A Few Days In

How to Have Fun in New York's Hudson Valley This Summer

by California Chaney
Mohonk Photo by Dana Gallagher courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House.

A summer guide to Hudson Valley and the Catskills as the Northern New York region slowly, carefully re-emerges from Coronavirus. A look at what’s happening under the guidelines of phase 3 and beyond.

Rules at Play

Hudson Valley recently entered phase three of reopening, which means restaurants have outdoor seating as well as indoor at 50% capacity, wineries and breweries are open for tastings (it's advised to make a reservation in advance) and farm stands and markets are welcoming shoppers with new guidelines in place. Fresh air is good for the soul, and is the safest way to enjoy the summer during this pandemic, while Hudson Valley's parks, hiking trails, rivers, and other low-risk outdoor activities are all open with updated guidelines. Hotels, campsites and glamping locations are open with strict cleaning and sanitizing standards for guest health and safety. Some amenities like swimming pools and on-site restaurants may be temporarily closed, so it's best to call before arrival so you're aware of what's open and not.

As coronavirus cases rise across the U.S. it's important to remain informed and know where testing is available. Starting July 1st, testing for Covid-19 is free and available in New York statewide. Locations in the Hudson Valley can be found here.

As with anywhere you go this summer, be respectful, wear a mask, practice social distancing of six feet apart in public and mostly, be kind — to yourself and those around you. 

Photo courtesy of Woodstock Brewing.

Quench Your Summer Thirst

The Hudson Valley extends 150 miles above the tip of Manhattan and has long been a destination for city dwellers to explore the countryside with leafy drives, local wineries and breweries, mountain views, and a burgeoning food and farmer's market scene.

Fix Bros Fruit Farm
The fifth generation family farm is open for pick-your-own sweet, red sour, and black sour cherries in July with peaches to follow in August and of course, apples in the fall.

Woodstock Brewing
Pick up a six pack of house brews from Woodstock Brewing on Route 28 (next to Phoenicia diner) before a hike or picnic near the river. They also have an amazing taco menu with many vegan options and a DIY s’mores kit to kickstart your summer camp nostalgia.

Twin Star Orchards
Dog-friendly sister cidery to Brooklyn Cider House is open, serving delicious wood-fired pizzas, burgers, craft ciders and beers beside a picturesque pond. On July 4, there will be a pig roast bash with live jazz; tickets start at $14.

City Winery Hudson Valley
City Winery's just opened their latest venue, a hydro-powered winery and vineyard on the site of a former textile mill on the Wallkill River just west of Newbugh. Indoor and outdoor seating is available Thursday through Sunday with locally-sourced charcuterie boards, flatbread pizzas, and of course, flights of wine.

Plan Bee Farm Brewery
Poughkeepsie's local brewery is hosting various food trucks on Saturdays and Sundays including Cousin’s Maine Lobsters, Ember’s Wood Fired Oven, Farmers & Chefs, and Valia’s Woodfired Pizza to pair with their ground-to-glass barrel beers made with 100% local ingredients grown in New York State. With 25-acres, the farm is safely set up for socially-distant afternoons with space to bring your own lawn chairs and picnic blankets. Order ahead or when you arrive, no tickets or reservations required.

Berry Bissap makes West African spiced hibiscus tea from the historic Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. Find it locally at Adams Fairacre Farms in Poughkeepsie and Wappinger, Sunflower Market in Rhinebeck, Nature’s Pantry in Fishkill, and Taste NY Todd Hill.

In Pursuit of Nature

Rail Explorers
New York State is criss crossed with abandoned railroad trails that have long been out of use. In the Catskills, the old lines of the Catskill Mountain Railroad line are being used for bike rides through the woods. Rail Explorers offer pedal-bike tours over the tracks which have been out of use since 1954, exploring the historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad with 8 mile tours along the spectacular Esopus Creek and through the beautiful woods of the Catskill Mountains. All Rail Explorers Catskills operations are completely outdoor and each bike is sent out individually with social distancing practiced on both the rails and in public areas. The tour takes approximately 2 hours.

Overlook Mountain
The trailhead is about ten minutes from Woodstock town, and its 4.6 mile loop takes about three hours round-trip, with multiple overlooks of the mountains, beautiful wildflowers, and a fire tower with 360º views as well as hotel ruins from the early 1930s. It’s a popular hike, but has room to pass others safely and keep your distance.

Opus 40
The six-acre outdoor earthwork sculpture garden and museum in Woodstock is accepting visitors by reservation only from Thursday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and limited to 30 people. The buildings will be closed but a small outdoor store and art exhibit is set up. Tickets are $11 with a five person/ticket max for one group. Members and essential workers can visit for free.

Windham Path
Windham's picturesque winding trail offers views of surrounding mountains with the Five State Lookout to see views of neighboring New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont.

Mountain Top Arboretum
Tannersville's nature sactuary is open with 178 acres of trails, wetlands, gardens, and native plants to roam and explore.

Croton Point Park Beach
Located on the Hudson River, this spacious beach is known for its scenic views as well as its water activities including kayaking, boating and stand-up paddle boarding. It has now re-opened on Saturdays and Sundays, 11a.m. to 6.30p.m. at 50% capacity.

Hudson Valley MOCA
While the museum remains closed, Hudson Valley MOCA has put together a map of the public art on display in Westchester’s Peekskill. The walking tour includes 18 stops throughout Peekskill and its Sculpture Park. A self-guided tour map is available online.

Westchester’s annual Bicycle Sundays program runs from June to September, where bicyclists, skaters, joggers and walkers take over a 13.1-mile loop of the Bronx River Parkway from White Plains to Yonkers. 

Photo courtesy of Silvia.

Come for the Mountains, Stay for the Food

Restaurants in the Hudson Valley know how to savor the summer with outdoor dining oases, wide open patios, and picnic tables on grassy fields of wildflowers. If your carless, there are great options close to the train station on the far less crowded MetroNorth Hudson line.

Roundhouse
If there's anything our attempts at homemade sourdough and banana bread have taught us, it's time to let the chefs do the cheffing. Overlooking a natural waterfall in Beacon, NY, this fresh-air hotel restaurant offers a vibrant menu of duck confit steam buns, and twelve hour smoked brisket sandwiches paired with barrel-aged Manhattans. On the weekends, a "Smoke on the Water" popup is set up with brisket, ribs, wings, and sausage.

Harvest on Hudson
Just outside the city and within walking distance of the MetroNorth station, Harvest on Hudson has a large outdoor patio overlooking the Hudson with brick-fired pizzas and their own farmer's market on Saturdays.

Dixon Roadside
This isn't your average roadside drive-through and dollar menu. Serving smoked brisket and fried chicken alongside ancho-smoked squash with shiitakes, feta, and pomegranate, plus batched cocktails, craft brews, and soft-serve, there’s a lot to love at this roadside spot from Mike Cioffi, the owner of Phoenicia Diner. They’re also offering open-air seating on the lawn beside the restaurant.

Alima’s African Cuisine
Woman-owned pop-up and catering company known for its authentic West African fare. Look for the Chatham-based business at the Kinderhook and New Lebanon farmers’ markets.

The Juice Branch
In Catskill, The Juice Branch features a rotating daily menu of fresh locally-grown fruits and veggies, squeezed and juiced to perfection. Stock up on homemade veggie burgers, smoothie bowls, and sandwiches for wherever you roam next.

Kathleen’s Tea Room
One of the sweetest spots for tea time in the valley. Go for the full afternoon tea, which comes with finger sandwiches, crumpets, and platters of sweet treats. Kathleen’s also owns Bridgee’s Soul Food Truck, which serves everything from crab leg boils to barbecue during the summer months.

The Mud Club
On the main drag in Woodstock, Mud Club sells wood fired Montreal bagels and pulls the best espresso in town. Order online for pickup and order early as they will sell out, especially on weekends.

Silvia
Reservations are strongly encouraged for Silvia's buzzy deck in the heart of Woodstock town. Family-run and-owned by Brooklyn-born Korean sisters Doris and Betty Choi and their husbands, everything from their vegan kimchi to miso fish sauce is made in-house, with locally sourced veggies and organic meat provided from over twenty local farms. Hours: 4:30pm - 8pm Thursdays through Tuesdays.

Cucina
There's nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta and carafe of Italian wine at Cucina, a Woodstock staple since 2006. The restaurant, situated in a restored farmhouse, has taken advantage of its sprawling fields for outdoor dining with summer staples on the menu of lobster rolls, BBQ chicken and hot dogs.

Photo courtesy of Kenoza Hall.
Photo courtesy of Urban Cowboy Lodge.

Feels Like Summer Camp

New York’s Catskill and Hudson Valley regions have been booming for a while now, but 2020 is on track to be one of the area’s most exciting years yet for hotel openings, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Urban Cowboy Lodge
After an initial opening in early March, the bucolic hideaway Urban Cowboy Lodge in Big Indian, has reopened its doors and is ready for debut number two. Housed in the former Alpine Inn, the property sits on 68 acres of land in Big Indian and features 29 guest rooms, each decorated with Pendleton textiles, copper claw-foot tubs overlooking the mountains, potbelly stoves, and rustic-chic touches like reclaimed wood headboards and antler chandeliers. This summer, guests can take advantage of the acreage of socially-distant activities such as bonfires, hiking around nearby trails, and returning to a Roberta’s Pizza stand on the weekend, as well as the Canteen, a grab-and-go station for morning yogurts and Stumptown coffee.

The Maker Hotel
Slated to open in late July, The Maker Hotel is an exciting new hotel project by the co-founders of the beauty brand Fresh, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg in the heart of downtown Hudson. The 11 guest rooms are spread across three historical structures — an 1800s-era carriage house, a Georgian mansion, and a Greek revival building, with each paying tribute to a different artist or craftsman in the valley. The team is also behind the beloved upstate restaurant and bakery, Bartlett House, and brings the Euro cafe feel with a new cozy restaurant housed in an original glass-ceiling conservatory with a large library sourced from NYC's favorite Strand Bookstore. As they are opening amidst the pandemic, they are taking extra care and attention to cleanliness and safely, utilizing the large property to allow for guests to feel they have the place to themselves.

Kenoza Hall
Housed in a 1900s boarding house on 55 acres of property overlooking a large freshwater lake, Kenoza Hall opened just in time for summer in the western Catskills. The hotel’s 22 rooms include original hardwood floors, deep-soaking tubs and many with private balconies and custom furniture in soft pinks and grays. With the valley entering stage three, the new Hemlock Spa is open with spacious walking paths and gardens, an outdoor barrel sauna, a movement studio for classes like aerial yoga and sound meditation, in addition to the pool and hot tub.

The Herwood Inn
Unwind in the woods right on Tinker Street in Woodstock. This new inn opened in Fall of 2019, includes four suites all named after an iconic female musician — King Suite (inspired by Carole King); Mitchell Manor (inspired by Joni Mitchell); Franklin Flat (inspired by Aretha Franklin) and Nick’s Nook (inspired by Stevie Nicks). Each room also comes with a kitchenette, outdoor space, a record player, as well as an outdoor hangout complete with a covered deck, wood burning stove and hot tub.

Mohonk Mountain House and its 85 miles of hiking trails are open. The old-fashioned sprawling resort is a bucolic summer camp for adults who love a weekend packed with outdoor adventures and leisure, lazy afternoons by the lake. Read our full review here.

Troutbeck
Low-key and luxurious, Troutbeck's 250 acres of summertime bliss are open, with predesignated hammock, picnic, and campfire sites set up across the property as well as a heated pool, tennis courts, and complimentary bikes. Read our full review here.

Cedar Lakes Estate
This 500-acre private estate in Hudson is typically rented out for large events in the summer months, but due to crowd restrictions, the estate has opened its 18 private cottages as all-inclusive stays for week-long rentals or more. There are acres worth of fresh vegetable gardens and a farmer's market on site to cook meals inside the cottages, as well as daily picnic baskets available to roam the property and dine lakeside.

Eastwind Hotel & Bar
Surrounded by rolling hills and nearby mountains in Windham, Eastwind's Lushna cabins feature top-notch amenities with clean Scandinavian simplicity and ease. The common spaces remain closed and the breakfast buffet is now a breakfast basket delivered to your room. The bar is closed, but there is beer and wine service to your room, smaller private fire pits are open rather than one communal fire pit. Guest rooms include their own private entrances with keypad entry and contactless check-in.

Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck
As American's fate of traveling to Europe this summer is looking bleak, the Mirbeau Inn and spa in the charming village of Rhinebeck is as close to a French fairytale as it gets. The resort offers 50 chateau-style rooms, many with their own fireplace and soaking tub as well as a massive spa that is now open and daily socially-distanced yoga classes.

Hotel Caravana
To feel as though it's the summer of '69, rent one of Hotel Caravana's retro airstream trailers set on the same property as the Four Brothers Drive-In Theater with nightly movies and several food trucks set up. The airstreams house up to four people with two twin beds and one queen-sized bed as well as a teepee for additional guests.

Show Up For Change

Peaceful vigils, protests, marches and gatherings for the Black Lives Matter movement are happening regularly in the Hudson Valley. BLM Hudson Valley is the best resource for updated information on scheduled events and community outreach on their Facebook page as well as Instagram @blmhudsonvalley.

Many local grassroots organizations are also leading the charge on social justice advocacy. Donate to them, follow them on social, share their posts, amplify their message, and get involved with their activities.

Rise Up Kingston is a community nonprofit whose work focuses on opposing systemic racism and oppression. On Instagram at: @riseupkingston.

North Star Fund provides grants to grassroots social justice organizations in the Hudson Valley and New York City to empower communities fighting for racial equality. Follow on Instagram @northstarfund.

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson supports marginalized groups to campaign against structures of oppression and inequality, working in areas like including immigration justice, civic engagement, and utility justice. Follow on Instagram @nobodyleavesmidhuson.

A.J Williams-Myers African Roots Library in Kingston is dedicated to teaching about the African roots experience, including history, culture, and literature. Follow on Instagram @ajwilliamsmeyers.archive.

If You’re Staying Put: Feel Those Hudson Valley Vibes From Home

If you can’t make it to the farm, you can enjoy their local brews of Plan Bee Farm Brewery at home with delivery all over New York state.

Rough Draft Bar & Books in Kingston is taking book orders by email and will arrange delivery to anyone within a 30-minute radius of the shop (along with Counter Culture coffee beans and DUB pies.) If you live further away, order online to receive your book in the mail.

Woods & Meadow sells CBD oils and other self-care items like CBD bath bombs, jade rollers, and palo santo through their online store.

Acorn Hill Goat Farm in Kerhonkson is a dairy goat farm that makes goat cheese, goat milk yogurt, and goat milk fudge. You can purchase any of their products for delivery on their website.

Samuel's Sweet Shop is a quaint little candy shop in Rhinebeck owned by famed locals Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Their candy boxes and sweet shop swag are available for purchase on their website with free shipping.

Keep Exploring Hudson Valley

A Chef’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in Hudson Valley
Beyond the Festival Legend: The Best of Woodstock, New York
Where to Go from NYC: Haute Hippie Rhinebeck