Sometimes the lure of New York City is also its greatest trap -- there's so much to do, see, experience, taste and enjoy that many visitors never get to venture beyond Manhattan (and perhaps another borough or two), let alone escape the city with a drive in the country. With Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut right on your door step there are plenty of temptations just over the borders, but within two hours drive of New York City, there is a multitude of New York state jewels to discover.
Here are three fantastic getaways that will make your New York adventure even more unforgettable.
1. Hudson on Hudson, Columbia County, NY
When you first drive in to the town of Hudson, you could be excused for thinking that you may just drive in one side and drive out the other on your way north along the Hudson River. But once you get out of your car, you'll discover an inviting main street and an antiques and furniture lovers' dream town. This town has experience a complete renaissance over the past decade and emerged as a must visit destination, surrounded by the Hudson Valley's historic mansions. With no fewer than 65 antique shops spread over five historic walking blocks centered around Warren Street, Hudson is just under two hours' drive from New York City taking the New York State Thruway or the slightly more picturesque Taconic Parkway. Alternatively you get there via Amtrak train from New York or Albany. I had to control myself in Hudson City rare bookstore, where historic archaeology books and classic first editions sit side by side an amazing selection of autographed photographs and memorabilia. 20th Century Gallery (www.20thcenturygallery.net) features incredible collectible furniture pieces that will make you wish you'd brought the U-Haul (don't worry, they deliver anywhere), F Collective (www.f-collective.com) has a funky furniture selection, and Hudson Supermarket (www.hudsonsupermarket.com), housed in a former supermarket space, is 7,000 square feet of vendors whose collections span styles and eras from ancient to modern selling everything from furniture, art, clothing, and home accessories to botanical arrangements.
If you manage to get through all the antiquing in a single day, the area is rich in other attractions including the Catskills, thousands of acres of fruit picking farms (depending on the season), the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village (www.mountlebanonshakervillage.org), the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (www.nps.gov/mava), the historic villages of Rhinebeck and Red Hook, Clermont State Historic Site (www.nysparks.state.ny.us), the Mills Mansion (www.staatsburgh.org), the Wilderstein Mansion (www.wilderstein.org), Montgomery Place (www.hudsonriverheritage.org/montgo.html), and Frederick Church's home Olana (www.olana.org).
Hudson features six small scale accommodation options, including the lovingly restored Empire style mid-19th Century Hudson City Bed and Breakfast (www.hudsoncitybnb.com) which offers four guests rooms with rates in season (May through November) priced from $125 to $175 and off season, from $100 to $150 per night. The Union Street Guesthouse (www.unionstreetguesthouse.com) is an elegant 1830 Greek Revival-style home also featuring four guest rooms. Rates start from $100 per night and go up to $400 for a suite during high season. Breakfast isn't served here, but refreshments and afternoon snacks are included.
2. New Paltz, Ulster County, NY
Not too far south, on the west bank down the Hudson River, you'll come across the quaint university town of New Paltz. Located approximately 85 miles from New York City, it is easily do-able as a day trip, but is a great location to spend the weekend at your leisure discovering the area's rich cultural history and natural attractions. New Paltz was home to a small but significant Huguenot community who settled here following religious persecution in France and the Netherlands in 1678. The Huguenot Village of New Paltz, known as Huguenot Street (www.huguenotstreet.org) is in fact the oldest residential street in the U.S. and is remarkably intact. Walking along the shaded street on a spring day is a peaceful and almost spiritual experience as you make your way past a number of uniquely designed homes and public buildings open to the public. Among them are the Jean Hasbrouch House built in 1692, the Bevier-Elting House (1698), DuBois Fort (1705), the graveyard and the French Church (1717). Most buildings were occupied for over 250 years and contain original furnishings and keepsakes on display. The homes are open from May to October for visits, with tours priced between $9 and $12 for adults and $4 to $6 for children aged six to 17 (daily except Wednesdays).
Located a few minutes walk from Historic Huguenot Street is Locust Lawn, the Federal-style mansion of Josiah Hasbrouck and the colonial stone house of Evert Terwilliger, as well as several outbuildings and substantial grounds. The site is open on weekends from June through October with one-hour tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons ($8 adults and $4 for children). From here, you can take a walk along the Wallkill River or make your way back to New Paltz's Main Street for a wide selection of restaurants and eateries.
Shawangunk Mountain is a just west of New Paltz and offers a variety of walking, mountain climbing, rappelling, hiking, swimming lakes and biking opportunities, plus the historic Mohonk Mountain House (www.mohonk.com) sits atop of the Shawangunk ridge with commanding views of the Hudson Valley and beyond. Because of its college-town nature, New Paltz has various accommodation options, including roadside budget chain motels, but there are also a few more enticing places to stay. Le Fevre House Bed and Breakfast (www.lefevrehouse.com) is a Victorian era home with ten guest rooms with names like Clockwork Orange, Purple Rain, Mellow Yellow, Red Hot, and Brown Sugar. All are tastefully decorated with a combination of antique and contemporary furnishings. Room rate range from $165 to $250 plus tax from mid November until the end of April, and $195 to $290 on peak season from May through mid November. Bring your dog for additional $75 per stay. Breakfasts here are an indulgent three-course gourmet affair. Another option is Moondance Ridge (www.moondanceridge.com) with guest rooms decorated in the theme of Hollywood's Golden Era, making your stay interesting as well as fun. Low season rates range from $189 to $279 per night and high season from $209 to $299.
3. North Fork, Suffolk County, NY
Home to antique stores, scenic beaches, fishing, state parks, and, of course, dozens of world-class wineries, it is easy to spend a weekend or longer getting lost in North Fork. A two-hour drive from New York City transports you to a lush, green and romantic slither of Long Island where fruit stand signs vie for attention with the vineyards that line the main thoroughfare. If you're coming for the wines, there are plenty to choose from, with wine cellars to visit and tastings to tempt you. There's a good chance you won't be able to get to all of them, but make sure you don't miss Bedell (www.bedellcellars.com), Osprey's Dominion (www.ospreysdominion.com), Peconic Bay 9 (www.peconicbaywinery.com), Pellegrini (www.pellegrinivineyards.com), and Castello di Borghese (www.castellodiborghese.com). Many of the vineyards offer extensive lawn grounds so you can enjoy your selections under a market umbrella on a warm spring or summer day, while others let you cool down in their cellar tasting areas. At those that don't serve food, you are also encouraged to pack a picnic lunch, spread out a blanket and make yourself comfortable. Tastings are free at some, with a small fee imposed at others.
On spring and summer weekends, you will also find live music and food served with your wines so you can easily spend an afternoon (or two or three) just relaxing in the shade and enjoying the best of Long Island. For a full listing of wineries, links to their websites and a useful touring map visit www.liwines.com. Of course if you'd like to combine your vineyards excursion with arguably some of the north east's finest beaches, you can venture from the North Fork to the South Fork and visit the Hamptons, but just make sure if it is a weekend in summer that you are prepared for some serious traffic delays as you fight for road space among celebrities, wannabe's and locals.
If you'd prefer to drink and not drive, take part in a Vine Time getaway (www.longislandvinetime.com) June 11-14, July 13-16 or August 10-13, 2009. Included in the $659 per person rate is a three night stay in a deluxe room at a local Bed & Breakfast (Acorn Hollow, Homeport, The Morning Glory or The Stirling House); a delicious gourmet full breakfast each morning; dinner for two at a choice of fine area restaurants; a flight of wine and cheese platter at VINe wine bar; Long Island Wine Country winery and vineyards tour for two including wine tastings; winemaker's walks and barrel tastings; a gourmet lunch with wine at one of the wineries; and a full day of transportation for the winery tour in an air conditioned luxury van.
Bed and Breakfasts are plentiful in this area, but always book in advance as most will be booked out, especially during the high season and on weekends. Acorn Hollow (www.acornhollowbandb.com) in Southold has rooms priced from $125-$425 per night including a country breakfast. Homeport (www.homeportbandb.com) in Peconic, with ten vineyards located within a two mile radius is a gorgeous antique filled property set in a lush garden that offer guest rooms with breakfast and free entry to the near by Tasting Room (featuring wines of five different wineries) are priced from $200 to $250 per night with a two night minimum on weekends from May through November, and $150 to $200 per night December through April.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers in our New York State Forum today.