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Escape From New York to Hudson Valley

Within a few hours of Manhattan, the Hudson Valley helps you get away without really going away.

Feeling a bit cooped up in your Upper West Side studio?

With the long weekend ahead, New Yorkers might consider getting out of the big city and hitting other parts of the state, where mountains and rivers and lakes dot a much different landscape than the scenery found in Midtown and the Financial District.

According to the New York State Department of Tourism, prime foliage viewing is still going on in the southern parts of the state until the end of October and even into November. So trade in your views of shining metallic facades for bright leaves and rolling hills.

And if you can wait a couple of weeks, the area will become increasingly haunted, with options for making the Halloween season spookier. But if you do go at the end of October, watch out for pumpkins, hay riders and -- who knows -- maybe a headless horseman or two.

Here's a route recommended by the state covering the Hudson Valley, which begins and ends in Westchester County and touches parts of Orange County. The next few weeks should offer prime fall foliage peeping -- and the wealth of parks in the area present ample opportunities to see nature at its finest.

Here's a route you might want to consider:

Drive into the area northwest of White Plains on Route 9 and begin your day in Tarrytown. To get there from Manhattan, take the Henry Hudson Parkway to the Saw Mill Parkway to I-87. Get off at exit 9 and take Route 9 toward Tarrytown.

Depending on what time you get started, enjoy solid diner food at Bella's on Broadway, or a more refined afternoon tea at the Silver Tips Tea Room, which opens at 11:30 a.m. Choose from soups, salads, wraps, and over 150 varieties of teas at

Silver Tips

. Be sure to try the samosas.

For fans of early-19th century America, the Washington Irving home is also located in this small upstate New York


. Travel a bit farther north and visit Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod Crane fled the wrath of the headless horseman in Irving's famous short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." After all, 'tis the time of year for ghosts. If you can wait until the 24th and are feeling rather daring, take advantage of the Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hay Ride. Who knows? Maybe you'll see the ghost of Crane being chased in perpetuity by his headless nemesis.

After you've had your fill of the undead, hook up with Route 287, which becomes 87 -- the New York State Thruway -- as you cross the Hudson River. Route 87 will turn north. Around Tuxedo Junction, pass through the

Sterling Forest State Park

-- 17,953 acres of natural refuge, featuring hunting, fishing and hiking and wildlife like black bears and hawks. Stop off for a short walk if your legs need stretching.

Climb back in your car and stay on 87 briefly, and after Newburgh Junction, turn on to Route 17. If you're an arts and crafts aficionado, you might want to take a quick detour at exit 127 and hit the

Sugar Loaf Arts Village

. The village offers works from practicing artisans in a variety of material, including jewelry, pottery, furniture, quilting, painting, candles, soaps and sculpture.

If spirits are more your fancy, continue to the Route 94 junction and go east, before taking Route 17 west to Route 208 north. After seven miles, you'll hit Washingtonville, the home of

Brotherhood Winery

, the self-proclaimed "oldest winery in America." Brotherhood is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and during the Halloween season, the winery offers "spooky sinister cellars" on the weekends. You can even try your hand, er, foot at stomping grapes this weekend and next.

After washing your feet, head back to Route 94, which will run across Route 87. If you're ready to head home, you can take the expressway back.

But if you're in the mood for more driving throughout picturesque New York, continue on to Route 9 and visit the campus of the United States

Military Academy at West Point

. One-hour bus tours wind through the historic academy 10 times a day on Saturdays in October, with the last tour leaving at 3:30 p.m. Walk the grounds once trodden by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower. One caveat: you must take a


to visit the grounds. Individual admission starts at $11 for adults and $8 for children.

After spending time with some of American's forefathers, drive south into Peekskill and focus on relaxation for the remainder of the evening. Settle in at Henry's on the Hudson for a gorgeous sunset over the Hudson River and peruse the list of Henry's classics, like the shepherd's pie, phyllo dough pot pie with sautéed chicken or pork osso bucco.

Turn in for the evening at the

Peekskill Inn

, the only place in town, and be sure to ask for a room with a private terrace and a view of the Hudson. Accommodations are basic, but the location makes the stay worthwhile.

Or head home and enjoy the warmth of your own bed. You're still less than an hour's drive from Manhattan and the coziness of that studio.

Nate Herpich is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor and Sports