Best of the Hudson Valley 2008
(page 9 of 16)
* denotes Readers' Picks
Rocking Chair Front Porch
The Winter Clove Inn
This classic mountain getaway offers a relaxing, friendly feel that’s hard to come across these days. You’ll find no phones or TVs in the 49 guest rooms; with 300 acres to enjoy, most guests prefer to just soak up the fresh air as they lazily sway back and forth in one of the 12 comfortable rocking chairs on the front porch. “Until you come up here, you forget how everybody walks around with a cell phone attached to their head all the time,” says Lenore Whitcomb, who owns the inn with her husband Bud. But there are plenty of activities if you want them, including an indoor pool for the kids, thousands of acres of hiking in the adjacent Catskill Park, and nearby antiquing. “We’re not a cookie-cutter, chain hotel. That’s why people like it here,” adds Whitcomb.
B is for beds: The four guest rooms are lovingly furnished in period Colonial style, befitting a home built when Thomas Jefferson was president. B is for breakfast: Coproprietor Carmela Turcos’ crème brulée French toast, pumpkin pancakes, specialty scones, and other baked goods provide the morning fuel for your day trips to nearby attractions like West Point, Bear Mountain, Storm King Art Center — or the shops at Woodbury Commons.
Cheap Date Night
$1 and $2 Movies at Silver Cinema South Hills
Looking for love without breaking the bank? If the thought of spending 10 bucks apiece for a flick that may or may not be worth your while has you feeling a little reluctant, then zoom on over to Silver Cinema in the South Hills Mall, where you can impress her (or him) with your savvy economic sense. On Tuesdays, you can enjoy 10 movies (that’s just $1 each) for the price of one at most other theaters in the area. Can’t make it Tuesday? Every other day is just $2. You can’t rent a movie for less than that.
Antidote to Boring Old Blockbusters
Don’t expect to catch the latest romantic comedy on these big screens. For more than 35 years, Upstate Films has provided sophisticated movie buffs with a venue for alternative cinema. Showings are held seven days a week (adding up to over 700 screenings per year) and feature an eclectic range of independent, international, documentary, animation, experimental, classic, and silent films.
Yummies Ice Cream & Mini Golf Café
Fore! This prime putt-putt destination provides Valley residents and tourists alike with the ultimate way to enjoy a fun, active afternoon with friends and family. The challenging course, which was codesigned by owner Anne Spero three years ago, features multiple water hazards, a 10-foot waterfall, and a jump hole. The best part: After an invigorating 18-hole round of mini golf, you can grab a cone of homemade ice cream — or one of their famed hamburgers — while gloating over your hole-in-one.
*Ski Area (tie)
Anxious cliff-huckers and bunny-slopers alike will find solace at Hunter Mountain, which still reigns supreme as the “Snowmaking Capital of the World.” Locals and tourists flock to this 240-acre resort to revel in their top-notch trails (including three distinct ski areas) and amenities, such as lessons, a health spa, restaurants, and more.
“Forever Wild” Belleayre promises its guests a new adventure on every visit. With tons of trails to master, plenty of eateries and shops, and five-star accommodations, the sky’s the limit at this premier Greene County ski destination.
Harlem Valley Rail Trail
Amenia to Copake Falls
Divided into two sections, the 15 miles of paved trail winds through woods, past wetlands and farms, and over bridges, offering spectacular views of the Catskill Mountains and Taconic hills. Best of all, it’s flat — so even if you haven’t been on a bike since grade school, you can enjoy this ride.
With a dedicated group of volunteers, as well as an enthusiastic list of regular subscribers (about 1,500 at last count), this nonprofit troupe has been mounting productions of blockbuster musicals as well as serious dramas for 51 years. Next month, catch Blood Brothers, a British musical about twin brothers separated at birth and raised at opposite ends of the social spectrum.
Dutchess County Fair
The second largest county fair in the state, this old-time August event (more than 160 fairs have been held over the years) combines traditional agricultural competitions with live concerts (the Beach Boys played this year), a carnival midway, and fried dough to die for.
McCann Memorial Golf Course
No matter what the season or the weather, duffers of all abilities crowd this popular public course. With reduced rates for Poughkeepsie city and town residents as well as senior citizens, practicing your tee shot is both easy and affordable.
Mohonk Mountain House
One of America’s oldest family-owned resorts, this 1869 Victorian castle (which has received dozens of accolades from near and far) offers it all — golf, tennis, skiing, and other seasonal outdoor sports; miles of hiking trails; a new spa; and a first-rate kitchen — not to mention its spectacular location atop the Shawangunk Ridge. With special activities for kids and families, year-round theme weekends (this month: Halloween Haunts and Happenings), and the Smiley family as your gracious hosts, it’s impossible not to have a great weekend here.
*Hudson River Cruise (tie)
River Rose Tours & Cruises
Two great boats, two unique cruise experiences. The River Rose, an authentic New Orleans paddle-wheeler, departs from Newburgh and heads south toward West Point. Captain John “Duke” Panzella provides narrated sightseeing tours, as well as brunch and dinner cruise options (the next dinner outing is Oct. 7).
The Rip Van Winkle
In business for more than 20 years, the Rip Van Winkle sets sail from the Kingston Rondout and ferries passengers past the lighthouses, vineyards, and Gilded Age mansions in northern Dutchess and Ulster counties.
*Indoor Venue for Plays and Concerts
Built in 1869, this beautiful Valley landmark (with its famous Wurlitzer pipe organ) has hosted performers as diverse as Mark Twain, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bob Dylan. This season’s lineup is equally eclectic, with headliners including jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, comic talent David Sedaris, and Motown icons the Temptations.
Created from the shell of a Nabisco box factory, this enormous facility — 240,000 square feet in all — houses contemporary art created in the 1960s and 1970s by two dozen groundbreaking artists — from Richard Serra (don’t miss his huge torqued sculptures) and Dan Flavin to Andy Warhol.
Hudson Valley Philharmonic
Seventy-six years young, the HVP heads up the Valley’s classical music scene with a five-concert schedule of performances each season. Appearing with guest artists — who in past years have ranged from superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma to B-52s vocalist Kate Pierson — is part of their stock in trade. Catch renowned pianist Olga Kern playing Rachmaninoff with the orchestra on Oct. 4.
*Outdoor Venue for Plays and Concerts (tie)
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
The new concert pavilion at Bethel Woods, the site of the Woodstock festival, has hosted star turns this season by everyone from Rascal Flatts, to the Jonas Brothers, to the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Boscobel House & Gardens
Our readers’ choice of Boscobel is actually a tip of the hat to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, whose innovative productions of the Bard’s plays are performed on Boscobel’s expansive lawn, making dramatic use of the Hudson River as a backdrop.
The Museum at Bethel Woods
Baby boomers, rejoice! Visiting the Museum at Bethel Woods — a multimedia extravaganza that celebrates the 1960s in general, and the ’69 Woodstock Festival in particular — is akin to reliving your childhood/teenage years all over again. From Vietnam and racial tensions to moon shots, transistor radios, and Twiggy, these in-depth exhibits explore the tumultuous decade in full and fascinating detail. The Woodstock section includes festival footage broadcast in a state-of-the-art theater with high-definition projection and multi-channel sound (so the younger generation can appreciate it, too). Far out, man!
New Homegrown Art Movement
Wallkill River School
Based in Orange County, this artists’ cooperative has a mission of which the Hudson River School painters would have been proud. They work to promote local artists and help preserve open space by offering outdoor painting workshops at small farms and other scenic locales. Their Montgomery gallery does double duty as an art school, and members of the group have even published Orange County Bounty, a cookbook of recipes using foods grown by local farmers (available through their Web site).
The jewel of the Dutchess County Parks System, Bowdoin is an all-purpose playground for outdoor enthusiasts — with simply stunning views of the Hudson. Visitors can run or hike on the woodland trails, observe frogs in the pond, frolic on the swings, hold a picnic in the pavilion, or camp overnight in the lodge. The recently built bandshell hosts summer concerts and fireworks, and kids love to cool off with the famous water-sprinkling turtles.
Scenic Camping Spot
The largest campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve, this site has two things going for it: beauty and history. A short walk from the lake takes you to the spot where the renowned Catskill Mountain House once stood; they say you can see five states from this promontory. The famous Kaaterskill Falls, a favorite subject of the Hudson River School painters, is also nearby. And Alligator Rock — a pair of boulders positioned in such a way that they resemble a giant jaw lined with pointy “teeth” — has been attracting campers for over 100 years.
New Hiking Trail
Dutchess Rail Trail
Currently under construction, this new trail will extend about 12 miles, from Hopewell Junction to the city of Poughkeepsie. In some sections of the route, the 10-foot-wide paved pathway will run alongside a softer surface just right for walkers, runners, and even horseback riders. Best of all, 80 percent of the funding for the project is being paid using federal — not county — tax dollars.
*Place for a Picnic
The lawn in front of this Gilded Age manse — with its beautifully manicured grass, mature trees, and unparalleled view of the Hudson — practically begs you to bring a picnic basket and relax for a spell. Afterward, don’t miss the site’s ornate Italian Gardens and (if you’ve got the energy) the hiking trail that runs alongside the river.
*Place for a Wedding
Barely two years old, this waterfront venue has already won your vote as the spot to host a lavish do. With its jaw-dropping views of the river and Mid-Hudson Bridge, indoor and outdoor ballrooms, and a package deal that includes spending your wedding night in the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel’s Honeymoon Suite, it’s easy to see why.
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.