Can’t decide whether you want to visit a museum, have a kid-friendly picnic in the park, climb a mountain, window-shop antiques or just have a lazy day wandering around a quaint town? No problem, we couldn’t either and found it all in Cold Spring, NY in the Hudson Valley. Plenty of things to do, whatever your fancy and just a short ride away from NYC.
When getting a full day off from baby-centered activities, Alex and I always try to take a day trip rather than do anything else. The feeling of being on the road, even if the trip is an hour and ten, has the scent of refreshing freedom and to me is more rejuvenating than a day at the spa. The last Friday before Labor Day became the last day of the summer that our young toddler was spending in the company of her grandparents in the Pocono mountains. And for us, the last chance of the summer to escape the summer heat and indulge ourselves in a full day excursion, visiting the Boscobel House in Garrison, NY and hiking around Cold Spring, NY.
As is often, we couldn’t agree whether we wanted culture or nature, so we decided on both.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to visit with mild temperatures in upstate New York, accompanied by the warm sun’s gentle caresses. This allowed us to take in all this town has to offer and capture some spectacular shots of the Hudson.
Our first stop – the Boscobel Mansion, located down the picturesque Route 9D in Garrison, NY.
Let me digress here to say that Alex and I love history and visiting residences and learning about the time past. Let’s just say that we could have stayed in Newport, RI forever! I get so excited even thinking about those times, that I just might write a post about my favorite mansions! But more on that later.
The Boscobel Mansion is one of the few remaining of the Federal Period that carries significant English influence. The estate is dated to early 19th century, built by the famous Dyckman family (the early Dutch settlers of Manhattan). The house has an amazing history of being passed on for generations until the dwindling of the family fortune in the early 20th century and finally being sold for $35, dismembered, stored and put together again in its present location for use a museum and event space.
For history buffs, this is apparently an exemplary specimen of American architecture with unique decorative elements of the façade that give the house a feel of particular delicacy (such as a wood-carved drapery with tassels and bowknots, a beautiful mistake made by a craftsman who didn’t realize that the drapery was cloth that would have been hung in the second floor balcony).
Moreover, the estate is completed by the largest collection of Federal Period furniture in the US.
The Boscobel mansion is situated in a setting that is kind on your eyes and spirit.
The million dollar view of the Hudson River marshes is idyllic. Even though the current location of the mansion never housed its famed residents, you can sense that this could have been their choice for a residence, away from the industrializing and increasingly polluted Manhattan.
The grounds include a delightful little garden with apple and pear trees in abundance. This is a quick walk through, but the bonus is being able to pick the fruit. More of a bonus is the invitation to picnic on the grounds, the space of which is plentiful and, with the Hudson Valley as the backdrop, makes for some stellar photo opportunities.
We had visited after the conclusion of the Shakespeare in the Park series but this is apparently this is a core summer attraction, with top notch actors engaging the audience in outdoor performances and using the beautiful forest as setting and scenery. This is high on my list of events to attend once my toddler can sit for longer than 1 min. And I suppose tickets would be easier to procure than the long lines for the Central Park version.
If you’ve had enough of history, the area is full of hiking opportunities, both short and long. The long option is to hike up to Breakneck Ridge – not an option for us because Alex is not a big hiker and, in addition, we went on a short hike to the Hudson, where I found an amazing but very heavy log to convert into a flower planter and made him carry it to the car. So once he was done with that, there were no more discussions about trekking up any more hills. Should you decide you want to check out some gorgeous Hudson views from the river bed, consider the Little Stony Point Loop.
I couldn’t believe people swimming there, having grown up with the impression that you could gain or lose a body part after swimming there. But it’s true! Apparently upstream Hudson is fairly clean. All in all, gorgeous views of the dramatic Hudson Valley, punctuated by the occasional boat on a lazy day out. Check out an overview and easy directions I found here.
So right after you’ve had enough nature and are ready for lunch and antiquing – you are in luck. You are now 3 minutes away from quaint Cold Spring proper. Adorable little town, beautiful turn of the century architecture, antique shops galore, and enough culinary options to please everyone.
If you enjoy antiquing – window-shopping or the real thing – there are some real gems here. I had to hold back on a few ready to use and even refurbish items like furniture and decorative pieces.
For the late lazy lunch, we chose the absolutely delightful French Brasserie Le Bouchon because I couldn’t resist the opportunity to indulge in a steak tartar. But, in fact, everything we tried was pretty perfect – the beef and escargot.
Day trips end but memories remain… Grab yours this weekend!