The Virtues of Shopping, Dining and Playing in Rhinebeck, New York

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Memorial Day Weekend launches the start of the Summer season in Rhinebeck, New York

Memorial Weekend has finally arrived! The snow, ice, and chilling temperatures of Winter are but a faded a memory. Living in the Hudson Valley, each season offers an endless number of opportunities as varied as skiing, hiking, sailing and fly fishing. A dyed in the wool urbanite, my particular definition of endless seasonal opportunities is perhaps a bit differently skewed. When I think of the arrival of a new season I immediately think of varied adventures, which typically include shopping, dining and exploring. By exploring I don’t mean spelunking or zip-lining (though both are options in the Valley). Familiar haunts of Watch Hill, East Hampton and Martha’s Vineyard often spring to mind when I contemplate the arrival of Summer. Each destination offers an ample supply of dining, playing and shopping opportunities. Recently, while sneaking away from the perils of a never-ending renovation project, Gary and I found ourselves dining al fresco in neighboring Rhinebeck. With a martini in hand and a delicious meal ordered, I suddenly realized I have the perfect weekend vacation destination in my own backyard. Rhinebeck affords all of the opportunities of my favorite haunts. It offers ample shopping, gourmet dining options, a varied collection of museums, and even the opportunity to sail. Even better, most of these options are walkable. Accessible by both car and rail Rhinebeck is a terrific Eat, Play, Shop destination.

As a consummate researcher prior to embarking on any journey, I begin by pursuing every available resource to plan our holiday. To know Gary is to understand pre-planning is essential to the success of any journey. Along this vein I thought I would share a few of my favorite Rhinebeck Destinations.

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Established in 1761, the Beekman Arms is credited as America’s oldest Inn.

Lodging: Thanks to AirBNB and FinePlaces2Stay, available accommodations abound throughout the Rhinebeck area. Yet, for my money I always enjoy a great Inn, whose amenities include a nice nook for a pre-dinner drink or a terrific brunch menu. The Beekmen Arms Inn – located in the heart of Rhinebeck – gained much recognition during the wedding of Chelsea Clinton. Credited as the oldest Inn in America, the Beekmen offers a variety of accommodations. The circa-1761 main house, of course, is the crowning jewel of the Beekman properties. If Hudson River Views and easy accessibility to mass transit are prerequisites, then the Rhinecliff Hotel is the answer. The Rhinecliff Hotel offers boutique accommodations in a tranquil river setting. The Hotel’s rather appealing brunch menu and scenic dining terrace are complimented by the Hotel’s proximity to the Rhinecliff Amtrak Station.

Shopping: As some might attest, shopping is the meat and bones of my existence. From Antiques, to mid century furnishings, the possibilities abound.

Beekman Arms Antiques Barn is located on the campus of the Beekman Inn properties. The antique market, housed in a classic red barn, offers multiple levels jammed to the gills with high quality antiques and vintage collections. The antiques barn over the year’s has proven itself to be a rather reliable resource.

Spruce Design and Decor: In my January article Practicing What They Preach, I highlighted the attributes of Spruce. Curated with a thoughtful eye to design, style, and panache. Spruce offers a uniquely distinctive experience.

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Hammertown in Rhinebeck

Hammertown: Hammertown is a cornucopia of shopping. Hammertown’s rather expansive space includes a broad range of items at every price point. From the latest design books, to furnishings, to gift items for everyone on your list, Hammertown has it all. With an offering both tastefully arranged and thoughtfully selected, Hammertown is to the Hudson Valley as Gracious Home is to Manhattan.

The Paper Trail: Ah the Paper Trail. An intoxicating shop filled with limitless shopping opportunities. Presented with a discerning eye, The Paper Trail offers a broad range of unique items. The whimsical rests along side the practical. I am constantly amazed by the selections available in this shop in every season.

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The Paper Trail

The Blue Cashew: In a nutshell the Blue Cashew is a gourmands dream. Have you ever watched Julia Child, Ina Garten or Alice Waters and thought, “if only my kitchen was that well equipped,” or “I could give Sandra Lee a run for her money with her tablescapes, if I had the right napkins, tablecloths and dinnerware.” Fear not! The Blue Cashew exists to end these debates.

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The Blue Cashew

Dining: Restaurants of all elks abound in Rhinebeck. No strangers to weekend guests, Gary and I often entertain our visitors with the culinary delights of Rhinebeck. From the wine snob, to the vegan, to those who demand only the freshest ingredients, we have hosted them all. Here are just a few of my personal favorites:

Gigi Trattoria: Words like stylish, swank, and non-pretentious define both the restaurant’s menu and decor. As a side note I will also add Gigi’s Tuscan Parmesan Fries are beyond comparison.

The Local: The Local focuses on New American cuisine, with an emphasis on local products and regional recipes. Delightful, charming, and tasty are words which rapidly spring to mind.

The Petit Bistro: The Petit Bistro is a treat for the palette. If you are a fan of French cooking and enjoy fine wine then this is your destination.

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The specials at the Petit Bistro

Aroi Thai: Unfortunately in the Hudson Valley – with a few exceptions – eateries offering Asian Cuisine are often disappointing. As I say there are exceptions and Aroi Thai is one of the best of the exceptions. Whether dining outside or enjoying a pleasant evening in the interior dining rooms, Aroi Thai is a memorable dining experience. Try the Green or Red Curry, or one of the appetizing specials; you will not be disappointed. The Thai Tea Ice Cream will end the evening on a high note.

Other restaurants affording Culinary treats are: Terrapin (located in a former Church), Liberty Public House, Market and Puccini. When dining in Rhinebeck it is difficult to go wrong. In the Summer months, advance weekend reservations are a requisite.

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There’s plenty of Al Fresco dining in Rhinebeck.

Playing: In the play category, Rhinebeck offers numerous touring and spa opportunities. If you are a film buff, Upstate Films’ weekly selections are on par with the best cinemas. Haven and Allure Spas are located within a walkable span to the towns center. Touring offers numerous options. Wine Tours, Gilded Age mansions, Summer Concerts at Bard College, the Rhinebeck Aerodome, and the Dutchess County Botanical Gardens are only a few of the popular attractions. I do advise researching each site prior to arrival. In some cases reservations are required. Tour destinations are scattered throughout the region, all within driving distance of Rhinebeck.

Whether looking for a weekend escape or a day trip, Rhinebeck is worth consideration. During Memorial Day Weekend a featured treat has been added to Rhinebeck’s resume. The newly renamed Antiques at Rhinebeck – formerly the Rhinebeck Antiques Show – will be held Saturday to Sunday on the Duchess County Fairgrounds.

About Haynes Llewellyn

Haynes Llewellyn, an interior designer, preservationist and accomplished party planner, relocated to the Hudson Valley city of Kingston from Manhattan’s Central Park West neighborhood in 2007. During Haynes’s almost nine years in the Hudson Valley, he has been featured in numerous television, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. Haynes’s first Kingston restoration project was of a Historic 1840’s Greek Revival home, featured in the recently released Rizzoli Interior Design book Heart and Home: Rooms that Tell Stories by Linda Okeeffe. Haynes has served on a number of boards of directors, event committees and commissions since arriving in the Hudson Valley. Haynes, along with his two Scottish Terrier Rescues and partner Gary Swenson, is currently in the process of renovating his second Kingston home, a 1939 Colonial.

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