Lay of the Land
The quaint-sounding Hudson Valley is actually huge, stretching from Westchester County north towards Albany. Technically it even includes Yonkers, though probably what you’re thinking about when you hear “Hudson Valley” are the more scenic towns of Cold Spring, Rhinebeck and Hudson. It encompasses both sides of the majestic river, mushrooming outwards towards the Catskills in the west and upstate New York’s lake region in the north. Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Duchess counties are all located within the Hudson Valley region.
For New Yorkers or visitors to the New York region, the Hudson Valley is a perfect place for a long weekend getaway, especially in the spring and fall. The first thing to decide is whether your trip will focus on the east or west bank of the river. Both sides are incredibly scenic, but where to be based depends on what the focus of your trip will be.
East of the Hudson
This bank is what most New Yorkers think of when they hear Hudson Valley (and where many locals have purchased homes in the country). The route meanders north towards Poughkeepsie and beyond, encompassing the towns of Cold Springs, Beacon, Rhinebeck and Hudson along the way. The DIA: Beacon art center is situated here, as are the Hyde Park mansion estates (Vanderbilt and Roosevelt), and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) where many of this county’s top chefs trained. There’s a real foodie focus in this region, as well, with the acclaimed Blue Hills at Stone Barns, and the ever-growing influx of chefs moving to such places as Hudson and Beacon.
West of the Hudson
What this side of the river lacks in quaint towns, restaurants and antiquing, it more than makes up for in more serious hikes and climbs. The Shawgunk Mountain Range is famous among those looking for bouldering and climbing opportunities; the nearby Minnewaska State Park offers some incredible vistas. From New Paltz, don’t miss Walkway Across the Hudson, the world’s second-longest pedestrian bridge that spans the majestic river and can be explored on foot or bike, both offering incredible views. Art lovers should also head to Storm King Art Center. A 30-minute drive from this sprawling sculpture garden also lies one of the valley’s most exquisite hideaways: Glenmere Mansion.