Though the predominantly rural Upper Hudson Valley isn't as loaded with the must-see attractions that are in the Mid- and Lower Hudson Valley, it is distinguished by two splendid estates and the town of Hudson, the area's best antiquing center, as well as the fascinating traditions of the Shaker community. Just to the south are the charming historic villages of Tivoli and Red Hook, which despite their small size are teeming with shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
Especially For Kids
The Museum of Firefighting in Hudson is sure to delight kids -- especially little boys -- with its fantastic collection of vintage firetrucks. The grounds at the Clermont and Olana estates are great for exploring, with plenty of beautiful trails, and having a picnic.
Wine Trails & Farmers' Markets
The Hudson Valley, the nation's oldest winemaking region, is today home to about three dozen wineries. Though few of the area's wineries yet attained national followings, a number of them offer tours and tastings, and several are blessed with outstandingly scenic locations. If you'd like to visit a winery or two during your stay, all you have to do is follow the trail -- either the Dutchess Wine Trail (tel. 845/266-5372; www.dutchesswinetrail.com), on the east side of the Hudson, or the Shawangunk Wine Trail (tel. 845/255-2494; www.shawangunkwinetrail.com), on the west side of the river. More than a dozen are open to regular visits. The following is merely a selection of my favorites: The Dutchess (Country) Trail consists of Cascade Mountain Winery, 835 Cascade Mountain Rd., Amenia (tel. 845/373-9021), which has a lovely setting and a very nice little restaurant with outdoor seating; Clinton Vineyards, Schultzville Road, Clinton Corners (tel. 845/266-5372), makers of a pretty nice white, a Seyval blanc; Alison Wines & Vineyards, 231 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook (tel. 845/758-6335), the newest of the bunch, with a garden shop, baked goods, and cut-your-own Christmas trees on the premises; and Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, 26 Wing Rd., Millbrook (tel. 800/662-WINE), the largest and certainly one of the best of the lot. Millbrook makes an excellent pinot noir reserve, offers a full tour, features art exhibits and live music on Saturday nights in summer, and is worth the visit for the views over the rolling hillsides and horse farms alone.
Several of the nine family-owned wineries of the Shawangunk Trail, all sandwiched between the Shawangunk Mountains and the Hudson River in Ulster County, are easily visited on a Hudson Valley trip. Among them are Brotherhood Winery, 35 North St., Washingtonville (tel. 845/496-9101), the oldest winery in the United States, in operation since 1839. Though the winery doesn't grow its own grapes (instead importing them from Long Island, the Finger Lakes, and California), its grounds constitute a well-stocked campus, with vast underground vaulted cellars and a whole host of shops and activities on-site. Claiming to be the oldest continuously operating vineyard in the U.S. is Benmarl Wine Company, 156 Highland Ave., Marlboro-on-Hudson (tel. 845/236-4265; www.benmarl.com), a small, family-owned independent with awe-inspiring views from a hilltop location on the west side of the Hudson (between Newburgh and New Paltz). It also offers a small gallery of the owner's illustrations and artwork; Mark Miller was one of the best-known magazine illustrators in the world in the 1940s and 1950s. Schedules for winery tours and tastings vary, though most are open to visitors throughout the Memorial Day-to-Labor Day season; for current hours and events, check the trail websites or pick up a brochure at any tourism information outlet.
Farmers' markets and pick-your-own farm stands are everywhere in this beautiful, bucolic region. There are dozens and dozens, so here are just a few: Mead Orchards and Farm Stand, 25 Scism Rd., Tivoli (9 miles north of Rhinebeck; tel. 914/756-5641), with pick-your-own apples and pumpkins; Greig Farm, Pitcher Lane, Red Hook (tel. 914/758-1234), which has pick-your-own fruits and vegetables and a farm market; Millbrook Farmers' Market, Franklin Avenue at Front Street, Millbrook village, every Saturday from 9am to 1pm; and Tarrytown Farmers' Market, Patriot's Park, Route 9, Tarrytown (tel. 914/923-4837). Ask around and locals will come up with many more.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.