2016 Fun! Editors' Picks
Check out an open mic night, or take your kids on a hike
Taken at Hyde Park Roller Magic
Photo by Michael Polito
Place for a Waterfront Event
With its sweeping views of the Hudson River, top-notch service, and more than 30 years of catering expertise from the Bonura Hospitality Group, The Grandview is hard to beat when it comes to a venue for hosting waterfront events. In fact, if it were any closer to the river (it’s located less than 50 feet from the water’s edge), it would have to be waterborne. Want to have your wedding or event on the Hudson without getting seasick? The Grandview is your place.
The Glass Mountain Inn
This is the grown-up version of that awesome summer sleep-away camp that you never wanted to leave as a kid. With its wide array of lawn games onsite (hello, Wiffle ball!) to outdoor amenities like a fire pit, grill, and spacious hammocks, guests can get their dose of rustic relaxation Americana-style in the gorgeous Catskill Mountains. With three available rentals (complete with vintage furniture, cozy reading nooks, and art from local artists on the walls), this charming destination can house up to 14 people. Inn owners Jeff and Brooke live onsite.
You can call it the House that Music Built. Before it became home to musician and Millerton resident Daryl Hall’s popular online (and then TV) show Live From Daryl’s House in 2014, this Pawling property housed Phil Ciganer’s Towne Crier Café. Hall took over, refurbished and remodeled the building to give it an 18th-century, New England ambience, added a full menu, and began broadcasting his show from his new “house,” where concerts feature reserved-table seating as well as general admission. Where else can you see a legend like John Mayall or Leon Russell in a cozy Hudson Valley home-like setting for under a hundred bucks?
Happy Hour, Mix 97.7
The greater Hudson Valley area
From 6 to 7 p.m. every Thursday, lawyer and TV legal analyst Jonna Spilbor and “happiness expert” Keyrl Pesce take over Poughkeepsie-based Mix 97.7FM to interview guests, give advice, and offer endlessly witty (and somewhat sassy, sometimes alcohol-inspired) anecdotes about life in the Valley. Regular topics include self-care and business success, but any tangent they take on is guaranteed to entertain you.
The Time Nyack
With a ritzy rooftop bar and lounge, polished grill-style restaurant, and uniform brick edifice that once housed a factory, The Time Nyack offers true urban luxuries shadowing the original Time Hotel in New York City. Rooms at this boutique hotel boast industrial-chic style with wood floors, exposed beams, patterned walls, and sparkly light fixtures; upgraded rooms offer scenic balcony views of the Hudson River. Among its many amenities are a 24-hour gym and a heated pool.
Open Mic Night
Towne Crier Café
The Towne Crier Café, previously located in Pawling, has been bringing great music and delicious food to patrons for decades. Owner Phil Ciganer’s passion (and ear) for fabulous music is legend around these parts, and every Monday and Wednesday, unknown, slightly known, and soon-to-be-well-known singers and songwriters come to perform during open mic. And many of the regulars have gone on to become headliners!
Inspired by Chinese and Japanese designs, this picturesque garden is is an amalgamation of rocks, trees, native plants, wildflowers, and even a lake, all of which come together to create an environment that is almost dream-like. All designs were made environmentally sensitive, protecting the land and ecosystems that inhabit it, to ensure the spirit of the land stood out. It’s a great place to talk a walk, have a picnic, or even take some pictures.
Alligator Rock & Boulder Rock
Kids are always looking to explore and parents are always looking for a way to get their children outdoors. This hiking excursion in Greene County is perfect for both. The hike is scenic and easy enough for kids of all ages. Just the look of the boulder (it actually looks like a gator!) is enough to draw kids’ attention in the Catskill Forest Preserve.
Hyde Park Roller Magic
Looking for some family-friendly indoor fun in the Valley? Take a step back in time and head to Hyde Park for a few hours of open skate at Roller Magic. You can rent roller or in-line skates, then skate to your heart’s content to lively music for three hours—all for less than 12 bucks. If just the thought of three hours of skating makes you tired, there’s also access to plenty of arcade games.
Zoom Flume Water Park
Choose from an abundance of water slides, a wave pool, a water playground, a bridge high above a canyon, or one of the many other attractions at this one-of-a-kind water park. If you’re feeling particularly daring, take a ride on Gravity Gorge, the largest water-park zip line in the world.
Magical Party Venue
Kismet’s Secret Garden
You’ll be enthralled with this happy little space where colorful banners fly and butterflies flutter and flowers abound. It’s such a pretty place for child’s birthday party, a luncheon with friends, a baby shower, or just a fun day with your kids. This looks like a place where magic happens and wishes come true, with color in every nook and cranny, from the planted flowers to the tables and seating to the year-round Christmas ornaments that hang from the trees.
Animal Rescue & Sanctuary
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary
A visit to this open-air sanctuary is a great way to experience an animal meet-and-greet. The site is home to more than 340 farm animals, offering weekend tours to let you get to know and learn about the rescue stories behind these lovable creatures. Give a pig a belly rub, frolic with goats, or cuddle with some sheep, resting assured that the time you spend there will benefit both your education and their well-being.
845.247.5700 ; www.woodstocksanctuary.org
Take a walk through this enchanting 15-acre garden, which includes alpine stone beds, cliff rock gardens, a water garden, and more. Throughout the property, you’ll see bridges, small buildings that look as though fairies inhabit them, wood structures, and more than 50 different plant species.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
What’s a better mix than summer and Shakespeare? Enjoy the best of the Bard at the annual Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which has entertained a half-million people since its founding in 1987. This is no hokey dress-up troupe; these are real actors who share a love and appreciation of Shakespeare, and stage their productions in a custom open-air theater tent. Plus: The grounds at Boscobel House and Gardens are a beautiful spot for a pre-show picnic.
The Gravity Vault
This new indoor rock-climbing facility offers fun for climbers of all (or no) skill levels. From party walls with silly shapes to steep scaling stations, this gym lets everyone enjoy top-rope climbing and bouldering. Aim high for the day or find your footing in private sessions and group classes.
Dog-Friendly Weekend Escape
St. Hubert’s Lodge
It’s rare to find upscale accommodations that not only accept dogs, but welcome them with open arms. This bed and breakfast, set on 165 acres, offers a luxurious experience to both man and man's best friend. Guests can stay in luxurious lodge or cottage suites or in a 1-bedroom apartment, and all rooms are dog-friendly. Pups can also hang in the onsite kennel and romp with resident dogs.
New York Zipline Adventures
Whether you’re looking for extreme thrills, like the 600-foot-high twin zipline Skyrider, billed as the largest and longest (4.6 miles) canopy tour in North America, or a tamer ride, like the Mid-Mountain Tour, a combo of shorter ziplines mingled with rope and swinging bridges, this Hunter Mountain attraction has something for zipline lovers of all ages and abilities.. Bonus: It operates year-round and at night.
Hidden Gem Music Venue
The Turning Point
If you’re a live music fan who loves up-and-comers and living legends alike, you’re likely already familiar with The Turning Point. And, if you’re not, boy, are you missing out! Though it was founded in 1976, it wasn’t until the mid ‘80s that The Turning Point really hit its stride, becoming a favorite not only of the audiences who packed it several nights a week, but of big-name national performers as well. Since then, it’s been the place to see folk, rock, blues, jazz, and other artists up close and personal on its itty-bitty stage.
Art Center to Explore with Kids
Storm King Art Center
This 500-acre sculpture spot offers an ideal place for kids to stretch their minds and legs. Kids will dash from one artwork to another, checking out the monolithic Three Legged Buddha and solid-cedar tree look-alike Luba. They’ll also love “surfing” Wavefield: seven nearly 400-foot-long waves, ranging in height from 10 to 15 feet. Hop on a tram if little legs get weary or stop in the café for kid fare like Applegate Farm hot dogs and PB&J.
Martial Arts School
Evolution Grappling Academy
This four-year-old academy offers classes in Ji Jitsu, wrestling, mixed martial arts, and personal training. Owner Michael Palladino, an all-around practitioner of combat sports, has the cred to pull it off: He’s head coach for the Mixed Martial Arts program at West Point and has also taught self-defense tactics to correctional officers and Marines.
Place for an Italian Sing-along
From the outside, this Hopewell Junction restaurant looks like any other strip-mall eatery. But open the door on a Wednesday evening after 7 p.m. and you know you’ve stumbled upon something special—not to mention raucous. Wednesday night is show time for owners Artie and Christina Carozza, and Artie’s brother, Frank. With all three on vocals, and Frank on the accordion, Italian favorites are belted out and everyone in the room is encouraged to sing along. The show, combined with a great dinner, plenty of vino, and a house-made Italian dessert from the in-store bakery, make this the best Wednesday night in the Valley.
Bang for Your Buck
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park offers budget-friendly activities year-round. In warm weather, there’s the zoo, paddleboats, and pool; in cold weather, ice skating (only $4 for children or $5 for adults if you have your own skates!), sledding, and hot beverages by the enormous fireplace in the lodge; and any time of year you can enjoy great hiking trails and the $1-a-ride carousel. If you’re not staying at the lodge or having a meal at Restaurant 1915, your biggest bill could be the $7 parking charge (or not, if you have an Empire State Pass).
The Fields Sculpture Park
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this not-for-profit arts center presents the large-scale work of internationally recognized artists in an outdoor setting that is as compelling as the sculpture itself. You could spend hours here and still not see everything. Free and open year-round, with 80 works on view and new ones popping up every year, the site is a great way to get outdoors in any season, but is particularly compelling in fall.
Live Music and Food Venue
For those who don’t know, the town of Hudson is the hotspot on, well, the Hudson right now—and Club Helsinki has certainly helped stoke the town’s cultural flames. Housed in a former 1800s factory, Helsinki comprises two performance spaces and a full-service restaurant, and has become the region’s go-to venue for the biggest indie, rock, and jazz performers, including Wood Bros, Cowboy Junkies, Loudon Wainright III, Trixie Whitley, and Hollis Brown.
The Emerson Resort & Spa
With the opening of its 6200-square-foot spa this summer, the final stage of the Emerson Resort & Spa’s makeover ($6 million into guestrooms and open areas) has been completed. And all we can say is, Wow! The dark interior has been replaced with open spaces and bigger windows which bring the outdoors in, reflecting the spirit of the resort’s namesake, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Bonus: They have the world’s largest kaleidoscope.
Rocking Horse Ranch
You don’t need to travel far for a memorable family vacation. Book your staycation at Rocking Horse Ranch, the No. 1 all-inclusive resort in the United States as reviewed by TripAdvisor travelers. This family-friendly resort has a slew of activities to keep the whole family entertained. Outdoors, enjoy horseback riding on riding trails that are open year-round, water sports on the lake, and skiing, mini-golf, tennis, and basketball. Enjoy summer year-round in the 85°F indoor waterpark with its 250-foot-long Gold Rush Flume, a fun center with a bounce structure, and an archery range.
Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern
Delicious cuisine and scenic views of the Esopus River are two things you’ll enjoy with your sweetheart during your stay here. This boutique hotel offers the peaceful ambiance of Esopus Falls just steps outside of a private balcony. Guests can enjoy an intimate dinner for two at The Tavern, which features a contemporary American menu, courtesy of CIA-trained Executive Chef Giuseppe Napoli. To cap off your evening, take an after-dinner stroll up Partition Street to Main Street to check out the many cafes and antique shops.