About an hour outside of Manhattan, pretty much a straight ride north on the NYS Thruway, apple orchards abound. Usually situated next to, if not with, these orchards, vineyards grow in neat rows. The farmlands are surrounded by history and historic sites. Some of those farms actually are the historic place. Over two weekends in October, we spent a free day or so away from our errands to enjoy the scenery and, literally, the fruits of that scenery.
Our first sojourn was to the acres of farms surrounding Poughkeepsie and New Paltz. There was Bad Seed Hard Cider Co., Weeds Orchards, a handful of local wineries, several other orchards offering donuts and cider and pick-your-own apples. We simply could not travel down a road without coming upon a farmers market, orchard, or vineyard. One could spend more than a weekend traveling all these roads visiting every single apple hawker. We found a favorite at the Brooklyn Ciderhouse. It was a combination marketplace, hard cider tasting room, u-pick orchard, artisan pizza kitchen, and picnic spot. This place had it all and effortlessly and, for some strange reason, a noticeable lack of overwhelming crowd. There is a new mark on our travel map for apple season.
After a side trip to a bizarrely hipster farm brewery, with taps literally amongst the picked veggies, and seats straight from the farmhouse kitchen strewn out in the garden, we decided a slightly more commercial stop would suit us better. Angry Orchard is a destination. A treehouse tour, a tasting room with entertainment stage, food truck parking, gift shop. This is Upstate NY essence trapped in an orchard where no one picks the apples. Most of the people here seemed as if they were visiting for the day, comfortably lounging on the grass as games of cornhole were being settled nearby. Our trip would conclude at The Mill House in Poughkeepsie. A rather quaint brewpub with satisfying fare, quality brews, rooftop patio seating, and comfortable indoor accommodations, the Mill House is awkwardly situated in a somewhat derelict neighborhood. Do not let that be a deterrent to visiting this place and to make it more enticing it is only a short distance to the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is worth the effort also.
Our second weekend would not bring us as far north but was just as satisfying, if not more so, than our last trip. The destination was General Washington's final cantonment of the Revolutionary Army. The actual site was oddly developed around by a small neighborhood and the bell tower was nearly in someone's backyard. The paths around the place were overgrown and unkempt and the boardwalk was rotten wood. A glaring difference across the road was the Purple Heart Memorial and a living history museum that protected what seems to be the oldest Revolutionary War hut in the country. This is what we had come for, a fitting tribute to our armed forces at the site of the its original presentation. Another overcrowded apple farm and then off to Storm King Mountain overlooking West Point. With our continuing summit quest, we felt a short, steep hike to take in the views would be appropriate. The weather was perfect for the walk, a mix of October cool and comfortable blue sky. The trail was an entertaining mix of scramble and path and quite worth the non-descript parking area.
We would conclude our dual weekend odyssey to Upstate with the Halloween staple of Sleepy Hollow. This year my youngest would try her mettle at the Horseman's Hollow at Philipsburg Manor. The living history village would be transformed into the haunted rendition of the Headless Horseman's sleepy Hollow home. It was her first haunted house and she was "scared awesome" and smiling ear to ear as she walked the lantern-lit path. The village of Sleepy Hollow always does well to represent this wonderful time of year and this time around was no disappointment. We look forward to visiting every year and next year will be no exception. The sites of Upstate NY never disappoint and I look forward to traversing the further reaches of the state in our annual jaunt to Cooperstown. The backroads of NY, less than an hour from the Big City, are always worth the day.