New York doesn’t end with New York City’s borders. During our trip to the Big Apple before World Pride 2019, we traveled north to the heart of New York State, the Mid-Hudson Valley region. We have been overwhelmed with a welcoming environment, calmness, and gay-friendliness. So, it was an easy task to put together this city trip weekend journal to introduce you to the heart of New York State the best way. Because, you know, New York is New York, right? Well, not quite… We boarded a Metro-North Railroad train and immersed ourselves into the county’s creativity, unexpected excellent cuisine, and omnipresent historical past. So, enjoy our gay travel journal of Dutchess County, New York, and see the gay-friendly Mid-Hudson Valley through a couple of men’s eyes.
– paid collaboration with Dutchess Tourism –
Our gay trip to Dutchess County, New York
Our gay adventure to Dutchess County, 1.5 hours north of New York City, was all about the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley’s blossoming spring nature and exploring the small towns. We could spend some relaxing days by the Hudson River and in the Catskill Mountains, to enjoy delicious farm to table organic food in various restaurants and the Culinary Institute of America, to learn about the legacy of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as the stunning historical and contemporary art and architecture of Bard College, the Fishers Center of Performing Arts and the museum Dia:Beacon. Curious? Let’s get started!
By Train from New York City to Beacon
The trip from New York City to Dutchess County couldn’t be easier. After four exciting days in Manhattan, we jumped on the MTA in Grand Central Terminal and enjoyed our ride on an almost empty train up north. Our Tip: Get your train ticket at one of the ticket counters in the main hall and take a short walk to the right platform. If you can’t find out where to go, ask one of the friendly ladies and gents at the info desk with the famous golden clock on the top, right in the center of the gorgeous main hall of Grand Central Terminal (not mix up with Grand Central Station). The silver shining train passes through the underground world of Manhattan before surfacing again in Harlem and continuing its journey along the Hudson River northbound. Next stop: the little town Beacon.
Day 1 Beacon, Rhinebeck, Annandale-on-Hudson
DIA Art Exhibition | Beacon
In Beacon, the first thing we did was to start our day with Breakfast at Glazed Over Donuts, a small family-operated company making delicious donuts with special toppings. But no time to waste since we had a special appointment at the DIA:Beacon museum, exhibiting art from the 60s to the present in a former Nabisco box printing factory. Our highlights: going behind the glass to admire the gigantic art pieces by Michael Heizer embedded in the ground and the immersive sheets of steel by Richard Serra, arising into the space of the old factory building. Everyone who doesn’t arrive in a car (like us) can catch the shuttle bus from Beacon’s train station. Check here for more info, the opening days & hours >
Lunch at Homespun Foods | Beacon
The art pieces at Dia:Beacon left us overwhelmed and speechless… and hungry! We knew that we needed some food in our bellies for our next appointment, so we decided to have lunch at the small but super cozy restaurant Homespun Foods in Beacon. The spring air was warm enough for us to take a seat outside in the little garden, where we enjoyed some great sandwiches, homemade cookies, and a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. Lekker!
Denning’s Point Distillery | Beacon
If you are in Beacon and Gin-Lovers like us, you should not miss a visit to Denning’s Point Distillery. Why? The company has a good atmosphere, and their spirits (especially the Gin) are delicious. No wonder they won for three consecutive years the award for the Best Hudson Valley Distillery! Denning’s Point is home to an old 19th-century building offering tours, tastings, and special events. Although we could not visit the place during weekends, we got the tip for our blog to mention the open blues jam sessions every 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month from 4-7 pm. Check their website for more details. Cheers!
Not into Gin? No problem. We also visited the Plan Bee Farm Brewery for a beer tasting with Family Emily and Evan Watson. Their goal is to brew 100% New York State ingredient beer grown on and around the farm in Poughkeepsie, New York. The special unique sour taste of the beer is just another reason for the growing Plan Bee Farm beer fan community.
Oliver Kita Chocolates | Rhinebeck
Aware, exquisite, passionate, joyful, powerful, conscious – this is the philosophy of Dutchess County’s sweetest artist Oliver Kita. We all know about Karl having a sweet tooth, so a stop at the Oliver Kita Artisan Chocolate store during our trip was just obligatory (and worth it, Karl whispers). The cute little store on Market Street in Rhinebeck offers its organic chocolate bars and fine delectable chocolate creations to Hudson Valley visitors and locals. Each level of the tasting experience reveals a different layer of sensation with flavors of flowers, herbs, citrus, exotic fruits, berries, nuts, and spices. A cute little place of enjoyment and the best souvenir for family and friends with a sweet tooth like Karl… really, he loves chocolate!
Fisher Center & Bard College | Annandale-on-Hudson
On the road north from Rhinebeck towards our hotel in Tivoli, we passed by just another highlight of Dutchess Country: The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. The first reason why any LGBTQ+ traveler should stop at this location is the magnificent and unique architecture designed by Frank Gehry who is also the man behind the Dancing House in Prague, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Secondly, the Fisher Center (as it is commonly referred to) offers its visitors extraordinary arts experiences, which is unusual for such a small town. The third reason has everything to do with summer: Since 2003, the Fisher Center hosts the annual Bard SummerScape festival featuring seven weeks of world-class opera, theater, dance, cabaret, film, and music. This year, the Bard SummerScape festival will take place from June 29 to August 18, 2019. Check it out!
Gay-friendly Dutchess County Art Hotel Tivoli
But before we tell you more about our adventure, we would like to introduce you to our gay-friendly accommodation, the Art Hotel Tivoli, located in the identically named historic town of Tivoli to the north of the north Dutchess County. The charming hotel rooms in this century-old building are filled with an eclectic collection of furniture, lighting, and art pieces collected by the owners over the years. Brice and Helen Marden, big art lovers and artists themselves, made sure that every room and space of the hotel has an individual atmosphere. We enjoyed a complimentary breakfast in the farm-to-table Restaurant The Corner with homemade Granola, freshly made bread, free-range eggs, and a lovely hot coffee during our stay. Just everything we needed to get ready for our day in Dutchess County. Tip: If you are a light sleeper, bring your earplugs since the building is an old mansion with some cracks and sounds here and there.
Everyone knows New York, the gateway to the new world, also referred to as New Amsterdam! Today, everyone knows the State of New York for New York City, Sex and the City, and, of course, the Stonewall riots 50 years ago. Where to stay? What to do? Where to go? We put all this information together in our Gay Travel Guide for New York!
Day 2: The Catskill Mountains – Poughkeepsie – Hyde Park
Explore Nature & The Catskill Mountains
Most well-established New Yorkers like to escape the busy city life from time to time upstate. One reason, undoubtedly, is the beautiful nature and stunning views of the Hudson River Valley. The county of Dutchess, which spans the east side of the Hudson Valley, opening up the view, especially from the northern part of Dutchess, over the county of Hudson and, distantly, the Catskill mountains. After early morning breakfast at our hotel, we hit the road to get a glimpse at one of the New Yorker’s favorite destinations for a day trip. Coming from Tivoli, we crossed the Hudson River over the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, passed through the Dutch Colonial Town of Hurley, and reached the Awosting Falls at Minnewaska State Park Preserve Shawangunk Mountain ridge. Unfortunately, we didn’t have so much time to spend there since we still wanted to see so much more, but the view of the Catskill mountains on our way back to Poughkeepsie was stunning. Definitely on the list for our next trip to Dutchess!
Coffee to go for a spectacular view | Poughkeepsie
Gay-owned and delicious: The coffee at The Crafted Kup in Poughkeepsie is one of the best coffees in town, if not in Dutchess County. We could meet Tanner Townsend, owner of The Crafted Kup, who gave us a little insight into his work, the snacks, and coffee and talked a little about LGBTQ+ life in Dutchess County. For him, living here is not about going out or enjoying an active gay scene. New York City has plenty to offer to fill those needs. But when you want to enjoy nature and take a little break from the overwhelming energy of NYC, then Dutchess County is the perfect getaway or place to call home. One last coffee to go, and off we went to see the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie, Walkway Over the Hudson. Next stop: American History!
The Legacy of the Roosevelts
You know us. We are eager to learn new things, especially when directly or indirectly connected to human rights and the LGBTQ+ community. During the preparations for our trip, we came across former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. For everyone who doesn’t know President Franklin D. Roosevelt: he, also known by his initials FDR, was a member of the Democratic Party and the 32nd President of the United States of America from 1933 until 1945. The biggest challenges of his presidency were handling World War II and being diagnosed with poliomyelitis (at this time). Together with Abraham Lincoln and Georg Washington, FDR is one of the most influential and greatest US-American presidents. Since he was born in Dutchess County in Hyde Park, we had to visit some historic monuments, too. There, we also learned about another Roosevelt, who was at least equally important to history, but for human rights and the support of the LGBTQ+ community, Eleanor Roosevelt.
Val-Kill – Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
Our first touchpoint with Roosevelt was a visit at Val-Kill, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, the first and only Historic Site dedicated to a US-American first lady. As the name Roosevelt might already reveal, the family of the Roosevelts has a Dutch heritage which Eleanor preserved by naming her later permanent residence Val-Kill (Dutch: loosely translated as “waterfall-stream”). But who was Eleanor Roosevelt? During our tour with a representative from the National Park Services, we learned about her untraditional proactive political role as first lady (FDR’s “eyes, ears, and legs”), her dedication to her daily newspaper column My Day, and her role as a mother of six children. After the death of her husband in 1945, she became an early civil rights activist setting up the first-ever Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an appointed delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and first chairperson of the preliminary United Nations Commission on Human Rights, among others. There is much more to learn about her, but you have to visit Val-Kill. A tip for your Dutchess Country bucket list!
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum
For many US citizens, a must-do in a lifetime, for us European totally unknown: The significance of the 13 presidential libraries across the USA. The first one ever created is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidential Library and Museum in Springwood, Hyde Park. There, we could learn all about the Roosevelt presidency, from the Great Depression through the New Deal years and World War II illustrating Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s relationship with the American people. Many US-Americans actually travel around the country to visit all presidential libraries to understand better decisions, the historical background of the states, and the people’s relationship to the president and his family. Just a short walk from the library, we visited the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and the grave of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt embedded in a rose garden. Interested in US-American history? Please put it on your list!
The Culinary Institute of America | Hyde Park Restaurants
Hungry? So are we. Time for dinner but not just somewhere! Dutchess County is home to The Culinary Institue of America. Cooks from all over the world come to the cooking school in Hyde Park to learn the fine art of creating a treat and taste adventure. We had a reservation at The Bocuse Restaurant to test classic French cuisine, American style. The best thing about the institute and the connected restaurants is that it is all cooked and served by people in education, which gave us an unexpected inside into their education process of becoming a professional. The Bocuse Restaurant is a unique and exciting, world-class dining experience. Our Tip: Go for the Table Side Ice Cream made right at your table with liquid nitrogen! Yummy!
Another dinner place we can recommend is known for its great farm-to-table menu called the Terrapin in Rhinebeck. We had a terrific time there and especially the cocktails suggested by the waiter have been extraordinarily delicious! Make sure to check it out!
Gay Travel Dutchess County – from NYC to Mid-Hudson Valley and back
We took the MTA train back to New York City, which, again, brought us along the scenic Hudson River passing by the Military Academy West Point, beautiful views of the river valley, and, all the way distantly, the skyline of Manhattan. It was an extraordinary New York adventure and a perfect way of mixing some relaxing days between the busy big city life of NYC. We hope to come back one day to see the rest of the Hudson River Valley in New York State.
Do you want to know and see more of us gay couple travel bloggers? Stay tuned on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook! See you around in the United States of America, Northern America, and on one of our next gay pride trips worldwide!
Karl & Daan.
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Please note: This trip was made possible in close collaboration with the Dutchess County Tourism, Delta Air Lines, as well as the tips and help to come from our wonderful readers, followers, new and old friends from all over the world. Nevertheless, our photos, our videos, our opinions, and our writings are our own, as always.