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52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

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There are thousands and thousands (and thousands!) of reasons why our region is truly the best place to live and visit. Here’s a sampling of things to see, do, and savor—one a week for the whole year.

By Janey Siroto and Francesca Furey

craft cocktails 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | T. Wejkszo

1. Our Craft Cocktail Scene

From a hot toddy at Kingston’s Stockade Tavern to margarita Mondays at Roosevelt Cocktail Bar in Beacon to a Snuff Box (Irish whiskey, fig, and honey) at Rhinebeck’s Bia, our local mixologists are seriously talented.

craft cocktails

Adobe Stock | Karandae

2. So Much Beauty

You’ve heard of the Hudson River School, the early artistic movement centered around capturing our gorgeous scenery. Soak up the amazing countryside, with artist Frederic Church’s remarkable estate Olana being an excellent immersion.

beautiful scenery 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Brandtbolding

3. We Are Apple Country

There are plenty of pick-your-own farms, with trees all but buckling under the weight of the fruit, but you’ll also have lots of opportunities to pluck berries, veggies, and flowers throughout the region.

4. Top Colleges

Eight regional institutions are in Forbes’ Top 500 list, including Poughkeepsie’s Vassar College (No. 73) and Marist College (335) and SUNYs New Paltz (337) and Purchase (487).

top colleges 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | James Insogna

5. Walk This Way

With thousands and thousands of miles of trails, we live in a hiker’s paradise. Check out alltrails.com for parks and paths of varying difficulties and lengths, plus scenic perks.

hiking 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Anna Lukina

6. Diner Delights

They may be a dying breed elsewhere, but the Valley is rich in diners slinging all kinds of incredible eats. Don’t miss the taco skillet at Phoenicia Diner, the top-notch sandwiches and pho at West Taghkanic Diner, any of the fried fish at Zinnia’s in Craryville.

Diner scene 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Gorbovoi81

7. That’s The Spirit

Plenty of Hudson Valley distillers are working their hardest to pour quality bottles of whiskey, bourbon, gin, vodka, and even absinthe. Check out a tasting room near you, such as Stoutridge Distillery in Marlboro or Cooper’s Daughter in Claverack.

8. George Washington Slept Here

We’d bet that most towns in the HV have a historic building where Washington (allegedly) got some beauty sleep. The first president toured, fought, and campaigned throughout the region—and lived at the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh from 1782–1783.

George Washington Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Olena

9. America’s River

All 10 of our counties touch the majestic Hudson. It’s an integral part of our culture, serving as a waterway for both Revolutionary soldiers and river cruises, inspiration for world-renowned and amateur artists, and an essential source for our estuaries and agriculture.

Hudson river sailing 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Jonathan

10. Excellent Food

Outstanding chefs gravitate here. In our most popular cities and peaceful hamlets, restaurants experiment in fusion, farm-to-table, molecular gastronomy, and so much more. We have the Michelins and James Beard awards to prove it.

11. Art Walks

There are plenty of sculpture gardens to stop and smell the roses. (And view the spectacular art.) Some reader favorites are Art Omi in Ghent, Opus 40 in Saugerties, and Storm King Art Center in New Windsor.

12. Electric Avenue

Newburgh was one of the first cities in the country to receive electricity on March 31, 1884. That night, over 40 businesses shined brightly with Edison lightbulbs. An annual festival celebrating the city’s diversity and culture, Newburgh Illuminated, was named after this historic feat.

electric avenue

Adobe Stock | Kitsada

13. Extra, Extra!

We’re home to some of the oldest publications in the country—let alone the state. The Poughkeepsie Journal, which still covers Dutchess County, is the second oldest newspaper in the country and oldest in New York.

14. Cider Rules

We are a premier hard cider hotspot in the country. Whether you favor light, sparkling, amber, or fruity, there’s much to savor—including Angry Orchard in Walden, Left Bank Ciders in Catskill, and Treasury Cider in Fishkill.

cider 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Liarey

15. We’re Bookish

Hudson Valley residents have plenty of places to stoke their literary leanings. Old-book aficionados can lose a day at Rodgers Book Barn in Hillsdale, H.A.S. Beane Books in Red Hook, and the Librarium in East Chatham, among others. And don’t miss having a beer while browsing at Kingston’s Rough Draft Bar & Books.

bookstores 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Dmitry

16. Farm to Fork

The Valley helped popularize the national culinary sensation: farm-to-table cooking. Restaurants and chefs across the region are known for their connections and support of local agriculture, sustainable sourcing practices, and farm-fresh menus.

farm-to-table 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Dan

17. Presidential Past

Two presidents were born and raised here: Martin Van Buren (from Kinderhook) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Hyde Park). Bill Clinton moved to Chappaqua after his term ended in 2001.

18. Couple of Capitals

Kingston, Hurley, Fishkill, and Poughkeepsie were all political centers of New York, until 1797, when Albany was permanently named our capital city.

19. Outdoor Classrooms

Educational preserves are scattered across the Hudson’s many tributaries. At Teatown Lake Reservation, Tivoli Bays, Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Manitou Point Preserve, and Black Creek State Forest—visitors can learn about regional species and environmental efforts.

20. Nature, Naturally

Over 30 state parks are in our 10 counties. Explore lakes, waterfalls, cabins, expansive views, challenging hikes, and so much more. Minnewaska, Hudson Highlands, Bear Mountain, and Peebles Island are considered the most popular.

21. Rich Soil

Some of the country’s best onions (and other produce) come from the Black Dirt Region—and you can get a taste at most Orange County farmers markets. The soil is extremely fertile thanks to an ancient glacial lake created by decades of flooding of the Wallkill River.

rich soil

Adobe Stock | Buriy

22. Money Moves

Big businesses see future gains here. From healthcare to startups to tech—IBM just announced a $20 billion investment in Dutchess County—the HV is home to movers and shakers.

23. Starstruck

Celebs also flock to the HV. Here are some you might see around: Paul Rudd, Liam Neeson, Rachel Weisz, Liev Schreiber, Amanda Seyfried, Stanley Tucci, Hilarie Burton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Daniel Craig.

movie stars 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Marina

24. Let There Be Light

Seven historic lighthouses have watched the waters of the Hudson for centuries. Explore the Esopus Meadows and Hudson Athens lighthouses via kayak, or stay overnight at the Saugerties Lighthouse B&B.

historic lighthouses in the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Hubert

25. Wheels Up

In 2017, New York unveiled the 750-mile-long Empire State Trail that connects NYC to Buffalo. Cyclists can peddle through 210 miles of scenic routes and rail trails in the HV.

Empire State Trail 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Vladstar

26. Wild Kingdom

For kids and anyone who loves creatures, the Valley is filled with amazing wildlife, from soaring bald eagles to wily woodchucks helping themselves to your vegetable garden. Or commune with various rescued farm animals at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary or the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties.

27. Nightlife

Our vibrant evening scene is filled with festivals, concerts, events, comedy clubs, performance halls, theaters, and community dinners to attend.

28. World’s Best BLT

According to the locals, it lives at Babette’s Kitchen in Millbrook. We encourage you to go judge for yourself.

29. It’s Wine O’Clock

The Hudson Valley has award-winning wineries, including Milea Estate Vineyard in Staatsburg and Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery in Gardiner, and guess what? We got here first: Washingtonville’s Brotherhood Winery, with its initial vintage in 1839, is recognized as America’s oldest operating winery.

award winning wineries 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Locals and visitors alike love the wineries of the Hudson Valley. Adobe Stock | Luminis

30. History Happened Here

The region goes waaaay back. Stockport’s Staats House was built in the 17th century. British spy Major John André was captured in Tarrytown in 1780 with secrets handed to him by Benedict Arnold. Historical sites and societies abound.

31. Ten-Hut

Orange County is home to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. It’s been an integral part of history, has notable alumni like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, and Stonewall Jackson, and offers awesome views of the Hudson from its campus and the Thayer Hotel.

U.S. Military Academy West Point

Adobe Stock | Alan

32. We’re Artsy

As if the scenery wasn’t enough, you can also take in contemporary works at Dia Beacon, sculptures at Storm King Art Center, and excellent collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar and Hessel Museum of Art at Bard.

33. Magical Music Halls

It hardly matters who’s playing at our area’s grand old music venues, the architecture and the vibes are everything. A few favorites: Tarrytown Music Hall, The Falcon in Marlboro, the Paramount in Peekskill, and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

music halls 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Adobe Stock | Hubert

34. So Many Farmers Markets

A not-so humble brag: Our region has some of the best farmers markets in the nation. The cheese, the breads, the dumplings, the greens, the jams, the scones, the crafts—come stock up.

farmers markets

We love the farm markets of the Hudson Valley. Adobe Stock | New Africa

35. Great Estates

Enjoy old-world grandeur up and down the Hudson, from the Rockefeller’s opulent Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow to the Queen-Anne charm of Wilderstein in Rhinebeck and beyond. There are dozens of manses to explore, most with incredible river views.

36. Serious R&R

Considering the Valley is within commuting range of perhaps the world’s most stressful city, the zen properties of the land are a treasure. Meditate on a trail, do goat yoga, or peace out walking the grounds of a Buddhist monastery.

37. We Make Great Beer

There are over 50 craft breweries dotting the landscape, many that also offer up live music and great eats. Whether a smooth lager or stout at Vosburgh Brewing in Elizaville or fruit-forward IPAs at Chester’s Tin Barn Brewing, there’s something for everyone.

craft beer 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

Love Hudson Valley beer? You’re not the only one. Adobe Stock | Alenkadr

38. Natural Wonders

Why trek to a national park when you could be wowed right here, right now? Two to view: the cascading Kaaterskill Falls near Palenville and the Lemon Squeeze and Labyrinth in the Mohonk Preserve.

waterfall hikes 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

The natural beauty of the region makes it easy to love the Hudson Valley. Adobe Stock | Brandtbolding

39. Trail Mix

Eighty-eight miles of the renowned Appalachian National Scenic Trail winds through the Valley, including towns such as Warwick and Pawling, and preserves like the beautiful Clarence Fahnestock State Park.

40. Maker Central

Every town has people following their passion, whether that’s painting, weaving, throwing pots, dipping candles, or concocting spice rubs. Head to Field + Supply MRKT in Kingston over Memorial Day weekend to see some of the output for yourself.

41. Local Legends

The Hudson Valley has its own spooky tales and fun lore, with Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman, drowsy Rip Van Winkle, and the Balmville Tree in Newburgh as classic parts of regional culture.

42. Cornerstone of History

Kingston is a boon for history buffs. Check out the Four Corners on the intersection of John and Crown Streets—it’s the only intersection in the country where all four corners are occupied by pre-Revolutionary War-era buildings.

43. Fall Foliage

Need we say more? Road trip across the 10 counties for fabulous views of colorful trees. Don’t miss the vistas from Sam’s Point in Minnewaska, striking reflections at Lake Taghkanic, and Storm King Mountain from Cold Spring’s shoreline.

fall foliage 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

You know you love fall foliage in the Hudson Valley. Adobe Stock | Jefunne

44. Clear Skies

The Hudson Valley’s rural landscape and minimal light pollution make for excellent stargazing. If you want to look up and see the Milky Way or a meteor shower, this is the spot.

stargazing

Who doesn’t love stargazing in the Hudson Valley? Adobe Stock | V&P Photo Studio

45. Catskills Rebirth

They’re back in a big way, booming with boutique hotels—like the alpine Urban Cowboy Lodge in Big Indian and Piaule’s eco cabins in Catskill—shopping towns, upscale restaurants, outdoor adventures, and so more.

46. Marvelous Mountains

Those who’ve Pelotoned themselves into peak condition can take on the Shawangunk’s summits or Breakneck Ridge; the rest of us can trek to Stissing Mountain’s 905-foot peak in Pine Plains or the 656 feet of Sugarloaf Hill in Philipstown.

47. Camping Culture

Dozens of parks and preserves offer camping sites for families, hikers, and clubs—and some even have on-site restrooms and rec halls. Choose from elevated cabins, tent platforms, trailer parks, and more.

camping

Love camping in the Hudson Valley? So do we. Adobe Stock | R. Gino Santa Maria

48. House-Proud

The area has a wide variety of distinctive architecture, which makes it a delight to simply drive around. Farmhouses, stone cottages, board-and-batten charmers, and beautifully preserved brick downtowns are among the highlights.

49. Toe The Line

Singer and activist Pete Seeger’s Sloop Clearwater ushered in a new great age of sail on the Hudson. The Clearwater, and other boats like the Schooner Apollonia, are stewards of environmental change and help communities engage with social justice issues.

50. Medieval Times

No monarchs? No problem. Several whimsical castles dot the region and are open for exploring, such as Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island, Reid Castle in Purchase, and Wing’s Castle in Millbrook. (Make sure to check out the history of private castles, too, like Castle Rock in Garrison.)

51. Top Chefs

Hyde Parks’ Culinary Institute of America is cranking out the next generation of kitchen pros. You’ll find students working at campus restaurants, the award-winning Brewery at the CIA, and nearby farms. (FYI: The CIA is partnering with Asahi Shuzo to bring a sake brewery to the HV later this year.)

Top Chefs

Top chefs in the region are part of the reason why we love living in the Hudson Valley. Adobe Stock | Terriana

52. Top Docs

We have premier hospitals with groundbreaking technology, life-saving practices and centers, and top-performing doctors and staff. Cheers to our health!

Related: Try These 5 Wine and Comfort Food Pairings in the Hudson Valley

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