Best Of Hudson Valley 2011: Best Concerts, Fairs, and Fun Things to Do in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Best concerts, fairs, and fun things to do in the Hudson Valley PLUS: Readers’ Picks, including Best Fair, Scenic Hike, Bike Trail, Place for a Picnic, and Outdoor Venue for Plays and Concerts

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Editors’ Picks: Fun
Editors’ Picks: Week of Fun
Editors’ Picks: Capital Region
Readers’ Picks: Fun


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place for summer fun for the whole family

All Sport Fishkill
All Sport’s Outdoor Park is almost like a full-service Caribbean resort, but luckily it’s right around the corner! Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, this set-up is full of fun whether you’re a toddler splishing and splashing in the baby pool or a senior citizen getting serious about your water volleyball game in one of two other temperature-controlled pools. There is plenty of room for relaxing on a chaise lounge under a tree, enjoying a frozen cocktail, exploring the running path, shooting some hoops, playing a game of tennis, or just contemplating how lucky you are that you don’t have to go on vacation to get away from it all.

New Park

Long Dock Park Beacon
It’s the kind of story that can’t help but make you smile: a onetime urban industrial site, littered with debris and pollution, is reborn as a beautiful (and sustainable) waterfront oasis. It took more than 10 years (and close to $9 million), but that’s exactly what Scenic Hudson did in creating Long Dock Park in Beacon. When the environmental organization acquired the 16-acre property in 1996, “it was in no way people-friendly,” says Project Director Margery Groten. That’s an understatement: More than 75 truckloads of scrap metal, old tires, and other trash were removed from the former oil storage facility/junkyard site in order to make way for native plants and grasses, restored wetland areas, and a patio space created with salvaged concrete slabs (which at one time were part of the decking on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge). And the story gets even better: The property’s circa-1860s red barn has been refurbished as a “green” building, and now hosts arts education programs for local kids provided by Poughkeepsie’s Mill Street Loft. Although swimming is not allowed, visitors can dangle their toes in the river while perched on a steel-and-wood sculpture by artist George Trakas. And the impressive kayak pavilion offers kayak rentals and tours provided by Mountain Tops Outfitters. Along with DIA:Beacon and the revitalized Main Street area, Long Dock Park gives folks another reason to visit Dutchess County’s second largest city. But perhaps more importantly, says Groten, “We hope it will get people to the river, and that they will become stewards of the river.”

New Music Event

Warwick Valley Jazz Festival Warwick
When he moved to Warwick from New York City six years ago, professional drummer Steve Rubin says it was “a nice surprise” to meet several other musicians who lived in or near the Orange County town. The discovery led Rubin — who obviously has a touch of the entrepreneur about him — to found the Warwick Valley Jazz Festival in 2010 “as a way to celebrate a great American musical art form, and promote tourism and business in Warwick.” Now in its second year, the four-day event (which took place last August) featured 14 performances occurring in local restaurants, bookstores, art galleries, even on the village green; all but two of them were free. Some of the performers — for instance, horn player Todd Williams (who’s jammed with Wynton Marsalis) and bassist Mark Egan (he’s recorded with Sting and Roger Daltry, among others) — are big names in the jazz world; but Rubin says the fest remains “true to the ideal of highlighting local talent” while boosting Warwick’s reputation as an arts hot spot. A win-win all around, we’d say.

boutique hotel

Glenmere Chester
This stunning Italian-style villa-turned-hotel is squarely within our territory. But we’re certainly not the only magazine scrambling to cover it. Travel & Leisure and the Robb Report both raved about it last year, and this year it was named the number one romantic hideaway in the world by Hideaways International. No wonder: whether its the grand marble staircases, the traditional Italian gardens, the unique accommodations, or the first-rate fare, every exquisite detail combines to make a stay here a truly unforgettable experience. A new, state-of-the-art spa, designed by the world-renowned Mindy Terry, is scheduled to open soon.


egg-shaped building

The Egg Empire State Plaza, Albany
Okay, so we went for the joke here. But the, shall we say, distinctive architecture shouldn’t overshadow the quality performances that also make the Egg the best concert venue in the area. This fall, you can clap your hands and tap your feet to the likes of Keb’ Mo’, Madeleine Peyroux, Keller Williams, Richard Thompson, David Sanborn, Peter Wolf, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Shawn Colvin and many others. Dance fans can see Symphony for the Dance Floor, The TAP Experience and Monica Bill Barnes & Company. Take the kids to “A Brown Bear, A Moon and A Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.” For laughs, get tix for comedian Ralphie May. Schedules and tickets can be found on the region’s best egg-shaped Web site.

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Capital Region new restaurant

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Troy
When it opened last November, the lines were down the street and the wait times were measured in hours, not minutes. A year later, it’s still tough to get into. Dinosaur, the mini-Empire State empire, lives up to the hype with sensational, slow-cooked meats, authentic Southern sides, an excellent beer and wine list, and a faux-biker bar aesthetic that has helped further downtown Troy’s recent renaissance. Don’t just take our word for it: they’ve been lauded in publications such as Men’s Health and Eating Well, voted Best BBQ on Good Morning America, and been featured on several Food Network and Travel Channel shows. Their cookbook, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse, was voted a best BBQ cookbook by the National Association of BBQ. They know their stuff.

Capital Region Children’s Theatre

Steamer No. 10 Albany
This theater operates on a shoestring budget out of an old firehouse that is under perpetual construction (director Ric Chesser is trying to make the entrance look like a castle but constantly running out of cash), but local parents wouldn’t know what to do during school vacations without its “Vacation Daze” lineups. They produce their own shows as well as host top-flight kid’s entertainers — many from the Hudson Valley. And the healthy snack bar (popcorn, apple cider) makes moms smile.

place for really, really, really small things

College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Albany
Part of the University at Albany, the ever-growing, futuristic complex on Fuller Road (really, it’s only a matter of time before a Hollywood movie is shot there) draws major international players in the nanotech field. Nano, for you non-math majors, refers to 10-9, or 0.000,000,001. That’s small — we’re talking atomic particle small — but it’s going to be a huge part of the next technological revolution. CNSE is the first college in the world dedicated strictly to research, development, education, and deployment in the nanosciences. Under the direction of the brilliant and charismatic Alain Kaloyeros, senior vice president and chief executive officer, it is a prime reason why the area can now truly call itself Tech Valley.


Monday night out

$1 Pulled-pork sliders at Billy Bob’s BBQ Poughkeepsie
Kick those Monday blues with tasty barbecue. Tender pulled pork is smothered in tangy sauce on these tiny sandwiches — and they’re priced so low you can have a few without breaking the bank.

Tuesday night out

Adult Hula Hoop classes at Club Helsinki Hudson Hudson
Whether you sit or stand at work all day (or run around chasing your little ones through the house), loosen those hips with a fun hula-hoop class. Wear comfy clothes and prepare to break a sweat; hooping provides quite the workout. Hoops are provided for those who don’t have their own. Classes run from 7-8 p.m. and cost $10.

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Wednesday night out

Open Mic Night at Harmony Music at Wok n Roll Woodstock
Enjoy delicious Asian cuisine at Wok & Roll restaurant, then stick around for the open mic at the adjacent Harmony Music live venue/bar. More of a talent showcase than an open mic, you’re bound to hear an impressive variety of sounds — from folk to rock to classical, depending on the night — by weekly regulars and out-of-towners.

Thursday night out

Country Night at the Steel House Kingston
Grab your cowboy hat for an exciting night of country music and line-dancing lessons. Every so often, they’ll even bring out a mechanical bull; see if you can channel your inner John Wayne and hold on to the bucking beast. Dance lessons usually start around 8:30 p.m., so there’s plenty of time for dinner before and drinks after.

Friday night out

Music at Millbrook R&B Bar & Grill Millbrook
Whether you enjoy blues, hard rock, oldies, or something in between, expect live bands and great tunes at this bar/restaurant. Occasionally, live concerts are shown on their two high-definition big-screen TVs, but the performances are guaranteed weekly.

Saturday night out

You really expect us to pick just one?
When Saturday rolls around, music’s in the air, drink specials abound, art galleries host receptions up and down the river, and dance floors await your feet. A short drive in any direction will lead you to something fun to do.

Sunday night out

Wings at Michael’s RESTAURANT & Sports CAFÉ Fishkill
This sports bar is well-known for its 20 large screen TVs and sporty atmosphere. If that’s your scene — and you’re looking for one last hurrah before starting the work week — check this: get one pound of wings for only $5 on Sunday evenings (normally $9, that saves you $4 to put towards beer).


Bed and Breakfast
The Inn at Stone Ridge
Stone Ridge.

Bike Trail
Dutchess County Rail Trail
Wappingers Falls.

Community Theater
County Players
Wappingers Falls.

THE Dutchess County Fair


Golf Course
McCann Golf Course

Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz.

Hudson River Cruise
Rip Van Winkle

Indoor Venue for
Plays and Concerts    

Smalley’s INN

Live Music Joint
The Falcon

Mini Golf
Kelder’s Farm


Hudson Valley Philharmonic

Outdoor Venue for
Plays and Concerts
Bethel Woods    

Bowdoin Park
Wappingers Falls.

Place for a Picnic
Vanderbilt Mansion
Hyde Park.

Place for a Wedding
The Grandview

Scenic Hike
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz.

Ski Area


Thing About Living in the Valley
The views/scenery

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