Great Things to Do in Rhinebeck

Get beck to the Rhine: Hudson Valley's old-world town

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Vanderbilt Mansion, Hudson Valley, New York

Hudson Valley's Rhinebeck may sound like a German town, and that’s because the Dutch (totally different nationality, but it still works…) were the first European settlers here in the late 1600s. But you weren’t even born then, so forget about it. It’s all about the present, and presently, Rhinebeck is as American as wooden shoes and windmills and… wait a minute…

But yes, it’s a prime example of what they call Small Town America, with its friendly faces and charming traditions. What’s not so small are the majestic mansions and estates spread across this affluent area. In fact, we imagine you’re in the area to do some house shopping, picking up a few castles on your holiday. So, we’ll make sure to inform you about some of the most iconic edifices, as well as the fine dining and quaint boutiques. It’s also far from city life, with its farms and nature trails bringing you back to basics and a slow pace of life. So, without further talk of slow pace and windmills and what not, here is the Plum Guide list of things to do in Rhinebeck.

See (really) nice houses

So, ‘nice’ is perhaps a bit of an understatement. The Wilderstein Historic Site looks more like a Disney castle. Based in the southwestern peripheries of the town, the estate overlooks the Hudson River. It dates back to the 19th century and has a Queen Anne country style. It really seems to mix up a lot of styles, with the cone shaped spire stealing the show. Enter and embark on a guided tour to learn all about the history of the house, and pick up souvenirs from the gift shop to remember your trip by.

Of course, this isn’t the only iconic building in Rhinebeck. The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck is unusual for its resemblance to an enormous barn, while the Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck and the Rhinecliff make for spectacular settings for lunch and some much-needed pampering. And if you're looking for a majestic abode of your own, book a stay at the Quilted Star. This expertly vetted Plum Guide home offers guests a quintessential countryside experience without neglecting luxury – think agricultural surrounds, a fireplace in every room and a vintage-style kitchen.

Go for a meal

Foodies looking for things to do in Rhinebeck are in for a treat. The Small Town America epithet is a bit misleading, because this town goes big with its food. It is part of the affluent Hudson Valley area, so you can expect the nice things to be…very nice. On a fine day, sit outside at somewhere like the Pizzeria Posto or the Bread Alone, which are both great for families. Vegetarians will love Aba’s Falafel or the Asian cuisine at Aroi Thai. If you’re looking to spoil yourselves – and why shouldn’t you, you deserve it (probably) – then try the French flavours at the exclusive Le Petit Bistro, which has ‘handcrafted food’ (whatever that means) and an oyster bar. The Tasting Room at Gendron Catering and Bia are among the other top fancy restaurants in and around the town. There's a reason we included Rhinebeck in our best places to visit in Hudson Valley: it's a gourmet paradise.

Parks and fairgrounds

One of the best things to do in Hudson Valley is to enjoy the great outdoors. It’s time to take advantage of the serenity in this bucolic part of New York State. Embark on a trek through the Ferncliff Forest in the northern reaches of the town. It’s free to enter and hike. Climb up the highest hill in the forest and reach the stone observation tower for stunning views across the Hudson Valley. 

Another green highlight is the Northern Dutchess Botanical Gardens, where you’ll enjoy wandering in and out of the greenhouses and stealing all the colourful flowers. Head to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for the annual fair that takes place here in the last week of August. Other events on these grounds are the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, antique markets and some classic car shows. While we’re on antiques, think about a trip to the Beekman Arms Antique Market. 

Explore the boutiques and galleries

Must your search for things to do in Rhinebeck include shopping? You're in luck. Among the greatest allures to this green and pleasant land are the streets lined with old-world shops and galleries. The Al Stickle 5 & Dime Store is a great example, with its array of vintage products and souvenirs. Satiate the children’s desires with a trip (if you’re not careful it’ll be the whole day) to Samuel’s Sweet Shop. It’s an upscale old-world kind of shop, with its chocolates and candy showcased in elegant containers on wooden shelves. Continue exploring the central avenue, picking up bagels and coffee from the many cafés. The Gallery at Rhinebeck is a highlight, with its intriguing exhibitions and collection. Now, it’s been several minutes since your time in the aforesaid sweet shop, so, to top up those dwindling sugar levels, head to Krause’s Chocolates and eat everything in the place. 

Looking for somewhere to stay in Hudson Valley? Our selection of rental homes are vetted by our fastidious home critics, so whether you're after a place on the water or a fancy townhouse, you're in for a great night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.

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