Rhinebeck delights with views and shopping. By Julian Diamond, Courtesy of Dutchess Tourism
With a long history in the Hudson Valley, Rhinebeck is a must-visit for art, shopping, and some of the best dining in the region.
From the time Dutch settlers came to the area in the late 1600s (Wilhelmus Beekman of Rhineland is the town’s namesake) to present day, Rhinebeck has been constantly evolving.
During the Gilded Age, it was known as the violet capital of the world, shipping out millions of the purple blooms across the nation for bouquets and corsages. Rumor has it that if you dig in the backyards of village homes, you’ll find glass remnants of the greenhouses that fueled the area’s economy.
Today, Rhinebeck is a cultural hub that has something for everyone—from art enthusiasts and history buffs to nature lovers and serious foodies. The town of nearly 8,000 enjoys a peaceful, friendly vibe but the energy (and visitors) really ramps up on weekends.
Known as a shopping hotspot, Rhinebeck offers a diverse selection of stores including Hammertown, a well-curated furniture and lifestyle store; Oblong Books, an independent haven for readers that supports local authors; StarryBird Kids, which carries an array of essentials for expecting parents; Samuel’s Sweet Shop, an old-time candy store owned by resident celebrities Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hilarie Burton, and Paul Rudd; and Paper Trail, a lovely boutique featuring jewelry, housewares, and invitations for all sorts of events.
Along the village’s tree-lined streets, you’ll also find a wide range of excellent eateries. The towering former church at the corner of Montgomery and Livingston streets houses Terrapin, a farm-to-table bistro; Cinnamon serves up Indian favorites; Aroi Thai is great for classic Asian meals; Aba’s Falafel dishes out Israeli fare; and Le Petit Bistro crafts French cuisine in its romantic dining room. There’s also pub fare at The Tavern at Beekman Arms, one of the oldest operating inns in the country.
Outdoor enthusiasts love the fact that Rhinebeck is nearby plenty of places to hike, bike, and soak up the scenery. Ferncliff Forest, Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill, and the Vlei Marsh Preserve are especially beautiful this time of year thanks to vibrant foliage and panoramic views. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome just outside of town houses a variety of vintage planes, motorcycles, and cars that will transport you to a bygone era; the Wilderstein Historic Site, former home to a cousin of FDR, is a gorgeous example of 19th-century architecture; and the Dutchess County Fairgrounds hosts a slew of fun events throughout the year (see page 74 for happenings this month). Plus, the excellent Rhinebeck Farmers Market is a must for local produce and much more every Sunday through December 18.
This charming village exemplifies the seamless combination of old and new that is prevalent throughout the Valley. From modern shops and restaurants in antique buildings to new residents bringing vintage homes back to life, Rhinebeck has a special way of preserving the past while embracing the present.