Like the lottery jackpot winner who suddenly finds himself thrust into the media spotlight, Rhinebeck, NY, a sleepy hamlet on the Hudson River (shown at right; courtesy of Duchess County Tourism) 100 miles north of New York City, has spent the past week-and-a-half as a Google News staple. Is there anyone in America who doesn’t know why? Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton married her long-time beau Marc Mezvinsky on July 31, amid much pomp and secrecy. And now that the secret is out about Rhinebeck’s charms, I thought couples looking for a romantic weekend getaway spot might want to know about its best inns, eateries and attractions. Luckily, I got the “local’s scoop” from some friends who live there.
Where to stay
The Beekman Arms is America’s oldest operating inn (circa 1766) and the spot where Bill and Hillary Clinton welcomed guests at a soiree on the night before the wedding. Its vintage white colonial façade holds 23 comfortable rooms, from $155/night, while its sister property, The Delameter Inn, has 50 rooms in several historic buildings, from $125/night. Belvedere Mansion, a dramatically columned, circa-1900 mansion house (shown at left; courtesy of Belvedere Mansion) and guest cottages, ups the romance quotient significantly with a stunning hilltop location, views of the Hudson and the Catskill Mountains, and elegant décor featuring 19th-century French and Italian antiques, from $150/night. The Rhinecliff, a cheery yellow, fully restored 1854 property located on the Hudson about two miles from Rhinebeck’s town center, features original wood floors and stone fireplaces, but its nine rooms (shown below; courtesy of the Rhinecliff) have modern-chic décor, flat-screen TVs and private balconies overlooking the river, from $240.
Where to eat
Terrapin Restaurant, a cozy eatery in a former church, combines romantic ambience, a creative and eclectic menu, and terrific service. The Tavern at the Beekman Arms features a Colonial Tap Room with an open hearth, great food and wonderful wine selection. On Sundays, head for the Jazz Brunch at The Rhinecliff, served in its brasserie-style restaurant/bar. Le Petit Bistro wins raves for its wonderful French cuisine and intimate, Old World atmosphere, despite outdated décor, while Gigi Trattoria is the spot for authentic Italian fare and a great bar scene, although the ambience can be boisterous. Arielle is a newcomer serving great French-Mediterranean food in a fun, cafe atmosphere, and Sabroso is known for its delicious Latin-fusion dishes (shown at right; courtesy of Sabroso). Calico Restaurant, perhaps the tiniest French bistro in the world, is fantastic for a light lunch or très decadent desserts.
What to do
Gallery-hop at Gazen Gallery, showcasing local artists; Gallery Lodoe, specializing in Asian-inspired artwork; and Jo Aarons Gallery, for contemporary American art. History-lovers can head to nearby Hyde Park to visit Springwood, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the gilded-age Vanderbilt Mansion with its gorgeous Formal Gardens (shown at left; courtesy of Duchess County Tourism). Hyde Park is also home to the Culinary Institute of America, where you can enjoy one of five fabulous student-staffed restaurants.
How to get there
Rhinebeck is located two hours north of New York City by car, or one hour and forty-five minutes on Amtrak, from Penn Station to Rhinecliff.