food writer & author of best selling books about coffee - f&b consultant - pastrychef - formerly: New York (Blue Hill), London (MAST🍫)
now: building craft food brands in Singapore
Published August 5th 2018
New York is known as the city that never sleeps - but sometimes you need to get out of town and take a moment to breathe. What many visitors to the city don't realise is that there is a whole world of experiences, just a short train ride north.
Welcome to New York State: the home of rolling green hills, beautiful homes, and acres upon acres of abundant farmland.
1. Hudson Valley Rivertowns
World famous for its farm-to-table restaurants and quaint little towns, the Hudson Valley is filled with farmers markets and New York city departees, who have filled the small towns with shops and restaurants that make for a great weekend visit. Best time to visit is in Spring or early Fall, to enjoy the beauty of nature.
The Farmers Markets of Tarrytown, Irvington, Pleasantville are a must, to try local produce and sit under the trees and listen to live music, with coffee and pastries for breakfast.
Head to Revenge BBQ at 48 Main St, Irvington. The BBQ masters get up early to smoke the meat for the day, filling the picturesque main street with the smell of delicious BBQ, the likes of which you could only find in the South.
Head up into Pocantico Hills, and take a walk around the Rockefeller State Park. Halfway through you will likely stumble across Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, where you can wander around and meet their farm animals, take a foraging tour, or try one of the whole wheat croissants at the farm store.
If you are visiting in Fall, the bright red leaves and crisp clean air are worth the trip on their own - but a little further north you can find the apple, peach and pumpkin farms where if you time it right, you can enjoy a hayride and try the regions famous apple cider doughnuts at Wilken's Fruit and Fir Farm.
For an arts filled day, head up to the gorgeous town of Beacon.
For breakfast, stop off just 40 minutes from New York City in sleepy Nyack for the Art Cafe - a converted old wooden house that serves excellent Israeli cuisine - think house made pitas filled with hummus and steaming hot bowls of shakshuka for dipping.
Just a little further up, stop into Storm King, am open-air arts museum - said to contain the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States spanning approximately 500 hectares.
Head on to Beacon for lunch - The Roundhouse is an 'industrial chic' hotel with a restaurant overlooking a waterfall.
Take an afternoon wander through the main street shops - lots of boutiques and eclectic artsy stores.
Once you've had your fill of shopping, head straight to Dia:Beacon, one of the Hudson Valley's treasures. The museum for the Dia Art Foundations collection, the stunning galleries are set amongst a beautiful location on the outskirts of Beacon. Make sure you leave enough time to wander their spacious galleries.
Drive back home along the riverfront, and head to Breakneck Ridge. Prepare for a bit of a climb - bring good shoes - but settle on the large rock that overhangs the Hudson river for a spectacular sunset.
A little further north, the storied region of the Catskill Mountains are the setting for many a summer love story, such as the well loved one in Dirty Dancing. Once a popular summer camp destination, the tourists packed up and moved out long ago. Left behind are cute little mountain towns, now filled with former Brooklynites, bringing their young families to breathe the mountain air and set up cool businesses.
Kingston can be the first stop - wander Wall St and Broadway with a coffee and browse the boutiques and famous antique stores.
Outdated is a good stop for breakfast - an antiques store cross cafe, the dishes are hearty, homemade and delicious and heavy on the vegetables.
If you want, you can take the Catskill Mountain Railroad from here and spend a day in the mountains. Or, if browsing picturesque towns is more your thing, then you won't find them lacking in this region.
Make sure you stop in at the Smoke House of the Catskills to stock up on meats before heading into Saugerties for more antique shopping.
You'll cross the bridge and head back down on the other side of the river - stopping in at gorgeous Market St for wood fired pizza dinner. Wander the streets of Rhinebeck for a traditional American town.
A second day in the region is recommended - if you stay, don't miss Phoenicia Diner's famous brunches, or if you are visiting in summer, then Maverick's concert hall - a long-running music series in a rustic hall in the woods, built in the 1910's.
Once you head out of New York City, it's so easy to see why many former city dwellers save their pennies for a move North.