By Sabrina Sucato
When New York City dwellers want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, they head to the Hudson Valley. Why? Try apple picking, antique shopping, farm-to-table restaurants, and scenic hikes for starters. The valley is home to an abundance of activities that will have socially conscious travelers head over heels in love. So pack up your bag for a weekend getaway to one of New York’s best kept secrets.
Drop your suitcase off at Mohonk Mountain House, one of the Hudson Valley’s most reputable retreats. Mohonk is a green resort that prides itself on its commitment to environmental stewardship. Not only does the hotel use energy-efficient lightbulbs and biodegradable laundry products, but it goes above and beyond with a composting program that produces fertilizer for both its gardens and golf course. Mohonk has also partnered with Clean the World to send recycled shampoo and soap to countries in need of hygiene supplies. That means you don’t need to feel bad about leaving a half-used bottle of shampoo in the shower when you check out.
Mohonk also offers three meals a day with most room options. If you feel like staying in, head down to the resort’s in-house restaurant for a top-tier meal. As a bonus, the seasonally prepared menus are crafted from local, organic ingredients. It’s just another way that Mohonk honors its commitment to the environment.
If you do choose to head out, prepare yourself for a gourmet experience at A Tavola Trattoria, a short drive from your hotel. This Italian restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients to concoct mouthwatering meals like roasted local cauliflower, Hudson Valley duck breast, and local sweet corn panna cotta. While prices do lean on the higher side, the dreamy seasonal entrees will leave you planning your next reservation at this award-winning eatery.
If you don’t indulge in one of the specialty drinks at A Tavola, head to Bacchus Restaurant & Brewery for one of their locally crafted beers. Sip on one of the house-brewed beers off their ever-changing beverage menu as you play a game or two of billiards to wind down the evening.
Start your day in Poughkeepsie with a breakfast of champions at The Crafted Kup. This cozy coffeehouse offers a selection of locally roasted organic coffees and teas to keep you energized all day. Pair a freshly brewed coffee or one of the shop’s signature lattes with a locally made bagel or pastry.
Spend the rest of your morning traversing the Walkway Over The Hudson, a must-see for any visitor to the valley. The Walkway is an old railroad bridge that sat unused for around 30 years after the tracks were damaged in a fire. When the park opened in 2009, it was the largest pedestrian walkway in the world. Whether you walk, bike, or roller blade the length of the old bridge, make sure you take a minute to stop at the middle. The view of the Hudson River surrounded by luscious forests on either side is breathtaking.
Now that you have worked up an appetite, treat yourself to lunch at Terrapin, a new American bistro and restaurant in Rhinebeck. The eatery uses local and organic ingredients as often as possible, so you can feel good about whatever you order. Top picks include the Farmer’s Market Crepes, packed with fresh Hudson Valley veggies, and the gourmet hamburgers made with beef from Hudson Valley Cattle Company.
Use your post-lunch hours to explore the Vanderbilt Mansion, a National Historic Site located one town over in Hyde Park. The estate is the perfect place to visit regardless of the season. In summer, wander across the grounds and through the immaculate gardens. In winter, take a tour of the inside of the mansion. If you visit in December, expect to see a Christmas tree and holiday decorations adorning the gilded rooms. It really is a sight to behold.
When hunger strikes, mosey on over to The Artist’s Palate in Poughkeepsie. The restaurant offers updated, creative renditions of comfort food prepared with fresh, local ingredients. While the Lobster Mac and Cheese is the undisputed highlight of the menu, there are an impressive number of vegetarian options as well. Crispy fried tofu or a noodle bowl with housemade kimchee anyone?
There’s no better place to wind down the evening than Brunette, one of the sweetest wine bars in the valley. This “natural” wine bar is the perfect spot to embrace the local wine scene. Most of the drinks are sustainable and made without added sulfites. If that isn’t enticing enough, their small plates and cute daily menus, complete with music recommendations and selections of the day, will most certainly win you over.
Since a hearty meal is the only way to end a weekend retreat, head to the Eveready Diner in Hyde Park to break your fast. This area staple has everything from classic diner standbys like omelets and oatmeal to indulgent options like Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Pancakes and PB & B French Toast Napoleon.
The Eveready is a “Think Local” establishment to its roots. Not only are all the breads and pastries prepared in-house, but the apples for apple pie are harvested from local orchards. Talk about fresh!
Challenge yourself with a hike up Breakneck Ridge, one of the most scenic peaks along the river. The mini mountain has a number of trails for beginners to more advanced climbers. Regardless of the path you choose, you’ll end up at the top with one of the most stunning views of the Hudson Valley imaginable. Area residents will agree that the best time for a climb is in the fall, when the valley’s trees change color to gorgeous shades of orange, red, and yellow.
Ins and Outs
Fly to Stewart International Airport and book a rental car for your weekend adventures. If you are traveling in from JFK or New York City, your best bet for sustainability and convenience is to take one of the Amtrak or Metro-North trains. They both stop at various points throughout the valley, and taxis are available at every location. Plus, most train stations are located close to the heart of the city centers, so many attractions are within walking distance.
Sabrina is a 20-something freelance writer based in the scenic Hudson Valley, NY. She has lived in both Bologna and Milan, Italy, and is now hopelessly addicted to gelato. When she's not writing or dreaming of Italy, she can be found drinking copious amounts of coffee and testing out new dessert recipes.