Upstate New York and the Berkshires

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 12, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: activity, Anne Banas and Christine Sarkis, culinary travel, destination, Massachusetts, Napa, New York, Oregon, Quebec, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, vacation package, Vancouver, Vermont, Washington.

Upstate New York and the Berkshires

Farms are aplenty in Upstate New York, particularly in the Hudson Valley region, and Massachusetts' Berkshires. Drive by the region's endless rolling green pastureland, and it's obvious that grazing animals like cows and sheep are more than part of the landscape. The region also produces milk and cheese, poultry and eggs, produce—from spring greens to fall pumpkins, herbs, and apples and other fruits.

What to do

Many farms have on-site stores open to visitors and supply area farmers' markets, restaurants, and inns, including some businesses in New York City. Hawthorne Valley Farm, for instance, sends organic food to the Union Square Greenmarket twice a week. Pick-your-own orchards are also quite popular throughout the region.

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Apart from its fine restaurant and farm store, the impressive Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, offers an array of public events such as garden tours, cooking demonstrations, and tastings, as well as classes and lectures on farm and food topics. Docent tours cost $5; other programs are more. The restaurant serves seasonal items plucked directly from the garden or greenhouse, and diners can make reservations up to two months in advance. A second restaurant lies tucked at the bottom of a brownstone in Greenwich Village.

Fresh apple cider is a fall tradition. Along with the crisp, sweet beverage comes apple pies, cider donuts, and anything else apple you can imagine. In true cider mill character, Bartlett's Orchard in the Berkshires and Goold Orchards in Rensselaer County, New York, allow visitors to pick their own apples, take tours, or buy apple products right from their farm stores. Hilltop Orchards, also in the Berkshires, is a "farm winery" that grows a variety of orchard fruits and makes its cider hard as well as fresh. Many orchards like these offer "u-pick" berries during the summer and sell different kinds of produce.

Where to stay

Old Inn On The Green in the Berkshires offers rustic, but elegant rooms from $215 per night; midweek lodging and dining packages are available for $99 per person. Dinners are served by candlelight and feature nouveau New England cuisine made with local ingredients.

The Looking Glass B&B in Rhinebeck, New York, has a "Savor the Flavor" package that includes a two-night stay, produce picking at Greig Farm, farm stand visits, and a picnic basket from a gourmet specialty store. All stays also include a four-course breakfast and tea in the afternoon. The package starts at $310 and is available through September and may be extended through October.

Find more information

The Regional Farm & Food Project, an organization that focuses on building awareness about agricultural sustainability, and Farm to Table, a consumer-friendly site that aims to educate people on the importance of buying local, have online directories for area farms, restaurants, and markets. The New York State Farmstead & Artisan Cheese Makers Guild outlines various cheese makers.

Berkshire Grown has a list of farms and farmers' markets open to the public, while the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources catalogs farms that offer visitor activities and farm stays.

When to go: The pick-your-own apple season runs from late August through October, and berries are available during the summer. Other produce is available seasonally. Farmers' markets start in May or June and run through October.

NEXT >> Ways to find other farm-to-table destinations

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