Only 1.25 hours away from where I grew up in New Jersey is a land of green rolling hills, mountains, farmland as far as the eye can see, apple orchards, thick forests, and adorable small towns with great restaurants and cafés. This year, we decided to spend 3 days in upstate New York and used the website HomeAway.com to book a private home surrounded by 40 acres of woods instead of a populated hotel. We couldn't have been happier with the location!
First stop on our way upstate...Stone Barns outside of Tarrytown, NY - it's an impressive, sprawling center for food and agriculture that looks like the English countryside. The land and buildings were donated by the Rockefellars. When we arrived, we just strolled around for awhile freely - there are guided tours if you like, but you're free to just walk around and check things out on your own. The wildflower garden was literally swarming with butterflies and bursting with bright red berries on the vines.
We ate lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the café on site that sources their food from the pastures there at the agriculture center. Those luscious local berries were used in that muffin you see below. The whole meal was so simple and fresh.
Stone Barns as a whole was unbelievably beautiful. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in the area - and you can easily take a short train from NYC to Tarrytown then taxi over to the farm. A great little half-day getaway.
Next stop...our rental house, The Woods Retreat, in a tiny hamlet called Accord, NY. We ooh'd and ahh'd at the farmland we passed as we got closer and closer and then drew in our breath when we saw the driveway to our place...
It was literally our own isolated home in the woods, 5 miles off a main road, a country road at that. All we could hear - literally - were birds and crickets and the wind rustling the trees. Not the sound of a car for miles.
We saw the owner once when we got there so she could let us in, and that was the last we saw of her. The kitchen was stocked with locally-roasted coffee, every type of pot, pan and utensil imaginable, and even some local ice cream in the freezer. The entire house was built in a circular shape with an open sleeping loft/bedroom and bathroom up above...all hand-built by the owner's father from wood and stone. Swoon.
The absolute best part was that we were surrounded practically 365 degrees by dense woods. And all the windows had screens so we cranked them open and let the sounds of nature and the cool breeze flow through the house all day and night. Coming from 110 degrees in Dallas, it was absolute heaven.
After exploring the house and grounds a bit, we headed to one of the picturesque local farm stands to get some fresh food to cook back at the house.
The rest of the weekend, we spent exploring the woods and surrounding towns. A few of our favorites were funky New Paltz, NY and quaint Rhinebeck, NY. I love the old buildings and the history of the northeast...
Here are some of the places I recommend visiting if you're ever in the Hudson River Valley area...
- Stone Barns outside of Tarrytown, NY
- The Woods Retreat vacation rental in Accord, NY
- Friends and Family II Restaurant in Accord, NY - it's in the most nondescript house on a country road, but the food was absolutely fabulous. Family-owned and cozy.
- Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck, NY
- The Village Tea Room in New Paltz, NY
- Stone Ridge Orchard in Stone Ridge, NY - really wish we could have gone apple-picking at this sustainable orchard, but we were a little too early for apple-picking season.