Hudson Valley chock-full of tasty views and treats


Sautéed bananas. Who knew.

I recently visited a great cafe near Vassar College in Poughkeepsie called Babycakes. I had the most delicious french toast I’ve ever had, thanks to the sautéed bananas that graced the two thick slices of bread that I lavished with genuine maple syrup.

Add fresh fruit and a wonderfully big cup of English Breakfast black tea, and it was game on for the rest of the day.

Vassar College library

I had a chance to visit the Vassar campus and its glorious Thompson Memorial Library, which immediately makes you smarter just by stepping across its threshold and standing in the central hall and its tapestries, viewing the Cornaro stained glass window, and taking in the beautiful woodwork throughout.

I also walked through the  Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and had a chance to view paintings by William Hart, a Scottish-born painter primarily known for his landscapes and for being part of the Hudson River School.

I like to find at least one painting in a museum that surprises me , and then learn more about that painter.  I knew of Cole and Church and Bierstadt as the main players in the Hudson River School, but Hart was a bit of a surprise to me and was well represented at the Vassar museum.

I came to learn that he cut his teeth painting landscapes on the panels of carriages up in Albany, N.Y. He went back to Scotland for a while and then devoted himself to landscapes after returning to the States.

I enjoy the Hudson River School paintings primarily because of their connection to that beautiful region of our state, and  I was later smack dab in the midst of the Hudson Valley, and the river itself, when I took a terrific walk with Friend K on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

You have to do this at least once. It’s a converted railroad bridge that is now a pedestrian walkway. You can walk 1.3 miles from Poughkeepsie to Highland and enjoy this majestic river as you walk 200 feet above it.  The views were outstanding, and the walkway was filled with rollerbladers, dog walkers and bicyclists.

Stop in at one the Italian bakeries that are near the parking lot next to the walkway entrance, and make sure you go to dinner at the Shadows on the Hudson restaurant. The restaurant has a great view of the walkway and the river and has a boat slip right below its balcony. We ate outside, and I had a wonderful fillet of sole stuffed with crabmeat that was as good as the views. The restaurant is filled with neon and a huge TV screen commands attention over the bar, and it offers everything from panini sandwiches to full, and delicious, dinners.

I drove up to Albany along Route 9 and 9H, cruising by FDR’s home in New Hyde Park and stopping to walk the grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion, one of about 18 magnificent historic homes that are open to the public and that fill the Hudson Valley.  It was a  beautiful ride on a beautiful day.

View of the Hudson from Vanderbilt Mansion

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