Many visitors think New York starts and ends with the five boroughs – Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
But upstate New York extends all the way to Niagara Falls, sharing the border with Canada over 450 miles away.
Rural New York is a bucolic contrast to Manhattan, and much of it is accessible by train on day trips from the city. Many of the trains to the scenic Hudson Valley leave from that iconic masterpiece, Grand Central Station.
For those planning a day trip, there is nowhere better to stay than the Grand Hyatt which is built over part of the station and has its own entrance to the concourse.
For clients who want more freedom and more time to explore, the Hudson Valley and surrounding area is best visited by car. Clients unwilling to brave the city traffic can take the train out of New York and pick up a car at one the stations.
Taking the Metroline out of Grand Central up to peaceful Tarrytown, the first of the historic Hudson River towns, we picked up our rental car and hit the road. Just outside Tarrytown is Sleepy Hollow, which any horror fan will know as the home of the Headless Horseman.
Tarrytown is a good base from which to visit some of the magnificent 19th century homes.
It is also worth taking one of the river cruises on offer in Tarrytown and other Hudson River towns.
Beacon is a small river town that has been transformed into an ‘art’ town by an offshoot of the SoHo-based Dia museum. The museum includes work by Andy Warhol and Richard Serra. There are plenty of small galleries, arty shops and cafés in Beacon.
From Rhinebeck, it is little more than 30 miles to Hudson. An architectural delight, many of its decaying old buildings have been restored in recent years. It’s one of the best places to shop for antiques in the Hudson Valley.
A worthwhile side trip from Hudson is to the Shaker Museum and Library in Old Chatham, 20 miles away.
Days four and five
Now it’s time to cross the Hudson to the west bank. Head for New Paltz –genuine small-town America – and take the road up to the Mohonk Mountain House with some stunning views down into the valley. Once there, there’s little need to leave, as everything is right on your doorstep (see hotel check).
On our return to New York we stopped off at the Storm King Art Centre in Mountainville. It is a beautiful sculpture park containing some of the finest modern sculptures in the US.
From Mountainville, it’s only a few miles south to the US Military Academy at West Point. The campus is a mix of Gothic and Federal-style architecture and there are panoramic views of the Hudson from the boat landing.
On part of the drive back to the city, shopaholics might want to stop off at Woodbury Common, a massive outlet mall.