to "Hudson River Valley" in NY for Columbus day weekend as a present for my birthday. Because I love to plan trips I get to do that, too. Help me!

I know very little about that area. We love museums, history (especially living history museums), quaint old towns, beautiful scenery, yummy but not too fancy restaurants and beautiful historic homes with amazing gardens.

Any highlights that can help me focus my research??

I have to choose a town for my base and do like when there is a nice restaurant or 2 to choose from near by.
posted by beccaj to Travel & Transportation around United States (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My dad has a house in Rhinebeck, NY, which is a lovely little town. Definitely fits the the quaint, beautiful scenery, yummy restaurants and beautiful historic homes parts! And there are certainly museums nearby and lots of history. I think the oldest B&B in... the US? or maybe NY? is there, too.

If you end up going there, I can recommend Gigi's as a yummy restaurant. Good luck, and enjoy your trip, where ever you end up going!
posted by Grither at 8:21 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Hyde Park/Rhinebeck area is gorgeous. You'll be a couple weeks early for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (also referred to as simply "Rhinebeck" by swooning knitters), but it'll still be a stunningly beautiful time of year.

When I went to said mecca, I stayed at the Quality Inn just across from FDR's estate. It was quite nice for a standard place, and you can walk to the very tasty Eveready Diner. The FDR tours and stuff are pretty enjoyable. You'll also be only a couple miles from the Culinary Institute of America. Obviously some of their restaurants are much swankier than others, but there are some more casual options.

The Vanderbilt estate is nice to drive around; I didn't go in, but I'm sure it's nice.
posted by Madamina at 8:25 AM on September 7, 2012

Some pretty basic recommendations:

You could hit the Halloween Blaze if you can still get tickets; it always sells out but it might be less insane earlier in October.

Walkway Over the Hudson is neat.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns is an amazing restaurant (Zagat 28 out of 30; the Obamas had a date at the Manhattan location, etc) but pretty high on the fancy scale. You can visit the farm, barns, and café without dining in the restaurant, though. There are also several restaurants at CIA's Hyde Park campus that are kind of fun if you like nervous students trying to flambé things at your table.
posted by bcwinters at 8:26 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't been there in half a decade but the New York State Museum in Albany was nifty and Lark Street was a good place to eat.
posted by XMLicious at 8:27 AM on September 7, 2012

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I've done road trips up and down the Valley for the past couple of years, and am going again this year.

For houses: Rhinebeck is the best part, with FDR's Hyde Park, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and Staatsburgh. Nearby, Montgomery Mansion is good, and Samuel Morse's Locust Grove is also good, but there's less there than with the first three. Going way upriver, Olana is simply marvellous, and going downriver, the Gould house at Lyndhurst is excellent. The tour of Kykuit, while showy, is a bit restrictive and somewhat expensive. Manitoga was a bit of a disappointment. They all depend on the tourguides to some extent, but Hyde Park and the Vanderbilt Mansion are sure bets. Staatsburgh is great for its still being run-down.

For towns: Rhinebeck, Beacon, Millbrook.

For living history, erm, there's Phillipsburg Manor (?), which I have not done. You might want to think about the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, which you'd just be able to catch the tail-end of the season for. It's a bit hokey, but tons of fun, and the landscape is magnificent.

For eating: Lots of places in Beacon. There's also the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie.

Speaking of which, be sure to do the Walkway Over the Hudson. It's spectacular!

We stay in a cheap motel in Newburgh, but that's just because we're cheap. We also spend some time in New York, taking the Metro North train in.

Memail me if you want more info. (Sorry for the lack of links -- I'm at work.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:29 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

DIA Beacon if you like art.
posted by Sara C. at 8:31 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

OH -- how could I not mention? Storm King Art Center. A MUST, especially at that time of year.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:31 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

West Point in Highland Falls has a nice museum. It's between Newburgh and Bear Mtn. The drive down 9W from Newburgh is pretty cool too.
posted by azathoth at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2012

The FDR library is currently being renovated and has a temporary exhibit up in the meantime.
posted by brujita at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2012

Capt. Renault: "OH -- how could I not mention? Storm King Art Center. A MUST, especially at that time of year."

I knew I was forgetting something! Definitely recommended.
posted by Grither at 9:02 AM on September 7, 2012

I like the advice here, but I would also like to put in plug for Columbia County and its largest town, Hudson. It is well known for antique stores and has been adding gallerys and great restaurants (swoon, mexican radio, DA | BA) in the last five years - think about williamsburg brooklyn with more trees. There are nearby interesting towns like Chatham NY and Great Barington MA. For nice homes there is Steepletop.
posted by shothotbot at 9:12 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm just outside of New Paltz, so I'm biased, but we have historic huguenot street. New Paltz is generally filled with great restaurants (my favorite is Suruchi Indian--great wine, casual atmosphere, on an adorable side street filled with independent bookstores). Bacchus (every beer you can think of ever!), Neko Sushi and the little Greek place on Main Street are all yummy, too. If you want to check out a few more upscale restaurants, Rosendale has some nice ones right on the river.

I don't know if you'd want to do outdoorsy stuff, but we also have Minnewaska State Park (amazing views) and there are a bazillion u-pick apple places open right now.

Rhinebeck would be my second choice. Also very nice--great independent theater, and be sure to check out Oblong books--but it's pricier and more yuppie, which isn't quite my style.

(Generally, my two favorite area restaurants are the Raccoon Saloon in Marlboro, which looks like nothing but has stellar views of traintracks and waterfalls and the Hudson, and the Tuthill House in Gardiner, built on a historic mill, with the best linguine and clam sauce ever and terrific drinks from the whiskey distillery next door.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Visit Olana, home of Frederick Church! Olanafest 2012 is on Oct. 7

Be careful off of Broad Street in Hudson; use your street smarts.

Scope out before you go.

Newburgh figured in the Revolutionary War. has an article on leaf-peeping in the area that might be of help.

I am jealous!
posted by jgirl at 9:46 AM on September 7, 2012

Hudson, Rhinebeck, or New Paltz would be my choices. Woodstock is a nice day trip, but it would be a pricier place to make your headquarters.

I just love driving up and down the Taconic during leaf season, but so do many other people. Factor in time for leafpeeping traffic!
posted by catlet at 10:23 AM on September 7, 2012

I'm a West Coaster, but every year my wife's large extended family has a big weekend get together in that area. For the last several years it's been held at the Hudson Valley Resort. Don't stay there; although the staff is very friendly it's a bit of a dump, and despite the friendly staff I'm sure some of the other recommendations above are better suited to your specific needs.

But, as mentioned above, Minnewaska State Park is gorgeous! Great hiking, great views, and well worth the trip. We visit in June when everything is green, but I imagine in the fall the colors would be amazing.
posted by mosk at 3:23 PM on September 7, 2012

Holy crap, you need to make reservations right now! This is incredibly short notice for that time of year in that region.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:12 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Arielle restaurant in Rhinebeck has the best prix fixe lunch EVER. Do not miss it! Olana is definitely beautiful. We used to stay in the cabins at the nearby state park when going for the (yay!) sheep and wool festival (I'm vending in building C this year! Come say hi!), which is also fun because some of them have fireplaces.
posted by at 5:39 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, if you like biplanes and other aeroplanes. We'll be up thataway for World War I weekend, which is later this month.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:11 PM on September 7, 2012

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