I have called the Hudson Valley my home for several years now, and I am finally getting around to sharing some of the incredible food, places, and culture this region has to over.
The Hudson Valley is an area of New York State that stretches along the Hudson River. On the east side, you have Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess County, while on the west side of the river, you will find Orange, Rockland and Ulster County.
My family resides in Western Hudson Valley, so my focus will be on this part of the region, but you can certainly find incredible places to explore on the eastern side of the Hudson River.
While any time of year is a wonderful time to visit, the Hudson Valley is especially popular in the fall, and with good reason. The leaves turn gorgeous shades of red, orange, yellow and purple; farm stands are filled with tasty fall produce; and, apple and pumpkin picking is plentiful.
Please note fall weekends (especially Columbus Day weekend, and during Warwick’s Applefest) can be extremely crowded. If you prefer less people around during your visit, try coming in the middle of the week, or later in the season. Late November, before the Winter holiday activities start, is a good bet.
Read on to learn about some of my favorite spots to experience the best of the Hudson Valley.
Family vacations during school breaks are always something to look forward to and can still be enjoyed even in the era of COVID-19. Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise domestic travel is safe for fully vaccinated individuals who wear a mask in public. If your children are too young for the vaccine, the CDC recommends you limit your travel to a short road trip to a location with outdoor activities that allow for social distancing.
Read on for ways to enjoy vacationing with your family in these unique times.
A few days after our family trip to Cape May, N.J., I can still smell the salty, sea air and feel the cool, ocean breeze on my skin.
I am no stranger to the beach; I grew up in Queens, within an hour’s drive of Long Island’s popular shores, took yearly trips to Virginia Beach as a kid, traveled to the beaches of the Carribean and the Middle East, and, more recently, spent many summers at the more northern points of the Jersey Shore.
Cape May N.J. has a lot of what you might find in any beach town, small shops selling ice cream, souvenirs, or beach gear, restaurants on the water and a walkable pathway that runs along the edge of the beach. However, what makes Cape May stand out is the charm of the town.
Cape May N.J. is dotted with beautiful Victorian homes and quaint shops. In proximity to our hotel, was just one small grocery store, and I can’t recall seeing a single chain restaurant or major retail store. Of course, this could make living in Cape May year-round challenging, which I can’t speak to, but if you enjoy an escape from the hustle and bustle of busier areas, a visit to Cape May may be right for you.
Anyone who’s tried to squeeze more than one young child in the back seat of a car understands how cumbersome standard child safety seats can be. And while I do like my kids using high-back booster seats, I was pleased to discover another option which offers space-saving features as well as peace of mind.
The ComfiGO Booster seat from ClypX is a compact, easy-to-use, travel-friendly booster seat for children ages 4 to 12 with a minimum weight of 40 pounds and who are between 40 and 57 inches tall. The ComfiGO Booster seat works with your vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt restraining devices to create an instant child safety seat.
The ComfiGO Booster seat features an adjustable, clippable strap that secures the shoulder belt on your child, preventing them from slouching and keeping them properly restrained, as well as another clip which can be used on the lap belt for added security.
Families will love that the ComfiGO Booster is lightweight and small enough to stow in most suitcases and travel bags, yet can be secured permanently in the car via the LATCH system.
I am blessed with the good fortune to live near some incredible hiking trails, including a large section of the Appalachian trail. I love the peace and quiet I find while hiking, especially in the fall and winter when the trails are less populated. I find being alone on the trail allows me to better experience the sounds of the wind whistling through the trees, birds chirping and insects buzzing. I can sync my soul with nature and put my mind at ease.
Now with the warming weather, more people are out hiking, so my opportunities for solitude are limited. However, I still enjoy getting outside, and try to hit the trails on weekday mornings when the crowds are manageable. Also, there is a difference between crowds on a trail, and crowds in general. Something aboout being out in nature reduces the stress and annoyance of being around large groups of people. I can’t help but feel good.
I find my fellow hikers, whether novices or experts on a months-long excursion, share this same spirit. While, we may have widely different views, and might even despise one another in a different space, on the trail none of that seems to matter. Here we all share one purpose, the desire to be one with nature.
My family has called the New York Hudson Valley home for nearly six years, and the longer we are here, the more we fall in love with all the wonderful treasures this area has to offer. From breathtaking views atop scenic mountain trails to delicious farm-to-table food, this region is truly a special place.
This summer, the Hudson Valley will become even more of a hot spot with the opening of LEGOLAND New York.
Conveniently located in Goshen, N.Y. — just 60 miles from NYC — LEGOLAND New York will include seven themed lands, such signature rides as “The Dragon” and “LEGO® NINJAGO® The Ride,” as well as new experiences like the global debut of LEGO® Factory Adventure ride.
Since the world stopped earlier this year, our November trip to Disney World was a beaming light of hope. By then, surely, the pandemic would be under control, or at least manageable enough to allow us to travel without too much worry.
But, as the months went by and the COVID-19 cases went up, our Disney trip seemed like less and less of a possibility. Still, I stayed positive.
Numbers were declining in my state — once an epicenter for the New Coronavirus — and I was encouraged when Disney World opened its doors again this summer. I followed along with the ever-changing protocols, rationalizing the sacrifices we would have to make would be worth it to go.
Sure, I thought, the masks might feel odd, and the characters won’t hug us, but the crowds would be smaller, and the parks will be cleaner than they’ve ever been.
I told myself not too feel bad if this was the first experience the kids had with Disney World. They’ve never been, they wouldn’t know any better. But, I have, and I know better. Yet, I convinced myself all the restrictions and changes would be a minor price to pay to give my children the chance at something magical in an otherwise difficult year.
I held on to the hope as the months, weeks and days drew closer to our planned trip. I sent countless emails back and forth to our agent, making and re-making dining reservations, I spent hours one morning to snag our set of limited park tickets, all the while knowing our trip would likely be postponed.
And, today, was that day.
Today was when I sent the email asking our agent to move our trip to next year.
That dream we had all the way back in the beginning of 2020, before COVID-19 was a word in my vocabulary, that dream was now gone. Well, not gone, but delayed.
As, I write this, I hear how incredibly privileged I am to even have entertained the thought of a Disney World vacation. When so many have suffered tremendous loss both in terms of life and livelihood, I know some mom whining about not being able to take a trip to Disney is the least thing the world needs right now.
So, I write this with no intention of anyone to feel sorry for me. I have no right to elicit sympathy, nor comfort. Those are things we should grant to those truly suffering, because there is plenty of suffering and not enough sympathy to go around.
But, I will permit myself to feel just a little bit sad about these now canceled plans. I will take a moment to grieve the loss of what I had hoped would have been a special trip for my family.
I will wallow and bitch about the state of America and how if we could have only gotten our act together fewer people would have died, and I would get to watch my youngest get a hug from Cinderella and my oldest wield a lightsaber against a Sith lord.
So, please, forgive me for being petty and whiny. I am aware of how foolish I sound.
Then again, maybe you are like me, maybe you had a big trip planned, or you were hoping for a huge wedding, or you thought you would be celebrating your kid’s graduation with hundreds of people, or your family has yet to meet your new baby, or you will be alone on Thanksgiving.
I want you to know you are allowed to feel devastated about all of it. Feeling sad over what you lost doesn’t make you any less appreciative of what you have.
I am so grateful for all the incredible people and comforts I have in my life. I thank God, and hope a canceled Disney vacation is the worst thing that happens to our family this year.
Because while we may not get to experience the magic of Disney World, we have had plenty of joy and happiness right in our own home. We have found new ways to connect and appreciate one another, all while managing a challenging year.
And our Disney Dream isn’t over, it’s just on hold until next year.
Unpredictable moods, constant whining and non-stop hunger make traveling with children a daunting task for families. And, while many parents, including me, are grateful for the wealth of tech products to keep our kids entertained, often we need, or want, to leave the gadgets behind.
Whether you are a tech-free family or your devices simply ran out of power, there are lots of reasons to turn to old school forms of entertainment on your next family road, air or train trip.
I asked my followers on Facebook to share their tech-free tips for keeping kids occupied and happy while traveling, and they delivered. Continue reading →
If you love history, quaint shops, museums or beaches, Mystic, Conn., is a great choice for families looking to spend a long weekend out of town.
Located about a two-to-three hour drive from most points originating in either the New York Metro area or the Boston Metro area, Mystic has long been a popular destination for families looking for a little bit of everything on their vacations.
Where To Stay
Because we booked our trip somewhat last minute, and it was over the July 4 holiday, our hotel choices were limited — a lesson learned for the future about how popular this town is during the summer. Also, we were looking for options best suited for families, which narrowed our options.
At first, I was disappointed we couldn’t find something at one of the quainter hotels in Mystic’s more historic areas, but once we checked in, I knew we made the right choice.
The Residence Inn is located right off the the I-95 exit and is just minutes from Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, making it super easy for families to get their desired tourist attractions. Access to an indoor pool was also a huge plus for my kids, when they needed to get some energy out before bedtime.
For our family of four, the room (which included a separate living space with kitchen and pull-out couch) was sufficient for our three-night stay, but was a bit cramped. I would opt for a bigger suite if we were to return.
What To Do
Of course, we weren’t in our rooms much, with all that Mystic has to offer.
Our first stop was Mystic Seaport, a sprawling, outdoor museum dedicated to preserving and educated the public on the area’s rich maritime history.
Visitors can explore an old whaling ship, learn how people lived in the 19th century and discover the science behind sailing and other maritime activities.
For families with younger children, there’s a wonderful children’s museum on site, in which kids can pretend to be sailors, cook in an old-fashioned kitchen and learn how to tie sailor knots. Best of all, the museum is included with your Seaport admission.
Depending on when you visit, Mystic Seaport has many special events for your enjoyment. We were able to go on July 4 and watch the parade, but the highlight for me was learning to play croquet. Our family had so much fun learning the game we decided to buy croquet set of our own!
My six-year-old loves learning about sharks, and I’m almost certain we have read every library book available on these fascinating sea creatures. When our family had the opportunity to visit Mystic Aquarium this summer, I was eager for him, and his brother, to see some sharks and other marine life up close.
From the time we walked in, our family was impressed by the size of the aquarium. The facility boasts plenty of outdoor and indoor exhibits — be prepared to do a lot of walking — and remember with small children, it can be hard to visit everything, so focus on what interests you.
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