1. Where to Stay
Enjoy a private fireplace and whirlpool tub in your room at the opulent Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa, a 70-acre estate overlooking the Hudson (from $250). The elaborate on-site spa is a deal, offering hour-long facials for $100 and Swedish massages for $90. Complimentary tea and baked goods are served daily from 3 to 5 p.m.—the lavender for the pound cake is picked fresh from the on-site garden.
Sample local produce, cheeses, and meats at Le Petit Chateau Inn, a foodie-luring B&B located a half-mile from the Culinary Institute of America (from $175). Ingredients for breakfast are locally sourced, from the coffee beans to the eggs. Partake in a one-on-one cooking demonstration with a chef from the school at lunch or dinner (from $195).
Pedal through the Berkshire foothills at the Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast, where four complimentary bikes are available on a first-come basis (from $175). The five-room inn was renovated in April 2010 to include a modernized kitchen and Victorian décor throughout.
Stay within strolling distance of the scenic Walkway Over the Hudson—the world’s longest pedestrian bridge—at the Grand Hotel, a ten-story high-rise that’s just a few blocks from the entryway (from $109). Or opt for the more-modern 129-room Hampton Inn & Suites, which is ten minutes from the Walkway and offers a 15 percent discount if you book in advance (from $149).
2. Where to Eat
Scope out commissioned murals by New York graffiti artists like Ka, Two-Ill, and Deck on your way into Bull and Buddha, a swank Asian-fusion restaurant and lounge that opened late last month. The full sushi bar is supplemented by inventive concoctions like deep-fried, wasabi-laced tuna spring rolls.
Choose from around two dozen beers (including a hearty Belgian Lambic, $11) at the Artist’s Palate, an internationally inspired meat-and-seafood spot serving dishes ranging from jager schnitzel to Spanish-style octopus. Or opt for tapas and wine at Canvas, a sister restaurant opening next door later this month that will feature revolving art installations and live music.
Plan a date night at Crave, a low-lit bistro opened last December by Culinary Institute of America alums right next to the Walkway entryway. The seasonal spot pairs simply prepared seafood, poultry, and meat with decadent comfort foods like Cheddar grits and peanut noodles.
3. What to Do
Marvel at uninterrupted views of the riverscape and city from the Walkway Over the Hudson, a 1.28-mile pedestrian bridge and state park that opened last October after a $38.8 million refurbishment. The hour-long walk is the best way to admire the area’s vivid fall foliage along the banks, which start turning this month. Though the main entryway is at 61 Parker Avenue, you’ll have better luck finding parking around the second entrance, near Crave and Lulu’s on Washington Street.
Stroll or bike along the Dutchess Rail Trail, a flat route that follows the old Maybrook railroad line through a lush canopy of autumnal oaks and maples. A newly paved 2.4-mile section opened last July along Creek Road. For more remote terrain, opt for the 4.5-mile Harlem Valley Rail Trail, which starts in Amenia and winds through wetlands and farms with the Berkshire foothills in the distance.
Take a bucolic cycling trip with the Mid-Hudson Bike Club, which offers one to two free rides every weekend of varying skill levels and distances. The Dusty Ride on October 24 covers the dirt roads and farm country near Staatsburg, with moderate hills throughout.
4. Insider’s Tip
Since June, Hudson Valley Boat Rides has been running a fourteen-passenger, high-speed water taxi between Poughkeepsie and the dock at Torches restaurant in Newburgh. At $30 round-trip and with rides running as late as midnight, it’s an unbeatable way to take in the Valley (go at night for an illuminated view of the Mid-Hudson Bridge). The unpublicized boats are rarely full; make a same-day reservation at 845-486-9500.
5. Oddball Day
Get out of the woods with a road trip through eastern Dutchess County. Start with a stack of raisin cinnamon French toast and blackberry maple syrup ($8.75) at Red Devon in Bangall, a casual farm-to-table eatery that emphasizes sustainability—the green roof is covered with grass and wildflowers and the kitchen recycles heat from the dishwasher and exhaust system. You’ll need the fuel to shoot a 30-stand round of sporting clays just down the road at Orvis Sandanona, one of the oldest public shooting ranges in the country ($75 for 100 shots or $175 an hour for lessons). Continue a few miles south to the Wassaic Project, a community arts center run out of a refurbished mill and animal auction house. On October 17, the spot hosts an open studio for its ten fall artist residents: Don’t miss Ryan Frank’s vintage photograph installations and Eliza Swann’s monstrous sculptures depicting twisted religious imagery (2 to 5 p.m.). Head ten miles north to Millerton’s Main Street, a trove of vintage shops and antiques, and check out the huge selection of vintage hats at BW’s Eagle Eye (23 Main Street; 518-789-4109) and mid-century housewares at Hunter Bee (21 Main Street; 518-789-2127). Sample spicy Middle Eastern flavors at Serevan for dinner, a locally sourced restaurant in Amenia serving inventive Mediterranean fare. Finally, drive back along the horse farms lining Route 44 to downtown Poughkeepsie’s Bardavon, a beautifully restored nineteenth-century opera house that draws folk heavyweights like Natalie Merchant (10/8) and Joan Baez (10/24).
Hudson Valley Magazine offers restaurant and shopping picks in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County.
Kingston-based art mag Chronogram lists concerts and art exhibits in the area.
Traillink.com is the authority on maps for any of the county’s converted railroad trails.