6 Towns to Explore in the Hudson Valley

Apr 25, 2023

Breathtaking views, incredible food, an impressive art scene – there’s nothing like living in the Hudson Valley.

It’s like being a world away – but, really, you’re never more than a quick train ride from the city. Hudson Valley has always been a go-to for New Yorkers looking for a close-but-not-too-close weekend getaway. But with so many people shifting to remote work, this incredible area has seen a mass influx of new permanent residents, including countless city transplants looking for a different pace– without giving up access, amenities, and amazing food, culture, and activities. 

If you’re considering Hudson Valley – or would love a little “vacation vibe” in your everyday – check out these communities. 

Beacon, NY

Can’t imagine giving up NYC’s arts and culture scene? In Beacon, you don’t have to. In 2003, an abandoned Nabisco box-printing factory was converted into Dia: Beacon, making the town home to one of the largest modern art museums in the country. Artists and other creative types soon followed, and today the streets are lined with dozens of galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. 

Craving life on the water? After a morning of shopping and gallery-hopping along Main Street, hop in a kayak and paddle out to Pollepel Island to explore the ruins of Bannerman Castle, which was built in the early 20th century by Gilded Age businessman Francis Bannerman VI, or hike one of the 27 trails that surround the town. Afterwards, grab a table on the patio at Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, where the Fishkill Creek waterfall provides a stunning backdrop for the restaurant’s ambitious farm-to-table menu.

Hudson, NY

The past and present collide in Hudson, a picture-perfect town in Columbia County that looks like it was made for Instagram.

While you’re touring, wander Warren Street, the town’s mile-long main drag that’s lined with ultra-chic coffee shops, antique stores, inns, restaurants and even a hat shop. Browse for books and toss back a pint at the combo bookstore/bar Spotty Dog Books & Ale, take in a show at Hudson Hall, the oldest theater in New York State, or just stroll along the side streets enjoying the eclectic mix of architecture — Victorian, Queen Anne, Georgian, Italianate, and historic row houses.

Be sure and save some time to visit the grounds of the Olana State Historic Site, home of the Hudson River School artist Fredric Church, to hike and take in sweeping views of the Hudson River. And you won’t want to miss Hudson’s justly celebrated food scene. Try Grazin’, the world’s first certified Animal Welfare Approved restaurant where the burger will change your life, or the cozy Wm. Farmer and Sons, with a menu inspired by the bounties of local Hudson Valley farms.

New Paltz, NY

Hailed as “sporty, brainy, cultured and beautiful” by The New York Times, New Paltz checks countless boxes. Looking to break a sweat – with a view? Bike, walk, or run along the section of the River-to-Ridge Trail that runs right through downtown or tackle Mohonk Preserve trails – then slip into the Spa at Mohonk Mountain House right after. Looking for world-class arts and culture? Check out the John R. Kirk Planetarium, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the DM Weil Gallery. Want to snap that perfect #moment? You’ll find endless opportunities, from the historic downtown, village, countless farms and orchards to the waterfalls at Minnewaska State Park, just to name a few. 

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When you’re done exploring and ready to kick back and relax, drop by Robibero Family Vineyards, a 42-acre boutique winery nestled at the base of the breathtaking Shawangunk Mountain, for a wine tasting, enjoy brunch at Main Street Bistro, or sip a craft cocktail and dig into the New American menu at Huckleberry, a casual, pet-friendly eatery in the heart of town.

Nyack, NY

Just over the Mario Cuomo Bridge – and 19 miles from Manhattan – is Nyack. One part waterfront village, one part bohemian mecca, there’s lots to do in this artsy community. 

If arts and culture are your scene, be sure and check out Edward Hopper’s childhood residence. Today the space houses a collection of his early work as well as exhibits by other contemporary artists. Steps from the Edward Hopper House is downtown Nyack, packed with eclectic shops, sought-after restaurants, popular bars, a jazz club and piano bar, and wine cellar. And in keeping with the village’s bohemian vibe, Nyack’s restaurant scene offers diners a culinary journey around the globe, from the Peruvian fare at Maura’s Kitchen to the authentic tacos at El Cuñao Deli, to the Filipino-inspired Karenderya.

Rather be in the great outdoors? Nyack Beach State Park sits at the base of Hook Mountain, and includes a two-mile-long trail with spectacular river views and one of the best hawk and raptor viewing areas in the U.S. 

Cold Spring, NY

There’s so much to do in Cold Spring, you’ll need more than a single visit to take it all in. Start on Main Street, where you can check out all of the cool boutiques, antique stores, and trendy restaurants. Next, pick up coffee and some pastries from Paulette Cold Spring and make your way over to Dockside Park to soak in the sunshine and gorgeous river views.  

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Just outside of the village, be sure and talk a stroll through Stonecrop Gardens. This jaw-dropping public garden is home to water gardens, a grass garden, alpine beds, a cliff garden, perennial beds, a conservatory and an enclosed flower garden. Afterwards, head back to town and treat yourself to a scoop of the flavor of the day at Moo Moo’s Creamery or enjoy dinner with a view at the Hudson House River Inn.  

One last local tip: If you’re driving up from New York City, plan to stop at Storm King along the way. This 500-acre open air museum in New Windsor is the largest outdoor sculptural art center in the country – and it does not disappoint.

Peekskill, NY

Legend has it that the 19th century yellow brick sidewalks that still line the streets of Peekskill inspired Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, who attended the Peekskill Military Academy in the 1860s. You’ll likely see the resemblance as soon as you arrive. Cute and walkable, this artsy community on the Hudson has a city vibe and character galore, with a vibrant restaurant scene, public art installations, and more than 100 art studios and art galleries.

Check out the antique shops and stores in the historic downtown, stroll the RiverWalk at Riverfront Green Park, or challenge yourself with a hike at Blue Mountain Reservation. If a low-key afternoon is what you’re after,  Peekskill Brewery has a beer garden and tap room where you can easily while away a few hours sampling award-winning craft beers and a menu that’s heavy on comfort food favorites like wings, burgers, and wood-fired pizzas. End your visit with a nightcap and live music at The Pink Iguana.

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