The Perfect Upstate Day

Ah, Upstate.

We certainly do not lack for haters. “The Simpsons.” CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. The late former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch. SNL star Pete Davidson.

Just to name a few.

But these people don’t know what they’re missing, (or, in Koch’s case, what they missed). Not long ago, I was thinking about the New York Tourism ads with the slogan, “It’s all here, it’s only here.” I haven’t seen one of these recently, but I thought they were true then and I still do now.

With these ads as my inspiration, I set out to have a day that could only be had upstate. Sure, other places have some of these things, but I don’t know of another place that has all of these things, within a reasonable driving distance, that can all be done in the same day and still have you home in time for dinner.

I made a list and planned our schedule, and my husband and I set out on our “only in upstate” day.

1. Take in some incredible views.

It’s not difficult to find some good stuff to look at around here. Whenever I have guests in from out of town, they comment on the beauty of the region.

One of my favorite views is at the top of a hill not far from my house. You can see the Catskill Mountains way out in the distance, and in the summer it is green as far as the eye can see.

These sorts of views don’t come at the bottom of a hill, and they always seem a little sweeter if you put in the effort to see them. We took in this view about three miles into a five-mile loop that started and ended at our house.

2. Eat lunch with Martin Van Buren

Our country’s eighth president, and the first one born in the US, is none other than Kinderhook’s own Martin Van Buren. His home, Lindenwald, is on Route 9H in Kinderhook. It’s open for tours, should you be so inclined. But if you want a different, less formal MVB experience, you can simply hang out on the bench in the village square that’s home to his statue.

You can pack a lunch and eat it there in the (silent) company of the man nicknamed the “Red Fox” for his knack for cunning politics, but since a secondary goal of this adventure day was to support the local economy, we grabbed sandwiches at Broad Street Bagel Company next door and then headed outside.

3. Eat an apple cider donut

Lots of places say they have the best apple cider donuts. In my opinion, only Golden Harvest Farms in Valatie is correct in saying this. You might think you’ve had an apple cider donut before, but you haven’t really had one until you’ve stopped here. All year round they are made fresh daily, and often they are still warm when handed to you.

In the interest of full disclosure, we also left with a cherry turnover and a cinnamon roll. Their stuff is really good. Don’t judge us too harshly.

4. Ride in a boat

There are a lot of boating options around here. We chose the self-powered option at Lake Taghkanic State Park. They offer kayaks, rowboats, canoes, and paddle boats. Since I hadn’t been in a canoe since I was at summer camp (ahem) years ago, that’s the boat we selected. Boat rentals are a reasonable $10/hour, and trust me, an hour of paddling is enough – especially after eating a bagel sandwich and a cider donut not long before we arrived at the lake.

5. Grill some food grown less than five miles away

It’s summer, and that means there are farm stands and opportunities to grab local produce all over the place. My favorite local farm stand is Holmquest Farms in Claverack, which is less than five miles from my house. They have a huge selection of “Holmes-grown” fruits and vegetables.

Most items for sale were picked that very day. The good stuff sells out, so get there early, especially in strawberry season. Sweet corn had just come into season on the day of our adventure, so we grabbed a few ears, and I couldn’t resist the tomatillos and a jalapeno, too. I’ve got some salsa verde in my future.

For dinner that night, we grilled up the ears of corn along with the rest of our dinner and it was outstanding.

6. Cap off the evening with a “field-to-glass” whiskey

Among the many attractions in this area are the numerous distilleries, wineries, breweries, and cideries that have sprung up in recent years. Whatever your libation of choice, you can get a local version of it.

Tops on my list is the Solera Aged Bourbon from Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram. They grow all of the grains used to make their whiskeys, and if you’re in the area, I highly recommend taking in the distillery tour. You will see the fields, the malt house, the fermentation vats, the still, and the building where all of the aging barrels are kept. The tour caps off with a tasting and opportunity to purchase a bottle.

All in all, our day was a complete success. We could have (and have before) spent more time at any of the places we visited, and it was a bit of a whirlwind day. But we wanted to prove it could all be seen and done in one day, because this is the only place you CAN do all of this in one day.

Welcome to our New York.

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