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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
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.
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.
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).
5. Walk This Way
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!