Best of the Hudson Valley 2008


(page 15 of 16)

Kids & Pets

* denotes Readers' Picks


Hikes For Kids

Discovery Quest Trails at Hudson Highlands Nature Museum
A perfect antidote to video games: Take the kiddies on one of four guided hikes around the museum’s grounds. Lasting from 30 minutes to close to two hours, each hike examines a different natural environment (pond, field, woodland, or geological features) and teaches fun facts about topics like tree identification, animal habitat, and rock formations. The terrain ranges from the stroller-easy Field Quest to the moderately challenging Hiking Quest — which will likely leave Mom and Dad more winded than Junior.

Lifeline for At-Risk Kids

Marathon Project
About three years ago, Poughkeepsie resident Susanne O’Neil read about programs in Philadelphia and Los Angeles that use distance running to help steer inner city and other at-risk youth away from drugs, gangs, and other negative behavior. She felt a similar program could work in Dutchess County, and set out to make it happen. Today, the Marathon Project — sponsored by the county’s Council on Addiction Prevention and Education — is training teens in Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and the town of Northeast to complete next month’s Philadelphia Marathon or Half-Marathon. Along with adult mentors, the kids run three times a week for nearly eight months in order to go the distance — building character, confidence, and fitness along the way.

Enchanted Toys
Old-fashioned toys reign supreme at Enchanted Toys (2008 Best Toy Store)

*Baby/Children’s Boutique

Poughkeepsie, Fishkill
This mother-and-daughter-run shop offers both everyday and special-occasion clothes, accessories, and shoes for tots right up to eight-year-old kids. Gift-happy grannies love the signature stickers and colorful wrapping — and moms sure appreciate the store’s play areas, complete with a TV and puzzles.

Event for Kids

Kids Expo
Children rule Poughkeepsie when Kids Expo comes to town. For one weekend each spring, this citywide event offers educational and fun activities for the under-12 set. Some highlights from 2008: the Pee Wee Olympics and a Diaper Derby for the littlest ones; a climbing wall and a meet-and-greet with a K-9 police dog for tweens; and demos by a ventriloquist, a magician, and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for kids of all ages.
845-485-9803, ext. 500;

Charming Children’s Boutique

Cote Famille
For 10 years or so, Paul de Marchin has been dressing stylish adults at his Hudson boutique, de Marchin. About 18 months ago, he opened a shop across the road for their offspring, who can now strut their diminutive stuff in smocked gingham voile blouses, jacquard jackets with polka-dot buttons, or other adorable clothes, many imported from Europe. There are darling duds for newborns, party outfits, and day wear for boys and girls up to about age eight (plus a few well-made wooden toys and puzzles). As for the children who come to the boutique — are they charming? “Definitely,” replies associate Jonathan Osofsky.

Friend to Horses

Equine Rescue, Inc.
Executive Director Lynda Broas cofounded Equine Rescue over 10 years ago with a mission to provide rescue and care for endangered horses. The nonprofit organization, which runs a 56-acre farm in Walden (and another smaller one in Burlingham), offers care, adoption, and rehabilitation services to abused, abandoned, starved, and neglected horses. If the volunteers cannot find new homes for the horses, they’ll give them a home for life at the rescue farm. Fund-raising events — including a horse show scheduled for the middle of October in Montgomery — help raise funds to support the organization.

Best Pet Getaway

Pet-n-Play Luxury Pet Resort
If you are a dog or cat, Newburgh’s Pet-n-Play Pet Resort is your Club Med. Owned and operated by Middlehope Veterinary Hospital, it really is a resort, with amenities that rival most five-star hotels and staffing ratios that are better than top prep schools. So when you’re off skiing in Gstaad, you can leave Rover or Mittens in similarly luxurious accommodations. Consider (and we’re not making any of this up): every suite — yes, suite — contains a custom bed, pillows, comforters, lambskin rug, maid service, twice-daily room service, Web-cam and a flat-screen TV (to watch Animal Planet, presumably). Extras include a salon and spa, Movie Night (someone will lay on the couch with Snowball, eat popcorn, and catch a flick), Rent-a-Grandma (a private half-hour “cuddle session”), storytime, moonlit walks, organized play groups, gourmet snacks... oh, and then there’s the pool. “Most of our clients say, ‘Our pets are staying at better places than we are,’ ” laughs manager Charlene Schaper.

chiuauas are happy at Beacon Barkey's Beacon Barks Day

Pet Event

Beacon Barkery’s Beacon Barks
How do you show pooch how much you care? Whisk him away to Beacon Barks, the Beacon Barkery-sponsored Animal Appreciation Day Parade and Street Festival, where dog lovers unite to show their affection for their beloved canine friends. For the past two years, residents of the Mid-Hudson have flocked to Beacon Barks for a family-friendly day of doggy fun, including a kid’s corner of activities like dog mask painting, as well as dog trainers, vets, vendors, raffles, and pet adoption.


Jonathan Kruk
Cold Spring
Once upon a time, long, long ago, this storyteller began his career amusing his kid brother with bedtime stories. Now entertaining the Hudson Valley (and beyond) with 300 performances and workshops each year, Kruk has certainly made his mark in Valley lore. Aside from his role as the Legend Weekend Storyteller for Historic Hudson Valley every Halloween, Jonathan has appeared on PBS and the Food, History, Outdoor, and National Geographic Channels. Catch one of his interactive performances this season: October’s “Elk Walk” and November’s “The Wandering Leatherman” events take place at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River.

Groovy Blueberry dresses your little flower child

Place to Dress Your Little Flower Child

The Groovy Blueberry
New Paltz
Tie-dyed clothing stands for peace, love, and grooviness, man, so why not let your little ones help spread the message by outfitting them in something colorful from this unabashedly hippie emporium. “Tie-dye will bring you to a happy place,” declare owners Mama and Papa Blueberry, between musings on harmony, rainbows, and such. The soft cotton clothing fits counter-culture kids from newborn to Jerry Garcia-sized. Put a tie-dyed onesie on your infant and you’ve got one groovy baby.

*Toy Store

Enchanted Toys
New Paltz
A self-proclaimed “anti-Toys ‘R’ Us,” parents can feel good about taking their children to this unique store. From old-fashioned jack-in-the-boxes and train sets to hand-carved wooden trinkets and dollhouses, you just might end up playing with these novelties yourself. Little artists-in-training can enjoy coloring with beeswax crayons, and environmentally conscious tots can amuse themselves with playthings made from recycled materials.


Up next: Best of the Hudson Valley winners in "People"


You're reading about the crème de la crème of the Hudson Valley, as voted by your fellow Valleymen and loyal Hudson Valley magazine editors. Do you agree with us? Disagree? Tell us your top picks in the comments box below — and be sure to check out our favorite places, shops, and people throughout the region that we call the best.


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