Sometimes you just want to get out of Dodge but don’t have the energy for a long drive or a convoluted plan. The happy news for Capital Region residents is that the Hudson Valley is close and waiting for discovery as either an easy day trip or a quick overnight getaway.
While the options for discovery are plentiful in this area, this particular post is going to focus on art. Why? Because the Hudson River Valley is home to the Hudson River School of painting. Founded by Thomas Cole, the “school” included several artists — Frederic Church, Asher Durand, Albert Bierstadt, among others. These landscape painters were influenced by Romanticism and their sweeping naturalistic settings often featured the Catskills, Adirondacks, and, of course, the Hudson River Valley.
Cole made his home in Catskill, where Church was a student for a few years before going out on his own. Church ultimately became one of the most successful artists of the 19th century and created Church, a 256-acre estate in Hudson. Both homes are wonderful places to start your art tour in the Hudson Valley. Here are some top art stops for a weekend getaway or day trip to Hudson and its surroundings.
Home to Frederic Church, Olana is now a national historic site. The park, with carriage trails perfect for walking the many acres of woods and farmland, is open daily 8am till sunset. Visitors can simply park and start walking.
If you want to see the magnificent home Church helped design, you’ll need tickets for various timed guided tours of both floors of the house. Thirty-minute and one-hour guided tours of the grounds are also available, including one by electric vehicle.
Tours Fri-Sun, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Church is well-known as a painter, but he was also a world traveler and self-taught architect, farmer and landscape designer. The grounds, which he designed are a landscape painting in action and are absolutely stunning, with expansive views of both the Hudson River and beyond.
Cedar Grove, now officially known as the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, is less imposing but worth a stop nonetheless. It, too, offers beautiful views of the Hudson River and Catskills, as well as both of Cole’s studios. Guided tours are available Friday-Sunday.
Hudson River Skywalk is literally just off the grounds of Cole’s home. The six mile round-trip pedestrian walkway connects the two historic landmarks and offers sweeping views of the Hudson River Valley and Catskills. It also links both Hudson and Catskill, for easy access to lodging and restaurants.
The Hudson River School Art Trail is an easy way to walk the same places artists like Cole and Church did and even, to some extent, see some of the same views. The trail is expansive (and the website offers various ways to do this trail, depending on your amount of time) and includes stops at Kaaterskill Falls and Kaaterskill Clove. The website explains the difficulty level of each site as well as accessibility. It also matches up the original painting(s) with the contemporary view so you have a sense of the original art that was inspired by the view. Overall, the trail identifies 20 sites throughout the Hudson Valley that are depicted in various paintings.
Art Omni, a 120-acre sculpture and architecture garden, is a short drive away in Ghent. Visitors can take guided tours spring through fall. Self-guided tours (with maps) are available. They strongly recommend registering in advance; cost is $10 a car and the park is open from dawn until dusk most days of the year.
Berkshire Hills Sculpture Garden is another self-guided sculpture garden. Sculptor Matt Thomases created the 15-acre garden to feature his work. Smaller than the other sculpture spots, this one also has panoramic views to enjoy in between the art itself. It’s located in Hillsdale, New York, and is open from the end of May through mid-October on days when it’s not raining. Admission is free.
Where To Eat:
Even if you take a day trip to the Hudson area, you’ll want to make time for some fine eating. Hudson is chockablock with eateries (Warren Street in particular is a food mecca.) Here are a few to consider. Reservations strongly suggested.
Wunderbar Bistro: American comfort food with a twist. Lively atmosphere.
225 Warren Bar & Grill: American comfort food with an Italian twist.
Feast & floret: Italian-inspired food that’s as locally sourced as possible.
Coyote Flaco: This tasty eatery is a short drive from Hudson in Claverack and worth the drive if you like authentic Mexican food.
Where to Stay:
Hudson has several boutique options for places to stay. Here are a few to consider:
1805 House B+B: If you want a true taste of the country, this off-the-beaten path farmhouse is perfect. Just a short drive from Hudson, the rooms are lovely and breakfast is served in your bedroom.
Wm. Farmer & Sons Boarding Room and Barroom is a boutique hotel in Hudson proper. It includes a few different options — the Merchant House, with four guest rooms; the Wm. Farmer as the main building; and the Annex Suites, which are perfect for families and larger groups. The hotel also has a restaurant on the premises.
Battersby House B&B is a 21-room Victorian in the Queen Anne style. Breakfast is included, with options like their grilled cheese and bacon Benedict with heirloom tomato salad.
Want to know more about what to do in Hudson? Head here.