Best of Hudson Valley 2013: Best Concerts, Fairs, and Fun Things to Do in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

PLUS: Readers’ Picks, including best singles scene, bed and breakfasts, and community theaters




empire state plaza ice rinkPhotograph by Bennett V. Campbell

Editors’ Picks

Way To While Away The Winter

EMPIRE STATE PLAZA ICE RINK Albany
You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone: When the outdoor ice skating rink at Albany’s Empire State Plaza was shuttered for a few years due to the recession, Capital Region skaters realized what a great asset it was. Back in business since 2011-12, the Empire “Skate” Plaza once again offers locals the chance to get a little cold-weather exercise. With the stunning Capitol at one end, the State Museum at the other, and the iconic Egg to one side, upstaters can feel like they’re skating at Rockefeller Center — but without the hefty price tag. Practice your triple Salchow and flying sit spin every day if you like — admission to the rink is free. http://ogs.ny.gov/esp/CCE/skating.asp

Presidential Makeover (Tie)

WASHINGTON’S HEADQUARTERS STATE HISTORIC SITE Newburgh
The country’s first publicly owned historic site (it was acquired by New York State in 1850) got a boost with last December’s opening of “Unpacked and Rediscovered,” a new exhibit of items accumulated by the site during its long history. A whole floor of space is devoted to this varied collection of rare and unusual objects — everything from 18th-century household items and toys to relics of armaments used during the Revolution. The artifacts are displayed in an “open storage” format and recorded in an electronic catalog, which visitors can access to learn more details about them. 845-562-1195; http://nysparks.com/historic-sites/17/details.aspx or www.palisadesparksconservancy.org/historic/14

FDR PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM Hyde Park
One of the Valley’s best-known landmarks, the Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park had not been renovated since it opened on June 30, 1941. Seventy-two years later to the day, the site unveiled a $35 million, federally funded refurbishment. The goals of the project were twofold: to bring the site’s treasure trove of historical artifacts, documents, and other archival material up to speed with modern-day preservation standards; and to entice post-Baby Boomers to learn more about the Roosevelts and their important contribution to American history. To that end, a number of new, state-of-the-art permanent exhibits have been installed. With the help of modern technology, visitors can now experience one of the president’s famous Fireside Chats in an immersive theater done up with period furnishings, including a 1940s-era radio; poke around, via a touch screen, with the items FDR kept on his Oval Office desk; and tour a recreation of the White House map room, which uses animation, time lines, and other features to outline his World War II strategy. 845-486-7770; www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu

» Read more about the renovation here

New Adventure Race

ROCK THE RIDGE 50-MILE CHALLENGE New Paltz
The name of this unusual endurance event, which debuted this year, may be enough to scare off some would-be participants. But close to 188 hardy souls took on the challenge of either walking or running 50 miles of the Mohonk Preserve’s scenic-but-strenuous trails and carriage roads in 24 hours or less. A wide range of athletes, from ultramarathoners to weekend warriors, took part in the event, which doubles as a fund-raiser for the preserve. Despite tired legs — and several bear sightings — the challenge proved successful on both fronts: 90 percent of the entrants finished on time, and more than $100,000 was added to the preserve’s coffers. 845-255-0919; www.mohonkpreserve.org

mudfestPhotograph courtesy of Grant Digital Photo Services/www.grantphotoservices.com

Expression of Community Spirit

MUDFEST Prattsville
On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene barreled through New York State, causing unprecedented flooding in the Catskills. Hardest hit was the town of Prattsville, whose Main Street became a torrent of water that raged with a force greater than that of Niagara Falls, sweeping away homes, businesses, vehicles — anything and everything in its path. Those were dark days indeed for Prattsville’s 700 residents; but in the weeks and months that followed, they worked together tirelessly to rebuild their town, and have made significant progress toward that end.
In commemoration — perhaps defiance is a better word — of that fateful day, Prattsville now celebrates MudFest every August. This weekend-long, town-wide party features art exhibits, live music performances, film screenings, an artisans fair, kids’ activities, a community dinner on the town green, fireworks, and “mud games” — volleyball and tug-of-war played in a mud-saturated field. We tip our hats to these resilient folks for their can-do spirit — and for having a sense of humor in spite of the difficult circumstances.

» View before-and-after photographs from Hurricane Irene

Rail Trail Improvement

ROSENDALE RAILROAD TRESTLE Rosendale
Offering beautiful views of the Shawangunk ridge and the Wallkill River, Ulster County’s Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, runners, and walkers. Opened in 1991, the trail extended from Gardiner to Rosendale — even though the rail bed itself goes about 11 miles further. Users were unable to continue along the trail due of the condition of the Rosendale trestle, a 114-year-old railroad bridge that extends across the Rondout Creek and Route 213 at a dizzying height of 150 feet. The trestle was in such poor condition that even walking across it was unsafe — until now. Thanks to the Wallkill Valley Land Trust and the Open Space Institute, the bridge’s infrastructure has been shored up, and new decking and railings installed. Outdoor enthusiasts can now bike and hike further — and enjoy even more spectacular views of the Gunks from atop the trestle. 845-255-2761; www.wallkillvalleylt.org

Motivation To Climb Breakneck Ridge

HIKER’S LUNCH BOX AT HUDSON HIL’S CAFE & MARKET Cold Spring
Scaling the Valley’s version of Mount Everest takes all the willpower you can muster — but knowing you can nosh on Hudson Hil’s brown-bag lunch once you reach the top will get you there in record time. The $10.95 meal includes a sandwich from the eatery’s hiker’s lunch menu (turkey and vegetarian are popular choices), a piece of fresh fruit, a homemade cookie, and a bottle of water. “It’s an easy solution for hikers to just grab and go,” says co-owner Hilary Hayes. “Tons of hikers come in for it — and many come back down and eat here again afterwards, too.” 845-265-9471; www.hudsonhils.com

Post-Harriman Hike Treat

MINI PIES AT AUNTIE EL’S FARM MARKET Sloatsburg
Auntie El’s has been a popular destination for hungry hikers for more than 30 years. The trekker’s only dilemma is choosing which of its scrumptious, fresh-baked mini pies to tuck into; with flavors like blueberry cherry, Key lime, strawberry rhubarb, and appletella (a mix of apple and Nutella), the decision is particularly hard. Baker Gina Solari notes that “many customers come in looking for a big pie, but just end up with a bunch of our mini pies because they can’t choose.” And at $2.49 a pop (or 4 for $8), sampling all nine flavors won’t break your wallet. 845-753-2122

diamond mills hotelPhotograph by Kelly Merchant

Boutique Hotel

DIAMOND MILLS HOTEL Saugerties
Opened in 2011, this upper Hudson hostelry mixes luxurious surroundings with homey comforts. Each of the 30 spacious guest rooms has a private balcony overlooking the scenic Esopus falls. Overstuffed duvets and Egyptian cotton linens complement the European-style furnishings; in-room amenities include up-to-the-minute technology (complimentary Wi-Fi, iPhone docking stations) and mini-bars stocked with local treats. 845-247-0700; www.diamondmillshotel.com

Readers’ Picks

Art Gallery (TIE)

FRANCES LEHMAN LOEB ART CENTER AT VASSAR COLLEGE Poughkeepsie. 845-437-5237; www.fllac.vassar.edu/index.html
RIVERWINDS GALLERY Beacon. 845-838-2880; www.riverwindsgallery.com

Bed & Breakfast

THE BEEKMAN ARMS AND DELAMATER INN Rhinebeck. 845-876-7077; www.beekmandelamaterinn.com

Bike Trail

THE WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON Poughkeepsie. 845-454-9649; www.walkway.org

Community Theater

THE COUNTY PLAYERS AT THE FALLS THEATRE Wappingers Falls. 845-297-9821; www.countyplayers.org

dutchess county fairPhotograph by Ingrid Kulick/Forward Solutions

Fair

DUTCHESS COUNTY FAIR Rhinebeck. 845-876-4000; www.dutchessfair.com

Hudson River Cruise

THE RIP VAN WINKLE Kingston. 845-340-4700; www.hudsonrivercruises.com

Indoor Venue for Plays & Concerts

THE BARDAVON 1869 OPERA HOUSE Poughkeepsie. 845-473-5288; www.bardavon.org

Outdoor Venue for Plays & Concerts

BETHEL WOODS CENTER FOR THE ARTS Bethel. 866-781-2922; www.bethelwoodscenter.org

Karaoke

FIRESIDE BBQ & GRILL Salt Point. 845-266-3440; www.firesidebbq.com

Live Music Joint

HYDE PARK BREWING COMPANY RESTAURANT & BREWERY Hyde Park. 845-229-8277; www.hydeparkbrewing.moonfruit.com

castle fun center

Mini Golf

THE CASTLE FUN CENTER Chester. 845-469-2116; www.thecastlefuncenter.com

Museum (TIE)

DIA:BEACON Beacon. 845-440-0100; www.diaart.org
BETHEL WOODS CENTER FOR THE ARTS Bethel. 866-781-2922; www.bethelwoodscenter.org

Orchestra

HUDSON VALLEY PHILHARMONIC Poughkeepsie. 845-473-5288; www.bardavon.org

Park

MINNEWASKA STATE PARK Kerhonkson. 845-255-0752; www.nysparks.com/parks/127

Place for a Picnic

BOSCOBEL HOUSE & GARDENS Garrison. 845-265-3638; www.boscobel.org

Place for a Wedding

THE GRANDVIEW Poughkeepsie. 845-486-4700; www.grandviewevents.com

Public Golf Course

THE LAZY SWAN GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB VILLAGE Saugerties. 845-247-0075; www.thelazyswan.com

Scenic Hike

MOUNT BEACON Beacon. 845-473-4440; www.nynjtc.org/park/mount-beacon-park

Singles Scene

LA PUERTA AZUL Millbrook. 845-677-2985; www.lapuertaazul.com

hunter mountain

Ski Area

HUNTER MOUNTAIN Hunter. 518-263-4223; www.huntermtn.com

Sports Bar

SIDELINES RESTAURANT & SPORTS BAR Red Hook. 845-758-4545; www.sidelinesredhook.com

Winery

MILLBROOK WINERY Millbrook. 845-677-8383; www.millbrookwine.com

Thing About Living in the Valley

SCENERY/NATURE

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