10 Reasons to Drive to the Hudson Valley

By Kathleen Squires  |  April 7, 2014

It’s easy to see why the Hudson Valley is sometimes referred to as “New York’s Napa.” The region, which stretches 150 miles along the Hudson River, is abundant with farmland, wineries and great chefs. There’s even a branch of the Culinary Institute of America in the area. For city dwellers, it’s an accessible and attractive escape; let’s face it - the Union Square Greenmarket and foraging in Central Park only go so far in getting close to nature. These 10 stops are especially worth leaving town for.

  • The Culinary Institute of America

    Discover the next Grant Achatz on campus at this renowned culinary school. Here, visitors can take a tour before dining at one of its five restaurants, including Bocuse, which opened last year. Another reason to go right now: the exhibit of legendary food writer Craig Claiborne’s collection of handwritten recipes from world-famous chefs, such as Michel Guerard and Zarela Martinez.

    1946 Campus Dr., Hyde Park; 845-452-9600

  • Madava Farms

    Did you know that New York state has the highest percentage of maple-tree density in the world? The folks who make Crown Maple Syrup do, which is why they take advantage of 800 acres of the trees to make a super-high-grade maple syrup that's good enough for the kitchen at Per Se. The facility is open for tours and tastings on weekends, and a chef’s garden supplies the on-site The Farm Stand Café.

    47 McCourt Rd., Dover Plains; 845-877-0640

  • The Bedford Post Inn

    This charming stay first drew attention for its famous owners: Richard Gere and Carey Lowell. Now it has a celebrity chef on board too. In May, the in-house restaurant will transform into Michael White’s Campagna, a seasonal Italian spot with an outdoor grill. PJ Calapa of White’s Ai Fiori will be the executive chef.

    954 Old Post Rd., Bedford; 914-234-7800

  • Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

    Agritourists can’t resist spending the day at this former Rockefeller estate turned working farm. Visitors can tour the grounds and get up close with the pigs, chickens and sheep who call it home and also take home fresh produce from the property’s farmer's market. The region's ultimate farm-to-table restaurant - Dan Barber’s Blue Hill - is also on-site, though if you aren't up for one of the restaurant's tasting menus (which start at $148), a small cafe sells salads, sandwiches and baked goods created with the same care. 

    630 Bedford Rd., Pocantico Hills; 914-366-6200

  • Rhinebeck Farmers' Market

    Selling the bounty of the Valley, one of the area’s best farmer's markets celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Forty vendors proffer everything from produce to pheasant to artisanal honey. The market also is a go-to spot for entertainment, with chef demos, tastings and live music. Outdoor market is open every Sunday from Mother's Day through Thanksgiving, from 10 AM to 2 PM. 

    61 E. Market St., Rhinebeck 

  • Mill House Brewing Company

    Just open since the fall of  2013, this craft brewery and restaurant has already won a People’s Choice Award at the Hudson Valley Brew festival in November. Their stellar selection of brews includes the hearty Velvet Panda stout and the aged-in-oak Kilt Spinner. Beer-friendly bites, such as poutine and Buffalo fried oysters, help soak up the suds.

    289 Mill St., Poughkeepsie; 845-485-2739

  • Fish & Game

    Chef Zak Pelaccio left the hustle and bustle of NYC to open this new restaurant in the river town of Hudson. Set in a former blacksmith shop, the menu changes weekly depending on the bounty of the surrounding land - right now, he's serving a $75 tasting menu (no substitutions) Thursday through Sunday. Two open hearths in the dining room are used for spit-roasting meat, something Pelaccio perfected during his days at Manhattan's pioneering Fatty Cue.

    13 S. Third St., Hudson; 518-822-1500

  • Winery Trails

    Hudson Valley is home to some of the country’s oldest wineries. Even better, the area has three wine trails open for oenophile exploration. The Dutchess Trail includes the popular Millbrook Winery, which runs an annual “vine to wine boot camp”; the 14 wineries of the Shawangunk Trail include the “gravity winery” Stoutridge Vineyard, where no pumps are used; and the Hudson Berkshire trail is where the Hudson-Chatham Winery produces signature blends such as Seyval Blanc. A fourth wine trail is under development and set to debut in the summer. 

  • Credit: Courtesy of Tuthilltown Spirits

    Tuthilltown Spirits

    Named “best artisan distiller” by the American Distilling Institute, Tuthilltown Spirits is home to New York’s first farm distillery tasting room since Prohibition. Their flagship product is Hudson Whiskey, but they also make vodka, bitters, gin and cassis liqueur. Tours are offered on weekends, and mixology enthusiasts can also buy souvenirs such as barrel-aged cocktail kits at the distillery’s shop.

    14 Gristmill Ln., Gardiner; 845-633-8734

  • Hudson Chocolates

    Home of caviar and black-truffle candy bars, this Poughkeepsie shop from pastry chef Francisco Migoya (formerly of The French Laundry) sells confections in a variety of eye-opening flavors and presentations. The “ring bar,” made with actual donuts, is reason alone to leave the Cronut lines to the big city.

    211 Cottage St., Poughkeepsie; 845-471-7626