If you follow me on Instagram – @laura_peruchi – you probably noticed that we were in Upstate NY last weekend. We spent four days in this region that is north of New York state and offers a lot of activities. When you think of a road trip through the New York area, you’re likely to think of cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC, right? But not everyone knows that the state of New York offers several places and incredible things to do. Our schedule included hiking, wineries, gastronomy and more! I was very excited to share our trip with you because I think it’s an area that is not known by many people and that has a lot of potentials! In addition, at this time of year, the landscape was especially beautiful due to the fall foliage!
Logistics – although the north of the state is well served by rail lines (MetroNorth and Amtrack), you are somewhat limited if you depend only on trains. The train can be a good option for a day trip when you go to one or two places and back to the city. In our case, on a long weekend and with several places to explore, it is better to rent a car. And here’s my first tip: we rented the car in Upstate, in Poughkeepsie, the city where we stayed. We used MetroNorth to get to Poughkeepsie – you can leave from Harlem or Grand Central station, pay $18 per person and the trip takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. Upon arriving in Poughkeepsie, we got an Uber to the rental car place. In addition to getting a better price, we also get rid of the traffic factor to get out and get into Manhattan. We rented the car from Avis, from Thursday to Sunday, and paid about $188. The process of getting the car was also super fast. The city also counts with other companies. To search, I simply typed “Poughkeepsie car rental” and simulated the dates.
Lodging – we chose Poughkeepsie as the city to stay because of the logistics, as it kind of got in the way of all the things we wanted to do and places we wanted to visit. There are chain hotels, but Airbnb turned out to be the cheapest option. There are several rooms and entire apartments in the Upstate area available on Airbnb. We stayed in a super cute flat – you can click here to check it out. It was a great size for the two of us, comfortable, light, with easy parking. The host was super helpful. We would definitely stay there again! If you have never used Airbnb, click here and earn credits. Our hosting cost about $500 – but then again, there are cheaper options!
For anyone thinking of exploring Upstate, I suggest planning an itinerary of what interests you and then looking for a lodging that is the middle. I also suggest renting the car in the same city, for ease.
Itinerary – As I said at the beginning of the post, Upstate is a vast region, with dozens of little towns and lots to do. My itinerary started from the tips of a friend, Lindi, who spent a long weekend in the area. I marked interesting things on the map and also researched things to do. In addition, our host gave several suggestions of wineries, restaurants, and places to visit. Our idea was not to do a thousand things – we wanted to relax and explore calmly, so we did not bother to wake up very early! We wanted to enjoy! Next, I will report and detail what we have done each day.
Day 1/Thursday – We left New York on the 10am train; we arrived in Poughkeepsie at 11.30 and went from Uber to the rental car. Then we went to Airbnb, where we left our bags and went to lunch at Brasserie 292, a French restaurant super cute! They offer a lunch special for $22, which includes starter, main course, and dessert. Thiago took the lunch special – onion soup, steak with potatoes and chocolate mousse – and I got a plate only – a fish fillet with spinach and mashed potatoes ($20). The food was delicious. From there, we stopped at a drugstore, bought water and snacks because we would follow for our first adventure: a trail on Beacon Mountain, south of Poughkeepsie (about 25 minutes driving). It has free parking at the entrance of the trail and restrooms. My friend had already warned it was not an easy trail and really was not. It was a 50-minute climb, stopping several times to take a breath, but it was well worth it – the view from up there is just amazing. We return to Poughkeepsie and I need to say something: the highways are well signposted and the traffic flows very well. These routes included sensational views not only for fall foliage but also for houses, which have very different architecture than we are accustomed to. It’s as if you were transported to a movie or series. Impossible to be bored.
At night we went to Rhinebeck, a town that is less than 30 minutes drive from Poughkeepsie, to have dinner at The Amsterdam – we ma made a reservation. This restaurant is located in a Dutch house from 1798, bought by a couple from Toronto. The inspiration of the menu came from the couple’s favorite New York and Toronto restaurants and has a farm-to-table concept. It was the best gastronomic experience of this trip and certainly one of the best of this year! We ordered a starter with goat’s milk ricotta, honey and duck parma ham, with toasted bread ($14). To the main course, I chose a risotto with arugula pesto ($21), and Thiago got a potato gnocchi with vegetables ($23). Both dishes were super well served and guys … what delicious food, fresh, tasty. I get mouth water just to remember. We also ordered a dessert to share – an apple crumb and ice cream ($8) and it was perfect. Oh, and we also drank a flight of beers ($13). Aside from the food being simply fantastic, the environment of the restaurant is just perfect. Seriously. Would go back ten times in this restaurant!
Day 2/Friday – the flat where we were staying had a full kitchen, but we had our meals in restaurants. On Friday, the main program of the day was to visit Mohonk Mountain House – a wonderful resort that is in New Paltz – a 35-minute drive away – and so we chose a coffee shop on the way. The Village Tea Room is a super cute afternoon tea place, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I ordered a pesto sandwich ($ 15) and Thiago chose the fritatta ($8), plus black coffee.
From there, we went to Mohonk and the Fall landscape made the path magnificent. Mohonk is one of the best resorts in the country, with incredible scenery with a lake in front and Victorian architecture. Looks like you’re in Europe. This place had been on our list for at least two years. There are several ways you can get to visit the place:
- The first, of course, is staying there. It is an all inclusive resort with meals and everything. You can check the details of the rooms here.
- Another way is to buy a Spa package – there are several treatment options available and you can check prices and details here.
- You can also make a reservation for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, all with buffet. Lunch costs $ 71 (adult) and $ 39 (children). Dinner and brunch cost $81 (adult) and $41 (child). Breakfast costs $48 (adult) and $27 (children). By clicking here, you can check more details, such as the menu and also times. I recommend making the reservation in advance (it’s by phone, (855) 883-3798). We were unable to book for any of these meals.
- The other option to visit Mohonk is through a Hiking Pass – which costs $ 22 (weekdays) and $ 27 (weekends) per person. The pass does not give access to the resort premises and you have to bring water and something to eat. In addition, anyone who buys the Hiking pass must leave the car parked at the first entrance of the mountain. From there to the resort, you will walk almost an hour (it is so far). So bear this in mind. With the Hiking Pass, you are free to explore the area around the resort, which has a sensational view! There are also public restrooms. We only did one trail, but there are others – there are over 100 miles of trails in the resort area!
- If you click here, you’ll be able to check out the public transport options there – however they will all require you to take a taxi to the resort. They offer transportation from the bus station only to guests.
I was sad that we could not get a reservation for lunch – even because it would have been great to have been able to drive to the resort. especially for the return, when I was already very tired.
You should check out the official website to get an idea of all the activities offered and yes, it opens all year.
After leaving Mohonk, we stopped at Lagusta’s Luscious in New Paltz for a hot chocolate and a few chocolates. The place is cute and the chocolates are homemade and a delight. The hot chocolate is also very yummy. There are only two places to sit. From there, we left for the State University of New York at New Paltz. Upstate is a region full of universities, you know? We wanted to visit this especially to check out The Atrium, whose architecture resembles the pyramid of the Louvre Museum. We walked through the campus, which is very beautiful, we took a walk and then we went back to Airbnb.
Our Friday ended at The Culinary Institute of America, an institution of higher education focused on gastronomy, which has some restaurants – the students work at the restaurants. We made a reservation at the American Bounty Restaurant – but there are other options as well and you can click here to check it out. The campus is very beautiful as is the restaurant. The food is very tasty, but maybe a little overpriced by the portion sizes. We ordered the octopus starter ($ 14) and for the main course I chose the Lamb Barbacoa ($31), and Thiago chose Royal Trumpet Mushrooms ($22) with hummus and mushrooms. For dessert, we got the Sweet Potato Panna Cotta, served with banana sorbet ($ 10) – this dessert was sensational!
Day 3/Saturday – the forecast showed rain for the whole day and so it was! To that day, we had planned to visit wineries in the region. And you thought that only in Napa Valley you could have that experience, right? We went to have a brunch at Alex’s, a super traditional diner in town. The prices are great! Thiago ordered the Egg’s Benedict ($11) and I ordered the Griddled Meal which comes with bacon, pancakes, and eggs. Then, we started our tour of the wineries. I’ll briefly tell you about the three we visited – they’re all 20-30 minutes from Poughkeepsie.
- Millbrook Vineyards & Winery – is one of the most famous in the region. It is in an area that was especially beautiful because of the Fall landscape and has plenty of grapes planted, as well as outside space with picnic tables. The structure of the winery has a shop, tables for tasting and space for events. The tasting with 6 wines costs $ 12.50 per person (and you still get the glass). They also have a menu with cheeses. Open all year!
- Nostrano Vineyards – the physical space itself is small but very cozy. The tasting with 6 wines costs $6 per person. There are boards of cheeses from $ 22 for four people. The region where the winery is located is also beautiful. Only open on weekends!
- Benmarl Winery – the three that we visited, this is the one has the most beautiful structure. It is located close to the Hudson River, it has a sensational view. At weekends, they offer pizzas (from $10). There is also a bakery with a few options. The tasting with 6 wines cost $ 0 – and we ended up taking two bottles of this winery. Check the website for days and times.
At night, we had dinner at The Artist’s Palate, which was recommended to us by our Airbnb host. Modern and beautiful environment! It is located in Poughkeepsie. We ordered the Artist’s Plate as a starter ($18), which comes with cheeses, cold cuts, a delight! For the main course, I ordered the Scallops ($30) served with crispy cabbage and bacon jelly, a delight! Thiago chose the Duck Breast ($28), smoked duck breast served with black rice.
Day 4/Sunday – we had a special program booked for that last day – a balloon ride in Middletown, about 50 minutes from Poughkeepsie, with Above the Clouds. I was very excited when I learned about this tour and I made a booking since it would be a great experience to see the fall foliage from above. I made the reservation by phone a week earlier, as well as the payment – $199 per person for a 20-30 minute flight. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the flight was canceled (we were warned the night before). They give you the option to rebook for another day.
So we changed our plans – initially, we planned to spend the day in Hudson, a town that’s about an hour from Poughkeepsie, but we decided to stay in Poughkeepsie and enjoy some things we had not done yet. We started the day with a brunch at the Eveready Diner, a classic American diner with super generous portions and great prices. The red velvet pancake is delicious!
Then, we went to the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. It is a national park where are located the residence, the library and the tomb of Franklin Roosevelt, who was president of the United States. The park is huge and beautiful too! Access and parking are free. If you want to visit the library/museum and the house, you need to buy a ticket, which costs $20 (and has a guided tour). Since we did not have much time, because we did not want to go home too late, we just walked around. We took a map at Visitor’s center and explored the area.
Then we went to Walkway over the Hudson. It is a suspension bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. Located in Poughkeepsie, it was built in the 19th century to connect New York to New England. With a fire in the 70’s, it ended up abandoned, but the community united and in 2009 it was reopened to the public. It is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world, about 2 kilometers long. The most beautiful is the view of the bridge, the city, the river, and the autumn landscape. Access is free!
We returned the car without any problems, took an Uber to the train station and returned home. This trip was really cool! We love visiting so many cool things in Upstate and I’m very happy to share this trip with you because I think the region has a lot to offer! Remember that what I did and what I showed is only part of the programs that the area offers. If you click here, you can check a few more posts on the blog where I report other activities that can be incorporated into the script, such as Brunch at Castle Spa, visit the Rockefeller residence and more!
- Airbnb – $ 500 (three nights – but, as I mentioned, there are other cheaper options in the area!)
- Car rental – $ 190.
- Gas – $ 25 (we took the car with a full tank, we drove the four days and spent $25 to return it with a full tank)
- Train tickets – $ 36 per person, round trip.
- Uber – $20 (to/from the station in Poughkeepsie)
- Food – we spend on average $100 in each dinner (couple) and $30 to $40 (couple) with breakfast/brunch. Remember that there are other options in the area!
- Mohonk hiking passes – $ 4
- Wine tasting – $34 (we only took two tastings at the second winery).
I hope you have enjoyed discovering a little more of Upstate with me! Below, I share my map – I categorized each day / activities with different colors!