From Westchester to Albany, the Hudson River Valley spans over seven thousand square miles, featuring dramatic cliffs and fjords, sprawling country estates, award-winning farms and vineyards, and vibrant town centers. This region has won our hearts with its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you take a drive or bike tour of New York’s Hudson Valley, you will encounter a wealth of quiet country roads with riches around each bend. Here are four reasons this National Heritage Area deserves to be at the top of your travel wish list.
1. Culinary Creativity
Family farms have been feeding the Hudson Valley for hundreds of years. When the farm-to-table movement started gaining traction in the 1970s, Hudson Valley farmers teamed up with the region’s award-winning chefs to meet the growing demand for locally-sourced, organic meals. Not only is this area home to 5,000+ small farms and orchards, but it is also host to a vibrant immigrant community. The result? Fresh, creative meals, in every style and flavor. Today, food enthusiasts travel from around the world to sample the incredible variety of culinary delights produced in the valley. Care for some fine wine or craft beer with your meal? You won’t have to look far since the Hudson Valley is America’s oldest winemaking region (since 1677) and home to more craft breweries than any other region in New York!
Don’t Miss These Unparalleled Meals!
Ca’ Mea Ristorante in Hudson
Owner Roy Felcetto and his partner Max Centi, a well-known restaurateur from Cotona, Italy, created this acclaimed restaurant in the heart of town. It features authentic Northern Italian cuisine with attentive service for a dining experience that is consistently superb. Creative specials and beautifully presented dishes are served in an elegant, warm atmosphere.
Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park
This award-winning classic French restaurant is located on campus at the world-famous Culinary Institute of America.
Greig Farm in Red Hook
It doesn’t get any fresher than this. Greig Farm has been a source of local fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meats for 60 years. Stop by for a satisfying sandwich and don’t forget to feed the goats while you’re there!
2. Breathtaking Landscapes
With the majestic Catskill Mountains dominating the horizon and the Hudson River winding its way through forested landscapes, travelers in the Hudson Valley are met with inspiring natural beauty at every turn. It’s no accident that this region inspired an entire generation of landscape painters, and thus, its very own school of art. A walk or a ride through these landscapes will take your breath away.
Don’t Miss These Spectacular Scenes!
One of the original Hudson River School artists, Frederic Church was a successful painter and landscape architect. His 250-acre property is open to the public and is as beautifully maintained as it was back in 1872. When you see the mountains, river, ravines, and skyline from the mansion’s front porch, you just might get an idea of Church’s artistic inspiration.
The Hudson Fjord from Breakneck Ridge
If you are brave enough for a strenuous and steep hike that will have you using hands and feet, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Hudson River Fjord and Storm King Mountain across the river. Here, forested mountains rise steeply out of the river, creating a landscape that can only be described as otherworldly.
For a gentler walk with no-less gorgeous views, take the Poet’s Walk in Red Hook. Stroll through a series of outdoor rooms through wildflower meadows, forest glades and along a shaded streamside path. Reach an overlook with panoramic views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains beyond. A rustic Adirondack pavilion and well-placed benches offer enticing spots to rest and reflect. This serene place is reputed to be Washington Irving’s inspiration for Rip Van Winkle.
3. Living History
The Hudson Valley has been home to politicians, artists, authors, and members of the American cultural elite. View Queen Anne country estates and Greek Revival style mansions. Visit Montgomery Place, a historic mansion set on 380 acres of rolling lawns, woodlands and gardens overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. Tour FDR’s Hyde Park home along with the Presidential Library and Museum and gain an intimate view into FDR’s life and the life of the nation during the second World War.
Don’t Miss These Compelling Historic Sites!
Visit a Gilded Age country palace on the banks of the Hudson, complete with state-of-the-art (for the time) flush toilets.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill Cottage
Look inside the heart and mind of one of the greatest American activists of all time with a tour of Eleanor Roosevelt’s private estate. Here Eleanor could read or entertain as she chose, in the place that would remain her home after FDR’s death and from which she expanded her legacy of humanitarian accomplishments.
Three generations of Suckleys (descendants of the Beekman and Livingston families) lived in this riverfront mansion amassing personal and ancestral effects that attest to the lively social history of the estate. The interior display of furnishings, books, photographs, paintings and art objects showcase the decorative arts of the day. Outside, the extensive grounds are laid out in the American Romantic Landscape style.
4. Extraordinary Art
Home to America’s first arts movement in the mid 19th century – the Hudson River school – the Hudson Valley remains at the cutting edge of creativity and craftsmanship. From sculpture to theater to live music, it’s all here and it’s hopping. In the town of Red Hook, Bard College’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts hosts countless community performances along with two acclaimed music and theater festivals each year. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Meanwhile, Omi International Arts Center in Ghent runs residency programs for artists in five distinct disciplines, while maintaining a 300-acre sculpture park that is open to the public free of charge.
Don’t Miss These World-Class Collections!
Storm King Art Center
With 500 acres to wander, it feels like you could spend weeks in this unique and impressive sculpture park in Cornwall.
Residing in a converted Nabisco box printing facility is an impressive collection of contemporary art, including works by Andy Warhol and Richard Serra.
The Sharp Gallery and Olana
Hudson River school artist Frederic Church was not only a prolific painter but also an avid collector of visual art of all kinds. His paintings and collections are showcased in the Hudson mansion he designed and in the adjacent gallery.
National Geographic Traveler named the Hudson Valley one of the 20 must-see destinations in the world and it’s easy to see why. Replete with magnificent scenery, historical treasures, opulent mansions, lush vineyards, fertile farmland and a vibrant arts scene, there is much to explore. And remember those aforementioned world-class chefs and their culinary creations? If you choose to tour New York’s Hudson Valley by bicycle, you will not only enjoy a full-sensory travel experience, you will also be able to indulge in the culinary delights guilt-free! However you choose to travel, the Hudson River Valley deserves to be on your bucket list.
Post by Lydia Glenn