The Hudson Valley is a storied region in Upstate New York, famed for its gorgeous scenery and vibrant food and art scene. It’s the oldest wine-producing region in America and the home of the Culinary Institute of America, plus it offers top-notch local restaurants and a wide range of farm-to-table dining options. In fact, National Geographic Traveler named the area one of the world’s best places to visit.
The valley was discovered by English explorer Henry Hudson while he searched for a passage to China in 1609. He found something much more: The stunning beauty of the river and its surrounding landscapes inspired artists, starting with Thomas Cole, who embraced the European idea of the sublime and immortalized nature on canvas. Cole’s works helped to launch what became known as the Hudson River School of painting, which still inspires people today.
In the 1800s, when tuberculosis and other deadly diseases spread through urban areas like New York City, the valley took on another identity as a health retreat. New Yorkers flocked to the valley for its fresh air, evergreen forests and healing mineral springs, believing it would cure them of their afflictions. They built grand hotels, upscale theaters and luxurious estates in the area.
Today, the region continues to thrive, with an abundance of small businesses in town centers and along main roads. It’s also home to an eclectic and creative arts community, including numerous galleries and venues that showcase music, performance art and the visual arts. The area is also well known for its many farms that produce wine, fruit and cheese. The Hudson River, once polluted by countless factories that lined the river, has been cleaned up over the years.
A revolving door of celebrities and entrepreneurs have based their homes in the valley, from movie stars and aristocrats to hipsters, foodies and millennials. Many of the original estates and homes have been restored, but a few have sadly been destroyed in recent years by fires or absorbed into other properties.
For a truly authentic Hudson Valley experience, spend a day meandering around the quaint and historic streets of downtown Hudson. EB favorites include Flowerkraut, a floral studio and sauerkraut shop; Clove & Creek, a beautifully curated home/apparel/gift shop; Red Chair, an antique store that specializes in French items; Paula Grief, handmade ceramics; Quiet Botanist, a botanical apothecary and dry flower shop; and Jon Doe Records, a unique vinyl shop. And, of course, don’t miss a river cruise or a trip up to the top of Bear Mountain for a spectacular view of Hudson.