“What’s there to do around here, anyway?” If you’ve lived in the region long enough, you’ve likely been asked this question by some unassuming non-Valleyite. Being so close to the world’s most famous city has its advantages, but also means that, by comparison, our sleepy little towns and tiny cities get a bad rap. But truth be told, there is plenty to do here, even at night. With some unique hot spots of its very own (open-air clubbing riverside, anyone?), Hudson Valley nightlife can keep up — and sometimes even outdo — the big city. So whether you’re looking to show an out-of-towner a good time, or just relax after a tough week, this is the guide for you.
New World Home Cooking
“One of the coolest things about New World is it’s always busy and fun and lively,” says Manager Jess Kelly. From the art on the walls and the servers’ style, to Chef Ric Orlando’s crave-worthy cuisine, New World screams fun.
What’s cooking: The large, vegan-friendly menu features items like ropa vieja and jerk chicken alongside seitan “wings” and green curry tofu stew.
At the bar: Though they feature many specialty cocktails, Kelly recommends the Blood Orange Cosmo or the Italian Greyhound, a refreshing blend of grapefruit vodka, Campari, and soda, garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
Best night: “Friday is our most hoppin’ night,” Kelly says, with live music starting at 9:30 p.m. Monday nights feature a Celtic jam, while Woodstock Tango offers lessons and social dancing on Tuesdays.
What’s cooking: Open since 2009, this restaurant’s local, organic menu also includes vegan options, offering up tasty meatless dishes like shepherd’s pie made with TVP (texturized vegetable protein), alongside good, old-fashioned hamburgers.
At the bar: You won’t even miss hard liquor with 100 different bottled beers and 25 wines to choose from.
Best night: Live music by local rock and funk bands starts at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
What’s cooking: Dinner is served until 10 p.m. at this upscale nightclub, which offers standards like steak, pasta, sandwiches, and quesadillas.
At the bar: They keep it classic here — think cosmopolitans and mixed drinks.
Best night: Weekends are generally very busy — the café is located adjacent to a Ramada Inn. The scene is reportedly closer to a bar night for the post-college crowd on Fridays, with Saturday bringing in more couples. Hit up the karaoke and deejay dance party every Wednesday, or catch a live band on the weekend.
What’s cooking: Recognized as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the Valley, this unique café serves delicious vegan fare such as chili-stuffed cornbread, cold spicy peanut noodles, and sweet potato burritos.
At the bar: Three microbrews on tap and wine only.
Best night: Weekends bring live music in a variety of genres; look for Cajun/Creole band the Pine Leaf Boys this month. Other popular nights include Singer-Songwriter Tuesdays (every first and fourth Tuesday) and salsa dancing every first Friday.
The Steel House
This Rondout destination is under new management, and word is it’s better than ever. “We have a great new chef, new bar manager, just a great staff,” says General Manager and Event Coordinator Danielle DeFreest. And if the free boat docking, tiki bar, and drink specials aren’t enough, the “phenomenal new menu” helps to set Steel House apart from other waterfront eateries.
The deal: The Italian-style menu offers 15 different pizzas as well as appetizer favorites like wings and peel-and-eat shrimp. Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. with a $5.99 bar menu and drink specials.
The entertainment: Thursday evening is Country Night, with free line-dancing lessons at 9 p.m. and a mechanical bull. “Thursday nights are really busy,” DeFreest says. “We can get about 400 people.” Weekends bring live music, and late Saturday nights feature a deejay and beer pong.
Drink this: Besides 13 beers on tap, drink specials change weekly to feature different brands.
The deal: For more than 20 years, this floating restaurant has been a Newburgh waterfront hot spot for the post-college age and up. Open only during the summer season, Gully’s offers a full and eclectic dinner menu — Italian, Mexican, burgers, and seafood — until 10 p.m.
The entertainment: Live music six nights a week (with no cover charge) throughout the season. This month, look for popular local bands Dr. Mudd (July 9) and Good ’N Loaded (July 16).
Drink this: A fruity (yet potent) frozen Rumrunner.
The deal: This Rondout Mexican restaurant has been pleasing palates for decades.
The entertainment: Open seven days a week, there is something special going on most nights — wing night Wednesdays, ladies night and karaoke Thursdays, and deejay dance parties Fridays and Saturdays. If you’re single and ready to mingle, come in Tuesdays for Meet Your Mate Night.
Drink this: Their classic margaritas are top-notch; try one frozen, on the rocks, or up.
The deal: You can park your boat directly behind this Cuban-American fusion restaurant at the Front Street Marina.
The entertainment: Stop in for karaoke on Wednesdays, or Baggo — a beanbag-toss game — on Thursdays. Their iTunes jukebox lets you create your own soundtrack for the evening.
Drink this: Try the Watermelon Icetini or a classic mojito.
Open since 2002, the newly-renovated Loft occupies the second floor of the Chance Theater complex. It operates not only as a dance club but as a live music venue (with state-of-the-art sound equipment), and features drink specials every Saturday from 10 p.m.-4 a.m. But what makes it one of the Valley’s most talked-about nightclubs, according to owner Frank Pallet, is more than their popular deejays: “I think the destination makes it unique, being that there’s four different places under one roof. You can go upstairs to the Loft, then downstairs to shoot pool in the Platinum Lounge, or next door to have a drink at the Nuddy Irishman.”
Recently reopened, 20/20 does it all: Check out half-price happy hour Tuesday through Friday, blues open mic on Wednesdays, and live music Fridays. On the weekends, NYC deejays dial-in the posh lounge vibe while playing hip-hop, house, and R&B. Dress code enforced.
Shadows on the Hudson
The ambience: This lavish restaurant not only boasts the best views in the Valley, it offers diners five different rooms to choose from, including the modern, all-white Winter room and the casual Sunset room. Wherever you sit, Shadows’ general manager Milti Kastanis assures that the service will be the highlight of your experience. “Our staff have such great personalities. They truly love our guests.”
The scene: Kastanis makes an important distinction when it comes to Shadows’ nightlife: “It’s a lounge, not a bar.” This means you’ll find a more refined “young, or young at heart” crowd — mostly professionals. “The lights get dim, the guests all come in dressed as if they were on Sex and the City, and everyone is drinking martinis and Champagne,” says Kastanis. House deejay Parag spins live on the weekends.
At the bar: Though everything on their cocktail menu — designed by internationally recognized mixologists — is top-notch, the most popular is the Raspberry Mojave, a Skyy Berry mojito that was recently featured on the Food Network’s Unwrapped and Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
Best night: Says Kastanis: “Stop in on a Saturday night; sit at the outside bar and look at the Mid-Hudson Bridge; talk to our staff about anything you desire; and trust me, you will enjoy every second of it.”
Torches on the Hudson
The ambience: The Aqua Bar, with its 6,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, sets the stage at this classy restaurant and catering facility, which boasts mahogany fixtures and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Hudson.
The scene: Deejays from Atlantic City, Vegas, and Manhattan set up outside on the massive waterfront decks (weather permitting) and start the party at 11 p.m. The outdoor dining area is transformed into a VIP lounge with bottle service.
At the bar: Try the Torches Pear White Cosmo — Grey Goose Poire, Cointreau, white cranberry juice, and fresh citrus.
The ambience: With two bars — one inside and a tiki bar riverside — this tiny waterfront space maintains a relaxed vibe despite its trendy crowd.
The scene: As the name suggests, people come more for the martinis than the seafood or sushi. Dinner is served until 9 p.m. and the bars stay open until 2 a.m. Late-night dance parties take place Fridays and Saturdays.
At the bar: Though all the martinis are reportedly fab, try the Sex & the City — Grey Goose vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry, and pineapple.
Tom & Jerry’s Irish House
Happy hour: Weekdays, 4-7 p.m.
The food: This real-deal Irish pub offers traditional fare (corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash) along with bar food favorites.
The entertainment: Live music on Saturdays, karaoke Wednesdays, and you can always catch the game on the bar’s flat screens.
At the bar: “It’s a beer kind of place.”
Mahoney’s Irish Pub and Restaurant
Happy hour: Weekdays. Though the space can handle it (with bars upstairs and down), get there early to avoid commuter crowds.
The food: Mahoney’s giant menu offers everything from Asian inspired appetizers and traditional Irish fare to burgers and wings.
The entertainment: Open seven days a week until 4 a.m., Mahoney’s has something special happening every night including Irish Music Sundays, Trivia Night Mondays, and live music or deejay dance parties Fridays and Saturdays.
At the bar: They make a good Bloody Mary, but have a vast selection of beer and liquor as well.
Hyde Park. 845-229-6662
Happy hour: Tues.-Thurs. 3-7 p.m., Fri. 3-10 p.m.
The food: The grub at this college hangout is surprisingly good, with a full menu available until closing at 4 a.m. Try the Irish nachos: waffle fries topped with cheese, bacon, and scallops.
The entertainment: While Darby’s doesn’t have a fixed entertainment schedule, they have the occasional live band or karaoke night.
At the bar: Drink specials nightly.
The largest bar in town can fill up quickly, especially on weekends. Their special cocktail menu is impressive — try a frozen Tokyo Rose (Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Vodka, strawberry purée, and lemonade) or the Terrapin Raspberrytini (Hangar One Raspberry Vodka, local Clinton Vineyards Black Currant Cassis, and Harney & Sons Raspberry tea).
Rock’n Mexicana Cantina & Grill
Located at the Winwood Inn near Windham Mountain, this recent addition serves traditional Mexican fare in a rock and roll atmosphere (check out the old-school jukebox). Choose from 25 varieties of tequila at the bar, or sip wine by the fireplace in the lounge area.
New Paltz. 845-255-8636,
In addition to a full dining room, this New Paltz restaurant serves more than 14 beers on tap and 300 in bottles. Hang out by the bar or in the adjacent billiards hall, which has darts, pool tables, video games, and foosball.
Bananas Comedy Club
For almost 30 years, some of comedy’s most well-known names have taken the stage at Bananas, including Jerry Seinfeld, Caroline Rhea, Jeff Dunham, and Jamie Foxx. 9 p.m. show Fridays; 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. shows Saturdays.
Skytop Steakhouse & Brewing Company
Skytop’s popular Brew Ha Ha comedy nights bring in some of the best comedic talent from the likes of Dangerfield’s and Comedy Central. They also have a heavy live music schedule, with bands every Friday or Saturday, and jazz sessions Thursday nights.
Hyde Park. 845-229-6666
Even if you haven’t tied on a pair of skates since you were eight, there is some seriously groovy fun to be had at this iconic Dutchess County roller rink. The Hudson Valley Horrors roller derby team holds matches here once a month. Watch some girls in skates throw some elbows as they jam and block around the flat track. Or, if you’re more of a doer, the second Saturday of every month is disco night — costumes encouraged.
This coffeehouse stays open until midnight Monday through Saturday, offering a nice way to spend or end an evening out. Mondays feature open mic nights, and on the weekends you might catch some comedy or live music. Though the crowd is mostly caffeinated college students when SUNY’s in session, the two-story space leaves lots of room to find a quiet corner and spread out.
While the Bearsville Theater is known as a concert venue (and a good one, at that), on Thursday nights it’s the place to be in Woodstock for Miss Angie’s karaoke. Formerly held at the old Pinecrest off Rte. 375 (now the Havana Grill), karaoke night brings out an eclectic mix of Catskill Mountain folks — young and old, talented and, well, not so talented — for cocktails at the bar and some boisterous sing-alongs.
New Paltz. 845-255-2400
This New Paltz party destination offers three different nightlife experiences in one building — the Katana Sake & Wine Bar, Oasis Café, and Cabaloosa Live Room. Start a Friday night with happy hour in Cabaloosa’s, then head upstairs for live rock and roll, or meander over to Katana for more happy hour fun (8-10 p.m.). Cab’s features ’70s and ’80s nights and underground deejay dance parties on Thursdays and Saturdays, respectively. Oasis has live music Thursday through Saturday, with live jazz Tuesdays and open mic Wednesdays.
Captions: Guitar heroes New Hampshire-based rock band Our Last Night performs at the Chance in Poughkeepsie
Good times From top: A live jazz performance at the Falcon in Marlboro; the action heats up during a Hudson Valley Horrors roller derby match at Hyde Park’s Roller Magic; acoustic music fills Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater