I’ve been to New York many times before, but I never ventured outside of the city. To be honest, I don’t really know what’s beyond it. Last weekend, when I headed to NYC for the New York Times Travel Show, I was whisked away to a community with deep American history and a fantastic local foodie scene, all amongst a breathtaking landscape.
Dutchess County is located in the Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley.
It was founded in the 1600s by Dutch settlers. Nestled in the mountains by the water, it’s obviously more relaxed than the Big Apple. Small towns make up the county, each with their own local charms.
The Roosevelts were Dutch.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s childhood home is there for anyone to tour, as well as a fantastic museum. Right before he died, Roosevelt donated his home to the American people. The National Park Service now owns it for people from all over to visit and learn more about the family.
It’s not a huge house, but it’s fun to see what’s inside. Our tour guide told us about the passions FDR stocked his home with – stuffed birds, political cartoons, boats and other memorabilia related to the sea. He also built his own items for the house, like the personal lift and the extra bannister to help him get around while he had Polio.
When he was older, FDR used the house in Hyde Park as a vacation spot and to host political parties. One fun story is when he hosted English royalty. He was told to remove the political cartoons on his wall, but, as a typical guy, he forgot, and the King came and walked straight over to the comics. This could’ve been a huge diplomatic issue, but instead, the King just said, “you have even more than I do!” It was surprisingly a great icebreaker.
Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, also created America’s first Presidential Library used by a sitting president, now the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Designed in the Dutch colonial style, it lays out a beautiful, interactive learning environment about the history of the era. It also houses FDR’s Presidential papers – he established the precedent for public ownership of presidential papers.
“The dedication of a library is in itself an act of faith…[A] nation must believe… in the capacity of its own people to learn from the past that they can gain in judgement in creating their own future.” -FDR
You can experience different eras throughout Dutchess County.
We saw the Victorian Beaux Arts mansion of Staatsburgh, owned by one of the wealthiest families in the Hudson Valley aristocracy. The rooms are beautifully expansive. We learned much about how the upper-tier lived, hosted guests, and made an impact on the community.
And we stayed at the Beekman Arms Delamater Inn, the oldest continually operating inn in the United States. It was very homey with really comfortable beds and gas fireplaces. I could feel the history as I sipped on the complimentary local Irish sherry before bed.
Dutchess County runs along Route 9, which was used in colonial times. It stretches from Battery Park in Manhattan to Canada. Little houses speckle the road as mile markers, and are still made of Dutch colonial stone. I think that’d be a fun road trip, especially given the sustainable businesses and farm-to-table cuisine all throughout the region.
I can’t wait to show you what we ate! Have you been to this area before? Tell me about it below.