Pack Up, Explore, Relax: New York’s Hudson Valley
If you happen to find yourself languishing somewhere in southern New York or New England, hankering for a safe change of scenery—complete with outdoor dining and top-notch natural scenery—look no further than the Hudson River Valley. Below are two pairings of activities and picnic supplies to be found along the Hudson: the first pairing envisions a more romantic, fine-dining experience in a breathtaking setting; the second leans more towards family-friendly-fun and recommends kid-favorites and endless outdoor options.
A Romantic Retreat
Where better to stock up for a day of casual wandering and serious enjoyment than at an establishment literally designed for tasteful picnickers? Start your adventure at Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions in downtown Hudson, a mere two and a half hours from Manhattan. First peruse Talbott & Arding’s exceptional and intriguing menu online, which currently offers both a rotating selection of daily specials and an extensive list of locally sourced and house-made charcuterie, cheese and pastries. Call in your order ahead of time, and pick up your crackling baguette, roast chicken, soft cheese, smoked meats or gloriously golden caramel custard—or any other tidbit of Talbott’s smorgasbord—curbside.
Laden with delectable slices and skewers, scrumptious dips and one-of-a-kind dishes, drive a quick couple of miles to the north end of Hudson, to the Greenport Conservation Area. After parking at the trailhead on the left of Joslen Blvd, pack your bags and stroll out onto seven miles of gently rolling, wide trails through idyllic meadows and thriving riverside forests. Picnic tables are scattered through this tranquil terrain, perched on field-tops and offering sweeping views of the magnificent Hudson river and the striking Catskills rising out of the misty hills behind it. Lay out your tablecloth and arrange your already-spectacular meal with whatever flourishes you like. If you’re there in the evening hours, prepare for a heart-stoppingly romantic sunset over the river with your special someone, and for what’s sure to be the perfect end to a picture-perfect Upstate day.
Fill up on Family Fun
Midway between Manhattan and Hudson, the picturesque historic rail town of Beacon sits waiting on the banks of the big river waiting to nourish, entertain and enliven you and yours. Start your day with a stop at Homespun Foods in downtown Beacon to load up on the fixings for a lunch or dinnertime feast. Their excellent carry-out menu is available online, and is perfectly suited for the picnicking family: with hearty pork or chicken sandwiches, numerous vegetarian options, fruit, cheese and charcuterie platters and a dedicated kids menu, there really is something for everybody—and all reasonably priced to boot.
Once everyone has something that will satisfy, weave your way a mile through town to the banks of the Hudson, where Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park boasts a wide array of outdoor activities ranging from the exciting to the tranquil. With your lunch packed carefully into backpacks, you can rent bicycles from Cold Spring Bike Rental and meander along the water through the beautifully revitalized rail corridor. Stop anywhere along the way, or back at the pier near where you parked, and munch on crunchy crusted chicken sandwiches or spicy Thai pork salads as you watch the ebbs and flows of one of the few tidal river-estuaries in the continental US, and the endlessly interesting wildlife that inhabits it. To get a closer look at the wildlife, or to just have some fun with the kids, rent kayaks (both single and tandem) from Mountain Tops Outfitters, right there in the park!