Hudson Valley Road Trip
A mere 90-minute drive from the concrete jungle of Manhattan, the stunning Hudson Valley and its quaint towns offer an ideal respite for weary city dwellers and out-of-towners alike. The Hudson Valley lies on either side of the 300-mile-long Hudson River, and stretches north to south through 8 counties, from Albany in the north to Yonkers in the south. Plan to explore Hudson Valley by car. The region is easily navigable, as drivers will take Interstate 87 east of the river and Highway 9 to the west, both heading north and south.
Hudson Valley attractions include incredible vistas, top-notch wineries, charming villages teeming with antiques shops and world-class dining. For an ideal road trip, plan to set up camp in one location -- we've provided our picks for where to stay below -- and take daily jaunts around the region, driving to the towns' shops, vineyards and other historic locales at your leisure.
Here, we've listed our selections for where to stay and eat, and what to do while on a Hudson Valley Road trip.
Where to Stay
Housed in a renovated 19th-century home and conveniently located off a quiet side street in the heart of Hudson, Croff House bed and breakfast offers the charm of a B&B along with upscale furnishings and amenities of a luxury hotel. Guests can expect nightly turndown service, pillow-top mattresses, walk-in spa showers with overhead spray and aromatherapy bath products. Breakfasts are more like an ample 3-course meal, featuring a pastry, yogurt and fruit, and an entree such as an egg frittata or pancakes. Be sure to pause your Hudson Valley meanderings to return to the house to enjoy the daily afternoon tea and cookies.
Rhinecliff Hotel, Rhinecliff
So many of Hudson Valley's hotels are located inland, away from the Hudson River. Not so the Rhinecliff Hotel. The picture-perfect 19th-century inn sits perched above the Hudson River, affording guests sweeping views of the water, mountains and Hudson Valley, which can be enjoyed from a wraparound porch and balconies.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Rhinecliff has 9 rooms that feature queen-sized beds, balconies, wide-plank floors, top-notch linens and whirlpool tubs. The on-site brasserie-style restaurant, known as The Bar, serves all meals, including the Sunday Jazz Brunch featuring live jazz and a classic brunch menu with favorites like eggs Benedict and French toast. Outdoor dining overlooking the Hudson River is also available.
The grandaddy of all Hudson Valley accommodations, the 259-room Mohonk Mountain House looms over the woods and cliffs of New Paltz, NY, and makes for a perfect family vacation stay. The Mohonk boasts a variety of accommodations, including Victorian-style rooms with fireplaces to cottages that can sleep up to 6 people, as well as a world-class spa, and indoor and outdoor pools. Entertainment geared toward guests of all ages may include movie nights, campfires with s'mores, guided hikes and horseback riding. The on-site restaurant features locally sourced ingredients, and the resort rates include 3 daily meals for guests, making for a convenient all-inclusive retreat.
Where to Eat
The charms of quirky, hippie-friendly New Paltz, NY, are many, and chief among them is a hearty meal at the local favorite Main Street Bistro. Packed with families and college students, the bistro offers quality food with great prices and many options for vegan- or vegetarian-friendly entrees. Main Street dishes up breakfast, lunch and dinner to the hungry masses in a casual setting complete with a diner counter (choose to eat here if the wait for a table is long), wooden booths and exposed air ducts strapped to the ceiling. Arrive hungry for breakfast, and consider trying what may well be the best breakfast deal in New Paltz: 2 eggs (or tofu), home fries and toast for $2.
Easily the most delightful dinner to be had in the Hudson Valley lurks inside the tiny 19-seat Ocean House Oyster Bar, a BYOB restaurant housed in a nondescript blue storefront in the wee town of Croton-on-Hudson. As its name might indicate, the oyster list is extensive and ever-changing, with mollusks from around the globe.
The clam chowder is locally renowned, and fresh fish entrees grace the menu and change with the daily catch. But do consider forgoing the seafood platters for one of the restaurant's signature lobster rolls, perhaps the freshest, lightest lobster roll this side of Maine. Ocean House does not take reservations, but wannabe diners can arrive in person after 5 p.m. to request a time for dinner, then return when your hour is near. Do put in your name as close to 5 p.m. as possible -- the list fills up fast.
Swoon Kitchenbar, Hudson
One of the Hudson Valley's most inventive restaurants can be found in the small town of Hudson at Swoon Kitchenbar. While diners may enjoy the country chic decor of hammered tin ceilings, the real standout here is the food. The chefs here earned their chops working in some of New York City's finest kitchens, such as Union Square Cafe. Now they present countryside-inspired meals comprised of locally grown ingredients. Indulge in a cheese plate consisting of local goat's milk cheese from Cohoes, NY, a pork face terrine, shaved fennel salad or a local duck breast with cranberry beans, foie gras, jus, ratatouille and Swiss chard. Do save room for dessert, and enjoy a rhubarb buttermilk custard pie, or chocolate ricotta cannolis.
What to See and Do
Wine tasting remains one of the favored pastimes for visitors to the Hudson Valley, which has gained in reputation for vineyards producing quality stock. Start your tour in the town of Marlboro, NY, at Benmarl Winery, known as much for its breathtaking view overlooking the Hudson River as for its lovely wines, including a cabernet franc and a light, crisp seyval blanc. A short distance from here in New Paltz lies Adair Vineyards, with a tasting room tucked into a 200-year-old barn. The tiny 10-acre vineyard produces a variety of wines, including unusual fruit blends like an apricot kir. Next, cross the Hudson and head toward Clinton Vineyards in Clinton Corners, NY. Set on a scenic, hilly 15 acres with a pond, the vineyard produces an award-winning black currant wine and a seyval champagne-style wine. Finally, wind your way toward Millbrook Winery, considered one of Hudson Valley's top wineries, and featuring popular varietals like pinot noir, cabernet franc and chardonnay. Be sure to elect a designated driver before embarking on this particular trip.
Antiquing in Hudson
Many of the towns throughout the Hudson Valley lay claim to numerous antiques shops. But the highlight for many seasoned shoppers is a trip to the small town of Hudson, reputed for its sheer number and quality of shops. Numerous antique purveyors line the town's main stretch, Warren Street, and as a whole, nearly 50 such shops have found a home in Hudson. Take a stroll into 3FortySeven, where you'll find vintage, art, lighting, furniture and even jewelry items. Or try your luck browsing the wares at Sutter Antiques to sate your appetite for Empire and Art Deco furnishings. The selection of shops may seem endless to a casual shopper, but be sure to pop into stores such as Noonan Antiques or Historical Materialism to get a sense of the variety of wares sold throughout town. Window shoppers are always welcome!
The legend of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman may still be alive and well in Sleepy Hollow, NY, the setting for Washington Irving's famed story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Pay a visit to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving is buried, as well as other famous folks like cosmetics queen Elizabeth Arden and the heiress Brooke Astor.
While in town, take care to visit Philipsburg Manor, a 17th-century manor house and water mill that now serves as a living history museum. Also of interest is the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, a 17th-century church whose churchyard also played a large role in the setting of Irving's short story. If you need a break from the history, take a hike through the 20 miles of trails in Rockefeller State Park Preserve, adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate
The hilltop home to 4 generations of Rockefellers, Kykuit is a must-see attraction in Hudson Valley. Visitors can join tours to explore the 6-story estate, seeing its furnishings, terraces and gardens. A stunning collection of art and sculptures includes pieces from greats such as Picasso and Andy Warhol. Tours also include visits to the Coach Barn, filled with a collection of antique automobiles and horse-drawn carriages. The property overlooks the Hudson River Valley and hills, and provides the perfect backdrop for scenic photos -- take care to pause and observe the perfectly manicured grounds during your tour.
Poet's Walk, Rhinebeck
A trip to the Hudson Valley would not be complete without paying homage to what truly makes the valley such a great destination: its scenery. Poet's Walk, 2 miles of easy hiking trails located in Rhinebeck, NY, provides a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature. The trails wind through rolling fields and woods. The paths are also dotted with a few small bridges and multiple pavilions that offer excellent picnic settings and ample space to rest, relax and ponder the beauty of the river and surrounding Catskill Mountains.