Cassandra Villegas shares her love of the spectacular area.
Our lead designer shares some of her favorite spots in a place thatâ€™s also perfect to explore in the fall.Â
I moved to the Hudson Valley from Boston in 2017, and while it did take some time to adjust, I grew to really love my new homeâ€”so much so that my husband and I decided to get married there!
Over the next three years, I explored local hiking trails, went apple picking, tried new restaurants, and developed a love of hard cider. Iâ€™ve been able to explore all over the Hudson Valley, and Iâ€™ve discovered so many wonderful spots and hidden gems.
What I especially appreciate about the area is the mix of incredible nature, quaint small towns, and delicious farm-to-table restaurants. As an avid hiker, Iâ€™ve loved exploring the plethora of trails, from the walking rail trails for beginners to the 3,500 club peaks for experienced hikers. Iâ€™ve also enjoyed visiting the various towns, such as Rosendale and Beacon, and discovering incredible restaurants that merge NYC-quality fare with farm-fresh local ingredients.
Thatâ€™s why for the past two years Iâ€™ve been compiling a list of places to see and things to do while living in the Hudson Valley. Iâ€™ve included hikes, restaurants, and museums that you can check out if youâ€™re in upstate New York. Here are the highlights, if youâ€™d like to see more of my favorites, check out my complete Travel Story on Portico.
Places to See
Peach Hill Park
This is a great park in Poughkeepsie. There are walking trails throughout, but you can also sit on the benches and enjoy the view overlooking the Hudson Valley. The park is also filled with apple trees, so if you go during apple season, you can pick some for free!
Storm King Art Center
Located in New Windsor, the Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor museum where visitors can experience large-scale sculpture and site-specific commissions under the open sky. Since 1960, â€œStorm King has been dedicated to stewarding the hills, meadows, and forests of its site and surrounding landscape. Building on the visionary thinking of its founders, Storm King supports artists and some of their most ambitious works.â€ With changing programming, exhibitions, and seasons, every visit is a unique experience.
Walkway Over the Hudson
The moment the Walkway over the Hudson opened to the public in 2009, the Hudson Valley instantly became a cooler place to live. On a nice day, you can expect to see a constant stream of humanity out there. Offering incredible views of the river, the Catskills, the Hudson Highlands, and the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the Walkway Over the Hudson offers a unique stroll on the longest raised pedestrian walkway in the whole (entire freaking) world. A great adventure for anyone, this route is three miles total and lasts approximately one-and-a-half hours, ringing in at about a two out of 10 on the difficulty scale.
Art Omi is a 120-acre Sculpture and Architecture Park located in Columbia County, NY. Itâ€™s open daily and welcomes the public to its grounds and events free of charge. There are always a plethora of events and workshops taking place, and international artists, writers, dancers, musicians, and architects in residence.
Where to Hike
COVID Update: There are so many trails in the Hudson Valley, but be careful if youâ€™re planning to visit a popular one. Since Spring 2020, parking lots have been filling up much quicker than before.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
This park has a lot of great trails, ranging from easy to difficult. If youâ€™re going on a trail that starts at an official parking lot, make sure to check parking rates, and if youâ€™re going on a weekend, try and get there early. The parking lots in this park tend to fill up on popular days.
This park has absolutely incredible hikes, and you really canâ€™t go wrong with any of their trails. They are quite popular, so be sure to visit on an off day or early in the morning. They also charge a fee per hiker, so it can get pricey if you go regularly and donâ€™t have an annual membership.
If you’re looking for a short introductory mountain trail, this spot is perfect! Itâ€™s only 1.5 miles long, but the overlook is incredible. Itâ€™s also located right next to downtown Rosendale, so you can explore the town after the hike.
Kingston O&W Rail Trail
This is a great hidden walking trail in Kingston. The trailhead is actually right next to the Super 8 parking lot, which is a bit funky. But once you get into the trail, the scenery is beautiful, and it connects to the Hurley Rail Trail.
This is a great moderate trail in the Catskills. A really fun part of this hike is the overlook, where they have a set up of four stone sitting areas. It makes for a great spot to relax and enjoy the view before hiking back to the parking area.
What to Eat
The Hudson Valley is really all about local produce. Look for spots that focus on local ingredients and check out the farmerâ€™s markets.
This is a great spot for some truly authentic Japanese home cooking. Rosendale is such a cute town; visit the local shops or movie theater after your meal.
Super Bowl Cuisine
This is a very unassuming spot, but the Chinese food is absolutely delicious. You can choose to get hot pot, which is a great experience for a larger party, or go with ordering from the menu. Definitely try their authentic dishes!
Pupuseria Mi Ranchito
This is one of the best restaurants in Kingston. Their authentic Salvadorian food is incredible, and you canâ€™t go wrong with any of their pupusa varieties.
This spot just opened up in Midtown Kingston, and itâ€™s a great spot for sandwiches. The bread is incredibly fresh and the different flavor combinations are delicious.
We absolutely love the food here! We loved it so much we had our wedding rehearsal dinner here. They specialize in Palestinian food, and you really canâ€™t go wrong with any of the dishes. Be prepared to eat a lot, though, as the portions are on the larger size.
What to Drink: Cider
Thereâ€™s a thriving cider culture in the Hudson Valley, and if youâ€™re not particularly into wine, itâ€™s a great alternative. A lot of breweries will offer tours and tastings, which are really fun.
Stone Ridge Orchard
This is a really cute spot to try cider. They do offer wood-fired pizza, but I would skip it as I definitely didnâ€™t think it was worth it. They also serve non-alcoholic cider and mixed drinks.
Rose Hill Farm
This is my favorite spot so far for both cider and fruit picking. Theyâ€™ve recently opened a bar and also often host other local restaurants/food trucks, so occasionally you can get a full meal here. If you visit during picking season, definitely plan on getting some fruit. They have an incredible selection of varieties and the quality really canâ€™t be beat.
Want to learn more about the Hudson Valley? Check out Cassandraâ€™s Travel Story on Portico.