10 Top Towns

Settled by the Dutch, Quakers, or Huguenots, nestled in the Catskills or on the river’s banks — these 10 Valley communities all have one thing in common: They’re great places to call home


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red hookThe laid-back village of Red Hook is home to the Merritt Bookstore Vol. II, as well as several fine restaurants

Photograph by Michael Coddington

Dutchess County

Red Hook

Until the 1800s, the Village of Red Hook was called Hardscrabble; one surmises it was not exactly Xanadu West. Certainly there was not much about Hardscrabble that suggested a metamorphosis into such a charming little village.

Red Hook is both a Town and a Village, with the former also comprising a number of smaller hamlets, among them Tivoli; Barrytown, site of the Unification Theological Seminary; and Annandale-on-Hudson, the home of Bard College (and the place Steely Dan claims they will never go back to in their hit “My Old School”).

With the studious tone set by its institutions of higher learning, Red Hook is renowned for its academics — its public school system is arguably one of the best in the Hudson Valley. The schools include “a music department that is second-to-none, and performing arts activities that rival much larger districts,” says David Temple, a classical guitarist who has lived in Red Hook for eight years. The high school is one of only a handful in the Hudson Valley to offer an International Baccalaureate diploma.

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