Weekend Road Trip: Burgers, Beer, and Art in the Hudson Valley

If you prefer hops to the Hamptons, set out on the ultimate day trip for brewhounds.

  • William Lamson's Solarium, 2012 (courtesy of William Lamson/Pierogi Gallery)
  • Pulled-pork burger at Woody's All-Natural Burgers
  • Chili fries at Woody's All-Natural Burgers
  • More chili fries
  • Newburgh Brewing Co.
  • The rotating draft lineup at Newburgh Brewing Co.
  • Saison with a view at Newburgh Brewing Co.
  • Beer swag at Newburgh Brewing Co.
  • Dia:Beacon (photo: Wikipedia)
  • The Hop in Beacon
  • Bottles on bottles at The Hop
  • Smoked chicken nachos at Birdsall House
  • DeCicco's in Ardsley (photo: Beermenus.com)

In the northeast, there’s no better time for a road trip than early fall. The autumn colors are out, the air is crisp, and people’s front yards are full of ridiculous jack o’ lanterns. What other incentive do you need?

A lot of New Yorkers feel the pull of the Hamptons when they need a weekend getaway, but I hate the Hamptons. For me, the Hudson River Valley is the place to be: Small towns, antique shops, Washington Irving lore, amazing views, and—most importantly—an increasingly impressive craft-beer scene.

The following itinerary can easily be completed in one day, if you set off from NYC by around 10am. I’ve done it in different permutations on several occasions and never had a bad time.

What you’ll need:

  • Money.
  • ID.
  • Designated driver.
  • Epic rap music.
  • Sturdy bladder.

1. Take the scenic route

Cross the George Washington Bridge heading out of Manhattan, then get on the Palisades Interstate Parkway and continue to Route 9W. This way will take you slightly longer to get to the first stop than if you took I-87 (get some coffee for the ride), but the views are worth it—9W road hugs the Hudson River and winds through Storm King State Park, offering awesome panoramas across the water along the way.

2. Culture stop #1: Storm King Art Center

You could leave later and skip this stop if you wanted to, but I recommend getting a jump on the day so that you can wander through the sprawling, 500-acre outdoor art park. Stroll through open fields and tree-lined paths while gawking at installations by the likes of John Bisbee, Maya Lin, and Alexander Calder. stormking.org

3. Burgers and shakes: Woody’s All-Natural Burgers

In the nearby town of Cornwall, you’ll find this locals-approved burger joint, where you’re greeted at the entrance with a photo of Woody—a stoic-looking golden retriever who was apparently the founder and CEO. The satisfying cheeseburgers are all about freshness: a thick and juicy griddled patty that tastes like real honest-to-goodness beef, topped with romaine, raw onion, tomato, and a gooey layer of cheddar that oozes down the sides. The chili fries are decent, but the shakes are great—simple creations made with Jane’s Homemade Ice Cream from nearby Kingston, NY. Take your grub outside and soak up some midday rays on the patio. woodysallnatural.com

4. Session beers: Newburgh Brewing Co.

One of the Hudson Valley’s newest breweries is also one of the best to visit. The taproom is a vast, wood-floored beer hall boasting great views over the Hudson; ping pong and cornhole; and a bar serving well-priced pints of the house brews. Along with the setting, Newburgh’s focus on low-alcohol session beers makes it a fine early-afternoon stop. I like the refreshing saison, as well as the easy-drinking cream ale—a classic New York style that’s largely ignored by craft brewers. Look out for new beers making their debut (I recently got to sample a funky gose flavored with coriander and salt), as well as guest ales from other small local outfits like Chester’s Rushing Duck. Saturday tours are available upon request; call ahead. newburghbrewing.com

5. Culture stop #2: Dia:Beacon

Just north of the brewery, cross the bridge over the river into Beacon, a rejuvenated hamlet that’s become a magnet for city slickers looking to mainline some small-town charm. It’s also popular stop on the Hudson Valley art circuit, thanks to a thriving gallery scene and the excellent Dia:Beacon contemporary art museum. Housed in a former Nabisco printing factory, Dia displays works from artists like Sol Lewitt, Max Neuhaus, and Blinky Palermo. Whether or not you know who these people are—or care about a pile of broken glass that is supposed to represent the fragility of man or something—the place is an aesthetic triumph. Ambling through the massive corridors, with natural light streaming in through huge windows all around the building, is an ideal way to prime yourself for the next beer stop. diacenter.org

Next: The beer crawl continues at The Hop, Peekskill Brewery, and Birdsall…

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  • Bherz

    woody’s burger looks f-ing good

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