Chauncey Devereux Stillman purchased abandoned farmland in 1937 and transformed it into this 1000-acre oasis with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Named after the town in Connecticut where his ancestors lived, Wethersfield Estate has a magnificently planned Italianate garden, which encircles the mansion. Even if you aren’t interested in a house tour, make sure to take a walk on the scenic trails. Stillman passed away in 1989, but his foundation ensured the estate would be maintained for the enjoyment of the public.
Open mid-April through mid-November for hiking; self-guided tours of the garden are given June through September, Friday through Sunday, noon-5pm. Cross-country skiing is permitted on the grounds during the winter months.
Old Hurley’s Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Sites, and for good reason. Its well-preserved stone houses have been residences for more than 300 years. After the British burned Kingston, New York State’s capital, in 1777, Hurley then became the State’s capital, albeit briefly.
Settled by the Dutch in 1662, the town was taken over by the British, along with the entire New Netherland colony, in 1664. Although the museum is closed due to COVID-19 and the stone houses are open to the public one day each year (the second Saturday in July), visitors may still enjoy the picturesque village. Make sure to amble down Main Street, and detour to the burial ground where headstones date back hundreds of years. It’s a short walk to the O & W Rail Trail from Main Street, so bring bicycles and enjoy an autumn ride. Stop for refreshments at Hurley Country Store, an authentic old-fashioned emporium chock full of model trains, local books, toys, and sweet treats.
Open year-round. Check the website for special seasonal events.
During this time of seclusion, one of the first “pandemic pastimes” to emerge was golf, a sport where social distancing comes naturally. And as of 2019, Wiltwyck Golf Club has gone from a private club to welcoming the public.
The Robert Trent Jones-designed course (18 holes, par 72) is considered one of the most challenging places to play golf in the Hudson Valley. The surrounding scenery is stunning, and a full-service pro shop offers lessons for both adults and children. There is also an on-premises restaurant with outdoor seating for those who don’t indulge in the sport.
Wiltwyck is open April through November weather permitting, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Situated on 60 acres of forest, fields, and wetlands, this visitor center, tucked away from view, features nearly two miles of walking trails, a sculpture park showcasing local artisans, a covered picnic pavilion, access to the Esopus Creek, and a fine selection of local books. Three half-mile loop trails beckon exploration, including one that tells the story of the Catskills; another that ends at a picnic area; and a third that meanders along the banks of the Esopus Creek, offering stunning mountain views.
Open year-round, daily: April through mid-December, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 845.688.3369, www.catskillsinterpretivecenter.org
Five eclectic bookstores with an informal atmosphere and friendly proprietors line Main Street in this delightful village in Delaware County. Blenheim Hill Books offers thousands of titles and hosts an annual Festival of Women Writers in September. Creative Corner Books specializes in baking and crafts; Liberty Rock Books, located in a 5,000 sq ft building, includes an art gallery with rotating exhibits. Wm. H. Adams Antiquarian Books has three floors of inventory at all price levels. And Butternut Valley Books will interest the collector and map-lover.
Open year-round (Days and hours vary per shop, so check the website before you go!) , www.hobartbookvillage.com
This 251-acre state park is a gem in our midst, taking walkers under the Mid-Hudson Bridge! The trails wind through picturesque woods and afford wonderful views, particularly in early spring when the foliage doesn’t get in the way. From the parking lot at Johnson-Iorio Park on Haviland Road, you will descend a steep staircase. A detailed map directs you to the yellow, white, and blue trails, all marked by blazes and easy to follow. There are scenic overlooks and incredible ruins reminiscent of the region’s manufacturing past — and you can make a complete circle in a little over an hour.
Open year-round, dawn to dusk.
Joanne Michaels’ guidebooks have been regional best sellers for decades. She has visited hundreds of inns, restaurants, and attractions over the years while researching her guidebook, The Hudson Valley & Catskill Mountains: Only the Best Places, just published in its 11th edition. Her other books include Let’s Take the Kids, Hudson River Towns, Hudson River Valley Farms and Hudson River Journey.