New York City is one of the world’s great cities but like most large cities they are usually not that representative of the country in general. So during our last trip to New York, we decided to leave the city and head into New York State itself. The state stretches from New York City all the way up to Niagara Falls and the Canadian border. As well as the beautiful countryside the state also has a rich history being one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States.
For this trip, we decided to follow the Hudson River Valley 2 hours north from JFK to the historic Dutchess County. The area was originally settled by the Dutch (I’m no Columbo but there could be a clue in the name) and was the family home to America’s 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
So here is what we got up to during our short visit to Dutchess County although there is plenty more to see and do throughout the year, whatever your interests.
Historic Airplanes At The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
After leaving modern air travel behind at JFK our first stop in Dutchess County was the vintage airshow at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Every Saturday and Sunday from May to October historic planes actual fly above the aerodrome including a 1909 Bleriot and a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. It was also great to see the pilots and ground crew all dressed up in the old flying clothes.
The Saturday show is usually about the history of flight and the Sunday show features a dogfight with the villainous Black Baron of Rhinebeck.
Even if you are not a big aviation fan it is still good fun to see and hear these incredible flying machines struggling to take-off.
As Cole Palen, the founder of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome said – “It Isn’t An Airplane If It Doesn’t Fly”
Bourbon Tasting At Taconic Distillery
What could be better than rounding off the first afternoon of sightseeing and Rhinebeck Aerodrome hot dogs than a bit of bourbon tasting at Taconic Distillery?
Taking its name from the Taconic Mountains, the Taconic Distillery produces handcrafted award-winning bourbon and rye whiskies and luckily for us, they had a tasting room in the heart of Dutchess County.
Red Hook And The Red Hook Country Inn
We spent our first night in Dutchess County in the quintessential New York town of Red Hook at the quaint 1841 Federal Colonial style Red Hook Country Inn. After great food at the neighbouring Flatiron Restaurant, a glass of bourbon or two and a touch of jetlag we crashed out in our huge bed at the inn.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
Looking like an English country house transplanted straight from Surrey or Kent, Staatsburgh State Historic Site was the elegant country house of Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston. The mansion is a perfect example of the great estates built during the Gilded Age, the period of rapid economic growth in America during the late 19th century.
As well as the beautiful house which overlooks the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains there are a number of trails that thread through the grounds which are ideal for walking, hiking and cycling and apparently cross-country skiing during the winter.
Vineyards And Wine Tasting
To our delight, Dutchess County is wine country. There is a picturesque wine trail connecting Millbrook and Clinton vineyards which leads you through the valley past vineyards, orchards and farms. As we had limited time we visited the first and last, Millbrook and Clinton, we’ll just have to come back and spend a few more days exploring the other vineyards and cideries.
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery has been established for over 30 years and was voted ‘Best Winery’ in the Hudson Valley. Of course, you can partake in the all-important tasting and there are tours of the winery and vineyard as well as a scenic vineyard walking trail.
At the other end of the wine trail is the Clinton Vineyard which has been established for over 40 years and has been described as the ‘Jewel in the Crown of Dutchess County’. It also has a tasting room where you can try their selection of Seyval Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir and even some Cassis which is perfect in their sparkling wine.
So after a hectic day of good food and wine tasting (life’s hard…), it was time to head to Rhinebeck and our accommodation for the last night in Dutchess County, the Olde Rhinebeck Inn.
The Olde Rhinebeck Inn
It was great to end our stay In Dutchess County at The Olde Rhinebeck Inn, a beautifully authentic American style farmhouse (circa 1745) which retains many of its original architectural details. Although authentic, the large welcoming rooms are fitted with all the amenities you expect in a modern luxury hotel.
As well as the stunning interior and grounds, what set the Oled Rhinebeck Inn apart from many hotels was the warm welcome from the innkeepers, thanks again for the large glass of wine after my days driving.
Cheese Tasting At Sprout Creek Farm
Our last stop in Dutchess County was Sprout Creek Farm near Poughkeepsie (you’ve got to love that name). It is a working educational farm which raises free-range cows, sheep, goats and a selection of other animals. Sprout Creek Farm’s philosophy is to ‘educate people to understand and appreciate our connection to the earth and our responsibility for its care.’
As well as the educational experiences they also produce some excellent cheese and that was the reason for our visit. After first meeting the cows and after a couple of goats tried to eat Mel’s camera strap we tried a selection of their cheese, still made using traditional methods. Our favourite was the ‘Bogart’ which is one of the most popular cheeses from the farm.
The farm visit completed our 48 hours in Dutchess County and unfortunately, it was time for us to move on.
So next time you are flying into New York, instead of just staying in the city why not extend your visit and take a trip up the Hudson Valley to Dutchess County. We’re sure you’ll love it.