The Hudson River Valley has long attracted city dwellers trying to escape New York.
The beautiful region — an 150-mile stretch from the northern tip of Manhattan to Albany — features abundant forests, fertile farmlands and dramatic views of the pristine Hudson River.
But more than just its natural splendor, the Hudson River Valley is brimming with rich cultural heritage, a thriving food and wine scene, and year-round activities that make it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the bustle of the Big Apple.
A historical hangout for the elite
Founded in 1869 — having celebrated its 150th anniversary last year — Mohonk Mountain House is a favorite getaway among New York's elite, including five U.S. presidents.
Situated along the banks of Lake Mohonk in New Paltz and designated a National Historic Landmark, this all-inclusive resort mixes Victorian frills with modern amenities.
Accommodations range from elegant rooms with lake and mountainside views to suites with private balconies, rustic cottages with full kitchens and the stunning Grove Lodge, a house for families or groups seeking a more private experience.
For the outdoor adventurer, the area is a hiker's dream thanks to 85 miles of private trails and guided nature walks. Among the all-inclusive activities are kayaking, canoeing, rock scrambling, archery and Tomahawk throwing — plus tennis, basketball, golf and lawn games.
There's also swimming at an indoor pool and private beach, and in the winter, ice skating and cross-country skiing.
For an additional fee, guests can enjoy scenic carriage rides, horseback riding and spa services.
Executive Chef Jim Palmeri recommends a farm-to-table approach at the resort's new dining venue, Surrey. Guests can also enjoy cookouts at The Granary, a casual outdoor venue overlooking Lake Mohonk.
Nightly entertainment abounds with live music, dance parties, magic performances and more. And, history buffs can lose themselves in the nearby Mohonk Barn Museum.
Stay in a castle
Perched atop one of the highest points in the lower Hudson Valley, Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown combines old world majesty with a tranquil, luxurious atmosphere.
It is renowned for its Sankara Spa and Equus Restaurant, where contemporary French cooking earned the latter an "Excellent" rating from The New York Times.
The estate boasts 31 guest rooms and suites, including its Castle King Parlor and two Castle Royal Suites in the original wing of the castle, built in 1897. There's also butler service, a 24-hour fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool and a host of signature activities.
"We often create in-house events such as murder mystery dinners, casino royal wine and dine galas, summer poolside parties and more," said Alison Yassky, Castle Hotel & Spa's maître d'hôtel.
The hotel is also a great jumping off point to take in Hudson Valley's storied history — places like author Washington Irving's Sunnyside home, Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown Music Hall and the Brotherhood Winery, said to be the oldest winery in the U.S.
Luxury travelers short on time can book door-to-door service via helicopter, offering a swift trip from Manhattan and a scenic aerial tour of the area. Bookings can also include an intimate Chef's Table experience prepared by Equus' Executive Chef Christopher Colom.
Collective Retreats has perfected the art of glamping — no more so than at Collective Hudson Valley at Liberty Farms. Guests stay in soaring tents outfitted with 1,500 thread-count linens and antiques from the area. Ensuite private bathrooms feature rain showers, Beekman 1802 bath amenities, parachute towels and Frette robes.
Breakfast is served with locally-baked goods, while farm-to-table dinners are based on a rotating seasonal menu. And let's not forget gourmet s'mores — with chili-dusted marshmallows and sea salt caramel chocolate — served around the campfire.
Collective's full concierge service will arrange winery and brewery tours, agri-culinary classes and hot air balloon rides. There's also Saturday Night Sangria & Sunset events, seed-to-table tours, apple picking and cider making.
Collective Hudson Valley closes during the winter, but bookings — which start in late April — can be made now.
For those seeking a more in-town vibe, Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern fits the bill. This luxury boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Saugerties has 30 guest rooms, each with their own balcony and scenic views of the waterfall in Esopus Creek.
Suites are furnished with European flair and hand-crafted antique vanities.
Diamond Mills made its mark in the culinary world with The Tavern, hailed as one of the region's best restaurants. New American fare is prepared by Executive Chef Giuseppe Napoli in an elegant setting overlooking the falls or alfresco on the Grand Terrace.
The hotel is just steps away from a myriad of shops, restaurants and fun outings like the Saugerties Farm Market, horse shows and the town's annual Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.
Cruise at a slow speed
For those eager to take in the Hudson River itself, American Cruise Lines provides an eight-day round-trip cruise from New York City aboard two 100-passenger ships and the new, 175-passenger American Constitution.
The trip organizes guided tours both on board and on shore making stops such as the Vanderbilt Mansion, Sleepy Hollow and West Point.
Each ship sports spacious suites with private furnished balconies, king beds and full-sized bathrooms, and guests eat meals that highlight Hudson Valley fare.
The best time to go is during the peak fall foliage season. The itinerary includes one night docked in New York City.