Pawling, Hopewell Junction, and Wappingers Falls are communities of sweeping farmlands, rolling forests, and unique restaurants and shops. There are mountain trails, riverside parks, peaceful retreats, and innovative businesses. Here nature and humanity interact with minimal conflict and celebrities and hard-working men and women of various trades rub shoulders and share a common sense of community. These burgs are welcoming to visitors and worth exploring at length. Pawling Visitors can take a train straight to the heart of Pawling’s pleasantly old-fashioned New England-style downtown, located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. On Saturdays in warm months, a weekly farmers’ market is held on a new town green that runs parallel to the main drag. This farmers’ market is a community gathering and also features live music performed by local musicians.
After a trip to the farmers’ market you can head over to McKinney & Doyle’s Fine Foods Café and the Corner Bakery. The bakery boasts a wonderful selection of homemade cookies, cakes, fruit tarts, pies, pound cakes, jams, jellies, dressings, and freshly baked breads and rolls. A mouthwatering specialty in the bakery is their rugelach, a type of Jewish pastry. The bakery is also home to a vintage, full-service soda fountain that serves up an assortment of ice cream drinks and dishes. The restaurant side of the establishment is an upscale dining area that features fine food, cocktails, wines, and freshly prepared lunch, brunch, and dinner items.
Next door at The Book Cove, visitors to the village can browse a selection of new books, as well as rare and hard-to-find, out-of-print books. The store has been open since the mid 1970s. Manager Tara Lombardozzi says the place has survived through the decades because it offers a personal touch for customers. In addition to books the store carries a wide variety of items. “We sell things that go alongside with books like cards and calendars,” Lombardozzi says. “We sell jewelry as well. We sell anything that’s unique and you can’t find anywhere else, things that are one of a kind like our books.”
Lambardozzi says that Pawling has an authentic small town feel. “We have unique stores, it’s not just your everyday gift shops,” she says. “If you wanted to come someplace, spend the day, and get the Norman Rockwell feel this is the place to do it.”
Outside of downtown there are many exploring opportunities for nature lovers. A large part of the Great Swamp, a 63,000-acre watershed that stretches for 20 miles, is located in Pawling. Pawling also has two lakes and over 300 acres of parkland and a portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the town’s borders.
Driving on the outskirts of Pawling’s downtown on Route 22 one gets a glimpse of the town’s natural beauty. There are still many sweeping farm pastures visible from the road and during sunsets, the sun’s red light falls majestically across fields as it sets into the far distant horizon.
It’s no surprise that Pawling is home to an innovative business such as Native Landscapes, an environmentally diversified design and landscaping company that works in residential and commercial landscaping in the area. The company takes special care to protect the natural environment and creates landscaping designs and projects that use only plants that are indigenous to the specific locale or to the local horticultural zone that they are working in.
Pawling is also home to the legendary restaurant and music club the Towne Crier Café. The Crier has been hosting music in the Hudson Valley since 1972. Performers such as Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Suzanne Vega, Livingston Taylor, and Leon Redbone have graced the Towne Crier stage. Last winter, The Towne Crier announced it would be closing its doors, but a huge outpouring of fan support caused the venue’s owner, Phil Ciganer, to negotiate a new deal with his landlord and keep the lights on for at least a little while longer. The venue hosts about shows a week and upcoming shows include Johnny Winter, on Friday, October 19, and singer-songwriter Chris Trapper, Saturday, October 27.
Across the street from the Towne Crier is Heinchon’s Old Farm House, an ice cream shop that has been in existence since 1923. The shop serves one of kind homemade ice cream that draws visitors from surrounding towns during the summer months.
Down the road from Pawling, in Patterson, is Abruzzi Trattoria. This fine-dining Italian restaurant serves a selection of authentic Italian food including a large selection of delicious specialty pizzas.
Hopewell Junction From Pawling, explorers of the Hudson Valley can wander to Hopewell Junction, where they will find more opportunity to commune with nature and can stop by more unique shops and restaurants.
Hopewell Junction is home to Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery and Retreat Center, a meditative Buddhist retreat that was founded in 1978 by Lama Norlha Rinpoche. A fully trained meditation master in the tradition of the Kagyu Lineage, Lama Norlha Rinpoche continues to guide a community of practitioners in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. The center hosts regular meditation classes and is open to overnight visitors.
Visitors to Hopewell Junction interested in more worldly pleasures can choose from a wide assortment of culinary treasures. The Tiramisu Café is an Italian restaurant, pizzeria, café, and bakery all in one. Guests can treat themselves to brick oven pizza and then head over to the bakery where they can feast on a wide variety of Italian delicacies, including sfogiatelles, cannolis, biscotti, éclairs, Napoleons, St. Josephs, profiteroles, lobster tails, and the restaurant and bakery’s signature desert—tiramisu.
Nearby at Le Chambord, guests can dine on fine French and American cuisine and experience the old-world charm of a European inn mixed with the elegance of a colonial estate. Located in a private setting less than a minute from the Taconic Parkway, Le Chambord hosts many weddings and corporate events and gives guests the opportunity to stay overnight in one of the inn’s rooms. Roy Benich, who has owned Le Chambord for 28 years, says, “We have 25 rooms for overnight guests. We have a conference center. We pretty much do it all. It’s a European style country inn.”
This past year Benich says his venue has hosted more weddings than it ever has in its almost three decade history. “Because of the economy we lowered our prices,” says Benich. “Instead of raising them, we lowered them, to try to help everyone, and in the long run we got rewarded because we booked more weddings.” This year the venue hosted more than 70 weddings and Benich is present at every one, which, he says, helps make his costumers feel more comfortable on their big day. “People like to work with the owner, and they have a good feeling about it,” he says.
Visitors to Hopewell Junction might also want to play a round of golf at Beekman Golf, a public golf course that is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The 27-hole course has a restaurant on the premises and is often praised as one of the best golf courses in the country for female golfers.
Hopewell Junction is also home to a wide assortment of unique shops including Out of the Loop, Inc., a knitting and yarn store that hosts regular knitting circles. In a message on the store’s website, owner Theresa Kirby writes: “I’ve been knitting for more than 30 years. As soon as I planned that first knitted sweater I knew someday I wanted to have a place where I could share my love of color, texture, and beautiful yarns.” She adds, “Here at Out Of The Loop you’ll find a casual, creative environment with knowledgeable, experienced help, beautiful yarns and supplies, and friendly people to inspire you.”
Wappingers Falls Pet lovers and their four-legged friends will have plenty to wag their tails about in Wappingers Falls. The historic village is home to the Earth Angels Veterinary Hospital. The hospital is a full-service veterinary medical facility that offers animal care and promotes responsible pet ownership and preventative health care for pets. After taking care of their pets, pet owners can give themselves a treat by eating at the Maya Café and Cantina, a Mexican restaurant that offers a wide variety of Mexican specialties, including fresh guacamole that is made to order.
Visitors to Wappingers Falls can recharge their internal engines and pick up gear for their motorcycle engines at the Groundhog Coffee House and Motorcycle Company, a combination coffee house and motorcycle supply shop. At the coffee house, visitors can pick up freshly roasted coffee and choose from a selection of bagels and pastries. Next door, they can pick up parts for their Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Wappingers Falls is home to The Randolph School, a progressive school for children ages three through ten. Grounded in the educational philosophies of John Dewey and Jean Piaget, the school was founded in 1963 to offer a child-centered, holistic method of education. At the school the focus is on educating the whole child. Children or adults looking to further their educations or just read for fun will find an inspiring place to do that at the Grinnell Library. The sixth-oldest library in the state of New York. the Grinnell library was founded in 1867 thanks to the efforts of the library’s namesake Irving Grinnell.
When you’ve had your fill of books you’ll want to visit Bowdoin Park, a picturesque 301-acre park located on the banks of the Hudson River. The park offers scenic river views, areas for picnicking, a handicapped-accessible playground, soccer, baseball, and softball fields, and more than four miles of walking trails. In addition, the park has several covered pavilions and a band shell where concerts are regularly held.
All that time outdoors may tire you out and if you’re looking for a comfortable place to lie down you should be able to find one at Futon Store. Here just about every type of futon you can imagine can be found, from straight beds, to bunk beds, to comfortable chairs and couches that’d you never guess were capable of folding out into futon beds.
Wappingers Falls is also home to the Dutchess County Airport, a county-owned airport that offers corporate and general flight services. Aspiring pilots can take flight lessons at the airport and get a stunning view of Wappingers Falls and the Hudson Valley from the air.
The village of Wappingers Falls also has a strong local theater scene that is powered by the County Players, an all-volunteer production company that stages shows at the Falls Theatre. The company was founded in the 1950s and will stage a production of Scott McPherson’s heartbreaking drama “Marvin’s Room” in November. Jeff Wilson, the group’s president, says that the County Players “provide a way for people to be exposed to theater without having to go to Broadway and it’s a lot less expensive than Broadway.” He adds, “We put on very high-level productions, not Broadway level, but for a community theater we put on very high level productions. People enjoy the shows.”
Wilson says that Wappingers Falls is still emerging and shaping its artistic identity and that the County Players’ are excited to be a part of that. “It’s nice to be able to walk around and go to different shops and restaurants and things,” he says. “It’s a nice place to be.”
This slice of Hudson Valley heartland has a gift for doing world-class work while holding on to that down-to-earth soul, an unpretentious excellence. Here's a guide to the history, happenings, and cultural life of Walden, Wallkill and Montgomery.