Historic Hudson Valley is also just a short jaunt from New York City. A Metro-North train ride from Grand Central Terminal will take you to the small riverside town of Cold Spring, New York, within an hour, which will leave plenty of time for you to walk along the Hudson River, kayak, have a quiet lunch in an outdoor restaurant, or hike in the low mountains, which provide an excellent view of the area. Or you could go a bit farther north to Rhinebeck, New York, a town with rich traditions dating back to 1686. Amtrak offers a one-hour-and-40-minute train ride to Rhinebeck from Penn Station.
These riverside towns embody rural living at its best; they have wide-open vistas and farmlands, but they also have sophisticated restaurants and shops, which are favored by former city dwellers who have moved here. The combination makes these areas perfect for visitors, especially those who like to stroll and window-shop.
Rhinebeck is an ideal destination if you are in the mood for a slightly longer trip. It is surrounded by a beautiful countryside and is close to several state parks. There was once a divide between the town’s hippy residents -- many of whom were originally drawn to the town by the nearby liberal-arts colleges -- and the more conservative townsfolk, but the two groups seem to have merged into a single population over time.
Rhinebeck is pleasantly walkable. The shops there are filled with rare items such as handmade skirts, special cosmetics made by locals, foul-weather boots painted with bucolic scenes, and other one-of-a-kind finds. Nothing here is mass-produced or made without care. The streets are lined with art galleries and antiques shops. The town is particularly lovely in the fall, when the leaves begin to change color and the air takes on a crispness. There is an excellent array of restaurants here, including a Thai restaurant, a few patisseries, some bistros with fancier fare, and gourmet bakeries. Foodies will feel right at home here without having to hassle with the wait times or high prices of the city.
Nearby Burger Hill Park offers hiking trails with great views of the valley, and 10 miles from there is Hyde Park, where former president Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, lived in pastoral splendor for many years and are now buried.