Imagine castles along a river that cuts through rolling hills. Dotted with islands and shores that cascade and dip into the dark blue waters, this area is rich with history, architecture and ghost stories. Truly you could be embarking on a historical tour of Europe but yet you are still in the United States. The Hudson Valley in New York state be exact. Around every bend and turn there is something more amazing and wonderful.
Traveling to the Hudson Valley in the fall is one of the best times to go. If you want to “leaf peep” then the third and fourth week of October are the best times. If you are in the New York area you still have time to take this tour (or at least part of it) This travel itinerary will take you through a journey that encompasses history, architecture, and beauty. You’ll stroll through a battlefield and up mossy hills to the oldest light house on the Hudson. You’ll explore the Sleepy Hollow cemetery at dusk. Visit manors and castles including the Vanderbilt and Rockefeller Mansions. And you’ll stroll down the quaint, shop and restaurant lined streets of Rhinebeck where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Especially if you stay at the oldest inn in America.
Part 1 of this trip includes getting there, Rockefeller Lookout and the beautiful city of Piermont. Part 2 will take you to a number of fabulous places, especially during Halloween. They will include Sleepy Hollow where you’ll tour the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery by lantern light and Kykuit which is the Rockefeller Estate. But first, we need to get there!
I started my trip at the San Jose Airport. Prepared for the red-eye, I have multiple travel pillows, coats, sneakers and a very comfy pair of jeans. Things you might want to bring also include “No Jetlag” which you can get at travel stores or Whole Foods. I also bring some snacks and melatonin. You’ll want to land at one of the New York airports, either JFK or La Guardia (or maybe you’re local and can avoid this part of the trip!) I always recommend taking the red-eye so you arrive in the morning then have an entire day to explore. To pick up your rent-a-car you’ll take the Air Train. Look for the signs as soon as you get to baggage claim. Once you get on the train you’ll exit at Federal Circle. The rent-a-cars are all located there. (Note – if you are a coffee nut like me bypass getting a coffee in the terminal, they are usually packed in the morning. Wait until you get to baggage claim. There is a Duncan Donuts by the baggage carousals which usually has no line.)
NOTE about renting cars: Don’t be afraid to ask for another car if you don’t like the one they give you. I give the car a “once over” before I drive away. Sit in it, smell it. If you don’t like it, then ask to see another. In addition, when you check in, specify that you’d like a low mileage car. Finally, if you are traveling in New York it is a good idea to get an “E-ZPass“. This will allow you to zip through the toll booths. The rent-a-car company will give you a box (image below) that is attached to the front window of the car. As you approach the toll booths you’ll see the signs for E-ZPass. You’ll pull up and wait until the sensor reads your pass and then the gate will open. You can’t spit in New York without hitting a toll booth so this will save you a lot of time. You’ll be billed a couple of dollars a day for this service and then your credit card is billed the toll. It’s that easy.
Once you get your rent-a-car you’ll want to meander you way up to the town of Piermont. Take the 678 north and follow signs to the George Washington bridge (which you will cross). Once you’re over the George Washington Bridge take the 505 – also known as the Palisades Interstate Pkwy north. Look for signs for the Rockefeller Lookout which will be on your right. The view back toward the bridge is beautiful. You’ll have a chance to stretch your legs and get your first good view of the Hudson. As you look out over this incredible view you’ll want to know that the Hudson river is a 315-mile watercourse that flows from north to south through eastern New York state. The river is named after Henry Hudson, an Englishman who sailed for the Dutch East India Company and explored it in 1609. As you take in the view, you can’t help but think about the history of this amazing river, the battles that were fought during the Revolutionary war, the millionaires who made this coast line their home. The beauty is truly astounding.
Piermont – When you leave the Rockefeller Lookout you’ll head north toward the town of Piermont which has a fabulous coffee shop called Bunbury’s, best known for their hot cinnamon chip scones and the fact that Lance Armstrong stopped there a few years back…hence the place is hopping. Grab a coffee and whatever you’d like and get back in your car. If you’re traveling in the fall and it’s a bit brisk, ask to have your pastry heated. Next stop is just about 10 minutes away and it’s by the water.
Drive down Ferry Road to the end of the Piermont Pier. Find a bench, relax, sip your coffee and enjoy the view. You can also walk down Ferry Road and enjoy the coast line. The day I was there it was overcast but it almost gave the river a silvery cast making it even more beautiful. Also, I’m a huge fan of boots, cozy scarfs and sweaters so it was the perfect day.
When you’re ready to go, head north and cross over the Tappanzee Bridge (87 east). You are about to enter a fabulous area with tons to see and do! Click Part 2 to continue. Also, click to “Follow” and I’ll let you know when we head off again.
A note on the amazing places I have written about and Hurrican Sandy. If you’d like to help, please contact the Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/
If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area,
please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum.
Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the
colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be
displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.
©2012 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.