If you live in NYC, you know how crucial trips out of it can be! I often say the only reason I survived childhood here is because we had a house in the Hudson Valley we would go to every weekend (a joke but it was definitely nice!) Although my parents sadly sold the house a few years ago when they moved out of New York, the area is still very near and dear to my heart and I try to go frequently. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite no frills places to go. A day or weekend out of the city should be a relaxing reset, which is exactly what these places provide me, and I hope they do for you too!
Let’s start with the basics, where?! I talk about 3 of my favorite towns in this post: Cornwall on Hudson, Beacon and Cold Spring. This area of the Hudson Valley is easily accessible by car, train or bus. You can take the MetroNorth Hudson Line from Grand Central or Harlem 125th Street train station to Beacon or Cold Spring. If you plan to visit Storm King Art Center only there is a bus you can take, however I recommend driving if you can so you’re not limited to just the museum, but more on that later. Renting a car in the city can be very expensive on a weekend (I’m talking >$300 per day) but if you rent a car from LaGuardia Airport it’s a whole lot cheaper. Pro tip: rent from LGA and return in the city so you don’t have to make two trips out there. LGA is easily accessible via the M60 bus, by the way.
Towns and Things to Do There
Now I’ll tell you about each town and what you can do there! This can all be done in a day if you want, but ideally this would be over two days or better yet- two separate trips! Cornwall & Storm King Art Center is one day, Cold Spring and Beacon is another day (or even two)!
Cornwall is a small town on the west side of the Hudson River. With rolling hills, quiet country roads, trails for hiking it’s a great place to go any season, especially in late October-early November when foliage is at its peak. Most notably, Cornwall is home to the Storm King Art Center, a 500 acre outdoor sculpture museum, where I spent many a Saturday rolling down hills as a child. You can easily spend half a day (if not a full one) wandering the gorgeous grounds by foot or bike (they have rentals). As I mentioned before, if you’re going to Cornwall I recommend driving. If driving is not an option, there’s a bus you can take from Port Authority that goes directly to Storm King Art Center, linked here. Storm King is a fabulous place to go alone, with kids, with a group of friends or on a date. They offer driving tours for people with disabilities, so it really is for everyone. Quite a few of the sculptures are interactive, which is really fun for kids!
If you do drive, you’re able to explore the rest of Cornwall, which is really charming. To be honest, the Main Street isn’t much, but the country roads are where it’s at. This brings us to one of my favorite places in the world, Jones Farm. Jones Farm (190 Angola Road) is a family-run farm, country store, bakery and more recently cafe. The farm rests on top of a hill and houses an old barn that’s been converted into a kitchen + eatery and upstairs a charming gift shop. Happy chickens roam around in hopes of snatching up your fallen crumbs, there are goats, ducks, a very large pig and two mini horses. In the fall they offer hayrides and pumpkin picking, and in the summer there is nothing better than sitting on their back patio and enjoying the view. I’ve been going there my whole life and I swear to you, Grandma’s Phoebe makes the WORLD’S BEST apple cider donuts! In addition to donuts, they make fabulous pies, cookies, tarts, and more. It seriously is the most quintessential place ever, sometimes I even rent a car JUST to come here.
After spending a long day at Storm King and grabbing treats at Jones Farm, it’s time for some dinner. As a Native New Yorker, I promise you can trust me when it comes to my taste in pizza. On Main Street lies another staple of my childhood, Prima Pizza (252 Main Street). Prima is a third generation family-run laid back restaurant thats just as adorable inside as it is outside. Their pizza is so good and in such high demand, that they actually ship anywhere in the USA overnight!
Across the river from Cornwall is the town of Beacon. Beacon is a walkable town with an insanely long Main Street, tons of places to eat, drink, shop and explore. It’s currently being referred to as the “Brooklyn of the Hudson Valley” because of its young, vibrant, artsy, hipster-y population. You can drive if you want, but there is absolutely no need since Beacon is so easily accessible by the Metro North Hudson line. Pro tip: if you take the train, make sure to sit on the river-side, you’ll enjoy the view the whole way up.
My favorite thing to do in Beacon is the nature walk along the river. As you exit the train, facing the river, the nature walk is to your left at Scenic Hudson Long Dock Park (linked here). I like to do it first thing when I get off the train before going into town, its such a nice thing to do to cleanse my soul of the city. I’ve never done it, but they have kayaks for rent, their website is linked here.
A popular attraction in Beacon is the DIA museum. If you’re into larger than life, sometimes immersive, modern art, you’ll like it.
As I mentioned, there are so many shops and restaurants it’s hard to pick a favorite. I just advise you to walk up Main Street and see what catches your eye. I do love the taco spot called Tito Santana Taqueria, they have a lovely garden for outdoor seating and are right across the street from a nice coffeeshop and next to an ice cream shop as well.
I still haven’t done this, but a very popular attraction near Beacon is Bannerman Castle. The abandoned castle is on Pollepel Island in the middle of the Hudson River. Tours run on weekends from October-May.
After spending the day in Beacon, you can hop back on the train towards the city and take it one stop to Cold Spring. Cold Spring is the smaller, quainter of the two towns and is absolutely lovely. If you’re into house gazing like I am, there are some beautiful homes there, and you may enjoy just walking up and down the roads that lead off Main Street.
To be honest I’m not as familiar with Cold Spring as I am with the others, so I’m going to link guides that are full of ideas of thing to do, here and here. I do have a favorite restaurant though- Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill. It’s a delicious Italian restaurant located right on Main Street with a beautiful side garden open for dining.
Please let me know if you plan to visit! Like I said these can be day trips, but if you want to stay over night, there are many cute options. In the comments, let me know if you’d like me to put together a list of B&B’s!
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