For those of you haunted by a fear of melting, perfectly understandable as the sweltering summer temperatures envelop the island of Manhattan, callously taunting the jocularity of our summer revelries, take comfort in the natural healing powers of the perfect alternative to The Hamptons – the good ol’ fashioned road trip. Miles of open road await you and that special person, beckoning you with picturesque vistas and floral notes teeming with life. A couple of ideal destinations include the Hudson River Valley and Monticello, New York, home to North America’s premiere automotive resort.
So rev your engine, drop that top on your Bentley (or Zipcar) and begin your lazy journey to a place one of America’s wealthiest families used to vacation, Hyde Park. But going on an empty stomach is senseless when you have an institution like Stew Leonard’s right outside the city limits; homemade rice cakes seasoned with apple and cinnamon, chilled lobster and mussel/sun-dried tomato salads will assuredly inspire your palette.
Already eating like a king and queen, it is only fitting that your next stop should be the retreat for one of this nation’s wealthiest clans. It’s no surprise that the Vanderbilt family, an American dynasty with a zest for luxury, was enthralled by the majesty of the Hudson River Valley, a beauty so majestic that it transfixed and informed the sensibility of artists such as Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church. Frederick Vanderbilt’s immaculately preserved mansion, in all its classical splendor, still stands proudly as a symbol of American prosperity and as homage to ingenuity and industrialism.
Just a few effortless minutes north on Route 9 lies a quaint village called Rhinebeck. Right now, Rhinebeck is in the throes of a local organic food renaissance, the beneficiaries of whom are the diners, who have their choice of literally dozens of cutting-edge restaurants. We were treated like royalty at Liberty Public House, where we enjoyed melon gazpacho, kale salad with dried cherries, pistachios and white balsamic and shellfish. Another visually stunning dining establishment along Montgomery Street and one that has received numerous accolades is Terrapin.
For those of you eager to document your journey in style, Paper Trail’s presentation of stationaries and travel accessories couldn’t be any more well executed. A high-end kitchen supply shop, Bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy is chockfull of necessary and desirable objects. And for a book about the local history or one covering a less conventional subject, Oblong Books & Music’s eclectic stock will have you mesmerized for hours. And the affable staff welcome hassle-free perusing, a serious plus for the bibliophiles amongst us. In short, the Hudson River Valley represents an exquisite destination and an ideal day trip. Bonne route!