New York City is just a couple of hours’ train or bus trip away from many interesting small towns and historic sites. Each season has its favorites and right now is the perfect time to plan a day trip or an overnight visit to the small village of Rhinebeck in Hudson River Valley. In addition to the beautiful fall scenery, the Wilderstein Historic Site, home of Daisy Suckley, recently featured so prominently in the Roosevelt Family series on PBS, is only a short taxi ride from the center of the town.
The leaf peeping season is starting soon in the area – it often peaks around Columbus Day – and all the inns and motels tend to get booked over the weekends. Luckily, city boomers have the luxury of scheduling their visit in the middle of the week and enjoying this small town’s delights without the crowds. So sign up a friend or two and head upstate.
The best way to make the trip is to pick up the Amtrak from Penn Station to Rhinecliff, a small hamlet about 3 miles from Rhinebeck’s center. There are usually taxis at the station, but just to be sure, arrange for a taxi pick-up to take you to Rhinebeck center. Fare is about $8. A senior round trip Amtrak ticket is $45.90 and you’ll travel hugging the Hudson River, admiring the beautiful vistas that have inspired many painters. The Rhinecliff station is handicapped accessible, with an elevator access to the tracks from the station house. There is also an alternative Metro North route, from Grand Central Station to Poughkeepsie and then taxi to Rhinebeck. The senior round trip train fare is only $22.50, but the 20 minute or so taxi ride to Rhinebeck will set you back about $40.
Once you arrive in Rhinebeck, you’ll find right in the center of the village the oldest inn in America, Beekman Arms and a block away is Beekman’s annex, called Delamater Inn. There are also several B&B’s in the area, but most are not within walking distance from the town, so make sure you ask how far they are from the traffic light at the center of Rhinebeck when calling for reservations.
The village itself is full of charming little shops, boutiques and antique stores, most within a couple of blocks into all directions from the traffic light. The Hudson Valley Department Store carries classic American country clothing, from makers such as Woolrich and Pendleton. Across the street is a tobacconist that specializes in cigars. Nearby is Winter Sun, Summer Moon, with plenty of comfortable clothing and shoes for “women of certain age.” There are jewelry stores, more clothing for men and women, kitchenware, stationery, specialty olive oils and vinegars and much more. You’ll even find an old-fashioned variety store, A.L. Stickle, with an amazing selection of items you did not know you needed until you saw them. Oblong Books, a block away, is one of the great independent booksellers in the area, with comfortable seating while you browse, and next door is Hammertown Barn, with eclectic selection of home goods and Mitchell Gold furniture.
When you get tired of browsing and shopping, you’ll have your pick of lunch and dinner destinations, ranging from two French bistros, Petit Bistro and Arielle, to classic American fare at Beekman Arms and Foster’s Coach House, to soup and sandwich at the Bread Alone café. You’ll also find vegetarian fare at the local health food store and barbecue, Japanese hibachi, pizza, Thai food and more. The village is chock full of restaurants, because many graduates at the nearby Culinary Institute of America decide to settle in this lovely area.
After lunch, call for a taxi to take you to Wilderstein, a historic mansion on the Hudson, with landscaping by Calvert Vaux. The ride is only a few minutes and costs you about $10 each way. The mansion had guided tours Thursday to Sunday, May to October, from noon to 3:30 pm and senior ticket costs $9. Wilderstein is well worth a visit just for a walk on the grounds and the gorgeous Hudson River views, if the mansion is closed when you go.
If you are a day-tripper, have a leisurely dinner after a day of strolling in the village and Wilderstein’s grounds,then take a taxi to the Amtrak station and rest on the train trip back home. If you are an overnighter, you’ll have another day to discover more things to do. There is the lovely Haven Spa for massages and Upstate Cinema for latest art house movies. You can also take a walk along the side streets and admire all the restored old homes, painted in pastel colors. Have a late lunch before heading back home, in time to catch the sunset over the Hudson River from the train’s window.
How much will this mini vacation cost, you may wonder? Assuming you travel with a friend and split the taxis and room, a day trip is about $125-$150 per person, including travel and nice meals. If you stay overnight, double the amount to about $250-$300 per person, to include the cost of a centrally located hotel or B&B, and extra meals. If you are really frugal with your meals and skip expensive drinks, you can probably do a day trip for $100 and two days for $200. And if you feel like splurging and add a nice massage at the Haven Spa to the tab, you’ll be spending at least $350 for two days.
Taxis $21.00 (split, including tips)
Meals $50.00-$70.00 per person/day
Wilderstein ticket $9.00
Day-tripper total $126.00-$146.00
Hotel /B&B $75.00-$100.00 per person in double room (you could find less expensive rooms, but not in the center of the village)
Blue Top Taxi 845-758-8294
Rhinebeck Cab 845-532-8918
Red Hook/Rhinebeck 845-876-2010
Town Taxi 845-876-8100