Located due north of the nation’s biggest metro area, it’s easy to understand how the Hudson River — winding its way through old-growth forests against the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains — has drawn New Yorkers upstate for recreation and relaxation for centuries. Just 100 miles north of Manhattan and home to about 8,000 residents, the quaint town of Rhinebeck offers scenic views, delicious restaurants, and plenty of amazing things to do in the Hudson Valley.
1. Wander Around Wilderstein
Although it is located about 10 miles upriver from Hyde Park, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s hometown, Wilderstein, is forever connected to the 32nd president. The impressive three-story Queen Anne mansion is the ancestral home of Daisy Suckley, a close confidant of America’s longest-serving president. Not only is she the woman who gifted FDR his beloved and well-known black Scottish terrier, Fala, but she was also with him when he passed away in Warm Springs, Georgia, during World War II.
While the clay-colored Victorian mansion with dark green accents and a distinctive circular tower is impressive, so are the gorgeous grounds. They were designed by Calvert Vaux (one half of the dynamic duo who designed New York City’s Central Park) and include an impressive network of carriage drives and walking trails rimmed with native flora and accented by wooden gazebos.
Explore the grounds and exterior of Wilderstein between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. year-round at no charge. Or dive deeper into the property’s history with a guided tour.
Fun Fact: The estate’s name means “wild man’s stone” and is a reference to a Native American petroglyph on the property.
2. Pick Flowers At Brittany Hollow Farm
If you’re visiting Rhinebeck during the summer months, stop by Brittany Hollow Farm to enjoy beautiful fields of flowers. You’ll discover acres of snapdragons, sunflowers, zinnias, and other sunny blooms that make for a gorgeous photo op. You can also purchase a bucket and fill it with cut flowers for $20. The farm is open seasonally from late June through Labor Day, depending on the weather.
Pro Tip: Love Rhinebeck? Here are several other quaint towns to visit in the Hudson Valley.
3. Shop (And Eat) Locally At The Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market
Support Hudson Valley farmers by shopping at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market. Open every Sunday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., May through mid-December, the outdoor market is held in the Rhinebeck Municipal Parking Lot. The market takes place rain or shine (or snow), so be sure to dress appropriately!
You’ll discover a wide variety of fantastic wares at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market. Start your day with a quiche or sour cream coffeecake from Ellen’s Country Kitchen.
Select certified organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the three young female farmers at Ironwood Farms. Taste the difference that 100-percent grass-fed dairy makes with a wedge of creamy Chaseholm Camembert or Roqueforte-style crumbles from Chaseholm Farm. Or try them with salami, prosciutto, and other cured meats from Dancing Ewe Farm.
Take your food selections to a new level by pairing them with a bottle of wine or artisanal hard cider. Or purchase a bottle of John Henry malt whiskey from Harvest Spirits to mix up a Kinderhooker: a Hudson Valley take on an Old Fashioned, made with cherry applejack, fresh lemon, sugar, and orange bitters.
You’ll even find wool goods woven from alpaca fiber to help you stay warm when visiting Rhinebeck in the cooler months, and organic bug spray to keep mosquitos and other pests away when enjoying the summer upstate.
Pro Tip: For health and safety reasons, pets are not permitted at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market. So if you’re exploring the Hudson Valley with your four-legged bestie, be sure to make other arrangements.
4. Pack A Picnic And Dine Alfresco Atop Burger Hill
When you get your first glimpse of the Catskills, you’ll quickly understand how the sandstone mountains, covered with old-growth forests, have inspired artists and delighted vacationers for centuries. One of the easiest ways to view the Catskills in Rhinebeck is from Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill, which recently won Hudson Valley Magazine’s 2021 Award for Best “Small Hike, Big View.”
Pack a picnic with a charcuterie board of meat and cheese, fresh bread, and other delights purchased at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market. Then, take a casual stroll 550 feet up Burger Hill to drink in the view of the Shawangunk Ridge, Catskills, Stissing Mountain, and the Berkshires while enjoying your locally-sourced meal al fresco. It’s especially beautiful as the sun starts to set.
Pro Tip: Look for the carved rocks at the top of Burger Hill. They include a map identifying the surrounding mountain peaks.
5. Enjoy Scenic Views Of The Catskills And Beyond At Ferncliff Forest
Although it’s a bit more of a hike (1.2 miles out and back) and is best paired with a whole lot of stairs (more on that in a bit), one of the best views in the Hudson Valley is at Ferncliff Forest. Although it’s open year-round for mountain biking, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities, the game refuge and forest preserve is best known for its steel-fire tower that offers panoramic views of the Catskills, Hudson River, and Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
The lookout tower is an easy 0.6-mile trek through the old-growth forest from the parking lot, but you will need to climb eight flights of stairs for the rewarding view.
Pro Tip: If you enjoy hiking, check out these other great treks in the Catskills.
6. Cruise Down The Hudson River
If you’re visiting Rhinebeck between mid-May and the end of October, see the beautiful Hudson River Valley from a new perspective by boarding a boat. Departing from Kingston (just across the Hudson River from Rhinebeck), Hudson River Cruises offers a 90-minute narrated cruise.
As you sail south to the Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, before doubling back to Kingston, you’ll pass Hudson River lighthouses, historic waterfront mansions, impressive bridges, and other scenic and historical sights.
Pro Tip: To see the Hudson River in a different light, book a sunset sightseeing cruise.
7. Say “Ahhhhh” To A Day At The Spa
Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck is a boutique hotel and bistro as well as a destination to unplug, rest, and restore. Enjoy a 100-minute favorite fragrance massage that includes aromatherapy, a French clay detox, or one of several other services designed to pamper your body and renew your spirit.
Spa Mirbeau also offers several day spa packages, including a couple’s massage and lunch, as well as mix-and-match options that allow you to select everything from a mani/pedi to your choice of 50- and 100-minute services.
8. Stay At The Beekman Arms And Delamater Inn
If the walls of this 250-year-old inn could talk, they might ask Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton to share at least one of their 11 Tony Awards. The Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn had a front-row seat to the early American history that inspired the Broadway blockbuster. The Continental Army’s Fourth Regiment practiced drills on the front lawn as a war against Great Britain loomed. Throughout the Revolutionary War, George Washington, Philip Schuyler, Benedict Arnold, and Alexander Hamilton all ate, drank, and slept here. And the quarrel that was settled by a duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton (resulting in Hamilton’s death) began in Beekman’s tavern.
Although the historic Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn is America’s oldest continuously-operated inn, the guest rooms have been updated from their original state to include modern amenities like private bathrooms, air conditioning, and cable television.
9. Shop At The Beekman Arms Antique Market
Tucked in a two-story red barn behind the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, the Beekman Arms Antique Market features more than 30 antique dealers with a wide range of wares. The store is open daily from 11 a.m.–5 p.m., and be sure to bring cash when you visit as credit and debit cards are not currently accepted.
Pro Tip: The Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn offers select in-room spa services, including a 50-minute massage, 50-minute couple’s massage, and an anti-aging oxygen infusion facial.
10. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At Krause’s Chocolates
For nearly 100 years, Krause’s has been hand-dipping delicious melt-in-your-mouth chocolates and other candy treats. Get a sugar rush with a wide range of treats such as dark chocolate almond bark, cookie dough fudge, truffles, and even chocolate-dipped Oreos. Chocoholics with a soft spot for dogs will delight in Krause’s 3D chocolate molds, including a chocolate labrador, pitbull, German shepherd, and St. Bernard.
Pro Tip: If you visit Rhinebeck for some leaf peeping in the fall, be sure to stop by Krause’s for seasonal treats like caramel apples and pumpkin seed brittle. And if you’re craving Krause’s Chocolates after you leave Rhinebeck, you’ll be glad to know that they also have locations in Saugerties and New Paltz!
From locally-sourced ingredients and breathtaking panoramic views to the nation’s oldest continuously-operated inn, Rhinebeck is the perfect place to eat, play, and stay in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley.
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