When I lived in the Bronx as a child I remember going to upstate New York to go apple picking each fall. We picked tons of apples and then would make baked apples and apple cake and end up eating lots of apples for weeks. The area was mostly farms back in the 1960s and 70s.
Now the towns along the Hudson River are known as Hudson Valley in Dutchess County and are trendy with the millennial generation, especially since the pandemic. Some bouchie millennials have second homes in the area. Some baby boomers have retired to the Valley too.
Hudson Valley, especially lower Hudson is a few hours ride from NYC, NJ and PA, and a great place to escape to for a long weekend or mid-week getaway. That’s exactly what my boyfriend E and I did last month.
Road trip to Beacon and the lower Hudson Valley
There are many quaint towns to visit on a Hudson Valley road trip. With three days to explore we decided to keep to the lower part of the Valley in Beacon and set limits of one activity per day. We left early on Day 1, heading north directly to Hyde Park to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and tour FDR’s home. On Day 2, we drove back to Hyde Park to visit The Culinary Institute of America. During our home-bound journey on Day 3, we made a stopover at Storm King Park in New Windsor to tour the magnificent sculptures.
There were numerous other historic places, sightseeing and restaurants within a few miles that we wanted to visit. “There’s not enough time,” I said to E. “We should have booked 4 days. Next year I want to visit Vanderbilt Mansion and Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Val-Kill. And I want to walk the Hudson River Skywalk.
Modern accommodations at The Roundhouse
Lodging in Hudson Valley is expensive and in high-demand, especially in autumn when leaf-peeping season is at its peak. Not being able to secure a weekend room, we opted for a Tuesday to Thursday stay at The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls.
Originally a factory, The Roundhouse structure dates back to the early 1800s and was bought 10+ years ago by a local Beacon family and renovated into a “vibrant hospitality business.” Ooh, ooh, ooh, there’s also a wedding venue on the property and The Roundhouse restaurant is one of the area’s top eateries.
We treated ourselves to a Roundhouse Deluxe with View room that overlooks the romantic waterfall and creek. Our room featured a custom-made and locally crafted king bed with luxury linens.
Unfortunately The Roundhouse restaurant is closed Monday thru Wednesday. To compensate, the front desk sent daily muffins and bagels to our room for breakfast and provided cream cheese, yogurt and oj in the fridge. While a coffeemaker with pods was available, I preferred each morning to walk around the corner to Trax Coffee Roaster for an oat milk latte.
Looking back on FDR’s presidency and American history
I’m no American history buff, but I must say that I loved the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. There was so much to see that we wished we had more time. We spent two hours walking the Main Level exhibits which included everything from America 1932 and the Depression all the way through FDR’s Presidential run and his presidency throughout World War II. I also liked learning about FDR’s family life and how he dealt with polio. And of course the exhibits that focused on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt were a fav. She was such a force even after her husband died.
As we left the Library and Museum, E and I discussed how impactful that period of time was in American history. We both remarked how far we’ve come as a nation since then yet how certain challenges still remain or feel like they are on repeat today.
Tickets for the FDR Library and Museum can be purchased online in advance. A senior ticket is $6.00. The FDR Presidential Library and Museum is open 7 days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (NOV-MAR) and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (APR-OCT). Sadly the Museum Store is only open Thursday – Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. so we missed shopping.
Touring FDR’s Hyde Park home
In addition to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, visitors can book a tour of FDR’s home, which is located on the Hyde Park property. Tickets are sold separately at the Museum entrance ($10 per person). Note you cannot purchase tickets online. I recommend you do what we did and buy tickets for a later tour time when you arrive. For example, the first tour available on the Tuesday we were there was 3:oo p.m.
The tour of FDR’s home is well worth it. Our guide Roy was a former teacher and had worked in China. Roy was very knowledgeable and gave us the lowdown on the Roosevelts and FDR’s lifelong home, from the room where FDR was born to the steps where he announced his presidential run, to all the birds on the mantel, and the rose garden where FDR and Eleanor are buried.
”FDR wanted to preserve his home for the public to enjoy,” Roy said. A year after FDR’s death (in April 1945), the home opened to the public. At the dedication Eleanor Roosevelt said: “I think Franklin realized that…people…would understand the rest and peace and strength which he had gained here and perhaps…go away with some sense of healing and courage themselves.”
I agree with Eleanor and would rate the FDR Springhill compound a definite A+ place to visit.
Walkabout Beacon’s Main Street and dinner at Cafe Amarcord
Day 1 ended with a stroll along Beacon’s Main Street, peeking in shops that were open and window shopping at the shops that were closed mid-week (which is quite a few). There are upscale clothing boutiques, antique shops and lots of vintage stores. Dia Beacon, the contemporary art museum from the Dia Foundation, is another major attraction in the city.
BTW for all things Beacon, check out “A Little Beacon Blog.”
Our dinner that evening was at Cafe Amarcord, a local bistro on Main Street that serves Mediterranean fare. We had made an early dinner reservation in advance as we knew we would be tired from the day’s activities. Amarcord has a full bar with fun cocktails and wine and beer. Our meal started with an Endive Salad with radicchio, Jerusalem artichoke, honey crisp apple, apple cider vinaigrette, dill, shallot and fresh basil. Entrees included Seared Yellow Fin Tuna for E and Whole Branzino that was perfectly roasted, butterflied and deboned. It was so good, so good, so good.
Part II of my Hudson Valley road trip coming soon
This post is getting very long. I think I’ll end here and save our visit to The Culinary Institute of America and Storm King Park for next time. Ooh, ooh, ooh, I’ll share all the details about our CIA meal and tour and our excursion to see the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States.
Stay tuned for my Hudson Valley road trip Part II.