From landmarks to landscapes, it’s easy to jam pack a day in the Hudson Valley, but the best getaways often have the shortest to-do lists. The tiny towns east of the Hudson River are big on beauty, and close enough to one another (and to Long Island) to make for a low-impact weekend. When the simple life beckons, pick one or all of these easygoing itineraries and hit the road—slowly.
Home Base. Just minutes from the (relatively) bustling city of Hudson, Mount Merino Manor boasts stunning river and Catskill views, gorgeous 1870s architecture and 100 green acres to roam. Originally built by a friend of painter Frederic Church—whose own home and studio, now the Olana State Historic Site, is two miles away—this Victorian estate offers impeccable amenities and farm-to-table breakfasts as well as a central location for day tripping.
Take Me to the River. Visitors can walk Germantown’s sweet Main Street in about a minute, but be sure to leave time to hit Otto’s Market for made-to-order egg sammies or pick up picnic fare to enjoy at nearby Clermont State Historic Site. At Clermont, visitors can take in water views, tour the historic house or traipse along five miles of nature trails. The Village of Tivoli is less than two square miles, but boasts several spots to grab a glass of wine or a nosh after viewing the newest exhibit at the Tivoli Artists Gallery, a community-based organization for artists with 40 local members. For those who have energy to spare, the gardens and grounds at Montgomery Place on the Bard College campus are well worth the short drive south.
Farm Charm. Lovely Love Apple Farm in Ghent is an idyllic spot for U-Pick apples, berries, cherries and other stone fruits, and its café goes way beyond the usual cider doughnuts with seasonal soups, salads and authentic tamales and other Mexican dishes. On weekends, catch the newest exhibition at the art space located in the farm’s classic 1800s farmhouse. The art is in the glass at Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery, which has been making award-winning spirits in a third-generation apple farm in Valatie since 2007. Stop by the tasting room to sample the farms own vodka, applejack or brandy as well as a range of ciders from acclaimed local producers. Soak up all those spirits at Our Daily Bread in the nearby Village of Chatham, where visitors can enjoy the many historic buildings and personable shops spanning just over a half-mile.
One for the Road. For one last Hudson Valley hurrah, take the long-ish way home and detour through Millerton’s Main Street on your way back to the Taconic. Millerton Antiques Center and Oblong Books & Music are loaded with eclectic gifts to take back for the house sitter, and Gilmor Glass Works has exquisite hand-blown glassware and decorative items perfect for treating yourself. A simple and civilized lunch at Harney & Sons, which offers 250 varieties of tea along with classic teatime fare, or a pour-over from the upstate outpost of NYC’s Irving Farm Coffee Roasters will put travelers in the right frame of mind to ease on down the road home.