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Beginning to think about Hudson Valley drive -- need to know some basics

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Jun 18th, 2012, 07:29 PM
  #1
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Beginning to think about Hudson Valley drive -- need to know some basics

Hullo, my dears.
My SO and I are thinking about doing the Hudson Valley Drive and I need some info for a starting point. I've bookmarked a bunch of HV websites and read some threads here but nothing answers my questions so far. Hope you guys can help:

1. We can go in August. Would that be a good time?
2. We're starting in Toronto and want to end up in NYC for two or three days, then drive home. How long would we need to do this reasonably well, stopping for overnights, seeing sights, etc.
3. Would the drive home be a different route (eg different sights to see, places to stop) than the drive down?
4. We would be driving in a tiny sportscar that would have room for about two small duffel bags in the trunk. I'm not used to packing light -- will I be able to manage?

Is there anything else you think I might need to consider before starting to plan in earnest?

Thanks
gtg
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Jun 19th, 2012, 03:24 AM
  #2
J62
 
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1. Doesn't really matter what time in August. The weather can range from nicely warm to terribly hazy, hot and humid any time during the month.

2. August is racing season in Saratoga Springs. It's not in what people typically consider the Hudson Valley region (even tho the river is 10min from town), but it's only 30min north of Albany, and worth that short detour. It's worth a stopover there, but hotel prices right in town are high, and crowds at restaurants (reservations required). If you stay in an Albany area hotel you'll be ok pricewise.

From Albany, head south to Hudson, Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie area. Visit the historic mansions (Vanderbilt & FDR) eat at the CIA, etc. You can use a hotel in Rhinebeck or Poughkeepsie as a base for 2 night. Do you want to stay in basic roadside hotels, good, modern cookie cutter chain hotels, or smaller B&B's?

From Rhinebeck, head further south to Tarrytown (East side) or West Point (West side of the river) areas for another night. Add in Storm King mtn art center (by West Point), Kykuit (Rockefeller) mansion, etc in the lower Hudson valley, before heading in to NYC.

All totaled you could do 3-5 nights covering that area from Saratoga down to Tarrytown. If you want to enjoy the outdoors (hiking, biking, etc) you can spend more time.

3. You could drive diagonally across NY through the Finger Lakes region on the way home.


4. No, not for a week, but you'll find a way. You can do laundry anywhere.

5. Let us know your interests. The region has a lot of different things to do, and not everybody likes the same thing. Some people could shop cut little boutiques or antique shops all day. For me after 5min I'd be late for the door. Others love the outdoors, hiking, biking, kayak, etc. That's me. A few wineries, lots of apple orchards, dairy/cheese farms, cafes, restaurants, and a few museums along the way, plus the historic sights. Lots to do.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 03:43 AM
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IMHO you need at lst 3 nights (2 days) i n NYC to see/do anything and 2 nights on the way down and 2 nights on the way back - so 7 nights to really see much or you will spend most of your time driving. there are way more things than you possibly have time to see.

In August I would avoid Saratoga. I love it - but we sometimes go for the racing. If you are not doing that the town is so crowded and expensive that you don;t really get a feel for a charming old town.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 06:09 AM
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Agree with all of the above.

I too would suggest a route that takes you through the Hudson Valley on the way down and via the Finger Lakes on the way back. Another suggestion for the return would be to backtrack a bit up I-87, then head west through the Catskills region via towns like Phoenicia, Delhi, Margaretville and out to Oneonta for the interstate.

Rhinebeck is a wonderful town to use as a base, though there's not what I'd call a *glut* of lodging. Also look at New Paltz, a cute college town especially good as a base for hiking and even rock climbing in the "Gunks" (Showagunk hills).

I would also love to recommend a slight detour to Saratoga for the races - but nytraveler is right that you have to go prepared for large crowds. However, if you want to experience the races, IMO there's no better place in the northeast! Note that the biggest day of the Saratoga racing session is the Travers Cup, this year on August 25. It will be even more impossible to get reservations anywhere in town that day (but boy is it fun!). Saratoga has other offerings as well: spas with its famous waters, outdoor concerts, great restaurants and cute shops. It's the summer home of the Philharmonic and I think the ballet.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Thanks very much, everyone. Now I have to sit down with a map and get a visual idea of a route. I assume you mean horse racing, not car racing, in Saratoga, right?

We're not hikers or bikers and are more interested in browsing around towns, little museums, shops and cafes (though not necessarily antiques).

I know you can spend a lifetime in NYC and still not see everything, so we'd have to be judicious. We've been there many times and even lived nearby for some years, so we're not starting from scratch there. I'd want three full days in NYC though.

Good idea about driving down through the HV and home through the finger lakes or Catskills.

"For me after 5min I'd be late for the door." J62, I've never heard 'late for the door before'. Is that a regional thing where you live or grew up?
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Jun 19th, 2012, 08:34 AM
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We recently spent 4 days in the Hudson Valley. We had planned to go up one side and down the other, but it didn't exactly work out that way (we can now say we've been on all six bridges that cross the Hudson, plus the pedestrian walkway LOL!). We very much enjoyed the small towns of Cold Spring, Hudson, Rhinebeck and Saratoga Springs -- we're not into antiques, though, of which Hudson has a lot, but it's still a nice strolling town. Cold Spring has more "tchotchke" (sp?) stores -- all manner of "junque" from the 20th century -- and it's fun to poke around (and be rewarded with a delicious ice cream cone at the bottom of the main street (Moo Moo's), which you can eat while sitting in the little park along the Hudson). We ate lunch at the CIA, which was terrific (and we were in the "cheap" cafe, the one that's open all day, not the fancier restaurants that take reservations). We took a tour of West Point, walked across the Hudson on the pedestrian walkway in Poughkeepsie, visited Olana, FDR's home, the grounds of the Vanderbilt mansion, and Storm King Art Center. It was a very enjoyable "decompressing" type of trip (after our son's graduation from law school, and wedding, the previous week). The Hudson Valley is stunningly beautiful.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 08:51 AM
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J62
 
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"late for the door" are Bob Seger lyrics. Old Time Rock & Roll.

Yes, August in Saratoga Springs is all about thoroughbred horse racing. I'm not into the betting, but rather going to the track the fun atmosphere of the event. 1st post time is 1:30 daily (ex mon or tue, I forget), last race is over by about 6:30. Bigger races & crowds are on Saturdays - weekdays are generally about 1/2 capacity or less. When I go it's usually for just a few races, have a picnic on the grounds under the old trees, sample the spring water, see all the ladies in fancy hats, and place a $2 bet or two.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 09:42 AM
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Funny aside about Saratoga Springs -- we were walking down a side street and saw a Thunderbird with the license plate "GONYRA" -- all three of us immediately thought "Gonorrhea", but then realized it was an acronym for "Go New York Racing Association" LOL.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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We like horse racing!

This is a really good amount of info and a great start for me. Thanks,everyone.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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gtg, if you like horse racing, Saratoga puts on quite a show.
And it's true that a weekday will be significantly less crowded. Here's the track website:
nyra.com/index_saratoga.html

Mrs. London's is a nice place for lunch or to pick up bakery items (www.mrslondons.com). Saratoga is filled with places to eat and drink! I worked at Sperry's one summer a hundred years ago; it's still very good (www.sperrysrestaurant.com).

// You might want to see if you can find out what events might be going on in various places during your trip - maybe google for an "official" (Chamber of Commerce-type) website for the Hudson Valley? There's always so much going on during the summer months! For example, I know there are artist studios in places like Hudson - maybe there are open studio tours?
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Jun 19th, 2012, 10:39 AM
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J62
 
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Lots of good restaurants in the region - I have my own rolodex of good places ranging from Cold Spring to Poughkeepsie to Hyde Hark & Rhinebeck, plus a full list of reco's on Saratoga that spans breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and after dinner entertainment. Post back when you firm up your plans and we can give you more specifics.
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Jun 19th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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http://www.travelhudsonvalley.org/
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