If you’re in New York City, looking for weekend trip ideas, chances are you are typing in the words “Hudson Valley” in the Airbnb search tool. Because when you’re dealing with quarantines and restrictions that can vary by state and by day, it’s easier to stay as close to home as possible, without actually staying home. The Hudson Valley, with its picturesque, rural landscapes and farm-to-table restaurants, is far enough and different enough from the city to make it feel like you’re getting away. The Hudson Valley is vast, though. Some cities like Peekskill are only an hour away from the city, while the more famous towns of Hudson or Catskill are a 3 hour drive. Fishkill, New York is the perfect middle ground in that it’s only 1.5 hours away, yet it still has access to great restaurants and cultural attractions in the town itself as well as in nearby Beacon.
Day 1 – Enjoying juicy, hazy IPAs at Sloop Brewery in Fishkill, NY
Sloop Brewery // 755 East Dr #106, East Fishkill, NY 12533 // (518) 751-9134
Hopefully you were able to beat the mad weekend rush out of the city and got to Fishkill at a reasonable time. After settling into your rental, grab the kids and head to Sloop Brewery for some excellent food and delicious IPAs. I am not a beer lover, but even I was a big fan of the flagship beer, the sweet and aptly named Juice Bomb, and I bought some cans to bring home.
The beer is usually the star at a brewery, but I was impressed by the caliber of the food menu as well. The fact that Sloop Brewery has dan dan noodles on the menu says a lot. They care about making the food as interesting as their beer, it’s not simply an afterthought of burger and fries. The Red Hot Chili Pepper-Roni pizza will conjure up memories of the thick, bready slices from your suburban youth, like the Pizza Hut or Chuck E. Cheese pies that you might have ordered, but of course it is made with more finesse. The hits kept coming with the Mother Clucker fried chicken sandwich, which was an even stronger dish than the pizza, and those fantastic dan dan noodles I mentioned earlier. Of course these noodles aren’t totally authentic, but they satisfy in the way that a comforting bowl of bolognese will.
Day 2 – Appreciating art at the Dia Beacon museum.
Dia Beacon // 3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY 12508 // (845) 440-0100
Dia Beacon is a contemporary art museum located in a former Nabisco box-printing factory on the banks of the Hudson River. If you’re ever in the Hudson Valley, you should absolutely take the time to pay a visit here. Due to covid, you’ll have to book your tickets online in advance, and weekend times definitely sell out, especially the early morning time. We had timed tickets for 10 am, right when the museum opened, and it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
I wouldn’t say the museum is overtly kid friendly, in that the staff definitely keeps a watchful eye on making sure the kids don’t touch the exhibits, as they should. But because the space is so big, there are certain parts where the kids can just walk around and use up their energy that way, which is really all I cared about. The exhibits on the basement floor are always very visual and interactive, and my kids were very fascinated and sometimes terrified by the flashing lights and sounds of DJ Carl Craig’s basement “club” exhibit.
Eating Sri Lankan food for lunch at a diner
Red Pepper Diner // 1458 NY-9D, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 // (845) 440-0020
After absorbing all that art, you’ll want to eat some lunch. Many guides might point you to some places on Main Street, but you should skip the Beacon downtown scene and drive to Red Pepper Diner in nearby Wappingers Falls. This place makes some fantastic homey Sri Lankan food that you probably can’t get in your hometown, New York City included.
You might think Sri Lankan food will taste like Indian food due to the proximity of the two countries, but it actually tastes more like Indonesian food. At least the cuisine at Red Pepper Diner did. The curried chicken was more subtle and just lightly seasoned than the creamy, saucy versions typically served at Indian restaurants in the city. It was subtle enough that my son, the pickiest eater in the world, ate it. But what I couldn’t get enough of was the eggplant that came as a side in the dish. I am not sure what they put in there, but it was magical. Equally addicting is the fried devilled pork, which is just as good as any deep fried meat from your favorite takeout Chinese restaurant, and the nasi goreng fried rice. If you can come back here the next day for some seconds and thirds, by all means, go for it.
Explore downtown Beacon and pick up some sweets
Beacon Bread Company // 193-195 Main St, Beacon, NY 12508 // (845) 838-2867
Now is the time to explore downtown Beacon on Main Street, to walk off all the calories from the epic lunch. Beacon’s downtown is medium in scale, and has the requisite anchoring coffee shop, quirky shops and cute eateries that are characteristic of these Hudson Valley towns. The desserts and sweet treats at Beacon Bread Company are worth the extra calories. You’ll have a hard time narrowing things down, but the crinkle cookies are always a good pick up.
Dinner at Amora Osteria
Amora Osteria // 114 Old Post Rd, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 // (845) 298-6790
I’m not sure about you, but in the town I grew up in, there was one restaurant in town, on a hill, that was THE place to go for any special occasion. Graduation, Valentine’s Day, anniversary, everyone went to The Summit House. I get the feeling that Amora Osteria is THE place to go if you live in Fishkill. It’s an Italian restaurant, situated on a hill, and many ladies gussied up in leopard print come and go.
We decided to order take out, since Amora Osteria was fully booked on Valentine’s Day, and I wasn’t quite ready to do indoor dining on that scale yet. A lot of Chowhounders rave about this place, but I thought it was just fine. I would recommend the chicken parmigiana over pasta dish. If you don’t mind a 20-25 minute drive, eat at La Casa Vicina in New Windsor instead.
Apple cider doughnuts and cider tasting at Fishkill Farms
Fishkill Farms // 9 Fishkill Farm Rd, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533 // (845) 897-4377
No trip to the Hudson Valley is complete without a visit to a local farm. How could you not take advantage of the greenmarket when there are acres and acres of it all around you? Fishkill Farms is a 270-acre apple orchard and vegetable farm that sells homegrown organic produce year-round at its farm store. The farm has some historical significance in that the Morgenthau family, which has owned the farm for 100 years, were close friends of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Another fun fact is that in the winter, Fishkill Farms opens up its snowy hills for sledding, free of charge. You just have to sign a waiver releasing them from any responsibility of injury. If you don’t have a sled or aren’t into cold outdoor activity, the tasting of Fishkill Farms’ estate grown ciders is a good alternative. Pair the ciders with the fresh apple cider doughnuts and you’ll end your trip on a very high note.