Tucked in a scenic section of New York's Hudson Valley, Hyde Park looks like a quaint little town, a place for a quick stop off New York's busy Route 9. But its majestic mansions, fascinating history, culinary creations, and bucolic beauty entice visitors to give this riverside community 90 miles north of New York City a longer look.
Known primarily as the home of our 32d president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hyde Park is also home to the Culinary Institute of America, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Eleanor Roosevelt national historic site. Dining, cultural, and outdoor recreational opportunities here are second to none.
From deluxe resorts to affordably priced motels, there are plenty of lodging options in town. The Journey Inn Bed and Breakfast (1 Sherwood Place, 845-229-8972, www.journeyinn.com, $160-$240), across from the Vanderbilt Mansion, serves locally sourced cuisine, and features Internet access. Le Petit Chateau Inn (39 West Dorsey Lane, 845-437-4688, www.lepetitchateauinn.com, $175-$215) is a renovated farmhouse less than a mile from the CIA. Rooms have TV, Internet access, scenic views, and some have fireplaces. Guests can sample local cheeses, fruits, and French wines, and schedule a private chef event for lunch or dinner at the inn. The Willows Bed and Breakfast (53 Travis Road, 845-471-6115, www.willowsbnb.com, $140-$165) is a restored 1765 farmhouse owned by a CIA graduate and beekeeper and his wife who offer local gourmet food, including honey from their hives, fruit from their orchard, and homemade breads from scratch.
Hyde Park has some of the best dining experiences in the country. For a traditional breakfast and classic comfort food, the Eveready Diner (4189 Albany Post Road, 845-229-8100, www.theevereadydiner.com, entrees and sandwiches $5-$22) is a local favorite.
The Culinary Institute of America (1946 Campus Drive, 845-671-6608, www.ciarestaurants.com) offers five restaurants on campus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reservations are recommended at all of them except the Apple Pie Bakery Café (pastries $2-$5, sandwiches $5-$10, 7:30 a.m.-
5 p.m.), where you can enjoy a brioche doughnut with a passion fruit glaze for breakfast with a pot of French press coffee. Lunch is served 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and dinner 6-8:30 p.m. by CIA students. Business casual dress is recommended at Ristorante Caterina de Medici and American Bounty. American Bounty (entrees $18-$26) serves regional American gourmet dishes such as Hudson Valley moulard duck breast with sweet potatoes and green peppercorn sauce. The new Bocuse Restaurant (entrees $24-$32) offers traditional French cuisine prepared with modern techniques such as the marinated salmon tartare. Ristorante Caterina de Medici (entrees $20-$26) features authentic Italian cuisine, including wood-fired pizza and polenta with salami, spinach, and Gorgonzola. St. Andrew’s Café (entrees $14-$18) offers American and European creations with locally sourced ingredients like the Berkshire pork chop with Maine clams, and Meiller Farm meatloaf with mushroom-herb gravy.
Hyde Park has plenty of other great dining options. Joseph's Steakhouse (728 Violet Ave, 845-473-2333, www.josephssteakhouse.com, entrees $14-$46) serves up some of the best ribeye and porterhouse steaks in the region, in addition to abundant seafood options. Antonella's (4246 Albany Post Road, 845-229-1200, www.antonellasrestaurant.com, entrees $7-$21) chefs brought their tradition of affordable, authentic Italian cuisine north from New York's "real Little Italy" in the Bronx.
Museums and mansions mark Hyde Park's contribution to our nation's history. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Home National Historic Site (4097 Albany Post Road, 845-229-5320, www.nps.gov/hofr, admission $14) documents the triumphs and tribulations of our nation's only four-term president and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The 33-acre property with hiking trails and scenic views of the Hudson includes the Roosevelt home, "Springwood," and the nation's first presidential library. The library, which expects to finish an extensive renovation by the beginning of July, will feature the largest photographic exhibition on the Roosevelts. The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (54 Valkill Park Road, 845-229-9115, www.nps.gov/elro, admission $8, open May-October, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.), or "Val-Kill," is the only national historic site dedicated to a first lady. The Gilded Age is also represented in grand style at the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (119 Vanderbilt Park Road, 845-229-7770, www.nps.gov/vama, admission $8). Frederick Vanderbilt's home has amazing panoramic views of the river and Catskills, gorgeous gardens, and more than 6,500 artifacts.
With warmer months on the way, Hyde Park provides ample opportunities to enjoy the beautiful scenery through outdoor recreation. Four miles south of Hyde Park you will find the Walkway on the Hudson (61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie, 845-454-9649, www.walkway.org), the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world at 1.28 miles. The former Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was restored 35 years after a fire damaged the tracks, ending almost a century of use. The walkway offers great views of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and the city of Poughkeepsie. Experience a guided tour in a canoe or kayak along the Hudson at The River Connection (9 West Market St., 845-229-0595, www.the-river-connection.com, trips start mid-May, $55 per person). Big Bear Zip Lines (817 Violet Ave., 845-233-5661, www.bigbearziplines.com, $99-$120) offers zip line canopy tours and nighttime zombie zip line tours for the adventurous.
Hyde Park has limited night life options, but the Hyde Park Brewing Co. (4076 Albany Post Road, 845-229-8277, www.hydeparkbrewing.com) has an open mike blues jam on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays, and live bands every Friday and Saturday nights. They also have a wide selection of hand-crafted beers made on site. Mahoney's Irish Pub and Restaurant (35 Main St., Poughkeepsie, 845-471-7026, www.mahoneysirishpub.com) has traditional Irish music every Sunday, karaoke on Wednesdays, and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Matt Taylor can be reached at www.matthewgtaylor.com or on twitter @MattTaylor0403.