In the first issue of Hudson Valley Connoisseur (June-July 2006) we printed a collection of articles that celebrated the fine art of eating outside (complete with a menu and recipes from a chef from the Culinary Institute of America.) I thought it would be fun to revisit some of our perfect picnic places since we have an upcoming holiday that’s perfect for picnics!
If you can’t get out to picnic on July 4, you have other options. SummerScape, the arts festival at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, takes place from July 5-August 19. The East Coast’s only Frank Gehry-designed performing arts center hosts a diverse performing arts lineup from around the world. A picnic before a world-class performance sounds like a perfect evening to me!
Perfect Picnic places near Bard College
You can picnic at three perfect spots that are an easy drive to the Bard College campus.
Burger Hill, off Route 9G just south of Violet Hill Road in Rhinebeck, has 76 acres of open meadows that rise to a 550-foot hilltop. Enjoy the panoramic vistas of the Hudson River Valley, including the Catskill and Taconic mountains, Shawangunk Ridge, Stissing Mountain and the Berkshires. (No picnic tables so bring a blanket.) Open from 9 a.m. until dusk. Free.
Clermont State Historic Site in Germantown offers exceptional views of the Catskill Mountains from the high banks of the Hudson River. The Livingston-family estate is now a museum and a park that has picnic tables and other public amenities. Admission to the grounds is free on weekdays, with a vehicle fee charged on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. (Clermont is a great spot for watching July 4 fireworks from Saugerties across the river, but get there early – the event is very popular and the parking area tends to fill up.) In general, the park is open from 8:30 a.m. to sunset.
The rolling fields and quiet woodlands of Poet’s Walk, on River Road in Red Hook, inspired Washington Irving, author of Rip Van Winkle. The 120-acre park has breathtaking views of the Hudson River, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and the Catskill Mountains. Two miles of trails wind through woods and open fields, with benches and several rustic cedar pavilions along the way, but no picnic tables. Open 9 a.m. to dusk. Free.