Adirondack splendor in Blue Mountain Lake
Where: In the central Adirondacks, on Route 30
Travel time: Approximately 2 hours
Even if you're not a "museum person," you'll fall in love
with the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. Nestled in the midst of
the Adirondack Park, the museum's 32 acres tell the stories of the people
who have lived, worked and played in this region since the early 1800s.
The Adirondack Museum is set up as a series of exhibit buildings, historic
structures, outdoor displays and gardens. While the museum is worth repeat
trips (in fact, your ticket admits you for two consecutive days), you can
easily take in the highlights in an afternoon.
You can start your tour at the Boats and Boating building, where you'll
see classic Adirondack guide boats, a shop where artisans craft boats and
an impressive array of boats for work and play, including a Native
American dugout dating to 1425. (It's one of the oldest pieces in the
As you continue meandering through the museum's grounds, don't miss the
log hotel. Built in 1876, it's the oldest surviving structure from the
resort that once stood on the museum site. Inside you'll see how
19th-century vacationers may have relaxed on rustic twig furniture. You'll
also want to check out the "Age of Horses" exhibit, which
features an array of horse-drawn vehicles, including farm wagons,
buckboard wagons, a fire engine and a hearse.
At the "Outdoor Recreation" exhibit, learn about 19th-century
tourism, camping, surveying, mountaineering, native wildlife and the Lake
Placid Winter Olympics. Perhaps the most intriguing display features the
tiny camp of the 20th-century hermit Noah John Rondeau, complete with
excerpts from his diaries, some of which he kept in his own secret
When it's time to take a break, head for the observation deck
overlooking Blue Mountain Lake.
The view is one of the best in the Northeast, especially when the lake
is ringed by a riot of vivid fall color. You can also grab a bite at the
cafe, which offers a good selection of salads, soups, sandwiches and
desserts. Make your last stop the museum's gift shop, which has an
excellent collection of Adirondack home decor, books and art.
On the weekend of Oct. 7-8, the museum, which is closed to the public
during the winter months, holds its Harvest Festival with a farmers
market, live music, wagon rides, Model A cars, pumpkin painting and
old-fashioned cider pressing with an authentic steam-powered cider press
from the late 1800s. Pack up the kids and make a day of it.
American heritage in Bennington, Vt.
Where: On and around Vermont Route 9 in Bennington
Travel time: About an hour's drive
There's a reason people flock from all over the world to see Vermont in
the fall: The colors are simply spectacular. And you don't have to trek
too far to enjoy the cozy country feel of a Vermont autumn. Bennington is
not far from Albany, so it's a perfect day trip when you're entertaining
out-of-towners or when you simply need a quick escape yourself.
Head east from Albany on Route 7 through Troy, which eventually becomes
Vermont Route 9. As you approach Bennington, you'll spot the imposing
Bennington Battle Monument, a 306-foot-high stone obelisk commemorating
the 1777 battle. It's well worth a stop to learn about the Revolutionary
battle, and take a quick elevator trip to the top of the monument for
excellent views of surrounding states.
Drive back down Monument Avenue, which is lined with charming historic
homes, and visit the beautiful Old First Church, home to the first
Protestant congregation in Vermont, which was originally founded in 1762.
The present church, built in 1805, is open to the public most days, so you
can peer inside at its simple yet elegant interior. Afterward, spend a few
moments in its peaceful little cemetery, filled with the graves of
Revolutionary War veterans, founding families and the poet Robert Frost.
Continue your afternoon with a visit to the Bennington Museum, adjacent
to the church grounds. The museum offers a wide variety of Americana,
including pottery, Revolutionary War relics and firearms, and fine art.
But the museum's most famous collection is the folk art of Grandma Moses,
who didn't begin painting until she was in her 70s. Kids and adults alike
will enjoy gazing at her amazingly complex paintings to find all the
little hidden details.
When you leave the museum, ask for a map to the town's three covered
bridges. They're all within a few minutes' drive. While there are several
good restaurants right in the center of town, you may want to backtrack a
few miles at this point to grab some lunch at Bennington Cider Mill on
Route 9. This tiny restaurant is always packed, and with good reason. The
homemade sandwiches, soups and baked goods have a dedicated following.
Before heading home, turn back toward the town center and visit
Bennington Potters at Potter's Yard. The pottery has been creating
attractive, durable Vermont stoneware for more than half a century. The
stoneware has a practical appeal, but because it's not mass-produced, each
piece retains an artisanal appeal as well. You can take a free self-guided
tour of the facility and shop the expansive showroom (don't miss the
discount room). Perhaps a little early Christmas shopping would be in
The wine country
of the Hudson Valley
Where: In the Hudson Valley from New Paltz to Warwick
Travel time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus travel time between wineries
Winemaking is certainly nothing new in this part of the world. The
craft was established in the valley more than 300 years ago by early
French Huguenot settlers. Today, the picturesque Hudson Valley landscape
of rolling hills dotted with farms and edged by mountains looks much the
way it always has. Presently, 11 wineries comprise the Shawangunk Wine
Trail; they all welcome visitors to their tasting rooms.
Whether you visit just one winery's tasting room or several wineries in
a day, a slow ramble through the valley may be just what you need to
unwind. The wineries are mainly family affairs, relaxed and unpretentious,
so don't fret if you don't know a thing about wine. You certainly don't
have to know a merlot from a cabernet to enjoy the trip, as every winery
is dedicated to teaching visitors about wine.
If you're pressed for time, you'll get a good feel for the valley by
starting at the northern end of the trail in New Paltz. Here you'll find
Adair Vineyards, located in a 200-year-old dairy barn with lovely views of
the white cliffs of the Shawangunk Mountains. You can wander the vineyards
adjacent to the winery and learn about every part of winemaking, from the
grape to the harvest to bottling.
Also in New Paltz is Rivendell Winery, which offers panoramic views of
the valley from its glass-enclosed tasting room, as well as a cozy
fireplace and a nice selection of regional artisanal foods. The winery has
received numerous accolades, including awards in 2006 for its Riesling. It
produces 15 different dinner wines and seasonal specialty wines.
Further south, Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville is the oldest
winery in continuous operation in the United States and has some of the
largest underground wine cellars in the country. The winery once produced
altar wines. Nowadays, its cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and Rieslings
have taken many awards, but its seasonal specialities are also
interesting. Don't forget to select a few bottles, especially the spiced
wine, for the upcoming holidays.
Arricca Elin SanSone is a freelance travel writer.
If you go
* Adirondack Museum, Route 30, Blue Mountain Lake. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
daily through Oct. 15, Oct. 21-22 and Oct 28-29. Admission: $15 ages 13
and older; $8 ages 6-12; free for those under age 6. Family discount
applies for up to 2 adults and all dependent children ages 6-17. For
information, call (518) 352-7311 or visit http://www.adkmuseum.org/.
* Bennington Monument, Monument Circle on Monument Avenue, Bennington,
Vt. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. Admission: $1.50 adults, 50
cents children younger than 14. Tickets are available at the gift shop.
Bus tours are welcome with prior reservations; call (802) 447-0550.
* Old First Church, Route 9 and Monument Avenue, Bennington, Vt. (802)
* Bennington Museum, 75 Main St., Bennington, Vt. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday-Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday. Closed Wednesdays, Thanksgiving,
Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission: $8 adults, $7 students/seniors,
younger than 12 free. Family $19. Group rates available. (802) 447-1571;
Bennington Cider Mill, Route 9 (West Road), Bennington, Vt. Open daily
from 8 a.m. (802) 442-4459; http://www.hungryvt.com/southern/pop_up/vt_details_southern.php?recordID=594.
* Bennington Pottery Potters Yard, 324 County St., Bennington, Vt.
(800) 205-8033; http://www.benningtonpotters.com/potters-yard.html.
* Information: http://www.historicvermont.org/ or http://www.travel-vermont.com.
* Shawangunk Wine Trail. (845) 255-2494; http://www.shawangunkwinetrail.com.
* Adair Vineyards, 52 Allhusen Road, New Paltz. Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
daily through Oct. 31; 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, November-Dec. 19.
(845) 255-1377; http://www.adairwine.com/.
* Brotherhood Winery, 100 Brotherhood Plaza, Washingtonville. Open 11
a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Guided wine-tasting tours: $5 adults (includes unlimited free wine-tasting
tours for one year and $1 off coupon for a bottle of wine); $2 15-20;
younger than 15 free. (845) 496-3661; http://www.brotherhoodwinery.net/.
* Rivendell Winery, 714 Albany Post Road, New Paltz. Open 10 a.m.-6
p.m. daily. (845) 255-2494; http://www.rivendellwine.com/.