The Hudson Valley is a destination for visitors from New York City who want a taste of "the country." There is so much more than meets the eye, though, and out-of-towners and even locals miss a lot of the area's best kept secrets. With new restaurants and shops opening up all the time and an array of historic settings, it's a shame to glaze over these spots for the more popular and obvious stops. Rhinebeck is buzzing with patrons in its own delightful and gentle way. Red Hook has destination after destination that you can easily miss if you're just mindlessly driving through. Tivoli is tucked away, happy to be out of the limelight, thrilled to welcome back its true fans and regulars who return time and time again.
Gratifying above all else is how Rhinebeck's purveyors have such a deep affection for their businesses' home town. Luciano Valdivia, general manager of the recently opened Market St. restaurant, says, "[Owner] Gianni [Scappin] and all involved have fallen in love with Rhinebeck. The town is full of interesting people with great taste and a wonderful sense of community. We're so happy to have been embraced by the town." What's nicer than dipping into a restaurant or boutique and having the owners, managers, and staff show their appreciation for their guests and express their fondness for their village?
Dede and Steve Leiber opened Upstate Films at its Rhinebeck location in 1972. Behind the indie movie theater is a mission to show independent and foreign films rarely seen in the multiplex. Playing daily are movies that wouldn't otherwise be shown, many of which attract underground niche audiences. To find their next unconventional flick, the Leibers attend festivals, work closely with distributors, and pre-screen each movie. They find that all of the Hudson Valley—not just Rhinebeck—responds well to the cinema, and they took over the former Tinker Street Cinema as a second Upstate Films location three years ago. Filmmakers and screenwriters frequent Upstate Films for community-oriented events like the "Well Worth Watching" series and pre-screenings.
Bask in the light of luxury at the Belvedere Mansion—the grounds have a pool for sunbathing, a pond for rowboating, a court for tennis, and a garden for strolling. Views of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains are unparalleled, dinner can be served fireside or underneath the stars, and newlyweds can sip Champagne with their nearest and dearest at the copper bar.
Unwind for an hour, day, or long weekend at Omega, which lets guests choose from nourishing activities and treatments like yoga classes, diamond microexfoliation, and sauna sessions. Boldface names of the personal transformation movement like Ram Dass, Harville Hendrix, and Pema Chodron offer workshops at Omega's rural campus from May through October. Continuing the theme of well-being, Rhinebeck Health Foods has been around since 1978 and is the area's one-stop shop for everything organic and wholesome. Mosey on up to the juice bar, pick up homeopathic remedies, or stock your fridge with local cheeses and produce.
"Small-scale" and "hushed" aren't usually words associated with a department store, but then again, the Rhinebeck Department Store isn't your predictably overwhelming, bustling shop. A little bit of everything is for sale, from men's socks and ties and clothing for newborns to ceramic coffee mugs. To feed your inner gourmand, stop by Pure Mountain Olive Oil, which lets you taste flavored balsamic vinegars, olive oils, and sea salts before you buy, or bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy, which has everything you never knew you needed for cooking and entertaining.
Foster's Coach House Tavern is the second restaurant to ever open in Rhinebeck, cementing it as an authentic cornerstone of the town. Wally Foster purchased the venue before World War II and designed it to resemble a horse stable, complete with a tack room and upscale horse stalls where guests can dine. Originally, the menu was German, but it's since been changed to offer seafood dishes and comfort food.
Market St. isn't what you'd call cutting edge—it's casual Italian done right. "Our goal wasn't to re-invent the wheel," Valdivia said. "We just want to make it the best we possibly can." Market St.'s aspiration is to be a twice-a-week restaurant instead of a place people visit just for special occasions. "We've tried to create a beautiful space for our patrons," Valdivia said. "With so much energy going into the food or ambiance or service, it's often hard to find a restaurant that puts a great emphasis on all three. We don't want to fall short anywhere. A great deal of care has gone into the details."
- David Morris Cunningham
- Blithewood Mansion, Bard College