Hudson Valley Getaway – An Art and Nature Excursion

Samantha Weck
Samantha Weck

The Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley is a wonderful mix of countryside and small-town adventure. Only a few hours north of New York City, it becomes a relaxing getaway for city-goers or what makes a trip to New York City worth it for non-New Yorkers. What you can find in this region are beautiful hikes, rich history, classic as well as budding artists, great food, farmers markets, craft fairs, and overall people with abundant kindness. I know I may be a bit biased as I am from the region, however, as a native, I can guarantee that this region is something not to be missed. Since the region is big. This article will mostly be focused on Beacon, Poughkeepsie, and the Bear Mountain/Peekskill area.

The Best Time to Go

The height of the Hudson Valley’s high season is summer and fall. During these times there isn’t a weekend where a craft fair or carnival isn’t going on. During the summer, you can expect hiking trails to be packed and ferry rides to be fully booked. Fall is where apple and pumpkin picking get their time to shine as well as hay rides and horseback riding. Spring is also a wonderful time to come. Trails are less crowded and the heat has not yet become unbearable. You will find many flowers among the trails. Winter is the region’s slow season. Hotel prices will be at their lowest and a lot of activities have closed down for the season. We still get visitors who like to ski at West Point or enjoy ice skating at the local rinks. Basically, you cannot go wrong no matter what season you visit. It just depends on what activities you would like to partake in.

Where to Stay

The Hudson Valley depending on where you are staying either has a variety of hotels in the area or almost none. Fret not though, there are many vacation rentals available that are worth a look at. If I have the budget, I lean towards boutique hotels because they are so unique and it is better for the local economy as most of them are small businesses. Some boutique hotels I recommend are The Roundhouse in Beacon, Cromwell Manor Historic Inn in Cornwall, and Buttermilk Inn & Spa in Milton. There are also some chain hotels in the area ranging from budget to luxury. Some chains are Hilton, Marriot, and IHG.

What to Do

One of the Bear Mountain Trails

When it comes to hiking and nature, the Hudson Valley has so many options to choose from. Bear Mountain is one of my absolute favorite parks to visit whenever I visit the Hudson Valley Area. They have a wide range of trails starting at beginner and going all the way to advance. There’s also a gorgeous lake that you can walk around and enjoy. If you’re not up for a hike or don’t want to spend your entire day hiking, Bear Mountain also has a community pool that opens during the summer months. For a small fee, you can enjoy the pool for the entire day. I recommend getting there early though as the pool gets packed pretty quickly. There is also a zoo on property that is free to the public. It houses animals that are native to the area. It’s fun whether you’re with your partner or family. The zoo operates on donations so I do ask you to donate what you can if you do visit just to keep it up and running. The zoo offers educational programs for children and adults in the area to help protect local wildlife. Honestly, my favorite way to enjoy Bear Mountain is to pack a lunch and picnic there so I don’t need to leave the area and worry about parking. If you’re looking for a restaurant to enjoy, there are a few nearby that I will mention later on.

In Poughkeepsie, you can find yourself at Walkway Over the Hudson Historic State Park. Here you can enjoy a leisurely walk over the Hudson River. This is free and worth it if you enjoy beautiful views. Just be careful as lots of people walk their dogs and ride their bikes across the bridge so just be mindful of where you’re walking. There are benches along the walkway as well so you can leisurely look at the views and boats passing by. Be sure to stop by the Locust Grove Estate. Not only does it hold a lot of history for the area, but it has gardens, nature trails, and an art gallery on site. There is also a museum gift shop on-site to get your perfect souvenirs or gifts for family and friends back home. They do require pre-purchasing of tickets, so be sure to check out their website for pricing and schedules before heading over there.

Fire Tower at Mount Beacon

Mount Beacon may not have all the bells and whistles Bear Mountain State Park does, but it has some amazing hikes that are not to be missed. I highly recommend doing the fire tower trail as you can climb to the top of the tower and enjoy great views of the Hudson Valley. It is a popular spot for hikers and photographers, Especially, during the spring and fall seasons. There are ranges from beginner to advanced trails for all levels of enjoyment. You can picnic here or enjoy food at some of the nearby restaurants in Beacon.

Located in a former Nabisco box printing factory, this facility presents Dia’s collection of art from the 1960s to the present as well as special exhibitions and public programs. Dia Beacon is a bit different from traditional art museums as it does not cram as many paintings onto a wall as possible. In fact, there aren’t many paintings at Dia Beacon. There are many sculptures and interactive pieces that draw you into the exhibit. Dia Beacon also isn’t too large where it takes you an entire day to get through it.

Not far from Dia Beacon is an island that houses a castle. You heard me. Bannerman Castle is only accessible by boat. You can leave the port in Beacon for a short ferry ride to the island. The island Bannerman Castle is located was considered haunted by local Native American tribes, so immigrants used to go there for refuge from the natives. Later on, it was an important location during the American Revolution until it was eventually bought by David Bannerman, hence the name. You can find more in-depth history on the Bannerman Castle’s website or wait to take a tour to learn all about it. You have the option of taking a guided or self-guided tour of the island. The grounds are gorgeous and fun to explore even if you do not have a huge interest in history. Bannerman Castle’s architecture is great to take note of.

The Food

For breakfast, there are many options. Kitchen and Coffee are right on Main Street in Beacon and open at 7 am everyday. They offer organic food and many healthy options. Some items on their menu are green smoothie bowel, coconut granola, banana and wildflower honey toast, and a seasonal quiche. If you’re looking for a place that serves a traditional American egg breakfast, Beacon Bread Company, also in Beacon, is the place to go. I am not a coffee person but they are one of the most popular spots from coffee. You can get basic coffee or your own craft concoctions at this place. Royal Crepes in Beacon is definitely worth a stop. They have both sweet and savory crepes. I have a really big sweet tooth so you know I am going to recommend their cinnamon bun crepe with all its sweet gooeyness.

For a snack, I recommend hopping on over to Glazed Over Donuts in Beacon. The donuts are gourmet with unique flavors. Think Coldstone but for donuts instead of ice cream. Head over to Happy Vally Arcade Bar. You can find a list of games on their website. They offer local beers on tap and some classic cocktails with their own spin. You can catch me there with friends sipping on their cosmopolitron while winning at Pac-Man. They also have a small selection of wines and sake as well as small appetizers available to give you fuel during your gaming session. There is a small snack menu available to curb the munchies or soak up your drinks.

For lunch, The Beacon Daily are famous for their chicken dishes and sandwiches. I am absolutely obsessed with their Cubano sandwich. Their menu is small but there is something for everyone. They are located near The Roundhouse, Glazed Over Donuts, Dia Beacon, and a lot of other businesses I recommended. If you don’t bring a packed lunch to Bear Mountain then you can take a quick drive over the Bear Mountain Bridge to Gleason’s in Peekskill. They have amazing artisan pizza. All the pizza is individual size. So you can each get your own or split that and an appetizer. I personally love their margherita pizza, especially since they added pesto to it, but my friend particularly enjoyed their sausage and rabe pizza. Mill House Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie, is located in an old renovated mill, they serve their own house-made beers and elevated pub fare. While I don’t usually eat appetizers during the lunch meal, I highly recommend trying their sesame meatballs. You heard me. These meatballs will definitely be worth the try if you head their way. They also serve pizza here similar to Gleason’s mentioned earlier. While you never can go wrong with pizza, I recommend trying their kielbasa and perogies dish or crispy chicken sando sandwich. Both are great meals without making you feel like you need to enter into a food coma.

For dinner, Merzingah Tap House, located on Main street in Beacon, offers modern American fare as well as craft beer and cocktails. With wonderful art murals all around the restaurant and bar, you can’t help but feel the culture the Hudson Valley brings you. While I am not vegan, I absolutely am in love with their impossible burger. The bun is vegan as well so it isn’t a meal just for vegetarians. They add hummus to the burger along with the usual lettuce, tomato, and onion which just give it that extra flavor. I admit, I am not a fan of beer but I love some fun cocktails. Merzingah Tap House has some signature cocktails that add something extra to your meal. If you’re looking for something simple and sweet, when life gives you lemons drink is the perfect refreshing addition during the spring or summer months. Sukothai on Main Street in Beacon has a large selection of Thai cuisine anywhere from classic dishes to custom dishes of your choice. They have gluten-free and vegetarian options as well. Their rice dish, khao pad, is delicious and gluten-free. This is a great place to expand your horizons. So, if you thought I was done talking about places in repurposed buildings, you would be absolutely wrong because I am sending you to a bank for dinner. Well, an old bank. This restaurant is called The Vault and for good reason. They kept a lot of the bank’s key features intact making this a fun and unique spot to enjoy a meal. Be careful ordering the truffle fries because they are addicting. You are not going to want to share with whoever you’re dining with. The scallops are very fresh and great if you a break from beef. The Vault also has an extensive wine list and a small cocktail list for those looking to elevate their experience through drinks. Be sure to ask your waiter for recommendations as they know the best pairings for your meal.


The Hudson Valley is a really big region that can be overwhelming when planning. It’s part of the region that I focused on a small area. Narrowing down which part of the Hudson Valley will take a lot of the stress out of planning. Due to the current state of the covid-19 pandemic, it is a good idea to dig a little deeper into your research. Operation times, prices, and availability are subject to change. Please check with each location you plan to visit as most will require reservations in the event that they are open and hours are limited. Hiking trails should typically always be open until sundown, but it does not hurt to double-check before making your way there.

Samantha Weck
Samantha Weck