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20 Activities and Classes to Learn Something New in the Hudson Valley

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Clay Art Center | Photo courtesy of Clay Art Center

Whether you try pottery or attend a cooking workshop, you’ll love learning something new at these Hudson Valley classes.

Explore the region by trying something new and different. Always wanted to be a better cook, write a memoir, get a tarot reading, brew some beer? We’ve got you covered. Here are a variety of classes and activities guaranteed to spark your curiosity and creativity.

Textile Arts

If you can drag yourself away from the shops, galleries, and cafes on Warren Street in Hudson, Make Workshop stands ready to teach you all kinds of crafts. Founder Diana Rupp offers classes in making chic, minimalist clothes; quilting; weaving; embroidery; and the currently way-cool practice of visible Japanese mending. She’ll soon have basket-weaving and sandal-making, too. 347.529.5627;
makeworkshop.com

Textile Arts classes

Photo courtesy of Make Workshop

Comedy

Whether you aspire to bring the house down at open-mic night or just want to burnish your cocktail-party banter, Beacon’s Serious Comedy Theatre can help. “As we emerge from the pandemic bubble, even basic social and work interactions feel a bit foreign and clunky,” observes Chris Fontakis, artistic director of the studio. Honing your sense of humor in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere is pure fun, plus it makes IRL interactions that much easier. Improv or stand-up sessions run for six weekly three-hour sessions. 845.202.3145; seriouscomedytheatre.com

Cooking & Baking

Sick of sheet-pan chicken? We are, too. If you’re ready to brush up on your kitchen skills and expand your recipe repertoire, head straight to the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. For foodies who aren’t pursuing a degree, there are classes in everything from Plant-Powered Cooking (a week-long boot camp) to single-day, five-hour sessions in artisan bread or cake decorating. 800.888.7850; register.culinary.edu

Culinary Institute of America

Courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America

Drawing & Painting

Even during bleak midwinter days, the Hudson Valley remains beautiful, inspiring many to pick up sketchpad or paint brush. The Wallkill River School, located in a charming old brick building in Montgomery, can train the eye and hand with artist-led workshops in pastel, oil, watercolor, drawing, and painting on porcelain. “Art is meant to be shared and to communicate with people around you,” says Executive Director Sarah Pierson, “and taking classes is a way to meet kindred spirits and learn from others. Peer-to-peer is as important as what you learn from instructor.” 845.457ARTS; wallkillriverschool.com/events/category/classes

Drawing & Painting classes

Painting by William Noonan | Photo courtesy of The Wallkill River School

Woodworking

Imagine your own two hands creating a Shaker box, an Adirondack chair, or even a guitar. It can happen with the woodworking classes at Kingston’s Hudson River Maritime Museum (HRMM). The product of your labors is just one of the payoffs. “Learning how to do woodwork is an opportunity to reconnect with an essential aspect of our humanness. Modern society offers little opportunity to engage in producing something from concept to reality using the totality of our mental and physical faculties,” says Michael Puryear, who created the introduction to woodworking series. There’s also a three-day ukulele workshop, a week-long kayak-building course and much more. 845.338.0071; hrmm.org

Woodworking classes

Photo courtesy of Hudson River Maritime Museum

Aerial Arts

Ready for an adrenaline rush? At Chester’s Flexibility in Flight, you can live out your Cirque De Soleil dreams by learning aerial silks, hoops, and hammocks. As the studio’s name suggests, this practice will keep you limber and build strength, says owner Terra Meierdierck-Miller. But it’s also pure, giddy fun and very empowering, say the students. Classes can be purchased singly or in a series of five. 845.545.5050; flexibilityinflight.com

Take a Scenic Skyride

For nature-lovers, here’s a great way to spend an outdoorsy day. Schedule a scenic skyride for this summer with a chair lift ride up all 3,200 feet of Hunter Mountain (approximately $15 per person). Take in the jaw-dropping view of New England from the summit and then hike down a trail for a stunning and aerobically energizing outing. huntermtn.com

Share a Cuppa

Indulge your inner Anglophile with High Tea at Caramoor (pinkies up are optional, but reservations required; $45 per person) in Katonah. You’ll enjoy a pot of Earl Grey or other varieties of tea, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, lemon bars, scones, and more. Also included is access to select rooms of the swanky, Mediterranean-style Rosen House and the opportunity to stroll the lush gardens. caramoor.org/events

Build a Bouquet 

Cold Spring’s Parcel Flower Co. offers amazing floral design workshops (you will get to leave with your handiwork; classes range from $45 to $150). Owner Marcella Broe says the shop hosts seasonal, outdoor markets with vendors and programs to appeal to nature- and garden-lovers. theparcelflower.co

Courtesy of the Parcel Flower Co.

Printmaking

It’s a bit off-the-beaten path as artforms go, but printmaking quickly yields impressive results for first-timers. The Woodstock School of Art offers silk-screening, aquatint, monoprint, woodcut, and more. For those who prefer at-home learning, there’s an upcoming live online course in monoprints and monotypes (think of this as printmaking without the press, done at your desk or kitchen counter), which will run for four sessions. 845.679.2388; woodstockschoolofart.org

Cheese Pairing

If you love cheese (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then we recommend learning more about it. Now that we’re entertaining again—it’s time to up your game. Pleasantville’s Second Mouse Cheese hosts short and sweet—or savory—90-minute workshops that focus on cheese education, unexpected pairings, and more. Says owner Ivy Ronquillo, “as the pandemic eases up, we want to be social in a safe way and we want adventure. So cheese and wine? Or beer? Or chocolate? Hell, yeah!” 914.579.2909; secondmousecheese.com

Second Mouse Cheese

Photo courtesy Second Mouse Cheese

Craft a Memoir

We all have stories to tell—about life, love, travel—and secrets you’ve never shared (or at least not yet). Shape those experiences into compelling prose by signing up for a Zoom memoir-writing course at Hudson Valley Writers’ Center. Susan Hodara, co-author of the collaborative memoir Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance With Our Mothers, teaches a 7-week session for $375. writerscenter.org/calendar

Organize Your Life

How cool would it be to have someone declutter areas in your home that drive you positively nuts? The organizing service Orderly will do just that. Says founder and lead organizer Eva Goodman, “An organizing session is a gift that keeps on giving. It helps create more spaciousness, no matter where you live or what you own.” Virtual organizing sessions start at $150; in-home visits are $350 and up. hello@orderly.com

Try a Tarot Reading

People drive for hours to consult with Martha and her cards in Wappingers Falls. “Using Angel Tarot cards, I ask our Spirit Guides and Guardian Angels to work with us. They are solution oriented, empowering, uplifting, and fun!” she says. Readings are available by Zoom, phone, and in person; $75 for 30 minutes and $125 for an hour. marthastarot.com

De-Stress in a Salt Cave

Did you know there are 14 tons of Himalayan salt embedded in a spa cave in Poughkeepsie? You’ll find it at the Hudson Valley Healing Center, bringing a practice called halotherapy to our area. Beyond a stunning setting, you will enjoy a medical-grade salt treatment to reduce inflammation and open up breathing passages. $40 for 45 min. hudsonvalleyhealingcenter.com

Explore Some Ruins

Maybe you’ve glimpsed that gorgeous, crumbling brick castle in the Hudson River while zooming up Route 9 between Cold Spring and Beacon. That’s Bannerman’s Island, and you can visit via a half-hour boat ride. Tour the fairytale setting to the sound of live music, or go for a summer film night. Tickets are $40 per person and pure magic either way. bannermancastle.org/tours-events

Learn to Cook Chinese Takeout

Queens native Suzanne Parker, a foodie, author, and restaurant critic, knows a thing or two about cooking. She also knows that it’s hard to find authentic Chinese food in the Hudson Valley. If you’re craving the “real deal,” as she calls it, why not learn how to whip it up yourself? Take a 3-to 4-hour class in Parker’s Woodstock kitchen ($150 for one, $250 for a couple), and you’ll come away ready to make mapo tofu, pepper steak, and shrimp in lobster sauce. cookskillsny.com/classes

Cookskills

Chinese Takeout from Cookskills Courtesy of Carlo/ Adobe Stock

Brew Beer

If you love Guinness or IPAs, how about a half-day learning the art and science of beer-making? Sign up for a summertime session at Clover Brooke Farm in Hyde Park. There’s class time, plus touring the hop field and learning about the history of hops in the Hudson Valley. If time allows, you’ll get to meet the llamas and alpacas that live at the farm. $60 per person, including a growler of beer. cloverbrookefarm.com

Pottery

Listen to the clay experts at Port Chester’s Clay Art Center talk, and you’ll realize that pottery has become the new mindfulness—it combines meditative aspects with the creative expression of working with ones’ hands. The large facility hosts five-to-seven week-long introductory classes (students make bowls, mugs, and vases), super-popular one-day Raku intensives (a crackly glaze technique), and Maker Nights for having fun and getting messy at the potter’s wheel. 914.937.2047; clayartcenter.org

Clay Art Center

Photo courtesy of Clay Art Center

Organic Beekeeping

Winter isn’t exactly bee season, but to Grai St. Clair Rice, a partner in Honeybees Live, “it’s life-affirming to think of things blooming and learn about these amazing creatures when there’s snow on the ground.” With Chris Harp, she will be teaching weekend-long classes on February 26–27 and March 5–6 in Kingston. The courses immerse students in equipment intel, site selection, and how to raise these incredible insects and harvest their delicious honey. 646.522.7656; honeybeelives.org

Organic Beekeeping

Photo by Adobe Stock


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