Whether your interest is history or nature, the Hudson Valley provides pleasures aplenty – plus the best apple cider you’ll ever taste.
Seeing the Hudson Valley at the peak of fall foliage is like being welcomed onto the set of The Wizard of Oz – only there’s no witch and there’s no end to the spectacular scenery. As New Yorkers, we rented a car (from the Newark airport, which cost us a small fortune in tolls) and began our trek with a first stop at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, just miles from downtown Manhattan. There’s a bit of nonsense with “the Headless Horseman Bridge,” which is not part of the original space, but for the most part it’s legitimate Americana with Revolutionary and Civil War monuments as well as the gravesites of Andrew Carnegie and it’s most famous occupant, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” author Washington Irving.
Less than four miles away, there’s Lyndhurst, built as a summer home by a former New York mayor, and expansive in its opulence and majesty. Not only is it chock-full of Gilded Age furnishings, but the wooden walls have actually been faux-finished to resemble the marble originally quarried by the inmates of Sing Sing Prison. Among the dinner guests: Edgar Allen Poe and telegraph code creator Samuel Morse. From there, we zipped up to Hudson, where we were guests of Paul Barrett at the Country Squire bed & breakfast, where the furnishings are as stately and quaint as the surrounding town is both charming and hip.
When Paul asked about our trip the next morning, he recommended taking a short jaunt uphill to see Olana, the only castle in America built in Moorish style. He was right: it’s a singular edifice, and richly decked out with middle-eastern touches both architectural and in intricately painted design.
After a quick brunch, we headed up to Hyde Park to spend some time at the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who spent more time in office as president (from 1933-1945) than anyone else ever has – or, because of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution – ever will. Be advised: because FDR was president longer than anyone else, his legacy and the exhibits (which range from digging us out of the Great Depression to the rise of fascism abroad, Pearl Harbor and D-Day and the president’s death) takes a very long time to absorb – although it’s worth every minute.
There were a number of sights we didn’t get to see, including the Vanderbilt mansion mere feet away from FDR’s home (with all due apologies to Vanderbilt heir Anderson Cooper). But it’s only one more reason to return next year.
Last modified: July 2, 2018