Set just 90 miles north of New York City, the Hudson Valley is one of the oldest parts of the country. The Hudson River is set between the Catskill Mountain Range to the west and Berkshires to the east, making for unforgettably beautiful landscapes all year round, defined by plethora of mountainous hiking trails, lakes, fresh air, and quiet riverside locales. It’s no surprise Thomas Cole chose this region as the home base of the 19th century romantic landscape painting movement, the Hudson River School.
The history of the region goes far beyond 19th century—after Henry Hudson sailed up his namesake river in the 17th century, the region was integral in founding the nation. The river was used as a key transportation point during the Revolutionary War, and towns along it were home to various battles. The Hudson Valley was once home to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, inventor of Morse code Samuel Morse, and Legend of Sleepy Hollow writer Washington Irving.
Today, you can visit the homes of these historic figures and see the footprints history left behind in the form of old stone houses and landmarks. And there’s so much more the valley has to offer, from low key, relaxing spas and wineries to adventurous hiking and kayaking.
While nothing compares to seeing the leaves change colors, pumpkin picking, and indulging in cider doughnuts in the autumn season, late summer another perfect time to visit the hiking trails, wineries, and historic sites the region has to offer. If you’ve only got a few days to spend, we recommend you try out the modern hipster, arty vibes of Beacon, the 60s-throwback feel of New Paltz, or classic and quiet Rhinebeck.
Where to eat:
Beacon: Kitchen Sink, hands down. This place is cozy, homely restaurant with a cute outside space, perfect for summer evenings. Founded by a Hudson Valley native, Kitchen Sink offers a concise menu of contemporary favorites, all made with farm fresh ingredients. Most of the wine and beer comes from the Hudson Valley, so you’re sure to get the most authentic experience at this eatery.
Rhinebeck: Le Petit Bistro is unmissable during a visit to Rhinebeck. It has everything you’d expect from French cuisine, but as it is made with Hudson Valley fresh ingredients, it’s unlike anywhere else. Like many establishments in its area, Le Petit Bistro is family-run.
New Paltz: As New Paltz is mainly a college town, it would be appropriate to opt for a pub here. Try Bacchus, as it brews a selection of craft beers, and its extensive menu ensures something for everyone. With billiards and frequent live music, you’ll want to stay here for hours.
Where to hike:
Beacon: Once home to an incline railway, hotel, and casino, Mount Beacon is now a good half day’s hike, perfect for anyone ready to devote at least half a day to exercise in return for breathtaking views.The hike can be a 5, 7, or 10 out of 10, depending on how you go. Fun fact: the mountain was a beacon point to look out for British soldiers during a revolutionary war—hence the town’s name.
Rhinebeck: The Poet’s Walk is only a 3 out of 10 for difficulty, so it’s not for adventure as much as it is for a way to experience beautiful landscapes and ethereal scenery.
New Paltz: A personal favorite, Minnewaska State Park is perfect for a whole day’s trip. The hiking trails themselves only take up a couple of hours, but you’ll want to allot some time to just sit on a cliff edge looking down at the black-water lake and feeling the cool mountain breeze. Don’t forget a swimsuit, but be careful because the lake is home to a lot of snakes.
Where to stay:
Beacon: In a prime location on the quiet end of Beacon’s Main Street, the Roundhouse overlooks a small creek and waterfall. The hotel’s decor is just what you’d expect in the artsy city, and its restaurant offers more Hudson Valley’s farm fresh, because, let’s face it, you’ll never get enough of farm-to-table.
Rhinebeck: The Beekman Arms is the oldest inn in America, so there’s no debate, you’ve got to stay here. The hotel dates back to 1704 (that’s older than the country), and has housed George Washington, Aaron Burr, Nelson Rockefeller, Liz Taylor, Yoko Ono, and Oprah Winfrey. The rooms are decorated with an antique touch, yet wholly modern amenities that include in-room spa services.
New Paltz: Set in what might be the most beautiful location in the Hudson Valley, Mohonk Mountain House is where you go when you’re really ready to spoil yourself. Aside from just the elegantly luxurious feel of the guest rooms, Mohonk has so much to offer. You can hike the grounds, take history tours, climb, mountain bike, go boating or fishing, then finish the day in the spa to chill out a bit.