Fall is arguably one of the most beautiful seasons in New York: the air is crisp, the parks turn into beautiful seas of orange and red and pumpkin spice lattes are everywhere. Interestingly, New York City is literally the last part of New York State that turns golden for fall all due to the fact that the average temperature in New York City is higher than anywhere else in the State. So where do you go to enjoy fall foliage while it is still warm, but NYC trees are yet to change color?
Fortunately, you don't have to go too far from NYC to enjoy foliage in mid to late October as the nearby Hudson Valley provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy autumn landscapes. We have prepared an eventful itinerary for a perfect romantic fall weekend in the lower part of the Hudson Valley that you will surely enjoy.
Destination: Lower Hudson Valley
Duration: 2 Days
Travel Time: 45 minutes from Grand Central Station via MTA’s Hudson Line or 30 min by car
To start your trip, check the handy NY foliage map at https://www.iloveny.com/things-to-do/fall/foliage-report/ to make sure that the trees are "turning": you want "peak" or "near peak" colors for the most scenic views.
Take an early morning scenic river-side train ride from the heart of New York City to Westchester County. Frequent trains from Grand Central will take you to your destination of Tarrytown really quickly. Another five minute Uber ride and you arrive at our recommended Castle Hotel & Spa perched majestically atop one of the highest points in the region. The castle dates back to the turn of the 20th century, when General Howard Carroll, a well-respected newspaperman, playwright and businessman, purchased the land as a home for his growing family. Known as Carrollcliffe at the time, the castle was built in two stages between 1897 and 1910. Working with noted New York architect Henry Kilburn, General Carroll actively assisted in planning the castle in a style reminiscent of Norman fortification in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Today, this hotel is the ultimate romantic retreat boasting 31 rooms, a state of the art spa and a renowned Equus restaurant.
If you decide to book Castle Hotel & Spa, try to do in an advance as the rooms fill up rather quickly. Other lodging options in the area include Tarrytown House Estate on the Hudson and an affordable Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Tarrytown.
Once you have checked in (or dropped off your bags if you arrived too early to check in), head to your first destination: Lyndhurst Mansion.
Overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, Lyndhurst, is one of America’s finest Gothic Revival mansions. Designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, its architectural brilliance is complemented by the park-like landscape of the estate and a comprehensive collection of original decorative arts. The property boasts amazing views of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Hudson River. The Mansion’s October hours are 10am to 4pm Thursday through Monday with guided tours starting each hour on the hour (you cannot tour the mansion by yourself). *Please note that the Mansion is closed between November 1 and Thanksgiving in 2018.
If Lyndhurst Mansion is not available, your second option is Kykuit (pronounced Ky-kut, an old Dutch term for lookout) in Sleepy Hollow.
This estate was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His business acumen made him, in his day, the richest man in America. Now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, this extraordinary landmark has been continuously and meticulously maintained for more than 100 years. Kykuit’s weekend hours are 9am to 6pm.
After your dose of culture, head back to the charming town of Tarrytown and wander its beautiful historic streets. Uber yourselves to the intersection of Neperan Road and Broadway at the beginning of Tarrytown’s main drag appropriately titled Main Street. Heading towards the Hudson River, you will find plenty of lunch opportunities for every taste: Bistro 12 at 12 Main Street serves moderately priced Italian and Mediterranean fair in its cozy intimate dining room; Bibille at 14 Main Street is a great option for fast Korean food and The Taco Project at 18 Main Street offers quick bites of Mexican cuisine on the cheap. If you are looking for a more upscale lunch experience, The Twisted Oak at 61 Main Street serves American fare and is open for lunch on weekends. Skip desert and head to Main Street Sweets at 35 Main Street for delicious home-made ice cream.
If you are up to it, there is a scenic walk along the Hudson River. Keep walking down Main Street. Crossing the Metro North tracks you will find yourself in Pierson Park. The entrance to the River Walk Park is on the north side of Pierson Park by the water.
Scenic Hudson partnered with the village, county and developer Natural RE/sources to turn this longtime industrial site into a waterfront park offering magnificent views stretching from the Manhattan skyline to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Features include a 0.6-mile riverside esplanade, a series of grass terraces and lawns, and an "eco-corridor" filled with native plants.
Head to the hotel for some mid-day R&R. The Castle Hotel property is designed for romantic getaways. Hotel’s concierge offers various luxury packages: choose couple massages, breakfast in bed or romantic champagne and flower delivery to enhance your stay. Or you can purchase one of our handy compact Romantic Décor Boxes, stash it in your weekend bag and create an intimate atmosphere in your hotel room in minutes for a fraction of the cost.
If you prefer your dinner on a later side, we suggest visiting Westchester’s famous Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze event located nine miles away from Tarrytown in Croton-on-Hudson. Generally running between late September and late November, it features over 7,000 hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins set against the mysterious backdrop of Van Cortlandt Manor’s 18th-century buildings and riverside landscape. Wander along Pumpkin Promenade and stroll across the Pumpkin Zee Bridge, discover an awe-inspiring jack o’lantern Statue of Liberty rising to the sky, and twirl with excitement as you witness a fully functioning, 20-foot diameter Pumpkin Carousel. And don’t miss Sleepy Hollow Country’s most iconic inhabitant, the Headless Horseman.
For dinner, there are a few options. If you are adventurous in your food preferences, we highly recommend securing a reservation at Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant. Featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table (Season 1, Episode 2), Blue Hill’s head chef Dan Barber is one of the most innovative chefs of our generation. His farm-to-table philosophy has earned him multiple rewards and accolades. Most recently, Barber has won the ultimate recognition from his peers in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants: the Chefs’ Choice Award 2018. Dining at Blue Hill is an absolutely amazing culinary experience. There is no menu - instead, there is a procession of 30 or more bites and courses sourced from the fields and pasture at Stone Barns as well as the surrounding farms. The ‘grazing, pecking and rooting’ experience varies according to season and might involve lettuce heads fresh from the farm, beetroot pizza or even face bacon, a crispy skin taken from the pig’s head. But don’t worry, you won’t have to eat pig’s head if that’s not your cup of tea - the restaurant does take in consideration your food preferences so they won’t serve you things you don’t fancy.
If you can’t secure a reservation for dinner, but are still intrigued by Blue Hill, we will be giving you an option of visiting the farm, Stone Barns, tomorrow.
Other dinner options include Castle Hotel & Spa’s restaurant Equus, Santorini in Sleepy Hollow, The Twisted Oak or Cellar 49 in Tarrytown.
Sleep in this morning getting the much needed rest in a comfortable bed. Then, enjoy a savory fall brunch at the hotel’s restaurant Equus or save your appetite for the offerings at the Stone Barn farm if you decide to visit it today. Here are the options for your second day:
Visit the Lyndhurst Mansion / Kykuit if you did not get to do that on Day 1.
Stop by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Adjacent to the Blue Hill restaurant we suggested for your dining experience earlier, this isn’t the usual agritourism attraction with machines dispensing pellets to feed baby goats. Instead, Stone Barns is a non-profit working farm dedicated to education. Come see free-range turkeys and chickens, a barn full of piglets, greenhouses, organic gardens overflowing with flowers and herbs, vegetable fields, compost heaps, a buzzing apiary and wooded paths. Stone Barns belonged to the Rockefellers and was turned into an education site by David Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller Jr’s son) in honor of his late wife Peggy, an advocate for farmland preservation. The farm offers an affordable sample of Stone Barns flavors at the onsite Grain Bar featuring salads, frittatas, sandwiches and sweets. The farm is open Wednesday-Sunday, with a $10 admission fee per car.
For more fall foliage sightseeing, visit the charming Rockefeller State Preserve (those Rockefellers left quite a mark on this area). This large park features miles of beautiful vistas and well-tended trails providing solitude should you seek it. It is also very close to the Stone Barns Farm with its rolling hills, huge oak trees, and stone walls lining the paths. Admission is free.
Just 20 minutes away, on the other side of the Hudson River, is a cute town of Nyack. Featuring beautiful Victorian buildings and quirky art galleries along its main street, South Broadway, it is perched on top of a hill featuring fantastic views of the river. Browse antique stores, savor a fantastic mid-day dessert at the famous Patisserie Didier Dumas and don’t forget to stop by Edward Hopper House - the birthplace and family home of artist Edward Hopper, a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. The house now operates as a museum presenting early Edward Hopper work and memorabilia, as well as the work of other contemporary artists. If you want to take a piece of your weekend with you, grab a pie to go from the local Pie Lady and Son.
Fun fact: Susan Sarandon’s house in the movie Stepmom (also featuring Julia Roberts) was filmed at one of the majestic river-side Nyack’s Victorians.
Right below the town of Nyack, is Nyack Beach State Park boasting 61 acres of riverfront along the Hudson River. In addition to a riverfront walking path, there are mountain biking trails and picnicking spots.And just like that your eventful romantic weekend is over. We hope you enjoyed this blog post and would love to hear from you in the comments if you know of any other fun romantic activities in this area.