Located on the banks of the majestic Hudson River, Rhinebeck is a beautiful historic village in Dutchess County, New York, complete with breathtaking views of the Catskill and Berkshire mountains, gourmet restaurants, charming boutiques, art galleries and numerous bed-and-breakfasts. Rhinebeck, which includes the picturesque hamlet of Rhinecliff, is a treasure trove for history buffs, lovers of great architecture and anyone looking for a laid-back retreat. Whatever the season, Rhinebeck promises plenty of activities for all ages, including festivals, winter sports, farmers’ markets and shopping. Here are some local favorites:
With over 400 sites on the National Historic Register, including Beekman Arms, America’s oldest continually operating inn circa 1766, Rhinebeck has a rich architectural heritage. One of the region’s greatest examples of Victorian architecture is Wilderstein, a 19th-century Queen Anne-style mansion located on a wooded bluff overlooking the Hudson River. Take a tour of this historic former home of moneyed landowner Thomas Suckley, with its 40 acres designed by landscape architect Calvert Vaux and an interior filled with three generations’ worth of historic collections. The last resident of Wilderstein was Margaret Daisy Suckley, a distant cousin of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who gave him his famous black Scottish terrier, Fala, and helped to establish his presidential library in nearby Hyde Park, New York. (845-876-4818, wilderstein.org)
Head over to the region’s largest independent bookseller and music store, Oblong Books and Music at 6422 Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck. With its knowledgeable staff, large and varied selection of bargain books and a vibrant children’s book and toy section, Oblong has something for everyone. Be sure to look for the cozy shop’s frequent book-signing events with local authors. (845-876-0500, Oblongbooks.com).
Rhinebeck is teeming with restaurants featuring fresh, local fare, five-star treatment and world-class chefs. Step out of the cold and into the warm, homey dining room at the chef-owned, farm-to-table Le Petit Bistro, where European flair and dock-fresh seafood are sure to please the finest palates. Constantly rotating specials, including fresh shellfish, are driven by the market and the whims of the chef. Sunday brunch is a must. (845-876-7400, www.lepetitbistro.com.)
Drop into Samuel’s Sweet Shop, owned by Hollywood actors Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Morgan, for some tasty treats. Since 1994, Samuel’s has sweetened the quaint upstate New York village with classic and nostalgic confections, decadent chocolates, delicious baked goods, savory sandwiches and Toby’s Estate coffee. Indulge your sweet tooth by visiting the shop at 42 E Market St, along the main shopping promenade. (845-876-5312, www.samuelssweetshop.com.)
Explore the outdoors with a hike through Ferncliff Forest Game Refuge and Forest Preserve, along Mount Rutsen Road in Rhinebeck, a 200-acre forest open year-round for walking, hiking, overnight camping (by permit), mountain biking, fishing, skiing and picnics, at no charge to the public. Birdwatching is also an experience at Ferncliff as is a steel observation tower 350 feet above sea level affording stunning views of the Hudson River and Catskills. (845-876-3196, ferncliffforest.com)
Something is going on most weekends at the nearby Dutchess County Fairgrounds, a popular destination for wholesome family fun in the beautiful Hudson Valley. In addition to hosting the annual county fair, the fairground showcases numerous outstanding year-long events for enthusiasts of classic cars, antiquing, fine machinery, livestock, crafts, food, wine and more. (Check the schedule at dutchessfair.com.)
A weekend could be happily spent browsing Rhinebeck’s many charming shops. The village’s renowned shopping scene is rich with high-end boutiques, designer jewelers and specialty stores that cater to any taste or preference. Browse one-of-a-kind jewelry from around the world at Hummingbird Jewelers, a landmark in the area that is celebrating nearly 40 years in business. The shop, which represents over 75 designers and jewelers from around the world, features an on-premise workshop specializing in antique restoration, jewelry repair and custom creations to match any customer’s creative vision of the perfect piece of jewelry. (845-876-4585, www.hummingbirdjewelers.com.)