Fall in Rhinebeck, Hudson Valley. Photo: from Instagram user @jennkravic
No one is more industrious than a Hudson Valley maker in autumn, whether farmer, antiques dealer, painter, innkeeper, chef or other, all are eager to share the “fruits” of their labor. Yes, summer has passed, but this is prime time for the Hudson Valley.
Occupying a vast swath of New York State -- 7,728 square miles of the land hugging both sides of the Hudson River from Westchester County to Albany -- the Hudson Valley inhabits even more far-flung conceptual space. For some, it means local foods and bounteous vineyards, orchards, farms — Millbrook Winery, Fishkill Farms, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to name only a few. For others, history with its Gilded Age castles, for example, Olana, FDR’s Springwood, and Van Cortlandt Manor. Still more seek bohemian, progressive arts and culture, such as Storm King Art Center, Dia: Beacon, Helsinki Hudson, The Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College. A large contingent associate it with nature and outdoor adventures/experiences, from The Walk over the Hudson to The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome and the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center, as a beginning. And for many, it stands for contemplation, respite, and escape, The Omega Institute being but one example.
Apples are in season at Fishkill Farms. Photo: Fishkill Farms
This is the time and place to pick apples, pumpkins, and gourds from hard-working farmers, to discover the restaurants being run by alums of the Hudson Valley’s CIA (The Culinary Institute of America) or other local chefs, and to have a quick escape now that Labor Day has passed.
Hudson Valley history is the history of our country. It digs deep, goes back, way back, to when explorers discovered and disrupted the native settlers as Henry Hudson tried to find a shortcut to China and tripped over New York instead, circa 1609. And that time Peter Stuyvesant handed over New Amsterdam to the English with nary a whimper in 1664; when French Hugenots planted the first wine vines in New Paltz in 1677; when General Washington set up shop in Newburgh in 1782; the Hudson River School of Art was founded in 1825; Sara Roosevelt gave birth to FDR in 1882 in Hyde Park, and the Appalachian Trail opened in Bear Mountain State Park in 1923. Creative industriousness are hallmarks of Hudson Valley culture and community.
Constitution March Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Photo: from Instagram user @se_waitkins
Though the Hudson Valley encompasses the history and culture of America, it is refreshingly confident enough of its own merits and accomplishments not to bother trying to draw attention to itself. The Hudson Valley is like your favorite Grandfather, with secrets he’s dying to spill, adventures he’s hatching just for the two of you and pockets full of goodies, and doo-dads you didn’t know how much you wanted, nay, needed in your life until you set eyes on them.
And there’s no better time to take a drive through the Valley and soak up the full vibe than in the fall; leaves will be turning, the air will be crisping up just enough to merit a sassy new scarf, like frittelli & Lockwood’s handwoven Bamboo one, and almost cold enough for It’s a Yummy’s Merino Wool throw.
I ❤ NY's current Fall Foliage Report. Map: I ❤ NY
While all of the Hudson Valley is ripe for exploring, we want to highlight the sweet spot from Beacon to Hudson, east of the river. It’s an easy train ride to both cities, but motoring up or over will give you greater freedom of movement.
Beacon is like a mini-Brooklyn, with hip shops, thoughtful farm-to-table dining and an extraordinarily active arts community. Plus Mt. Beacon, the highest summit in the entire Hudson Valley. Hudson feels just slightly more grown up and sophisticated than Beacon; like a mini-San Francisco, with elegant stores, cutting edge restaurants and, yes, an extraordinarily active arts community.
While clattering around the twin cities of the Valley could be a worthwhile trip in and of itself, the farmland in between beckons. This fall, there are several events worth a gander. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, starting September 28th at Van Cortland Manor, Dutch Heritage Festival in Rhinebeck October 5th - 7th, Hawthorne Valley Fall Festival in Ghent on October 7th, plus tons of grape-stomping, apple-picking, donut-eating, good old-fashioned fun-loving regional festivals.
New York Makers' 2017 visit to The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Van Cortland Manor. Buy tickets here. This event typically sells out every year!
Grab your friends and family and go explore.
Next up: the New York Makers editors share intel on their favorite Hudson Valley topics.