Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hudson Valley

New York’s original art show

Executive summary by darmansjah

Not even Rip Van Winkle could sleep through the cultural clarion of today’s Hudson Valley. The legendary snoozer in Washington Irving’s tale might descend from his Catskill Mountains hollow to find some of the country’s best folk musicians at the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson. Founded by now 93-year-old Pete Seeger, the festival marks its 35th anniversary in 2013. “The Hudson must surely be one of the world’s most extraordinary streams,” says Seeger. “Other rivers are longer and start higher, but my wife and I and our daughter look every day from the windows of our two-room house and see the Hudson. Bless it!”

Just a couple hours north of New York City, this is a land of mom-and-pop shops, “u-pick” wildflower fields, and organic farm stands where “chain” is a four-letter word. Between the Culinary Institute of America grads too enchanted to leave Hyde Park and the influx of NYC chefs realizing the land is greener (and apartments bigger) here, area eateries such as Blue Hill at Stone Barns are stoking locavore passions.

Artists of all media find their muses here. Take a drive to the newly expanded Hudson River School Art Trail to see 17 sites in New York that inspired America’s great mid-19th-century landscape paintings. “The views that compose the art trail are a national treasure,” says Elizabeth B. Jacks, director of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Or visit museums such as the outdoor Storm King Art Center sculpture park to see the work of contemporary visionaries.

Some villages marry art and music famously. In the wonderfully weird and artsy Woodstock, indie performers and music icons rub elbows and grab crusty loaves at Bread Alone Bakery. Budding musicians bring their bongos to the weekly hippie drum circle on the Village Green.
Much like Rip, Hudson Valley wanderers often wake up to find this is where they long to rest their vagabond souls. —Sascha Zuger

Travel Tips

When to Go: May-October; fall foliage and harvest festivals mid-September through October.

Where to Stay: The Olde Rhinebeck Inn’s mid-Hudson Valley location north of Hyde Park and easy access to the New York State Thruway (I-87) make the historic bed-and-breakfast an ideal base for area day trips. Original architectural details in the restored 1745 farmhouse include wide plank living room floors and hand-hewn chestnut beams.

How to Get Around: Driving offers the most flexibility. From New York City, drive north on either side of the Hudson River via I-87 (tolls) or U.S. 9W on the west or the scenic Taconic State Parkway or Route 9 on the east. Add a boat cruise (May-October, Hudson River Cruises) or scenic train ride (Metro-North Railroad).

Where to Eat or Drink: Book a table two months in advance at elegant Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Menus list the day’s fresh ingredients. Identify any you don’t want in your Farmer’s Feast (five courses, $108; eight courses, $148; 12 courses, $208).

What to Read Before You Go: Hudson River Valley Farms: The People and the Pride Behind the Produce, by Joanne Michaels and Rich Pomerantz (2009). Illustrated, insider’s portrait of 44 Hudson Valley farmers and their farms includes driving directions to each featured farm, plus a directory of nearly a hundred local farmers markets.

Fun Fact: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the final resting place of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving. Other notable residents include Harry and Leona Helmsley, whose lavish mausoleum offers Manhattan skyline views (on a stained-glass window).

Helpful Links: Hudson River Valley Tourism

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