Five reasons to love the Hudson Valley

Made you look! Hudson Valleys do that to you.

Made you look! Hudson Valley views do that to you.

Found this little waterfall behind a shop in Woodstock.

Found this little waterfall behind a shop in Woodstock.

Had three days to spend relaxing and sightseeing so I decided we needed to get away to … Poughkeepsie.

Could’ve gone to Cancun. Could’ve gone to the Bahamas or Bermuda or anywhere warm. Been there, done that. Took my husband and flew to the Hudson Valley for three days of mansions, wine tastings and culinary delights. Plus all the autumn colors we could stand.

For most of three days, we drove along Routes 9 and 9W along the Hudson Valley. Let me start by saying there’s way too much going on in the Hudson Valley for three days to be enough. So there had to be priorities: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home, the Vanderbilt Mansion, a couple of wineries, and the Culinary Institute of America. I wanted to see the towns of Woodstock, Saugerties, Rhinebeck and Catskill, too. Heard they were charming; I heard right.

We were not alone in the Hudson Valley.

We were not alone in the Hudson Valley. Guests at the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck have included George Washington.

We picked a fall weekend, packed up our gloves and scarves (left the bathing suits in the drawer) and headed north.

A couple of observations. Route 9 and 9W offer lovely glimpses of the nearby mountains and an occasion view of the Hudson River. Traffic is light and patient.

Five reasons to love the Hudson Valley (besides the obviously-gorgeous views).

Woodstock streetscape.

Woodstock streetscape.

Small town charm— Before we had a chance to get bored, we would approach a charming little town filled with little shops, a sense of history and tradition, views of the river and mountains. In Saugerties, we got to the end of the road on a point and had to take in the view of creek and autumn leaves.  Woodstock is more than a town with a rock concert reputation. (Even if the famous concert happened somewhere else). Its setting on the old Millstream is picturesque and the small shops are filled with things of beauty. Rhinebeck made us stop, too. Its little downtown has fanciful architecture, a teeny department store and an inn where Washington really stayed.

Robibero Family Winery has a very long wine list.

Robibero Family Winery has a very long wine list. And a very little dog.

Wineries–They hide these really well. Even with the wine trails clearly marked, we had a hard time finding the small wine producers. But the three we visited were friendly, fun and instructional. We had some pretty good New York wine at El Paso Winery, Robibero Family Vineyards and Hudson Chatham. In fact, I asked about ordering Hudson Chatham’s online. They had a few I want to taste again (and again.)

Come for the food, the learning (and the view.)

Come for the food, the learning (and the view.)

Culinary Institute of America–This fine institution of higher learning and rarified eating has four things going for it. Stunning architecture, beautiful setting, great food and impressive students. We took the tour to see cooking and baking students hard at work. Thanks, baking students, for the delicious pretzels and croissants. I’d give you an A.

Ice cream made right at your table in Bocuse, the French restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.

Ice cream made right at your table in Bocuse, the French restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.

Even if you can’t get there by 4 p.m. on weekdays or 10 a.m. on Monday stop to take in the view, get a cookbook or whisk in the Craig Claiborne bookstore or get a bite to eat. (I recommend the ice cream, made right at your table with lots of dry ice in Bocuse.

Mansions–Our original aim of the Hudson Valley was the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his presidential library. And the Vanderbilt Mansion. More on these next week.

Too much to do–There was something else to see at every turn. Oh the stuff we missed. Samuel Morse’s house, a dozen little towns, museums, restaurants and more wineries. And we hardly got out of the car to hike, take a long walk, get in some kayaking or other outdoor activity. We already started talking about another day away in the Hudson Valley.

© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

Next Tuesday: Living large: President Franklin Roosevelt’s boyhood home and a monument to the Gilded Age.

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