Some of us are fortunate enough to have scores of vacation days (not me) and others of us are just trying to milk every away moment we can get (more like me).
So while it’s international trips that really sate my travel bug, it’s the domestic ones I can squeeze in on weekends that make up most of my year’s adventures.
And though years ago I would have scorned the thought and hardly even considered trips you could drive to actual travel, living in the North East has made for a lot of quick and pretty awesome getaways, the latest of which was to Warwick, NY.
About an hour and a half outside of NYC by car, it’s right there, but it feels like you’ve completely absconded the city grime. The low-key lake town has just what you need: water, worthy sustenance and wineries. And it’s probably the prettiest town in the Hudson Valley, which is basically made up of the towns running along the Hudson River on New York’s eastern edge.
It’s also home to the annual Applefest (apple picking, apple fritters, apple cider, you get the idea) which has been named one of North America’s top 10 festivals) and its four wineries are quaint, well-priced and close enough to one another that you can have a taste at each.
If you find yourself in Warwick—which you should—here’s what to do with two days there.
Hit the drive-in | 8:15 p.m.
Hit the ground running and head to the Warwick Drive-In Theater where you’ll watch two new releases for $10/person, $7 for seniors and kids. Get a bucket of really perfectly popped popcorn, slightly sweet but supremely salted and make sure you don’t leave your daytime running lights on and pointed at the screen or your drive-in neighbor will embarrass you when she very gently asks that you turn them off.
Sleep lakeside | 11:30 p.m.
If you’re pretty low-key when it comes to lodging, The New Continental in Greenwood Lake (a village in the town of Warwick) is really where it’s at. It’s quiet, clean and most importantly, right on the lake. You’ll wake to the sun rising over the unruffled water and you’ll likely come and go without ever seeing other guests. I stayed there in August and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Another pro: rates start at $99 a night.
Go jump in a lake | 10 a.m.
I can only speak for August, but the water outside of the hotel was smooth, warm and just the right way to start the day. There’s also a pretty good chance you and your travel companion will be the only ones splashing about. There aren’t facilities around so unless you plan to air dry, walk with a hotel room towel.
Eat on a farm | 11 a.m.
So it’s not in Warwick proper, but Pine Island is a hamlet of Warwick, and breakfast there is a must.
You’ll drive the rolling farmlands past peach stands (sub for different fruit depending on the season) and barns that look like they’ll be rife with reclaimed wood and farmhouse decor finds—but we’ll get to the antiquing later—before you get to Rogowski Farms. Kind of non-descript, the roadside farmhouse doesn’t look like a place you might dine, but missing it would be a major loss. Passed the mini farmers market in front, you’ll enter a barn redone as a homey restaurant, with chalkboard menus, canning jars for cups and sunflowers from out back adorning the room. I ordered the Challah bread french toast with bacon, for which the waitress told me the maple syrup was New York made and the butter was house-churned. Both had me wanting to re-order the plate on the spot. But that would be greed. The view out to the backyard farm with a bright red barn in the distance is movie-like in its quaintness.
Before you leave, try the sweet corn gelato. I have to admit, corn ice cream gave me pause, but I was told it was “amazing” by the local patron purchasing a cup full in front of me. It was. It was almost like a sweet corn cake reduced to cold creaminess and like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The “mmmms” came on demand with each spoonful. You’ll yearn for it after you’re done, I promise. (Note* do not share)
Hunt for old | 12:30 p.m.
If antiques aren’t your thing, proceed to the following section, but if they are, you’re in for a treat in Warwick. It’s an old town (est. 1788) and a lot of the treasures remain. From yard sales where people who just want to be rid of stuff will sell you vintage milk jars for a buck, to high-end antique boutiques where you’ll find 19th century French writing desks for $1200, there’s a bit of all. Heading a little out of Warwick proper, Rte 94 is lined with antique treasure havens in barns, in homes and on the side of the road. Try those too.
Drink and be merry | 2:30 p.m.
If you’ve bored your significant other (or they’ve bored you) for the past couple hours spent perusing old stuff, it’ll be the perfect time to drink. And the sweetest spot to do it is at the Warwick Valley Winery + Distillery where tastings are $5, as are bottles of the famed Doc’s hard cider. Pull up a spot on the grass, under a tree, spread your blanket and enjoy. (In the summer, that is) At the cash only cafe inside, you’ll find pizzas to share, platters of apples, grapes, bread and four cheeses—which will be your best photo op for Instagramming the outing—and slightly unhealthy, but so tasty truffle fries for later when you become aware of how many beverages you’ve put away. Don’t leave without to-go bottles. We took home Doc’s standard, but there’s pear and always a seasonal flavor too. This time it was black current, but pumpkin comes around in the fall.
Ice cream with a view | 6:30 p.m.
On to the ice cream. It’s Bellvale Farms Creamery, it’s fresh made and you can enjoy the whole Warwick valley while you take your licks. When it comes to ice cream I’m not very adventurous, it’s pretty much always whatever version of cookies and cream I can find, but because I now have so many comparisons, I can tell when a place is good. And this is so, so good. Creamy and sweetened to perfection, nothing misses a beat here. And when you open the door to go in, the scent of the currently baking waffle cones will permeate what feels like your whole body and you’ll have to have one.
Eat in a log cabin | 11:00 a.m.
After you’re second early morning swim, it’ll be time to eat. Again. Not at all fancy, the Lake Country Kitchen looks almost sketchy from the outside but like a sweet little log cabin on the inside. I had the kitchen sampler, which basically means everything in the kitchen on one plate. (More greed). Eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, toast and french toast. (At least I skipped the toast). All tasty, all for $9.95. You’ll get out of there with a tab for two under $30, easy.
Find finds at the Farmer’s Market | 1:00 p.m.
Every Sunday between May and November from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the Warwick Valley Farmer’s Market sets up in the middle of its downtown, which happens to be the town’s historic district too.
Check out crafts like home made soaps and buy fresh cut chrysanthemums too. There’s always homemade honey, cider donuts when apples are in season and sometimes the wineries set up shop on site in case you want an extra bottle to take home.
Get to-gos at Pennings | 2:30 p.m.
If you happen to somehow still be hungry or just want to fuel up for the road, burgers at Pennings Farm Market cafe are farm to mouth and touted as tasty, though I didn’t have the available tummy room to try. There’s corn and lobster mac and cheese too if burgers don’t do it for you. Grab a bag of sweet corn to take home, you’ll get a dozen for $5 and when you roast them at home, you’ll remember how sweet your weekend away was.