In the heart of upstate New York, timeless scenery and American history combine to create a region that inspires artists, writers and presidents. Tour grand historic mansions up and down the Hudson River, explore pristine natural landscapes, or shop for brand-name bargains at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. The area’s quaint villages and leafy drives also offer a break from the hustle of city life.
For those looking for an active escape, there are miles of hiking and biking trails ranging from easy to expert levels. Or you can hit the river for a relaxing cruise or visit a local winery to sample the region’s award-winning vino.
The Valley’s rich agriculture translates into inspiring dining options. You’ll find countless farm-to-table restaurants, plus the Culinary Institute of America, where future chefs are trained. Local chefs also take advantage of the area’s fresh ingredients, producing a thriving culinary scene.
When it comes to food, the upper valley is home to Italian immigrants who have maintained a strong tradition of pizza and other traditional dishes, including pasta. You can taste their influence at restaurants like the lunchtime pizza at Athens Rooster in Athens, or try a different dish at Wm. Farmer & Sons, which specializes in country ham and lamb, or Swoon Kitchenbar, with fun cocktails, local cheeses and duck dishes.
While the region’s rich heritage and sweeping landscapes make it a popular vacation destination, it is also a place where people come to live, work and play. From the many art galleries, which celebrate the works of Hudson River School painters to the many artisan shops and farmers’ markets scattered throughout the region, there is always something to do here.
The valley is also a haven for foodies and drinkers, with a number of Michelin-starred and Bib Gourmand-rated eateries and dozens of craft beer breweries. And with the popularity of this upstate retreat increasing, it’s no surprise that new hotels and resorts are opening at a rapid pace.
Among the more unique properties to open recently is the upscale, reimagined Hotel Kinsley in Kingston. It’s set in a 17th- and 18th-century stockade district, complete with the only four corner intersection in America that dates from before the Revolution. Another must-visit is the swanky cocktail bar Rough Draft, which was designed inside an old brick warehouse in the same stockade district.
If you’re visiting, be prepared to spend some money. With the influx of new residents, prices are rising in the area. And while the presence of a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble is not entirely absent, you’ll notice that the main streets in small towns have fewer national chains than you may be used to. The locals here tend to prefer the artisan shops and farmers’ markets. That, combined with a liberal culture, means they take buying local and organic seriously. Maybe too seriously, judging from the look they give you when you bring home anything with a label that reads “GMO.”