Best of Hudson Valley 2010

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catamount adventure parkBalancing act: Test your skill — and nerve — at Catamount Adventure Park


Way to Get Roped Into the Great Outdoors
Catamount Adventure Park

Hillsdale, NY/South Egremont, MA
“This is not your average walk in the park,” says Rick Edwards, marketing director of Catamount Adventure Park. We’ll say. During the off-season, this popular ski mountain, which straddles the border of New York and Massachusetts, transforms into a one-of-a-kind, treetop test of will. With eight courses of varying difficulty (marked, like ski trails, from yellow up to double black), enthusiasts can tackle a range of challenges from climbing rope ladders to crossing bridges to cruising on ziplines. Some of the most difficult: walking on rotating and swinging logs (pictured above) and climbing a vertical rope ladder that twists as you ascend. While every course includes ziplines, “they are not the primary feature at this park,” says Edwards, who adds that Catamount is New England’s largest high-ropes aerial forest adventure. And let’s not forget the site’s commitment to going green. “Our course is 100 percent naturally built-in trees, we don’t use telephone polls,” says Edwards. The park is open on weekends (and Columbus Day) through the end of this month. $46 for adults for three-and-a-half hours; $35 for children ages 10-11; $29 for ages 8-9. Adds Edwards: “In fall, the views really open up, too.” • 518-325-3200;

Alternative to Broadway
Mac-Haydn Theatre

The Great American Musical lives — and delights audiences of all ages — at the charming, comfy Mac-Haydn Theatre. Its summertime repertoire — this season’s shows included Chicago, Bye-Bye Birdie, and Damn Yankees — is staged in an intimate 350-seat theater in the round, with top-notch actors (Broadway’s Nathan Lane is just one well-known alumnus), costumes, and stage design. Even kids can get into the act — they’re sure to be bitten by the musical bug during Mac-Haydn’s Children’s Theater shows; a summer kids’ musical theater workshop is also offered for budding thespians. • 518-392-9292;

Hipster Hangout
The Moviehouse

Whether all you hipsters out there prefer to spend your Saturday nights gazing at art with a good cuppa’ joe (black, of course) or catching the latest indie flick, this cinema in artsy Millerton is your kind of scene. They feature a range of independent and foreign films, but also the occasional blockbuster. Upstairs, you’ll find a small café and an art gallery. And for hipsters on a budget, Tuesdays are discount nights. • 518-789-3408;

New Restaurant Bar
The Elephant Bar at Schlesinger’s Steak House

New Windsor
You’ve already been there for a good steak or fine cigar, now head to Schlesinger’s Steak House’s newest addition for an after-work cordial or cocktails with friends. The laid-back bar is tastefully decked out with elephant-themed décor and comes to life after dark, catering to a mature crowd that likes to live it up on the dance floor. In the warmer months, the party extends to two outdoor patios with live entertainment. • 845-561-1762;

New Music Venue (tie)
Club Helsinki

This new hot spot will appeal to a variety of arts enthusiasts, but it is a music-lovers dream. Originally located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the club moved to an 1800s industrial complex in Hudson earlier this year. With two performance spaces and recording facilities, Helsinki already offers more than many other venues in the area — but it doesn’t end there. The building also houses a gallery space, green rooms with lounges, a restaurant, bar, and other amenities. • 518-828-4800;
The Falcon
Dubbed “an unlikely haven for jazz” by the New York Times, this Ulster County space is a rare gem. Between the lineup of talented musicians, the delicious dinners (some made with local produce), and gorgeous waterfall views surrounding the place, what’s not to love? Not to mention that, rather than charging for admission, they accept donations — and all proceeds are given to the performers. • 845-236-7970;

Place to Learn Sailing
Chelsea Yacht Club

On the Hudson, it seems you can’t swing a life preserver without hitting a watercraft of some sort; to say boating is a part of river life is an understatement. The Valley’s most famous waterway sports a plethora of sailing organizations, with this mid-Valley club going full speed ahead. Docked at Wappingers Falls, the Chelsea Yacht Club offers activities for both old salts and greenhorns: racing, adult sailing instruction and youth programs, educational seminars (with topics ranging from knot-tying to tide navigation), first aid and CPR instruction, and even cruises on New York’s mecca of maritime fun — Long Island Sound. •

New Way to Promote the Local Food Movement
Columbia County Bounty

It’s easy to overlook our region’s many farm stands and CSAs for the big-box shops and supermarkets. Columbia County Bounty aims to change that. Established in 2007, its mission is simple: to bridge the gap between local farms, culinary businesses, and consumers for a more sustainable Valley. The organization has found great success with regular food and wine tastings, cooking classes, and annual festivals, like the Taste of Columbia County, Farm-to-Chef Tour, and Columbia-Greene Chili Cook-Off and Riverfront Fair (where masters of the spicy stew from both counties face off). Need to find a market near you? The Bounty’s Web site lists more than 90 participating businesses in its database. • 518-392-9696;

New Hotel
Glenmere Mansion

After a three-and-a-half year (and multimillion dollar) makeover, Glenmere — a 1911 Italian-style villa designed by famed architects Carrere and Hastings — has been completely restored, from the grand marble staircases and columned porticos to the wrought iron railings. The 35-room mansion is now a luxury boutique hotel and fine-dining restaurant. Guests at the inn sleep in antiques-laden rooms decorated with original works of modern art. • 845-469-1900;

New Way to Be Part of the Local Food Movement
Hudson Valley Food for Thought

You know that buying local is the way to go; now go out and do it! Hudson Valley Food for Thought, a small, homegrown group of food appreciators from around the Valley and New York City, began in early 2009 on as a culinary concept. Current organizer Betsy Ho of Beacon took the reins last fall; now, with over 110 locavores in the group, HVFFT tours the Valley, attending monthly chat-n-chews and visiting farmers’ markets, CSAs, community potlucks, and food festivals. •

appalachian trail stepsStep class: The newly installed stone steps on the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain

Photograph courtesy of New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

Park Improvement
Appalachian Trail Steps at Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain
Originally constructed in 1923, the section of the Appalachian trail that ascends the slope of Bear Mountain is traversed by more than 100,000 day- and through-hikers each year. Erosion brought on by all these visitors has required that the trail be rebuilt numerous times over the decades. But last June, the Bear Mountain Trails Project officially unveiled the first section of the path’s latest (and hopefully last) renovation: 800 hand-hewn granite steps, fashioned from stone found on the mountain, now lead hikers up (or down) the famous slope. More than 700 trail-building volunteers spent four years positioning the steps — each of which weighs about 1,000 pounds — without the use of motorized equipment. Work on the trail’s refurbishment is slated to continue through 2013. • 201-512-9348;

the white whale by zack stellaMini masterpiece: Zack Stella’s The White Whale, the first-place winner of HV Gallery’s Smallest Stretched Canvas Painting competition

Creative Arts Contests
The Hudson Valley Gallery

It’s hard to imagine that you could squeeze a whole lot of art onto a one-by-two-inch canvas. But Paul Gould, owner of the Hudson Valley Gallery and sponsor of this year’s third annual World’s Smallest Stretched Canvas Painting competition, insists it can be done — and done well. “You’d be surprised at the subject matter that you can get on there,” says Gould. “Last year’s winner painted a whole scene with a whaling ship and a whale jumping out of the water. It was great.” There were about 150 entries in a recent contest, and “it is definitely gaining in popularity each year,” says Gould. While he admits that many artists are initially “intimidated” by the miniature size of the canvas, “they end up being motivated by the challenge. I know one artist who was really down on his art — he had stopped painting — but this revived him.” Gould knows a thing or two about staying motivated: This year he celebrates his 50th anniversary as a painter with an exhibit, opening October 9, at the gallery. Gould, who grew up in the biz (his father John was a successful illustrator for pulp magazines in the ’20s and ’30s and founded the Bethlehem Art Gallery in Salisbury Mills) also teaches art and is well-known for his painting restoration work. This year, Gould started a new tradition with the “Just for Squares” painting and drawing competition — inviting eager artists to create their masterpieces on any square canvas up to six-by-six inches. But back to that little bitty canvas: Get your entries in by November 15 for this year’s competition and a shot at the $500 first prize. An exhibition featuring the tiny works opens December 3. • 845-401-5443;

Readers’ Picks: Fun

Bed and Breakfast:
Caldwell House

Salisbury Mills.

Bike Trail:
Walkway Over The Hudson


Community Theater:
The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck


Dutchess County Fair

Rhinebeck. 845-876-4000;

Golf Course:
McCann Golf Course


Green Initiative:
The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC)

Kingston. 845-336-0100;

The Mohonk Mountain House

New Paltz. 845-255-1000;

rip van winkle cruiseCruise control: Throughout the season, the Rip Van Winkle provides river cruises from Kingston

Hudson River Cruise:
The Rip Van Winkle

Kingston. 845-340-4700;

Indoor Venue for Plays and Concerts:
The Bardavon


Mahoney’s Irish Pub & Restaurant


Live Music Joint:
The Chance Theatre


Mini Golf:
The Castle Fun Center

Chester. 845-469-2116;


Beacon. 845-440-0100;

Hudson Valley Philharmonic


Outdoor Venue for Plays and Concerts (tie):
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Bethel. 866-781-2922;
Boscobel House and Gardens
Garrison. 845-265-3638;

Bowdoin Park

Wappingers Falls.

Place for a Picnic:
Vanderbilt Mansion

Hyde Park. 845-229-9115;

Place for a Wedding:
The Grandview


Ski Area:
Hunter Mountain

Hunter. 800-486-8376;

Thing About Living in the Valley:
The views/scenery


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