RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Lonely Planet Road Trip: Hudson River Valley, by China Williams

Hudson River Valley
The thing that always delights me about Lonely Planet Road Trip guidebooks is that despite their diminutive size (8 x 4 x 0.3 inches) and relatively few pages (this one has 64), the authors imbue these books with a personality and point of view that is both in-the-moment and timeless at the same time. This new guide to the Hudson River Valley is no exception. Whether author China Williams is describing traffic woes like Route 9's bottleneck in Tarrytown as being "more congested than a winter head cold," assessing the wait staff at the Cripple Creek Restaurant in Rhinebeck "where every sandwich-slinger is a CIA graduate," or comparing a road's route to a symphony, her prose is riveting and evocative. My favorite sentence in Hudson River Valley is probably this one: "…A graceful C-loop spirals the rim of the bowl-shaped valley crowded with bowing cornfields and a succession of violet mountains cascading in the distance…" The scenic route that inspired this effusion is on Route 6 near New Paltz.

The Hudson River Valley is generally considered to occupy the area south of Albany and north of Sleepy Hollow. The Catskill Mountains form the border on the west, and the Connecticut state line is the eastern edge. As in the other Lonely Planet Road Trip books, the author outlines a couple of itineraries that provide a great introduction to this historic and scenic valley. Williams provides tips for lodging, dining, and attractions throughout the valley, and there are sidebars on just about every page with background information about the local history, culture, and customs of the communities mentioned. One of the sidebars that I found very helpful was a quick summary of the four types of residential architectural styles -- Federal, Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, and Gothic Revival -- that can be seen in the valley. I also found her discussion of the Hudson River School of Landscape Painters enlightening. I look forward to visiting Olana, where Frederic Edwin Church, one of the earliest painters of that movement, once lived. Woodstock, the site of the famous 1969 musical festival, is also in the Hudson Valley, and the author provides plenty of tips for visiting this mecca of rock music.

Not only is Hudson River Valley an excellent guide for visitors from afar, it is a great resource for city-weary Manhattanites seeking a slower pace in the rural towns and villages located only a short distance from New York City. The maps alone make this guide worth keeping on hand.

Other books in this series that we recommend are New England by Kim Grant, Route 66 by Sara Benson, Napa & Sonoma Wine Country by Richard Sterling, and perhaps our favorite in the series, California Highway 1 by Paige R. Penland.

Mark Sedenquist

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