Date of Trip: September 2006
There are so many lovely towns nestled along “America’s Rhine” that it was quite hard for us to decide which to visit on our day trip. We had blocked out a full September day for the journey and our goals were simple: to eat some good food, peep some good art, and have some good fun.
We chose Poughkeepsie, The Queen City of the Hudson, which is located in Dutchess County just 90 minutes north of New York City. Our online searches of this area returned a a hearty selection of well-rated restaurants, a vibrant art community, and a highly-recommended interactive children’s museum — perfect!
We started our course early in the a.m. along New Jersey’s Interstate 287 til we reached the New York State Thruway. We took the exit for Newburgh (I-84 East) and followed that through to Rt. 9.
If you have a taste for rail travel and don’t mind hoofing it around town, note that Amtrak offers several routes, such as the Adirondack or Empire Service, both departing from New York’s Penn Station.
What We Did
Our first stop: The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is reasonable at $6.50 per person over the age of 1 year. (Tip: There’s a $1 off per family coupon on the museum’s website). A guided tour was offered with the admission price, but we chose to take on the two floors of hands-on exhibits at our own leisure.
Children and parents alike will find this museum to be a fun and creative learning environment. Instead of being told to keep paws off, all visitors are encouraged to touch, climb, crawl, and create. Moms and Dads: If you don’t notice your curiousity sparking, please check your pulse!
After spending our morning traveling the pathway of a red blood cell through the heart and learning morse code, we strolled along the waterfront to the River Station Restaurant. The vibe was cozy and pubbish, staff members were pleasant, and the food was tasty and fairly priced. (Tip: Be sure to dine upstairs where there are huge windows overlooking the river).
With bellies stuffed, we drove from the waterfront to Noxon Street’s Barrett Art Center. Founded in 1934 by American regionalist and noted local painter, Tom Barrett, it serves as a community meeting place for artists and art enthusiasts. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; admission is free.
Coming from a river town dotted with many art galleries, we were prepared for more of the same: impressionistic-style paintings of covered bridges and other landscapes. Instead, we were treated to quite a cultural experience and caught ourselves viewing the very latest trends in contemprary art.
We overheard patrons of the art gallery discussing their wonderful dining experience at the Milanese Restaurant on Poughkeepsie’s Main Street, so off we went! Our unknowing tipsters couldn’t have been more right — this classy Italian joint served up some of the best authentic homemade Italian cuisine one can find on this side of the Atlantic. Prices were right and everyone there — eating or working — looked like they were having the time of their lives.
‘Til Next Time
Next time, we’ll be sure to visit on a 3rd Saturday to enjoy the official “Third Saturdays Poughkeepsie ArtHop” — the city’s open house and celebration of art and culture. Activities like art lectures, openings and other happenings take place between noon and 8:00 p.m. Also worthy of a stop is the beautiful Vassar College campus (about 3 miles outside of the city’s center) and their Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. We’re also eager to explore the grounds and gardens of Locust Grove, the Samuel Morse Historic Site.
We said our “so longs” to Poughkeepsie after a perfect day, knowing full well that we’d be back for a long weekend real soon.