New York state is an incredibly beautiful, pristine place - the Hudson River Valley, the Hamptons, the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes, Saratoga Springs, the Catskills, and so much more. Here are some of my favorite places in the Empire State beyond New York City.
Pierre's - Get the the tarte flambée Alsacienne aux lardons et oignons (the most delicious paper-thin flatbread) and mussels. Nothing can beat the outdoor tables on a sunny day.
Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen - Old-fashioned luncheonette. You'll want to slurp down a milkshake with someone using two straws.
Loaves & Fishes Cookshop - I want to buy everything in here for my kitchen.
Almond - Nothing too fancy but a great dinner out.
Carvel - Best to stop around 10pm on a summer night.
Bridgehampton Commons - Here's where you'll find the K-Mart, the King Kullen grocery store, a Banana Republic, and other chain stores. It's as suburban as the Hamptons gets but you might spot Steven Spielberg checking out next to you at K-Mart.
Loaves & Fishes - Tiny shack that serves some of the best take-out food in the Hamptons. $$$$$$
Wolffer Estate Vineyards - The best place to go for a drink overlooking the vineyards. In the summer, come around 4 and stay until it closes at 8.
Townline BBQ - Best BBQ I've had outside of Texas.
Hampton Coffee - Good place for a quick coffee/breakfast stop.
Green Thumb Farmstand - All organic produce - everything is so good.
Robert's - Super romantic Italian housed in a rambling old yellow house - love it in the winter when it's snowy outside.
Suki Zuki - It is all about the "tuna sandwich" - shaped like an actual sandwich, this sushi roll is fresh tuna, scallions, and light tempura flakes. You will crave it after you're done. Crowds can get crazy on a weekend night.
The American Hotel - Built in 1846, this is a gorgeous, romantic, rambling place. I've never stayed (there are 8 rooms) but it's great for a drink or brunch.
Cavaniola's Gourmet Cheese Shop - A wonderful cheese shop.
Sen - More great sushi in the Hamptons.
Tutto Il Giorno - Go in the off-season - romantic outdoor seating, perfect pasta.
Conca D'Oro - I love this old-fashioned pizza place. Great for kids.
SagTown Coffee - Great coffee and I loved the pineapple iced tea.
Estia's Little Kitchen - A new favorite for me - tiny spot that serves an incredible brunch. Great quesadillas. Go early or late to beat the crowds!
I don't know why, but I don't love Southampton as much as the other areas, even though it's beautiful. Worth a stop for Tate's Bake Shop and Red Bar is a perfect dinner out.
Red Bar Brasserie - A Hamptons favorite.
Tate's Bake Shop - The original location - now you can find Tate's famous chocolate chip cookies all over the U.S.
1708 House - I stayed here once and loved it - walking distance to the village, and great rooms.
Duryea - One of the best places to watch the sunset with a lobster roll and ear of corn. It's BYOB.
The Hideaway - Great Mexican food - super casual.
South Edison - Casual and sophisticated - this is one of Montauk's best places for dinner. I loved the food and vibe.
John's Drive-In - Some of the best ice cream in the world - total Americana.
Montauk Yacht Club - I stayed here in the off-season - book the Admiral Class rooms and try to be close to the pool.
Rowdy Hall - Great for casual beer and burgers, just off the main drag in East Hampton.
Fresno - A great date spot in a tucked-away location near the train station.
East Hampton Grill - Remember Houston's? It was one of the fancy spots when I was in high school. This is like Houston's and in fact is owned by the same parent company, Hillstone.
Nick & Toni's - It's a scene but it's a warm, comfortable, buzzy one that I love. Call ten days in advance for a reservation.
Round Swamp Farm - Simply the best farm stand and take-out food in the Hamptons on Three Mile Harbor Road. Everything looks so perfect but the taste is what matters - and it's all delicious. The roasted cauliflower is the best I've had.
Bostwick's - Great seafood & chowder - nice outdoor seating.
Iacono Farm - Best eggs, happiest chickens.
The Monogram Shop - If you need a special gift, this is the place.
Roberta Freymann - I love their pajamas - green monkeys, blue dogs, elephants....my collection keeps growing.
BookHampton - I can't come in here without buying 2 or 3 books. Support small bookshops!!
The 1770 House - Nearly perfect in every way. The pub downstairs is super cozy and serves insane meatloaf (split it with someone).
c/o The Maidstone - What I loved: Dog-friendly (Rocco loved staying here), you can use their bikes, and cool Scandinavian decor.
La Fondita - Best tacos and fresh watermelon juice, enjoyed on a picnic table in the shade in the back.
The Clam Bar - Most people here are covered with sand, and enjoying great seafood after beach days. On the side of the highway.
Lunch - Technically called The Lobster Roll, everyone calls it Lunch because of the big sign outside. One of my favorite places for lunch and the lobster roll is really great. It's been open since 1965.
Mary's Marvelous - Another nice take-out spot if you're headed to the beach.
Vine Street Cafe - My favorite restaurant out here. If you pick one very special place for dinner, make it this one. You'll drive to Sag Harbor, and then another few miles to the ferry line. After a very short ferry ride with your car, you're on Shelter Island. Vine Street Cafe feels like a magical other planet (the pasta bolognese is SO good...and huge).
Sunset Beach - I felt slightly intimidated upon arrival at Sunset Beach, a hotel and restaurant owned by uber-hip hotelier Andre Balazs. Packed with beautiful people, this is very much a Hamptons scene, even though it's on Shelter Island. But I ended up loving it. Wander up to the second level, find the bar, and a seat overlooking the beach. Nice to come here for drink, then dinner at Vine Street Cafe.
SALT Waterfront Bar & Grill - It is lucky to have friends with boats. We did a beautiful boat ride and then had lunch here after docking. Great atmosphere for a long, lazy lunch overlooking the boats and harbor. You can also take the ferry and drive.
Hudson River Valley
First of all, if you're driving to the Hudson River Valley (or you're in Westchester) on the Taconic State Parkway, you have to make a pit stop at Rocky's Millwood Deli for a chicken cutlet sandwich. It's divine - yes, I just used the word 'divine' to describe a chicken cutlet sandwich. It's been open for more than 50 years and is a beloved spot for everyone from college kids to business execs.
Adorable little town - Babette's Kitchen is the best for breakfast and coffee. I love Merritt Books and the amazing owner, Kira. Check out Punch for home goods like pillows, blankets, and dishes - and a few cute clothing items like summer tunics reminiscent of India.
Just outside the town is Innisfree Garden, a BEAUTIFUL garden and lake with Chinese and Japanese elements.
And of course - Millbrook Winery. It's the most famous of the Dutchess County Wine Trail and if you haven't been, you have to go! I love their chardonnay (I don't even like chardonnay normally), pinot noir, and Hunt Country Red. It's great in the summer - you can grab a picnic table, or bring a blanket and eat outside by their grill.
McEnroe's Farm - It's on the way from Millbrook to Millerton and a great farmstead to pick up berries and snacks.
Oakhurst Diner - The food is surprisingly good here - a step above diner fare.
Harney & Sons Tea Room - tea tasting room, about one thousand teas to try, and a few tables for brunch and tea.
Hathaway & Sons
Salisbury, CT & Lion's Head Hike - five miles from Millerton
The "river" towns (Poughkeepside up to Rhinebeck/Red Hook/Hudson) - I love going to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) for lunch or coffee. It's a beautiful setting and the food is, of course, great. If you haven't done the FDR Home, it's worth it for an hour and a half.
Rhinebeck - this is just the cutest little town. The classic spot for lunch is Gigi Trattoria and I also love Market Street, and sitting on the cute little patio. Beekman Arms is a lovely old B&B (and where the Clintons stayed for Chelsea's wedding).
For an "easy" hike/walk, go to Poet's Walk ten minutes north of Rhinebeck. It's pretty much flat (a few mini hills at the end of the loop) but a beautiful stroll! It takes about an hour to finish it.
The best hiking website for the Hudson Valley is Hudson Valley Mike. He's so funny and you can search by east or west of the Hudson.
Dutchess County Fair - Every year, end of summer.
The adorable, artsy town of Beacon on the Hudson River quickly became one of my favorite upstate towns. We loved hiking Mount Beacon - there are basically three different versions that you can take - Hudson Valley Mike maps Mount Beacon out for you.
Homespun Foods - I'd eat here all the time if I lived in Beacon. Perfect sandwiches, salads, and soups - lovely outdoor patio. Don't miss the bread pudding.
Beacon D'lites - One of those charming small-town stores with wooden signs reading "Home is where the heart is." Come here for the soy candles - the #1 seller is homemade apple pie, but they're all pretty delicious (homemade apple pie, harvest, & spiced harmony is my preferred fall trio).
Storm King Art Center - 25 minutes south (and on the other side of the river) from Beacon, this open-air art museum lives up to your expectations - a totally wonderful, quirky, gorgeous place with enormous modern art sculptures dotting the landscape. If you have time, stop at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets - it's just 15 minutes south of Storm King. Two different kinds of culture - art and shopping. Woodbury Common is massive and if you're in the mood fro shopping, it's worth a stop.
Hastings-on-Hudson: Love the Hastings Farmer's Market here on Saturdays (June-November), near the train station. Try Wild Culture Waffles - they are light, crunchy, airy, slightly sweet waffles and they'll put delicious fillings in if you want like jam, honey, or peanut butter.
Irvington: Eat at Red Hat on the River on a beautiful day to see the NYC skyline and for great food. One of my favorite easy getaways from Grand Central Terminal.