Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ski Season Packed with Flurry of Fun

The 2008-2009 ski season is off to a successful start, with several big storms pounding the Hudson Valley and making skiers --and ski resort owners -- very happy, indeed.

Belleayre Mountain celebrates the holiday season with $25 lift tickets on Christmas Day, December 25, 2008, and a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Ceremony on Sunday December 28, 2008. The The Holiday Training Camp begins on Monday, December 29, 2008. This camp is a great way for intermediate skiers and riders to get back into shape for the winter.

Reservations are required. Sign up online or by calling 845-254-5600 x2474.

For the second consecutive year, Hunter Mountain and neighboring Windham Mountain are joining forces to offer the Wintercard. The cooperative deal allows for four total days of skiing and riding -- two at each resort -- for $129. That's just over $32 per day. The Wintercard is the result of a partnership with Greene County Tourism. Hunter and Windham are the two largest ski/snowboard resorts in the Hudson Valley and Catskills region, and offer a total of some 100 trails. So there's something to appeal to any levael between them.

And don't forget Plattekill, where there's skiing by day and after the chairlifts close. It's a wonderfully friendly family-owned ski and snowboard resort with some great downhill runs. Such as the double-diamond Freefall, which feels like it ends at the plate glass window of the Plattekill lodge. Slam on the brakes, please! I did.

Photo courtesy Windham Mountain

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hike Under the Stars at Frost Valley

A unique guided after-dark hike at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville will give participants the chance for star gazing, and perhaps see some night-time animals such as bats.

The hike is being held on Saturday, November 1st, under the guidance of biologist Reid Bauer, who is not scared of the dark, and wants you not to be. He's an expert on how humans and animals adapt to a nighttime environment. The excursion also will educate participants on how to view planets, stars and constellations with the naked eye and with telescopes that Bauer is bringing along. The hike includes a stop at Frost Valley's Raptor Center to look at and learn more about night predators, including the rescued animals at the center.

It's called a hike, but it's really a walk on easy terrain, suitable for adults and children. Space is limited to 30, so reservations are recommended.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Visit Henry Hudson's Half Moon in Yonkers

Just in case you didn't know -- next year, 2009, is the 400th anniversary of the discovery of a certain river by a Dutch explorer named Henry Hudson. And an important part of the year-long celebrations from New York City to the upper reaches of the Hudson River Valley is the plank-for-plank replica of Hudson's ship, the Half Moon.

The Half Moon is now docked at The Pier in Yonkers, and will stay there for two weeks. Students from schools throughout Westchester take part in educational programs on the boat, to learn what it was like to live and work in the early 1600s, including the life of a sailor aboard Henry Hudson's ship of discovery during the week. And on weekends, the Half Moon is open for public tours. Remember to watch your head when you go below deck -- people were a lot shorter in the 1600s than we are today.

The original ship, called the "Halve Maen," in Dutch, was commissioned in 1609 for the Dutch East India Company, which hired an Englishman, Henry Hudson, to find a passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He thought he had found it when he sailed up the river that was later named for him. His mistake -- our history.

The Half Moon is just one of hundreds of activities, festivities and celebrations for the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's discovery. Check the ExploreNY400 website regularly for updates so you can start planning now.

Hudson claimed the area for his Dutch employers, and soon Dutch farmers, cattle ranchers and fur traders began arriving to settle the Hudson Valley. Hudson's voyage here in 1609 was 10 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

The Half Moon replica was built in Albany, the New York State capital city on the shores of the the Hudson River. It is 85 feet long. Can you imagine sailing across the Atlantic into the unknown today in an 85-foot wooden boat, with no GPS, no iPod, no credit cards, no ice for the afternoon social hour and no balcony to enjoy it on?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Special Occasion Dinner at Xaviar's at Piermont

Taittinger produces some of the world's best French champagne. Peter X. Kelly produces some of the finest meals in the Hudson Valley. Put them together, and it guarantees a memorable dining experience.

It's called L'Instant Taittinger: La Cuisine Xaviar's. Translation -- a one-night-only extravaganza of lobster, Hudson Valley foie gras, Hudson Valley duckling, quail, truffles and more, enhanced by a bounty of Hudson Valley fall produce including squash. Plus , of course, champagne. Lots and lots of champagne. Each cru matched to the dish.

This special dinner is at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at Xaviar's at Piermont, on the village's main street, Piermont Ave. It's a pricey $200 per person, so you might consider this an early holiday gift to yourself and your significant other. But the price includes the opportunity to discuss champagne with a special guest -- Clovis Taittinger, the newest generation of the Taittinger family to lead the legendary house.

Old World elegance is the rule at Xaviar's. Waterford crystal chandeliers, Rosenthal china, and Riedel champagne glasses, which will be filled from magnums of the finest Champagne Taittinger cuvees from the Côtes des Blancs, Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne.

So what's on the menu?

Reception --
Coconut Shrimp with Dijon Mustard Sauce, Macadamia Crusted Ahi Tuna with Yuzu Butter, Grilled Quail with Lingonberry, Caramelized Onion Tart with Goat Cheese & Olive,Butternut Squash Veloute with Gingered Shrimp and tiny Crabcake with Gaufrettes Potato & Avocado, all matched with Taittinger, Prestige Blanc Brut NV

Dinner Menu --
Butter Poached Lobster, Creamy Coconut Orzo With Mango & Pineapple are matched with Taittinger, Vintage 1999

Alaskan Halibut cooked “Sous Vide”, Green Onion & Black Truffle Risotto and Sorrel Butter & Volcanic Black Salt are matched with Taittinger, Prestige Rose Brut NV

Breast of Hudson Valley Duckling, Medallion of Foie Gras & Wild Mushroom Spaetzle and Organic Carrots & Sonoma Figs are matched with Taittinger, Comtes des Champagne, Blanc de Blanc 1998

Desserts --
Meyer Lemon Sabayon with Shortbread Crust, Salad of Pink Grapefruit with Acacia Honey and Pistachio & Spearmint are matched with Taittinger, Comtes des Champagne, Rose 2000

Reservations are recommended. Of course, Xaviar's at Piermont and Kelly's other restaurants, Freelance Cafe & Wine Bar, also in Piermont, and his Xaviar's on the Hudson in Yonkers, are included in my food and wine guidebook, Eating the Hudson Valley, published by WWNorton/Countryman Press.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall for Westchester Events

Fabulous autumn foilage is the backdrop for events throughout October throughout Westchester County, with something to please everybody -- and all great reasons to visit and enjoy the Hudson Valley.

More than 70 art galleries throughout the county are participating in All Fired Up! A Collection of Clay. There are whimsical ceramics, such as these, at the Pace Univeristy Choate Gallery, and more conventional pottery and ceramics, too. Many of the artists are local, so support them, and the galleries, by doing more than looking. Buy, too.

The annual Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze begins this weekend at Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, and every weekend this month. Tickets are required, and they are selling out. No wonder -- it is an annual extravaganza of 3,000+ hand carved jack o'lanterns. Bring your camera. And the kids, since this is a family-friendly spook-tacular.

If you've been waiting to buy tickets to the season opening performances of the Westchester Philharmonic on October 11th and 12th, you blew it. Sold out. And no wonder -- the symphonies -- at the Performing Arts Center, Purchase -- are conducted by Artistic Director Itzhak Perlman, the world-renowned violinist. He'll also be performing during the season.

The last weekend in October, the 24-26, is reserved for Legend Weekend, another annual spook-tacular, held at Washington Irving's Sunnyside in Tarrytown and also at Phillipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. Halloween activities include storytelling, puppet shows, walks through woods that may or may not be haunted, and an appearance by the Headless Horseman.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October is New York Wine Month

New York Wine Month will run the entire month of October, with more than 115 restaurants and 150 wine stores throughout the state participating to showcase New York wines. With the harvest is in full swing, this is a great time to celebrate the bounty of New York as a wine-producing state, especially the wines of the Hudson Valley, which has been growing wine grapes since 1677, when the French Huguenots planted vines they brought with them from Europe.

One of the best places to sample New York State wines -- actually three of the best places -- is Vintage New York, a wine store and tasting room, that carries only New York State wines, from the Finger Lakes and Long Island in addition to Hudson Valley wineries. There are two locations in Manhattan -- in Soho, at Broome Street at the corner of Wooster, the other on the Upper West Side, at 93rd and Broadway.

The third Vintage New York location is in the Hudson Valley at Rivendell Winery in New Paltz. Stop off at the winery for a tour and a tasting either before or after touring the historic Huguenot Stone Houses downtown, some of which date back to the 1600s.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hudson Valley Wine Industry Pioneer Passes Away

There's been a death in the family.

One of the pioneers of the Hudson Valley wine industry has passed away. Mark Miller was 89, the founder and loving watchman of Benmarl Winery at Slatehill Vineyards in Marlboro, the oldest continuously operating vineyard in America. Miller's vineyard overlooking the Hudson River has been growing grapes since the early 1800s.

Benmarl Vineyards received the New York Farm Winery License #1, in recognition of his work on getting that 1976 law passed. At that time there were only 19 wineries in New York. Today, there are more than twice that number in the Hudson Valley, and more than 250 in the entire state, including the Finger Lakes and Long Island.

Mark Miller was a 'character in the warm and wonderful sense' of the word -- a gentlemen, a gracious host, and a wonderful story teller, even if some of those stories might have been embellished. Ever so slightly. Some of those stories had to do with his previous life as an illustrator for magazines including The Saturday Evening Post.

The wine bug bit him in the 1950s after he lived in France for several years, and it became a permanent passion, along with art. He and his first wife Dene bought the Benmarl property in 1957, but had to wait another decade for the first harvest. He started a “wine club”, called the Societé des Vignerons, whose members could purchase two vines, attend the annual spring tasting, and receive a case of wine labeled with the Societé’s graphic design along with their own signature.

Miller's passions of wine and art meant that after the winery tour and tastings, visitors were encouraged to visit the little art gallery behind the tasting room, mostly his paintings and drawings. I was lucky to get a personal tour a few years ago while I was researching my first Hudson Valley guidebook.
He sold the winery a few years ago. Even though the little art gallery is gone, wisely, the new buyers have kept the vines in production, rather than sell the valuable property to real estate developers.

Mark Miller. He will be missed, but not forgotten.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Celebrate Nelson Rockefeller's 100th Birthday

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20-21, Historic Hudson Valley and the Rockefeller Archive Center are hosting a special Nelson A. Rockefeller Centennial Weekend. It focuses on the four-time New York State governor and U. S. vice president Nelson Rockefeller, and his legacy in the arts, education, and the environment.

The event is being held both at Kykuit, the art-filled Rockefeller Estate in Pocantico Hills, where four generations of the famous family have lived, and at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, which was founded by Nelson's mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The Rockefeller's NYC home was across the street from what would become MOMA.

Kykuit, by the way, is pictured at the right -- it is the image on the cover of my book, Great Destinations: The Hudson Valley.

Here is the schedule of events:

On Saturday, Sept. 20, events are in NYC, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. with presentations at MOMA by experts including --
  • an introduction by Mark F. Rockefeller will begin the program.

  • The Keynote Speaker is author, historian, and political commentator Richard Norton Smith, a nationally recognized authority on the American presidency and a familiar face to viewers of C-SPAN, as well as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,

  • Other speakers include Cynthia B. Altman, Kykuit Curator;

  • Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Chair, New York State Council on the Arts;

  • Dr. Clifton Wharton, Jr., noted economist, presidential appointee, and former Chancellor, State University of New York;

  • Robert R. Douglass, former legal counsel and Secretary for Governor Rockefeller.

The program moves to the Hudson Valley on Sunday, with special tours of Governor Rockefeller's art collection and the work of the Archive Center.

Tickets for this special Nelson A. Rockefeller Centennial Weekend are $125 per person, or $100 per person for members of Historic Hudson Valley or the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Contact Historic Hudson Valley.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Special Wine Dinner at Le Chambord

This 1863 Georgian mansion is on everybody's list of favorites for special occasion dining, for its elegant and romantic decor that includes crystal chandeliers and opulent gilded picture frames, plus gourmet food, and an expansive wine cellar. It makes Le Chambord in Hopewell Junction, a popular and picturesque destination for weddings, of course.

Once again, this tasty reason to visit the Hudson Valley is hosting its special and spectacular Wine Dinners, featuring special pairings of food and wine. The first dinner, on Saturday, August 23 is a five-course extravaganza based on Spanish and Portuguese themes of both food and wine.

The food is under the direction of award-winning chef Lenny Mott, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in nearby Hyde Park. The wine is under the direction of noted wine educator Ron Ross. And everything at Le Chambord is supervised by owner Roy Benich, who seems to be everywhere, all the time, making sure every detail is perfect.

The dinner is $99 per person, plus tax and gratuities. To make it a truly special event, stay overnight in this historic bed and breakfast -- and dinner. The overnight package for you and your significant other is $369, and includes cocktails, the wine dinner, room and breakfast. There's a $10 per person discount coupon on the Le Chambord website.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain This Weekend

Beer, bratwurst and more. So grab your lederhosen and head for the annual German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain the weekend of August 9-10.

Entertainment includes 16-time Grammy award winner Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra, plus bands from Bavaria, like the Enzian Band pictured here, plus performers of the famous folk dance Schuhplattler. The festival also features German-American food -- and beer -- and plenty of vendors offering more than just cuckoo clocks, plus activities for the entire familly.

There's also the chance to win two round-trip tickets to Germany courtesy of Air Berlin, and fireworks on Sunday evening. And, of course, you can take the chair lift to the top of the mountain for picture postcard views of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains.

Okay, I admit it. I have a special fondness for Hunter Mountain, where I learned to ski and have hiked with and without a backpack, and for Bavaria, where my mother was born.
But I also love Scotland and bagpipes and Tartan plaids and single malts. And that's later in August, the weekend of the 16-17 -- for Hunter Mountain's International Celtic Festival.

Summer festivals are a great reason to visit the Hudson Valley!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wounded Soldiers and Marines go Camping

If there is something that Soldiers and Marines are good at, it is leading from the front and working as a team. These ideals will be put to test when visiting Wounded Warriors are paired up one-on-one basis with STRIDE Youth Athletes for a Wounded Warrior Fall Family Retreat at Moreau State Park in Glens Falls in September.

STRIDE also has Wounded Warrior ski and snowboard programs. The photo you see here is from one of those this past winter.

Glens Falls really is in the Adirondaks, but its water feeds into the Hudson River and therefore the Hudson Valley. More importantly, this is such a worthwhile program that it should be mentioned here -- and supported -- including by Hudson Valley businesses who can contribute money as sponsors, or products such as steaks and sleeping bags that the Wounded Warriors, their spouses and their kids, will need for this weekend.

STRIDE is a unique program, since it unites Soldiers, Marines and other Veterans who have sustained injuries and/or disabilities with some of STRIDE’s youth athletes who also have special needs. So, it's theraputic and supportive for both sides.

It is a first of its kind program nationwide. Each soldier, along with their family members ‘volunteers’ to mentor a STRIDE youth athlete with a similar disability for a weekend of learning together. Soldiers and children are introduced via email and ‘pen-pal’ before camping together, so by the time the event is held, it's more like an extended family than a group of strangers.

STRIDE has been taking youths with special needs into the woods of New York State Parks for more than two decades. The success of that program, plus the growing population of U. S. Military members returning from deployment with permanent injuries, prompted them to add this type of camping event.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Help Clean up The Hudson River

Join Riverkeeper, TEVA Footwear and Keep Rockland Beautiful this Saturday, July 26th, to help get the junk out of the water and away from the beautiful shores of the Hudson River.

There are two ways you can help -- actually three, if you count making a donation to Riverkeeper, the #1 protector of our beautiful Hudson River.

Grab a trash bag or two and meet at the Piermont Pier in Piermont for a 10:30 a.m. start to pick up trash around the pier and nearby, too. To sign up, contact Heartie Look -- what a great name! -- at

If you have a kayak or a canoe, you can help clean up the river while you paddle from Nyack to Piermont. This mid-river clean-up starts at Nyack's Memorial Park at 9 a.m. Contact Manny Polloni from American Terrain Outdoors Store to sign-up --

The Hudson River is the heart and soul of the Hudson Valley. Help keep it clean. See you there?

Virgin Atlantic Serving Hudson Valley Wines

We all know Sir Richard Branson has excellent taste and is a truly visionary businessman. All good reasons to serve Hudson Valley wines to passengers of his Virgin Atlantic airline. A selection is available to Upper Class passengers.

Hudson Valley wines are being poured for Upper Class passengers at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at London's Heathrow Airport. This is not your ordinary airline lounge, and it's not just because of the HV wines. This lounge has a fabulous bar with talented 'mixologists', a mouth-watering array of things to nibble, including sushi, free internet and Wi-Fi, a roof garden, and even a beauty salon where you can get a quick haircut, mini-facial or manicure -- all complimentary.

Let's get back to the wines. Thanks to the I Love NY program of Empire State Development, which partnered with Virgin Atlantic, a selection of New York wines are being offered through September. One of them is Millbrook Cabernet Franc, from the winery owned by John Dyson, in Millbrook. How appropriate, since Dyson is the man who coined the iconic I Love NY phrase when he was commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Commerce in the 70s

Virgin Atlantic also is offering a selection of Long Island and Finger Lakes wines. Hey, they are good, too. These include a Wolffer Chardonnay and Peconic Bay Cabernet Sauvignon from Long Island, and Dr. Frank Semi-Dry Riesling and Heron Hill Rosé of Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes.
Virgin's Clubhouse concierges are telling their guests that when they land at JFK, they are less than two hours from the wineries of the Hudson Valley. Or Long Island. And a bit longer to the Finger Lakes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

African-American Food Festival

Philipsburg Manor's third annual African-American Foodways Festival is being held on Sunday, June 27th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the historic farm. The event is in conjunction with Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, and will feature West African, West Indian, and colonial American foods.

You'll learn about okra, beans and other leafy greens -- how they were prepared in the 1600s, and the important role of food in the culture of the Hudson Valley. There also will be dance performances and children's activities.

Events are being held in both places, so be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle that runs between the two sites all day -- between Philipsburg Manor and Stone Barns.

Food and history -- two great reasons to visit the Hudson Valley.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

George Washington Slept Here

George Washington did more than visit the Hudson Valley -- he lived here for the last six months of the Revolutionary War, and for six months after what he called the "cessation of hostilities".

Gen. Washington commanded the troops from a brick farmhouse in Newburgh, on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. The house was owned by the Hasbrouck family, for whom the nearby village Hasbrouck Heights is named. Appropriately, the name of the street where this house is located is Liberty Street.

It could be the most patriotic thing you do this Fourth of July weekend -- besides flying the American flag, of course -- to visit the house now known as Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site. It's a museum about the Continental Army's activities in the Hudson Valley, plus an art gallery that's mostly portraits of Revolutionary patriots -- only Hudson Valley patriots, no Boston Patriots, with or without football helmets.

It was in this house that Gen. Washington rejected the idea of becoming king after the war. It was here that he created and awarded the Badge of Military Merit, which later became the Purple Heart. And it was from here that he posted letters to State Governors that influenced the writing of the Constitution.

Another important bit of history about Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site -- in 1850 an act of Congress named Washington's Hudson Valley headquarters as the very first National Historic Landmark. How appropriate for the first President of the United States.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fireworks at the Bellayre Music Festival

Renowned Irish tenor Ronan Tynan teams with the Festival Orchestra to open the 2008 Belleayre Music Festival on Saturday, July 5 at 8 p.m. A gala fireworks display follows the concert.

Tynan is best known as a member of the Three Irish Tenors. He left the group in 2004 to go solo. The Belleayre concert program features a memorable mix of traditional classics, Irish melodies and Broadway and pop favorites, including, of course, music appropriate to the Fourth of July weekend celebration.

At the personal invitation of Nancy Reagan, he performed "Amazing Grace" and "Ave Maria" at the 2004 state funeral of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan at the Washington National Cathedral, which was viewed by an international television audience of more than 35 million. He has also is well known to New Yorkers for his performances of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch at Yankee Stadium and for singing at numerous benefits and memorial services for New York City firefighters and police officers killed on September 11, 2001.

In addition to a glorious, inspiring voice, Tynan's personal story is an inspration, as well. Following a car accident when he was 20, Tynan's legs had to be amputated below the knee. Within a year, he was winning gold medals in the Paralympics. Between 1981 and 1984, he earned 18 gold medals and 14 world records - nine of which he still holds.

The Bellayre Music Festival has conceerts all summer. The schedule includes legendary Beach Boy Brian Wilson - The Hits Tour, on Saturday, July 12.

Summer music concerts by international stars. Definitely a reason to visit the Hudson Valley.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

United Airlines Features Hudson Valley Restaurants

Hemispheres Magazine, the United Airlines magazine, has discovered the most delicious reason to visit the Hudson Valley -- our wonderful restaurants, many housed in historic buildings dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Each month, the magazine's Global Gourmet feature tempts in-flight passengers with the good taste of a particular city or region. The June issue is a taste of the Hudson Valley. I wrote it.

The Hudson Valley has a bounty of talented chefs who use fresh ingredients from nearby farms, most of which are family-owned, not huge corporate conglomerates. Actually, so are these fine dining establishments -- in many cases the chef is also the owner and lives upstairs or across the road.

There's also a slideshow of Hudson Valley restaurants and destinations on the web version of my "Scrumptious Hudson" article, with images of the chefs and the dishes they create.

So, thank you, UAL Hemispheres, for allowing me to showcase the Hudson Valley for your passengers and on-line magazine subscribers.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Award Winning Hudson Valley Wines

The Hudson Valley Wine Competition has produced some winners to sip and savor.

These wineries are Gold Medal winners --
  • Millbrook Vineyards and Winery was the top winner, for its 2006 Cabernet Franc. This fragrant red received awards for Best in Class, Best in Show, and Best Hudson Valley Wine.

  • Benmarl Winery, for its 2007 Seyval. Benmarl also won Best of Class and Best White Hybrid for this light, white that's perfect for summer.

  • Millbrook also garnered gold for its 2007 Tokai Fruilano, which named Best of Class and Best White Vinifera.

  • Adair Vineyards received the award for Best Fruit Wine for its 2007 Peche.
Grapes have been growing in the Hudson Valley since 1677, when French Huegonots planted the vines they brought with them from Europe. That means the Hudson Valley has been producing wine for a couple of hundred years more than California.

Hudson Valley wines -- yet another reason to visit the Hudson Valley.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Museum About the Legendary Woodstock Concert

The most famous thing in the Hudson Valley in the last 100 years probably was the three-day music festival and love-in simply known as Woodstock. More than a half-million people came to visit, hang out, listen to rock stars including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Richie Havens, and party.

Next year, 2009, is the 40th anniversary of that legendary concert, and the town of Bethel is getting ahead of the celebration by opening a new museum that memorializes the entire decade of the Sixties, not just the 1969 Woodstock whatever-it-was.

It was the Age of Aquarius, psychedelic clothing and drugs, an unpopular war in Vietnam, and the civil rights movement. During The Sixties, we cried over the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, and glowed with pride when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

It's all there, in the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The museum is part of a $100 million center with a 15,000 seat outdoor performance space, at the site of that huge field on Max Yasgur's farm where the Woodstock festival took place.

But, it will surely become known as the Woodstock Museum. Take a trip back to the Sixties, including a 21-minute clip of the music festival, plus clips of other news events, the fashions, the politics, and the emergence of a new group of musicians from England. The Beatles.

The Woodstock museum -- Just one more reason to visit the Hudson Valley.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Learn About Bears

Are there bears in the Hudson Valley? Of course there are. Are they dangerous? Or just a nuisance?

The answers to those last two questions are -- yes, no, maybe, it depends.

To learn more about these majestic creatures, you should attend a free Nature Education Program, "Black Bears", Friday, May 30th at 7:00 pm in the Discovery Lodge at Belleayre Mountain.

Bears are a central part of the outdoor experience. This program will educate you how to
  • protect your trash bins and birdfeeders from hungry bears fresh from their winter hibernation,
  • act and react when confronted by a bear.
  • co-exist peacefully with this iconic, furry forest dweller.

The program features Department of Environmental Conservation Biologist Larry Bifaro. The man knows a thing or two about bears -- he is co-leader of the statewide black bear management team. His other duties include general wildlife and wetland work in Greene County.

Who knows the formal, scientific name of the bear? No, not Yogi Bear or Winnie the Pooh bear or Teddy bear. A pot of honey to anybody who could name Ursus Americanus.

Bears don't just visit the Hudson Valley -- they live here!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy 125th Birthday to the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public on May 24, 1883, linking the city of New York with the city of Brooklyn (years later Brooklyn became part of the new, unified New York City).

It is an icon of engineering, and, simply, one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

So, you must be asking -- what does the Brooklyn Bridge have to do with the Hudson Valley? Plenty.

Its architect, John Roebling, built the bridge with cement from Rosendale, in the Hudson Valley. Rosendale Cement also was used to build the base of the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument in DC, and the wings of the US Capitol building.

Roebling was injured during the 13-year-long construction of this bridge, and the job was finished by his son, Washington Roebling, who married a girl from Hudson Valley.

Emily Warren's parents operated Warren's Tavern in Garrison, which opened in 1761 as a stagecoach stop. Today, it is the Bird and Bottle Inn. Restaurant downstairs, charming bed & breakfast upstairs. Many guests request to stay in "Emily's Room".

The Brooklyn Bridge -- so much a part of New York City -- is one more reason to visit the Hudson Valley.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hunter Mountain Skyride Opens Memorial Day Weekend

In the winter, it's called a chairlift, and it whisks skiers and snowboarders to the top of one of the best reasons to visit the Hudson Valley.

In the summer, Hunter Mountain, changes the name of this device to Skyride, but it still whisks outdoor enthusiasts to the top of one of the best reasons to visit the Hudson Valley.

The view from the top is a 360-degree picture postcard panorama, so be sure to ride up with your camera.

There are three ways to get back down. You could ride the lift down -- that takes around eight minutes. You could walk back down -- a liesurely stroll takes around 30 minutes, depending on whether you play frisbee with your friend's dog en route, as I did last summer. Or, you could ride your mountain bike down.

The Hunter Mountain Skyride opens for the summer starting July 5, but will be running this Memorial Day weekend from 10am - 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets are $8 for adults (13 and over) and $6 for juniors (7-12 years). Children 6 and under ride for free!

Hunter Mountain -- and the Hudson Valley -- are a great place to visit in any season.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Visit the West Point Museum

The West Point Museum contains one of the world's largest collections of weapons, flags, uniforms and other military artifacts, from ancient Egypt and Roman times through today. An excellent reason to visit the Hudson Valley.

Look for items from some of the most famous graduates of the United States Military Academy, which is the official name of West Point, including the generals

  • Dwight David Eisenhower,
  • George S. Patton,
  • Robert E. Lee,
  • William Tecumseh Sherman.

There is an exhibit of items from the NASA space program, and sections on Native American weaponry, Revolutionary War flintlocks, even a 1916 Dodge Brothers car used by officers in World War I.

The West Point Museum is open daily.

West Point is one of the most famous and most popular sites to visit in the Hudson Valley.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Top Hudson Valley Restaurants in Historic Buildings

The Hudson Valley is dotted with a bounty of lovingly restored Revolutionary-era buildings. It's one of the greatest collections of historic homes anywhere in the Northeast.

While some of these have been turned into museums -- such as Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown (pictured) -- others have been turned into fine dining establishments for elegant, special occasion dining, whether it is Mother's Day or another day.
  • Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua, a 1790 farmhouse that was a rowdy roadhouse during the 1930s,

  • Old Drover's Inn, in Dover Plains, where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton hid away from the photographers following their romance,

  • Depuy Canal House in High Falls, where chef/owner John Novi introduced fresh, seasonal, local ingredients in a gourmet menu to the Hudson Valley in the 1970s. That's when he bought the 1797 tavern.

You can read more about the history of good taste in the Hudson Valley in my article in the May issue of AAA Car & Travel magazine.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The logo that started it all is back. The iconic "I LOVE NY" campaign has gotten a facelift and new budget sure to bring more tourists to visit the Hudson Valley.

"I LOVE NY' is one of the world's most well-known, signature brands, copied by hundreds of other cities and states.

The new advertising and marketing campaign is expected to help increase New York State tourism from 155 million visitors in 2006 to 200 million by 2020, and boost direct tourism spending to $60 billion annually.

Tourism in New York State supports more than 740,000 jobs, which does not include the souvenir makers who will be churning out zillions of "I LOVE NY" t-shirts, coffee cups, refrigerator magnets, and other chotchkes.

The original "I LOVE NY' campaign was launched 31 years ago.

Here's a tidbit I bet you didn't know -- the slogan was coined by John Dyson, when he was commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Today, Dyson owns Millbrook Vineyards and Winery in the Hudson Valley.

I love New York. I love the Hudson Valley, too.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Learn Cheesemaking at Sprout Creek Farm

Learn cheesemaking on Saturdays this spring and summer at a Hudson Valley farm.

Sprout Creek Farm is a unique teaching farm in Poughkeepsie. The farm raises both grass-fed goats and cows, and has extensive education programs for both adults and kids, to teach us that food does not grow in styrofoam and shrink-wrapped supermarket packages.

The Saturday cheesemaking classes are taught by Colin McGrath, a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, who also supervises the farm's own production of artisanal goat cheeses. More than 600 pounds of cheese a week is produced from Sprout Creek Farm's herds. The cheeses also are available for purchase at the farm store.

Reservations are required: call: 845-485-9885

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sheep Get Shorn, Baby Lambs Get Shown

Sheep will lose their winter coats at Phillipsburg Manor, the historic Hudson Valley farm and farmhouse in Tarrytown. The animals will be shorn by hand, the same way sheep shearing was done in the 18th century.

This year's annual Sheep-to-Shawl Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Visitors to living history museum Phillipsburg Manor can participate in the process of making woolen cloth, from picking and carding the wool, spinning and dyeing the yarn, to weaving it into cloth. Interpreters in 18th century clothing also demonstrate the labor-intensive process of making linen from the flax plant.

A special attraction for children are nearly a dozen newborn baby lambs born this spring on site, frolicking about the grounds.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit this working farm -- which recreates what farm life was like in Colonial times. It wasn't an easy life. Especially for the slaves known to have lived and worked here.

Philipsburg Manor is the country’s only fully staffed living history museum to focus on the history of northern slavery, especially slavery in New York State.