Now through New Year’s Day, New York’s Hudson Valley bustles with the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Festive store windows, stunning art galleries, eclectic antique and novelty shops and a plethora of artisan boutiques are the perfect antidote to the monotony of retail mall madness, where you can shop for distinctive, hard-to-find gifts and enjoy the experience along the way.
For crafters: White Barn Farm Sheep & Wool, New Paltz, New York
The age-old hobby of knitting is a great way to connect with local artisans. Knitted items are perfect for gift-giving and staying warm, especially during the frigid winter months. White Barn Farm, located at the base of the scenic Shawungunk Ridge in New Paltz, promotes local, sustainable agriculture with its wide selection of hand-dyed, hand-spun and inspired and roving yarn, accessories and handmade gifts. Owner Paula Kucera carries a variety of yarns spun from her flock, mostly Cormo sheep, an Australian breed known for its incredibly soft fleece. Classes, including crocheting, knitting and needle-felting, are offered for beginners to veterans. “Drop-in” session offer the handcrafting community an opportunity to enjoy some camaraderie. 815 Albany Post Rd, New Paltz, 914-456-6040; www.whitebarnsheepandwool.com
For wine lovers: Hetta, Kingston, New York
Based in Kingston, Hetta produces the Hudson Valley’s take on glogg, the traditional Nordic mulled wine popular around the holidays. Glögg originated in the early 1600s, when spices were added to the poor-tasting wine of the time. As flavors improved, Glögg remained popular in Nordic countries, becoming a traditional beverage associated with Christmas and other social gatherings. While the Hetta recipe originated with vodka, it now consists of about 80% port wine and 20% brandy. Warm up the beverage on the stovetop, and soon the kitchen will fill with the aromas of fruits and rich spices, perfect to enjoy with friends. 85 Broadway, Kingston, 845-216-4801; www.hettaglogg.com.
For foodies: Willow by Charlie Palmer, Rhinebeck, New York
Treat a loved one to a memorable culinary experience this holiday season in the historic Hudson Valley village of Rhinebeck, two hours north of New York City. The newly opened Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck features Willow, a restaurant operated by acclaimed chef Charlie Palmer, in addition to its 50 guest rooms and a 12,000-square-foot spa. Palmer brought his culinary talents to Rhinebeck after a career running a restaurant empire that includes a New York City favorite, Aureole. He has received numerous accolades, including the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in America in 1997. Combined with the spa atmosphere of Mirbeau, the menu showcases the team’s dedication to region’s agricultural heritage and progressive American cuisine featuring local and seasonal produce from multigenerational farms, emergent food artisans and craft distillers. Willow by Charlie Palmer is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 46 W Market Street, Rhinebeck, 877-647-2328; www.charliepalmer.com
For literary buffs: Oblong Books, Rhinebeck, New York
As you wander in and out of Rhinebeck’s picture-perfect shops, be sure to check out the town’s landmark bookstore. Founded in 1975, Oblong Books & Music is the region’s largest independent bookseller and music store. 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. 6422 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck, 845-876-0500; www.oblongbooks.com.
For antique lovers: Millerton Antiques Center, Millerton, New York
If you are a lover of vintage goods and furniture, chances are you’ve done some upstate antiquing north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. Visitors will find the Millerton Antiques Center in the charming town of Millerton, Dutchess County, just about a mile from the New York–Connecticut state line. A staple for over 20 years, it sells an eclectic assortment of goods from 35 vendors. It’s one of those places where the hunt is part of the fun. While you may not know what you’ll stumble upon, it’s sure to be something unique and interesting. Open daily. 25 Main Street, Millerton, 518-789-6004; www.millertonantiquescenter.com
For hosts: Living Edge Designs, Rhinebeck, New York
Living Edge Designs of Rhinebeck produces one-of-a kind serving boards made from a variety of Hudson Valley hardwoods. Truly encompassing the “tree to table” experience, these sculptural-yet-functional works of art are perfect for serving favorite holiday culinary creations and make unique gifts for loved ones. Todd Young crafts stunning cutting boards, candleholders, flight paddles and more using sustainably harvested Hudson Valley hardwoods like walnut, cherry, sugar maple and sycamore. See www.livingedgedesigns.com or call 845-750-1265 for shops that sell Living Edge Design crafts.