The Hudson Valley and its picturesque towns are a short Metro North ride away for NYC residents, and a two to five hour drive for those living in New England. While the landscape views alone are worth the trip, the towns here are super cute and fun to explore. My favorite time of year to visit is during the fall, when the foliage is in full swing.
It’s easy to get there: As I mentioned, the Hudson Valley is a short drive from both NYC and New England. If you don’t have a car, there are still options! You can take Amtrak or the likely more affordable Metro-North railroad from NYC. There are also buses from NYC, Albany and more via New York Trailways and Coach USA.
It’s not as far away as you think: Travel Hudson Valley has a handy list of drive times from Manhattan to different parts of the region.
Here are a few ideas for things to do during a Hudson Valley weekend getaway.
Soak Up the Region’s History
The Hudson Valley has a rich history and its towns do a great job of preserving landmarks and historical sights. The Nyack Library was one landmark that caught my eye. The building is very pretty and unlike any public library I’ve seen before. There’s also a cute cafe next door called Art Cafe. Perfect for cozying up with coffee + a newly borrowed book?
Another place worth checking out is the Tarrytown Music Hall, one of the oldest theaters in the country. The stage has played host to famous musicians like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. Catch a play or musical here after dining at one of the quaint wine bars or pubs nearby in downtown Tarrytown, which was named one of the Top 10 Prettiest Towns in America by Forbes.
Shop, Dine + Drink
It’s a rare thing for me to recommend a restaurant that is not only inside a chain hotel, but also in the suburbs. But Cooper’s Mill, a farm-to-table restaurant located in the Marriott in Tarrytown, is quite good. This spot serves classic American comfort food made with local and organic ingredients. Inspired by Tarrytown’s agricultural history, the name was taken from a flour mill that opened in Tarrytown in 1886 and used to produce more than 300 barrels of flour a day. The restaurant’s tables are even hand crafted from reclaimed barn wood!
Also in Tarrytown, located right downtown, Silver Tips Tea Room is the perfect place to get cozy on a chilly afternoon with a $4 pot of tea – that is, if you can choose a flavor from their neverending menu!
In neighboring Nyack, arrive early for brunch at popular local spot Strawberry Place. This cash-only restaurant serves healthy things like veggie omelets… but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to resist the nutella, banana and strawberry waffle once you see fellow patrons ordering it.
The same street features an array of interesting boutiques that carry everything from Moroccan and Indian imports to contemporary fashions and antiques. It’s definitely worth stopping into each little shop on S. Broadway Ave to pick up unique knick knacks for your house or apartment.
There are a number of good hiking spots in the Hudson Valley, but two that are close to Nyack and Tarrytown are Bear Mountain and Anthony’s Nose. They’re actually within walking distance of each other (and connected by a cool cross-river bridge with good photo opps) if you’re feeling particularly ambitious!
Both can be done in less than a couple hours and offer a good cardio workout that you can still handle even if you haven’t quite been hitting the gym lately.
One of the coolest things in the region is the Storm King Art Center, an outdoor sculpture park that features oversized art against the beautiful Hudson Valley backdrop. There are more than 100 sculptures and installations across 500 acres, meaning you should definitely set aside an entire afternoon to explore.
My personal favorites are the red steel sculptures by Mark Suvero, such as “Mother Peace.” This one features an unexpected peace sign cut out in its middle, symbolizing the artist’s opposition to the Vietnam War. Fun fact: “Mother Peace” actually once stood out in front of the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland, California until officials realized its message and had it removed.
The 28-foot-tall “Three Legged Buddha” by Chinese artist Zhang Huan is also a sight to behold.
With this being an agricultural area and all, there are plenty of apple and pumpkin picking type places to visit. However, I highly recommend making a pit stop at Thompson’s Cider Mill. The mill, which has been producing apple cider since 1975, is family-owned and sells a variety of apple-infused treats (apple cider donuts, hello) as well as a huge variety of actual apples from different orchards.
If you happen to be in the region the weekend before Halloween, I’d also recommend checking out Sleepy Hollow’s annual Haunted Hayride. Get there early as the line is pretty insane, although a street fair provides entertainment during the four-hour wait.
Sleepy Hollow used to be part of Tarrytown, but in 1996 the town voted to change the name in an effort to reconnect with its famous past. The Headless Horseman is now featured prominently on all town signs and even on the firetrucks!
The Haunted Hayride goes through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving himself is actually buried. I won’t reveal too much, but be ready to jump out of your skin.
Lastly, make sure you get a chance to check out that NYC skyline from the banks of the Hudson River. So close, yet just far away enough that you got to enjoy a little bit of the great outdoors!
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