10 Reasons to Visit Dutchess County, New York

Perhaps you read my post about spending a weekend in upstate New York. The quick escape offers the best of natural surroundings, charming towns, farm to table dining, wineries and more. If you plan your trip in advance, you can also catch some of the local festivals and concerts.
Here are top 10 Events in Dutchess County:
1. March – St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Held on first Saturday in March, each year the Committee selects an outstanding community person to lead the parade who is the Grand Marshal. www.DCSPPC.org
2. April – Wappinger Creek Water Derby. Who says you need to get to the Caribbean to scuba dive? Take lesson, compete in canoe races and more, right here in New York. www.AquaticExplorers.org
3. May – Rhinebeck 2016 Antique Car Show & Swap Meet. Check out antique and classic cars on display at this 3-days long car show. http://dutchessfair.com/
4. MayWW II Living History, USO Show, Bivouac and Memorial Day Events include the 75th Anniversary of FDR Presidential Library & Museum and Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, and 100th NPS anniversary. www.NPS.gov/HoFR
5. June – Country Living Fair, Rhinebeck. This weekend long fair includes art displays, live concerts,  food tastings, and dozens of themed gardens to keep the entire family entertained. www.dutchessfair.com
 duchess county fair
6. June – Discover Hudson Valley Bike Ride. Explore forests, waterfalls, hills and gorgeous surroundings of the Hudson Valley on a guided bike tour. www.BikeNYC.org
7. July – DCRCOC Balloon Festival, Poughkeepsie. Over 100 hot air balloons are launched from the banks of the Hudson River, against the backdrop of a picture perfect sunset. www.dcrcoc.org/balloonfestival
BalloonFest
8. August – Jazz in the Valley, Poughkeepsie. An annual festival, showcasing music performed by world-class musicians, fittingly complemented by breathtaking views of the Hudson River Valley as backdrop. www.jazzinthevalleyny.org
new york jazz festival
9. September – Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival & HV Craft Beer Festival. Taste local products including beer, cider, spirits, wine and food at this weekend long gastronomic festival. www.HudsonValleyWineFest.com
10. October – New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. Features livestock displays, competitions, arts display, cooking demonstrations and lots of kids activities. www.sheepandwool.com
duchess county festivals
~ Information sourced from Dutchess Tourism. 

Weekend in Hudson Valley, New York

When I think of New York, images of the city’s bustling streets, neon lights, Broadway musicals, top chef restaurants and shopping at 5th Avenue fill up my head. The fact is the state of New York has a lot more to offer than Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. For the first time, I took a train starting at Grand Central Station to explore the surrounding areas of upstate New York.

hudson river bridge

A 2-hour ride on Metro-North Railroad took me along the Hudson River to the city of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess county. A short walk from the train station to the elevator led to the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, spanning 212′ above the Hudson River and 1.28 miles across. This is a great place to get a good view of the river and the surrounding foliage, specially during spring and fall. During season, there are concerts, open air movies, marathons, and festivals taking place in the historic state park.

vanderbilt mansion

Poughkeepsie has a few restaurants, hotels and shop that sustain tourism in the area. Shadows restaurant offers great view of the Hudson and is often used for large events, such as wedding receptions. Also, nearby is the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park. Here you can visit the Roosevelt family home, burial site, see the president’s personal library, and an interactive museum. Just a few minutes drive away is the Vanderbilt Mansion, one of the smaller homes owned by the family. After spending an afternoon in the area, you begin to picture what affluence and stature the neighborhood had up until only a few decades ago.hudson1

Food lovers can take a break at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for dinner. The oldest and most well known culinary school in the country offers four student-run restaurants. Here when you dine, you will become part of their classroom experience. The CIA’s new 800-seat, state-of-the-art Ecolab Auditorium in the Marriott Pavilion makes it possible for visitors to experience one of Half Moon Theatre’s New York-style theatrical productions after enjoying a meal at The Bocuse RestaurantAmerican Bounty, or Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici.

Rhinebeck is a charming city to stay overnight. Check into America’s oldest continuously operated hotel, Beekman Arms, for luxurious accommodations in a historic setting. Next day, stroll around the downtown area, shopping for antiques, clothes and local products, as well as boutiques and dining at historic taverns. Not to miss is Oliver Kita Confectionaries for hot chocolate, cupcakes and handmade chocolate truffles. Terrapin Restaurant features farm-fresh organic cuisine under the guidance of award-winning Chef Josh Kroner. There are over 30 wineries in this area and many of them are offered on the menu, paired with locally raised duck, venison and chicken.

oliver kita

Early December is a good time to visit Rhinebeck for the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, where a local resident dresses up in a Santa-bishop like attire, accompanied by his long-time sidekick, the Grumpus, as well as the entire town parading through the town.

The Hudson Valley area is roughly 150 miles long and covers various counties. It is easily connected to New York City by train and makes for fun weekend getaways. Read Part 2 of my upstate New York experience in Westchester.

This trip was coordinated by I Love New York, the state’s official tourism board.