FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

New York State: Getting Into A New York State Of Mind

Aug 1, 2004
2004 / August 2004

A world of art, antiques, history and magnificent countryside beckons within hours of the hustle and bustle of New York City. Nearly two-thirds of the battles of the Revolutionary War were fought in New York State, and diverse opportunities exist to explore those historic sites. Artists’ colonies thrive in the bucolic Hudson River Valley, where painters such as Frederic Edwin Church and Thomas Cole immortalized on canvas the region’s blue skies, lush valleys and rolling landscape. Museums, festivals, galleries and performing arts venues offer vibrant events year-round. The Catskills appeal to New York City’s more free-spirited citizens, while the Adirondacks attract history and racing buffs, as well as lovers of the great outdoors. All in all, the towns of the Hudson River Valley, the Catskills and the Adirondacks make exceptional getaway destinations from the concrete canyons of the big city.

Closest to Manhattan, the Hudson River Valley towns of Rhinebeck and Cold Spring, New Paltz and Woodstock embody small-town America. In a way, the east side of the river (Rhinebeck and Cold Spring) emulates the east side of Manhattan, with a more sophisticated and polished feel. In contrast, the west side (New Paltz and Woodstock) has an edgier, funkier artiness. Rhinebeck, a center for arts, antiques and New Age experiences thanks to the presence of the Omega Institute, has become a well-established home for artists, writers and cartoonists. Cold Spring, also a haven for antiques lovers but with a strong orientation toward hiking and kayaking, boasts an exemplary small-town Main Street and a gorgeous view of the Hudson River and Palisades Cliffs. Hyde Park, birthplace of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is also home to the Culinary Institute of America, training ground for some of the country’s most respected chefs.

Farther north along the river, Woodstock’s heritage as the site of the gargantuan concert festival that gave voice to a generation endures to this day. Together with Mount Tremper, Phoenicia and Kingston, this area of the Catskill Mountains is home to well-preserved buildings from the 1700s and 1800s, plus an ever-growing community of artists and musicians.


Saratoga Springs and the Adirondacks

Past the Catskills, the Adirondacks were the scene of noted military skirmishes, including the Battle of Saratoga (recorded in history texts as the turning point of the Revolutionary War), the Battle of Ticonderoga and the Battle of Fort William Henry. Each of these areas offers a glimpse at defining moments in American history. Also nearby, Saratoga Springs is famed for its horse-racing, mineral springs and artistic heritage, while Lake George and Bolton Landing are family-friendly destinations with a focus on water-oriented sports and activities.

Before it officially grew up as America’s first spa resort, Saratoga Springs attracted a very different group of spa-goers, Native Americans. Claiming more than 50 carbonated mineral springs, Saratoga Springs was subsequently discovered by Victorian society, which gravitated toward the restorative waters and spawned a burst of hotel and home development. Today the town offers an alternative to cushy destination spas. Several bathhouses offer soaks in the bubbling hot waters followed by a soothing wrap in a hot sheet. You might recognize the newly restored and reopened Roosevelt Baths from the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer.

Home to the oldest thoroughbred racetrack in the country, founded in 1863, Saratoga Springs comes to life each summer — mid-July through Labor Day — when the horse-racing set hits town. A truly special way to start your day is to spend a morning at the Saratoga Race Course. Beginning at 7 a.m., a buffet breakfast is served, followed by an enlightening commentary by race analyst Mary Ryan including hands-on equipment demonstrations, a guided tour of the backstretch and a chance to see the horses up close after their morning workout. The commentary and tour are free. The buffet breakfast costs $13.95 per person.

Can’t land tickets to an art event in Manhattan? The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is the summer home of the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It’s also the site of the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival.


Lodging

Saratoga Arms

Built in 1870 by the grandson of Gideon Putnam, proprietor of the town’s first inn and commercial bathhouse, this Second Empire brick concierge hotel is run by Noel and Kathleen Smith, who maintain the building’s authentic Victorian character without making it cutesy. Colorful hanging baskets decorate a wrap-around porch. The black floral carpet in the living room and claw-foot bathtubs in the guestrooms are pure Victoriana. In the heart of downtown, the hotel has just completed an expansion that doubled its size to 31 rooms plus a fitness center and massage rooms.
Saratoga Arms
497 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 518 584 1775, fax 518 581 4064
www.SaratogaArms.com

Inn at Saratoga

An outstanding example of a Saratoga Springs Victorian inn modernized to meet today’s comfort standards, the Inn at Saratoga overlooks the constant “parade” down Broadway. With 42 oversized guestrooms and suites decorated in classic Victorian style, a grand ballroom and an outdoor English garden courtyard, the 1848 inn transports you to an era when patrons “dressed” for every meal. The property features a fine-dining restaurant and a spa. It’s a short walk to shops, nightlife and the racetrack. Four new suites were added in 2004 in a separate luxury cottage.
Inn at Saratoga
231 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 800 274 3573, fax 518 583 2543
www.theinnatsaratoga.com

Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa
This year, the 74-year-old Gideon Putnam Hotel received a complete renovation, a new spa and a new name. Set in the middle of beautiful 2,200-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, the 120-room Georgian revival hotel includes two golf courses; the just-reopened Roosevelt Bathhouse with a spa, mineral baths and massage; and dining in the elegant Georgian Room. The resort is a member of Historic Hotels of America and offers golf, spa and seasonal arts packages.
Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa
Saratoga Spa State Park
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 800 732 1560, fax 518 584 1354
www.gideonputnam.com


Dining

Sperry’s

A local favorite, Sperry’s specializes in fresh grilled seafood in a charming 1930s art deco “Saratoga-y” setting. An equestrian theme is reflected in the restaurant’s art. The lovely garden patio is especially popular in the warmer months. Try the signature Maryland crab cakes.
Sperry’s
30-1/2 Caroline St.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 518 584 9618, fax 518 584 0342

Ravenous

For something light, but still cosmopolitan, Ravenous focuses on fabulous crepes, both savory and sweet, with a rotating menu. The twice-cooked frites are wonderful, too.
Ravenous
21 Phila St.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 518 581 0560

Hattie’s

A historic landmark serving up fabulous Southern- and Louisiana-style cuisine since 1938, Hattie’s offers diners outdoor garden seating. Hattie’s doesn’t take reservations in high season but you won’t mind waiting for the wonderful fried chicken and Creole jambalaya.
Hattie’s
45 Phila St.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 518 584 4790
www.hattiesrestaurant.com

PJ’s Bar-B-Q

PJ’s offers casual dining with barbecued chicken, ribs and special “Wick” sandwiches cooked over real charcoal. Try the loganberry soda or yummy custard ice cream. Picnic-style seating is offered outside.
PJ’S BAR-B-Q
1 Kaydeross Ave. West
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
tel 518 583 2445
www.pjsbarbq.com


Nightlife

Nightlife in Saratoga Springs can be as simple as dining out and strolling down Broadway, a street designated a Great American Main Street by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Both before and after the races, people-watching is a sport in itself: You’ll see a steady stream of “who’s who” out and about. Not exciting enough? Check out Caffé Lena (tel 518 583 0022), the oldest continuously operating coffeehouse in the country; Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie performed here early in their careers. Concerts, both contemporary and classical, are scheduled throughout the summer at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (tel 518 587 3330).


Day Trips

A full day can be spent visiting the many important historical sites in the area, starting with the Saratoga National Battlefield in Stillwater where American forces defeated British Gen. John Burgoyne in 1777. Heading north to the Village of Lake George, visit Fort Ticonderoga, captured from the British in 1775 by Ethan Allan, and Fort William Henry, a restored fort from the French and Indian War.

Kids will love the theme parks in Lake George, including Water Slide World, The Great Escape — Splashwater Kingdom and Lake George Action Park. Touring the lake with Lake George Steamboats (tel 518 668 5777) is another favorite activity. The Sagamore (tel 800 358 3585 or 518 644 9400, www.thesagamore.com), a historic hotel set on its own 72-acre island, is home to a 1928 Donald Ross championship golf course.


Woodstock, the Catskills and the Hudson River Valley

Beloved by the painters of the Hudson River School for its rich mountainscapes and scenic valleys, the Catskill region and adjacent Hudson River Valley quickly became a base for numerous art colonies. The most famous, Byrdcliffe, set up grounds among the farmland in Woodstock in 1902. Arts associations and photography centers followed suit. Musicians also gravitated to the area, leading to the 1969 Woodstock Art and Music Festival, which today still inspires pilgrimages to Bethel to view the concert site marker and to visit the many tie-dye purveyors in Woodstock. Area shops sell lava lamps, candles and crystals.

The college town of New Paltz lays claim to one of the oldest streets in the country. An early bastion of religious freedom, the town today draws students and others interested in the arts and attracted to the dramatic scenery. Hiking, rock climbing and biking are favorite activities.

Artiness and outdoorsmanship do not preclude luxury, however, and two of New York’s grandest lodgings lie within the area — the quirky Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz and the Emerson Inn & Spa in Mount Tremper offer a taste of the “good life” past and present.

Driving the mountain roads, visiting charming High Falls shops like Linger and The Green Cottage, and immersing oneself in art and architecture can fill many happy days. A richness of creativity and positive energy pervades the area, and the glorious outdoors is an integral part of the experience. Miles and miles of hiking trails, spectacular cliffs and beautiful parks offer recreational opportunities for sportsmen of all abilities. For easy walking or biking, check out the 12.5-mile Wallkill Rail Trail, a reasonably flat trail that runs from Kingston through Gardiner.

History buffs won’t feel neglected either. Kingston, settled in 1652 by the Dutch and selected as the first capital of New York in 1777, has nearly two dozen original pre-Revolutionary stone houses. The Stockade District displays a range of architectural styles from Colonial and Federal to Victorian and Italianate. New Paltz’s Huguenot Street, reputed to be the “oldest street in America,” is home to six original stone houses built by Protestants fleeing religious persecution in France. The Colonial Street Festival in August includes house tours as well as quilting, butter churning and musket firing demonstrations.


Lodging

The Inn & Spa at Emerson Place

Set in an opulently restored 1874 Victorian inn in the Catskill Forest Preserve, the 5-year-old Inn & Spa at Emerson Place is noted for its luxury accommodations, cuisine and wine, and spa services. The 23 rooms are decorated in five motifs popular in the 19th century. More than 40 spa treatments are offered, including signature Ayurvedic therapies and stress recovery packages. The nearby 27-room Lodge at Emerson Place offers a casual, rustic alternative suitable for families and pets.
The Inn & Spa at Emerson Place
146 Mount Pleasant Road
Mount Tremper, NY 12457
tel 845 688 7900, fax 845 688 2789
The Lodge at Emerson Place
tel 845 688 2828, fax 845 688 5191
www.emersonplace.com

Woodstock Inn on the Millstream

Within walking distance of downtown Woodstock, this restored 18-room motel complex has country-inn-style décor. It also has its own swimming hole.
Woodstock Inn on the Millstream
48 Tannery Brook Road
Woodstock, NY 12498
tel 845 679 8211, fax 845 679 3275
www.woodstock-inn-ny.com


The Wild Rose Inn

With five beautifully decorated rooms filled with antiques, the Wild Rose Inn is an 1898 Victorian overflowing with charm. Complimentary goodies include truffles, brandy and fruit. It’s a short walk to the center of town.
The Wild Rose Inn
66 Rock City Road
Woodstock, NY 12498
tel 845 679 8783, fax 845 246 0333
www.thewildroseinn.com

Mohonk Mountain House

Undoubtedly the quirkiest grand resort of its kind, the 135-year-old, 251-room Mohonk Mountain House encompasses a variety of seemingly inconsistent architectural styles, creating a kind of Victorian castle. It’s a complete resort with its own lake, golf, rock scramble, hiking trails and spa. Along with an old-fashioned lack of air conditioning, the inn maintains such traditions as afternoon tea, barbecues and carriage rides. If you don’t spend the night, at least plan to have lunch at the inn: Luncheon guests are entitled to explore the trails or sit a spell in a rocking chair on the front porch overlooking the pond.
Mohonk Mountain House
1000 Mountain Rest Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
tel 845 255 1000, fax 845 256 2161
www.mohonk.com


Dining

Armadillo Bar & Grill

A Southwestern restaurant serving up fajitas, homemade tamales, grilled fish and fabulous margaritas, the Armadillo packs in diners in the city’s waterfront area.
Armadillo Bar & Grill
97 Abeel St.
Kingston, NY 12401
tel 845 339 1550
www.armadillos.net

Joshua’s
One of the oldest restaurants in Woodstock, Joshua’s serves wonderful Middle Eastern fare. Locals line up for Joshua’s famous smorgasbord of hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, dolma and salata.
Joshua’s
51 Tinker St.
Woodstock, NY 12498
tel 845 679 5533

The Bear Café

An escape from the crowds in Woodstock, the Bear Café is favored by celebrities and residents alike. It sits close to a stream with indoor and outdoor dining areas. American standards — filet mignon and salmon — are prepared with a creative twist.
The Bear Café
295A Tinker St., Bearsville, NY 12409
tel 845 679 5555
www.bearcafe.com

Depuy Canal House

A national historic landmark, this 1797 stone tavern is now a creative American restaurant with a four-star seasonal menu that includes duck and soufflés. There’s also a bistro in the wine cellar.
Depuy Canal House
Route 213, High Falls, NY 12440
tel 845 687 7700, fax 845 687 7075
www.depuycanalhouse.net

The Egg’s Nest
A fun, colorful restaurant with collages, mobiles and other artsy touches, The Egg’s Nest offers Tex-Mex dishes. House specialties include The Thanksgiving Sandwich and Praeseux, a pizzalike dish on a crispy tortilla crust.
The Egg’s Nest
Route 213, High Falls, NY 12440
tel 845 687 7255
www.theeggsnest.com

Gadaleto’s Seafood Market and Restaurant
Taking full advantage of its adjacent fish market, Gadaleto’s serves the freshest seafood around. Try the halibut fish and chips, an interesting twist on the old standby. Live music nightly.
Gadaleto’s Seafood Market and Restaurant
246 Main St.
New Paltz, NY 12561
tel 845 255 1717, fax 845 255 4236
www.gadaletos.com


Nightlife

The music and arts scene dominates these towns. In Woodstock, nightlife means perusing the eclectic mix of “hippie” shops like Not Fade Away, Mirabai Books or Candlestock. Other options include visiting an art gallery or taking in an outdoor chamber music concert at the Maverick Concert series. Rhino Records in New Paltz has an amazing collection of oldies. The world’s largest kaleidoscope, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is located in Mount Tremper.


Day Trips

If art is your thing, there’s no better place than Woodstock for gallery hopping. Permanent art colonies like Byrdcliffe or the Woodstock Arts Association offer concurrent shows of works in a variety of media. On the first Saturday of every month, art galleries in Kingston schedule openings of shows and open their doors at night. An outdoor sculpture environment of sorts, Opus 40 is located in nearby Saugerties. This nearly 40-year work of sculptor Harvey Fite is set in an abandoned bluestone quarry where concerts are sometimes held.

Hike, bike or tube to immerse yourself in the natural setting that inspired the artists of the region. Town Tinker in Phoenicia (tel 845 688 5553) rents tubes for floating down Esopus Creek. Mohonk State Preserve and Minnewaska State Preserve feature an extensive network of hiking trails, waterfalls, ponds, valley views and rock climbing venues over 18,400 acres.

The history of the area extends beyond the well-known music festival. Take a guided tour of Kingston’s historic buildings, many of which date to the 17th and 18th centuries. Or, visit tunnels that once served as branches of the Underground Railroad. Architecture fans will revel in the variety of building styles represented in the town’s Stockade District.

Set your sights on a karmic encounter at the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery (tel 845 679 5906), or try a class in Zen meditation at the Zen Mountain Monastery (tel 845 688 2228).


Cold Spring and Garrison

Cold Spring, located 55 miles north of New York City, is blessed with an übercharming Main Street and Victorian homes with sweeping lawns leading to picture-perfect views of the Hudson River and Storm King Mountain. You can meander through antiques and crafts shops before wending your way to the gazebo by the river. Or, get “physical” and travel by canoe or kayak (there’s a relatively serene part of the river near the train station), and paddle south to the Constitution Marsh Audubon Sanctuary.

Easy hikes can be had at Little Stony Point, which leads to a sandy riverside beach with exceptional views of the Palisades. Across the street, you can follow a trail to Breakneck Ridge for more strenuous trekking. In Garrison, Manitoga (tel 845 424 3812, www.manitoga.com), the site of industrial designer Russel Wright’s environmental 11-floor home, Dragon Rock, provides a self-guided tour of the grounds’ four miles of trails. Three miles away, Boscobel Restoration (tel 845 265 3638, www.boscobel.org), an 1808 Federal-period museum mansion along the river, also has hiking trails leading to a gazebo. For both golf diehards and hikers, the Garrison Golf and Country Club (tel 845 424 3604, www.garrisongolfclub.com) offers terrific views of the Hudson Highlands.

On the more eclectic side, the Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent (tel 845 225 1819, www.baus.org) is the largest monastery in the eastern United States and has the largest indoor statue of Buddha in the Western hemisphere. Dia:Beacon (tel 845 440 0100, www.diabeacon.org), opened in May 2003, houses an amazing collection of mid-20th century contemporary art in cavernous rooms in a former Nabisco printing plant. Andy Warhol and such minimalists as Robert Ryman have entire galleries devoted to their work.

Refresh yourself at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill (tel 845 265 5582) in Cold Spring or grab a prized seat at the terrace at Riverview (tel 845 265 4778, www.riverdining.com) to gaze at the river and people-watch. Book a room at the Hudson House Inn, a landmark since 1827 (tel 845 265 9355, www.hudsonhouseinn.com).


Rhinebeck and Hyde Park

Rhinebeck, 90 miles north of New York City, has long been a favorite home for artists and writers whose muse is the gorgeous Hudson River Valley. With roughly a two-block-long main street, the town is eminently walkable with very cool, somewhat dignified boutiques like Oblong Books and Music or Winter Sun/Summer Moon for clothing and candles as well as yoga and talismanic paraphernalia. Don’t miss the wonderful Sugar Plum Boutique for original jewelry and cosmetics. Leave time for digging through Rhinebeck’s many yard sales and for a one-mile hike at Poet’s Walk in nearby Red Hook to a beautiful river overlook.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr were among the many guests at Rhinebeck’s 1766-vintage Beekman Arms (tel 845 876 7077, www.beekmanarms.com), the country’s oldest continuously operating hotel. Wilderstein (tel 845 876 4818, www.wilder stein.org), home of the Stuckley family for more than 140 years, is a magnificent example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture with interiors by Joseph Burr Tiffany and landscaped grounds by Calvert Vaux of Central Park fame.

For something completely different, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome (tel 845 758 8610, www.oldrhinebeck.org) houses a collection of 1930s planes that take to the skies on weekends to stage mock battles or host scenic tours. Stop in for a bite at the cozy Le Petit Bistro (tel 845 876 7400, www.lepetitbistro.com), or indulge in an ice cream treat at Schemmy’s (tel 845 876 6215). Set in a 180-year-old former church building, Terrapin (tel 845 876 3330, www.terrapinrestaurant.com) offers everything from make-your-own-sandwiches to ahi tuna “scallops.” Bread Alone (tel 845 876 3108, www.bread alone.com) is the place to go for coffee, hearth-baked breads and terrific pastries.

Farther south along the Hudson River, Hyde Park has been home to important historical figures and wealthy 19th century industrialists. The 54-room Beaux Arts Vanderbilt Mansion with its lavish Italian gardens (tel 845 229 9115, www.nps.gov/vama); Val-Kill (tel 845 229 9115, www.nps.gov/elro), the private residence of Eleanor Roosevelt; and Springwood, F.D.R.’s birthplace and home, are all open for tours. An architectural must-see is the 108,000-square-foot, Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Performing Arts Center (845 758 7950, fishercenter.bard.edu) at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.

The Eastern branch of the Culinary Institute of America (tel 845 471 6608, www.ciachef.edu), set on 150 acres of a former Jesuit seminary, invites guests to experience four different restaurants, each staffed by CIA students. Reservations are required well in advance. Who knows? You may meet the next Alfred Portale or Larry Forgione, two famous CIA grads.


Info to Go

Saratoga Springs is 180 miles north of New York City, which is served by three airports, LaGuardia (LGA), John F. Kennedy International (JFK) and Newark (N.J.) International (EWR). Follow Palisades Parkway north to exit 9; then take Route 87 north to exits 13N, 14 or 15. Amtrak trains (www.amtrak.com) also connect Saratoga Springs to New York City.

Woodstock is 105 miles north of New York City while New Paltz is 85 miles north of the city. Follow Route 87 north to exit 19 Kingston. Then take Route 28 west, continuing to Route 375 to Woodstock. From Woodstock, Route 212 continues to Mount Tremper. For New Paltz, take exit 18 off Route 87 north to Route 299.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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