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Food, Forests, and Summer Fun in Dutchess County, New York

Innisfree Garden photo courtesy of Innisfree Garden

Photo courtesy of Innisfree Garden

New York’s Dutchess County is about 85 miles north of Manhattan but feels like a world away. This area east of the Hudson River Valley is packed with historical sights and hiking trails, and boasts a vibrant arts scene. It’s also a foodie hotspot with deep culinary roots. The Culinary Institute of America is located here, and many of its graduates have stayed in the area to launch their own restaurants.

Dutchess County is a locavore’s paradise, with farms supplying everything from grass-fed beef to heirloom vegetables. Ready to toast your weekend? Take your pick from more than 20 craft distilleries, wineries, and breweries. Here’s how to make the most of a Dutchess County getaway.

Troutbeck - photo by Paul Barbera

Troutbeck Hotel / Photo courtesy of Paul Barbera

To feel as if you’re staying in a British country house hotel in upstate New York, book a stay at the newly revamped Troutbeck in Amenia. The Tudor-style estate was originally built in 1765 by the Benton family, who hosted the likes of Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau. When new owner Anthony Champalimaud purchased the hotel, it was sorely in need of a refresh. He tapped his mother Alexandra’s design firm, Champalimaud Design, to tackle the interiors. She left the historic bones of the hotel intact but updated it with a vibrant color palette and a mix of vintage and modern furniture. The overall result is a hotel that feels more like a well-loved home, with piles of books and interesting ephemera. It’s cozy and stylish, but also relaxed. On a chilly morning, you may see children and dogs snuggling up by the fireplace.

Innisfree Garden photo courtesy of Innisfree Garden

Photo courtesy of Innisfree Garden

Innisfree Garden in Millbrook is considered one of the best gardens in the world. Landscape architect Lester Collins spent more than 50 years shaping the land. His design was inspired by Chinese and Japanese landscapes, and the 150-acre garden includes sculptures, waterfalls, and a covered bridge. The best way to soak it all up is to meander along the lakeside path.

Millbrook Winery

Millbrook Winery

Stop by the tasting room at the Taconic Distillery in Stanfordville to sample whiskey and bourbon. Bring home a bottle of bourbon-barrel-aged organic maple syrup. If wine is your tipple of choice, head to Millbrook Vineyards & Winery. Take a hike along the Vineyard Walking Trail, which offers views of the Shawangunk and Catskill Mountain ranges.

Old Rhinbeck 1917 Albatros - World War I fighter

1917 Albatros – World War I Fighter Plane

Spend an afternoon exploring the charming town of Rhinebeck, which is filled with antique stores and tiny boutiques. Willow Wood is stocked with boho-chic items like caftans and tote bags from brands such as Roller Rabbit and Jack Rogers. Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome has a small collection of vintage WWI and WWII airplanes, and cars such as a 1931 Rolls-Royce. Starting this June, visitors can ride in a biplane or watch vintage planes fly in an airshow.

DIA: Beacon

DIA: Beacon

Don’t miss the DIA: Beacon, located along the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon. The contemporary art museum is housed in a former Nabisco box factory, and showcases a rotating mix of exhibits and public performances. Make time to browse the bookstore and refuel with a coffee in the café.

Walkway over the Hudson

Take a walk or jog across the longest pedestrian walkway in the world, Walkway Over the Hudson, in Poughkeepsie. This abandoned bridge was converted into a 1.28-mile-long pedestrian walkway in 2009.

Terrapin - Steak and fries

Photo courtesy of Terrapin Restaurant

Rhinebeck is one of the top dining destinations in Dutchess County, with options ranging from casual cafés to gourmet restaurants, many of which are helmed by chefs trained at the nearby Culinary Institute of America. Terrapin is housed in a former church, and the menu focuses on farm-to-table offerings. On a balmy day, sit outside and take your pick from the globally-inspired menu, which includes barbecue duck quesadillas and grilled lamb chop with Chimichurri.

Another standout is The Amsterdam, located in a Dutch-style townhouse. Chef Alex Burger has worked at Manhattan’s Bar Boulud, and his menu at The Amsterdam showcases food from local farms. Come for a brunch of Shakshouka and buttermilk biscuits.

Sleepy Amenia is worth a visit for two wildly different dining experiences. Four Brothers Pizza is home to a drive-in movie theater, showing films seven nights a week. The Dining Room at Troutbeck is open to the public and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Chef Marcel Agnez serves farm-to-table cuisine sourced from the Hudson Valley farms. Start off with a classic cocktail such as a Sazerac before tucking into a bright asparagus and hen of the wood salad. The menu is compact, and includes grilled cobia in a saffron sauce and loin of lamb with a ramp purée.

Whether you’re looking to relax, indulge or get the adrenaline pumping, Dutchess County offers something for everyone.

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