Explore Sullivan County

HVA sullivan county

Today we have a guest blogger – Cindy Roe!  Cindy is HVA’s go to guide on all things Sullivan county and we look forward to hearing from her again next month for more Sullivan county info!

If you’re hankering for an easy day trip, consider heading up across the Shawangunk Ridge into Sullivan County. Nestled on 997 square miles in the south-western corner of the Catskills, Sullivan County is an easy and gorgeous 45 minute ride from Kingston, New Paltz, or Woodbury, and is dotted with quaint villages, picturesque lakes, and an abundant array of wildlife. Ready to take a drive? Here’s some suggestions on what to do and see during your visit:

Bethel Woods Center for The Arts-Set on the grounds of the original ’69 Woodstock music fest is this jewel of a venue, where some unknown 1960’s musicians walked out onto a plywood stage held together by a little bit of prayer and a whole lotta duct tape, shook the sh*#@ out of the nearly half a million people who actually made it to Max Yazgur’s hay field, and walked off into mega-star status;  ever heard of Santana, Joe Cocker, or Richie Havens? They can all credit this place as a starting point to their multi-decade success. Today, a  large scale concert venue hosts a full summer schedule of a wide range of music, from such major headliners as Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Elton John, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, as well as the 3-day, nonstop electro-raver Mysteryland.  Bethel Woods brings top shelf musical acts and plunks them down on a carpet of the thickest, richest, gotta-walk-barefoot-in-it grass that’s right at your doorstep, just half an hour west of Middletown. The copper-lidded museum at the site’s entrance houses a permanent collection of original Woodstock memorabilia and exhibits that reflect the hip spirit of the Summer of Love generation, the largest counterculture in human history. Also, their late season Harvest Fests run on Sundays from August through the end of September, and features weekly themes such as a chili cook-off and wine tastings, in addition to a farmers market, professional artisans, a corn maze, hayrides, and of course, live music.

Theater- 3 amazing yet distinctly different theater experiences can be found in Sullivan County. Forestburgh Playhouse, located just 15 minutes south of Monticello off Route 42, is the oldest professional summer theater in New York State and offers such classics as Damn Yankees, Young Frankenstein, and Oliver!, in addition to cabarets and sumptuous food and cocktails at their own personal watering hole, The Forestburgh Tavern, right next door.

Also on the outskirts of Monticello, about 4 miles from Route 17 on Route 42 North, is the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop, located on Main Street in South Fallsburg. Featuring a mix of drama, music, and comedy with their own cabaret, an early-fall Comedy Event, plus such hits as Godspell, Fiddler on the Roof, and Death of a Salesman, as well as their own in-house youth theater workshop.

Tucked a little further off the beaten path between Barryville and Bethel off Route 55 is Highland Lake, a pristine spring-fed lake that’s home to the NACL (North American Cultural Laboratory) Theater and actor’s retreat. This group of local and visiting professionals creates unique theatrical productions on such unchartered topics as life and death from a stroke victim’s point of view, climate change, aging in our modern world, and how God would handle a personal case of dementia.

 BashaKill Vineyards– a 2 minute ride on route 209 South from Route 17 gets you to Haven Road on the left. Follow that across the middle of the Basha Kill preserve, and turn right onto South Rd, where you will find Basha Kill Vineyards about 1 mile on the Left. Open weekends from May through October and Saturdays only in early spring and late fall, this rustic stunner offers free tastings of up to 4 of their homegrown wines. Pack a lunch and make a day of it; wine is offered for sale by the glass or by the bottle, and is the perfect companion to the weekly rotation of live music performers. Relax on their gorgeous, expansive patio amid the grapevines and pines, and take in the astounding  mountain and water views of this unique natural area that is home to bald eagles, ospreys, and multitudes of migratory birds.

Take a cruise on the Hudson river

hudson river cruising

Monday’s are the worst aren’t they? Especially when your Saturday and Sunday were absolutely perfect, great weather, amusing companions, and zero housework. My Saturday was spent indulging in some pretty terrific barbecue at Kingston’s newest restaurant – Ole Savannah (the Gin & Jam is a must and so are the fried green tomatoes) and then a short Hudson River cruise on the Rip Van Winkle. Cruising the Hudson River is something that every Hudson Valley resident must do at least once in their lives, unless you have your own river worthy water craft that is. After a short nap we headed across the river to Upstate films (real popcorn with real butter and iced coffee too) to catch Sir Ian McKellen in Mr Holmes. Sunday was just a lazier version of Saturday with more naps and less driving. The highlight of the weekend was definitely the Hudson River cruise.

The Rip Van Winkle can be found on the Kingston waterfront, where the Rondout creek meets the Hudson River. This is a relatively short cruise and make sure you bring sunblock!! (I didn’t and I’m still bright red) The ship’s captain give out informational tidbits about the lighthouses and historic homes that you see as you glide along and even stops the cruise to when a bald eagle came to rest on a shoreline pine tree. This is a terrific way to explore the Hudson River and learn about the many different historical homes and lighthouses that dot its shore.

This is not the only Hudson River cruise line in the Hudson Valley. Orange county has the River Rose, Dutchess county has the Empire cruise line, or head to New York City and take a 6 or 7 night cruise up the Hudson River and back again on one of the American Cruise Line ships. It doesn’t matter how you cruise the Hudson River, just cruise it!

Hudson Valley Agents has some of the best rates on boat insurance in the Hudson Valley. They insure personal watercraft as well as yachts and they do it well. Call HVA for all of your Hudson Valley insurance needs today.

Get to know Kingston (you’ll love it!!)


Every town, village, city, and county in the Hudson Valley has its own vibe, Ulster is where we take it easy and peace out, Dutchess is where we go to visit the upstate elite, and so on. I cannot be the only person who has noticed this, can I? This weekend I found myself defending my county and my city so often that I just had to sit down and blog about it.

When I finally decided it was time to own my own home I choose to live in Ulster county, and I purposely chose the city of Kingston. I had grown up in Orange County (Mount Hope – don’t blink or you’ll miss it), my first apartment was in Montgomery, my second was in Goshen. When I got married and started a family we lived in Hyde Park and later moved to LaGrange, both in Dutchess county. But when I finally decided start a business and buy a house Ulster county was where I wanted to be. I rented an apartment in Kingston and decided to see if I liked living there, in less than six months I was house hunting and had found my home.

Over the weekend I found myself having to defend my city to those who had never fully explored it. If you only come to Kingston to see a show at UPAC or to visit one particular restaurant then you miss the charm of the place. I’m sure if the only part of Kingston that I had ever seen was mid-town I probably wouldn’t have chosen to call Kingston home either. But before the haters get too far into their rants let me explain my love affair with New York’s first capital city.

Kingston was an easy choice for me, after years and years of living in places where having a car was a necessity moving somewhere that allowed me to only have to get behind the wheel twice a week (sometimes less than that) was exhilarating. If I want a great bagel or pastries I can walk to my local bakery (The Cake Box). If I run out of milk or cat food I can walk to my local bodega or Stewarts. If I want to go out for a really nice meal there are more restaurants than I have time to list all within a ten minute walk from my home. If I want a new outfit or have to buy a gift all I have to do is walk out of my front door and within minutes I can be at Bop To Tottom or any of the other great shops in uptown Kingston. My hairdresser is there, my bookstore is there, my vintage clothing store is there, my tattoo artist is there (Hi Karma Tattoo) and so is my pharmacy. If I wanted to walk to the grocery store I could do that too, but I simply don’t want to. My Saturday mornings are spent at the Kingston Farmer’s Market and I get all the locally sourced organic produce I want just a couple of blocks from my front door. Why would I go to a grocery store? I have never lived in a place where so many business owners help each other and their communities. I really wish that other communities could experience this type of harmony. The Kingston Uptown Business Association (aka KUBA) has a lot to do with this and they do a magnificent job.

Uptown Kingston is a tourist destination and so is the waterfront. Midtown is still trying to rise to the same level as their counterpoints and I feel that eventually this will happen. Kingston is a city within a easygoing county and while it’s a bit gritty and rough around the edges I love it. Parking is an issue, but show me any thriving city that does not have parking issues. Yes crime is an issue, but our crime rate is much lower than the city of Poughkeepsie or Newburgh. I will willingly walk through the roughest sections of Kingston (and have) but I avoid walking anywhere in the cities of Poughkeepsie and Newburgh because they are really very scary.

My father is a lifelong Orange county resident. He grew up in Newburgh, moved to Montgomery, and has settled down in Maybrook. He is a truck driver and he has to come to midtown Kingston at least once a week, he hates it. He hates the traffic patterns (understandably), he hates the parking (join the club), and he is under the mistaken notion that Kingston is a dying city. He only willingly comes to Kingston once a year and that’s only because we have the only French restaurant that he has deemed “acceptable” (BTW – try Le Canard Enchaine,it is amazing). Other than driving his truck or eating snails he has never taken the time to fully explore all that uptown Kingston has to offer. He’s never checked out the live music scene (sending my love to BSP) or wandered into Rhino Records. He’s never walked next door to Ecce Terra and met Bridget and her amazing staff. He’s never taken the time to walk five minutes to the Stockade Tavern where they serve his favorite gin. When he called me from his truck this past Friday all he did was complain that Kingston has too many parades and not enough ways around them. Sorry Dad, Kingston shines in the summertime and we will do nothing to change that.

So I think it is safe to say that I am a devoted Kingstonite.  I took the time to get to know the business owners and community leaders before I decided that Kingston would become my home base.  The friends and family members that visit us find that they fall in love with my city almost as quickly as I did.  Friends who insisted that they never go out on New Years eve find themselves at my home every year for the big New Year‘s Eve celebration, complete with ball drop.  Other friends make a point of being here for the big Chronogram Block Party and still others make the Kingston Artists Soapbox Derby their reason to visit.  So the next time you find yourself in Kingston take the time to get to know us, you’ll be surprised by just how much we have to offer!  Oh, and just because Hudson Valley Agents isn’t based in Ulster county does not mean that we don’t insure here!  HVA has a large Kingston client base and they understand the insurance needs of this historic city.  We offer low cost NY insurance to all of the Hudson Valley and we work with many New York state based insurance companies too.  HVA insures the entire Hudson Valley so give them a call today!

Explore the Hudson Valley – Hyde Park



If you are looking for the perfect Hudson Valley day trip you really need to take a closer look at the town of Hyde Park. Hyde Park is located in Dutchess county and has great views of the Hudson river as well as gorgeous historic spots to visit. Let’s take a look at all of the wonderful things Hyde Park has to offer.

Vanderbilt mansion and gardens – If you plan on touring this National Park Service site you need to be aware of a few things: 1. Call before you go because there is construction happening on the mansion and it could interrupt your tour. 2. Take your tour of the mansion early in the morning if you tour it during the summer, there is no air conditioning and it gets HOT. 3. Wear your walking shoes because there are 211 acres of gorgeous Hudson Valley views and you won’t want to miss anything. The gardens are even more spectacular than the mansion itself. Make sure to take the time to check out the stables too.

The Home of Franklin D Roosevelt – At this site you can visit FDR’s home on the Hudson river as well as his Presidential Library and museum. This National Park Service site is gorgeous and worth the drive from anywhere in NYS. Take the time to explore the grounds as well as the buildings, especially the path that leads to the Hudson River (make sure you bring bug repellent if you do this and wear hiking boots because things can get a bit swampy).

Val-kill – This is the ONLY National Historic site dedicated to a first lady (another Hudson Valley first) and I think Eleanor Roosevelt would be quite pleased to see just how well kept her cottage is. When you go plan on watching the introductory film before touring the house and grounds. Beware of the geese near the stream, some of them have quite a bit of attitude.

The Culinary Institute of America – Classic architecture and restaurants right on the banks of the Hudson River. As far as I know you cannot tour the grounds (insert sad face here) but you can make reservations at any of their many restaurants. The American Bounty and Apple Pie Bakery are two of my personal favorites and I highly recommend reservations for American Bounty, especially in the summer and fall.

There are more things to do in Hyde Park but just visiting these four sites can take up an entire weekend so plan accordingly. Enjoy the history, enjoy the views, enjoy the food, and bring your friends with you when visit and don’t forget to #insurelocal with Hudson Valley Agents.  Get outside and explore everything that the Hudson Valley has to offer!

Explore the Hudson Valley – Rhinebeck


It’s Friday Hudson Valley! Time to explore more of the towns, villages, hamlets, and cities that make our valley such a great place to live and today we are going to focus on Rhinebeck.

Rhinebeck is in Dutchess county and if I have read the wikipedia entry correctly, was founded by the Dutch settlers that decided to move away from Kingston. (as a Kingston resident I just cannot grasp why anyone would leave here, but I digress) The village of Rhinebeck is attracting some major interest, Chelsea Clinton got married here and Miley Cyrus behaves herself when she visits (she was here last weekend). Emma Roberts, Ramona Singer and Rufus Wainwight all once called Rhinebeck home.

Rhinebeck has something for everyone and this video from visitvortex.com proves it

The biggest and best of all of the NY county fairs happens every August right here in Rhinebeck – The Dutchess County Fair! Don’t forget to check out the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome or catch an indie flick at the original Upstate Films, the only place in the Hudson Valley that I know of where you get fresh popcorn with real butter or homemade brownies. The farmers markets, the great shops, and restaurants that are beyond compare.

Get outside and explore the Hudson Valley! Take pictures, act like a tourist, and enjoy all the diverse and wonderful things our valley has to offer. Who knows what you will find or who you might see. Take a day trip and find your next favorite spot in the Hudson Valley. That’s the great part of living in the Hudson Valley our towns/cities/villages are all different, we are unique, fiercely independent, and stunningly beautiful too. Hudson Valley Agents can and does insure all things Hudson Valley and we do it with the same independent spirit so give us a call before you head out on your next Hudson Valley adventure!

There’s a lot to love about Newburgh


Newburgh has a pretty bad reputation, to be honest it has a really, really, bad reputation. This wasn’t always the case, if it had then been both sets of my Grandparents would not have chosen to raise their children there. By the time I was in kindergarten things had already started to sour. The businesses left, the crime rate spiraled, Stewart Airport bought up property on Drury Lane, and one set of Grandparents decided that Newburgh was no longer a viable living option and they moved to Mount Hope. My Italian Grandparents decided to stick it out a little while longer but even they moved to a safer section of the Town of Newburgh and they all left the city behind.

Newburgh has so much history, gorgeous architecture, and a great river front so why on earth hasn’t it bounced back in the same way that Beacon and Kingston have? The city of Poughkeepsie has crime and urban blight, so does Beacon and Kingston. Is it the poverty? Other Hudson Valley cities have poverty too but the city of Newburgh’s poverty level is pretty steep. Could it be a gang issue? There are gangs all over the Hudson Valley, Hyde Park, LaGrange, Pine Bush and more little towns and villages in the region have gangs. I just cannot grasp why the city of Newburgh is faltering while other cities on the Hudson River are thriving.

There is hope for Newburgh, there are great restaurants on the waterfront, the Newburgh Brewing Company is creating a lot of positive buzz, and then there are programs like Newburgh on the Rise and people like my cousin Peggy Spignardo.  Everyone seems to be an expert about what is wrong with Newburgh but if you speak to a native Newburgian like my cousin Peggy you’ll soon find out what’s right with Newburgh. I thought the best way to find out what people love about the city of Newburgh was to ask them via social media.  I took to Facebook and these are the answers-

Peggy – Everything!  The views, the Newburgh Historical Society house tours, Pete’s Hot Dogs, El Solar, the Wherehouse, Downing park, the art galleries, the Newburgh Actors Studio, and the Downing Film Center.

Cindy- Orange County Habitat For Humanity focusing their efforts on houses in the city of Newburgh

Julie – Billy Joe’s Rib Works, great live music, great scenery

Kimberly – My Husband!

Randy – Ann St Art Gallery features local artists

I find it interesting that A- Only two people actually “liked” the post and B- Only four people commented on it.  Newburgh cannot be the only Hudson river city that is unable to revive itself, can it?

I have faith that the city of Newburgh will one day pull itself up by its bootstraps and make fools out of anyone that doubted it.  I have faith that the people who live there will all lend a helping hand and create a community that takes care the people, businesses, and historical sites.  I have faith in the city of Newburgh and the people who live there.  It is going to take much more than my faith to help Newburgh rise again, everyone has to do their part.  You can help out by planning a day trip to the waterfront, visit the historical society or just check out the Welcome To Newburgh site and plan from there.  Share some #hudsonvalleylove and be a part of the revival, you’ll be glad you did!

Do you support your local small businesses?


Small business is a big deal in the Hudson Valley and the impact that small businesses have on their communities is an even bigger deal. Big business might have built up our cities (Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Beacon & Kingston) but once big business fell it was small business that built a new and more sustainable future in the communities that were hit the hardest. Small business is the very backbone of life in the Hudson Valley!

We should all support our local small businesses and here’s a few reasons why –

– It’s an investment in your community
– It’s an investment in the local economy
– It’s environmentally friendly


Big business has its place in our communities, but without small business our cities, towns, and villages would be a much less colorful and much less community minded. In uptown Kingston there are two coffee places – Dunkin Donuts and Hudson Coffee Traders. One has artwork from local artists hanging on the walls, organic coffee, and farm to table food. The other has orange and pink décor, a menu I can recite with my eyes closed, and I have no idea where their coffee comes from. One is community minded, one is corporate minded. These two places are almost directly across the street from each other and only one is routinely empty every time I pass it, can you guess which one that is? I’ll give you a hint, the décor is not orange and pink. Every single time I buy a cup of iced chai at Hudson Coffee Traders I am supporting my community. Sipping that iced chai while checking out the latest art work and possibly purchasing a painting supports my community. It’s easy!


Get to know the people who work to make your community a better place. Why eat in a chain restaurant when you have yet to try the local one? Why shop at a big box hardware nightmare when you can have an actual human being help you with your hardware purchases? Why buy your insurance from a lizard with a big advertising budget built on your premiums when you have a family owned independent insurance agent right in your backyard? Supporting local business is just one more way to improve your community and what happens when a community works hard to improve? Property values increase, services are upgraded, schools prosper, roads are repaired, and everyone wins.

Shop local. Eat local. Insure local.

It’s tourist season in the Hudson Valley


It’s almost Memorial Day weekend and it is time to kick off Hudson Valley tourist season! People come from all over the world to visit our Hudson Valley all the time but the summer and fall is when we really shine!

Tourist season in the Hudson Valley might seem like a foreign thing to some, but if you live near or in any of the Hudson Valley tourist hot spots you definitely know what I’m talking about. There are certain roads we avoid (I’m looking at you Main St in New Paltz) and even some businesses that we don’t frequent until after tourist season has started to die down (still looking at you New Paltz & Moxie Cup, love you). Forget trying to spend the day in Woodstock or Sugar Loaf in the summertime, and just forget trying to drive anywhere in New Paltz any time. Beacon and uptown Kingston are parking nightmares on a good day but during the Hudson Valley tourist season local’s are better off walking or just avoiding the high traffic areas all together. So, where can we bring friends and family during tourist season and not be overwhelmed by the crowds and selfie sticks?

POUGHKEEPSIE (town & city Dutchess County) – There are so many things to do and see here and since the town and city of Poughkeepsie cover such a large area you almost never have to worry about tourists! Historic sites like Locust Grove Estates or even the city of Poughkeepsie Post Office are always interesting. There’s Bananas Comedy Club (yes it still exists), the Bardavon Opera House and the Mid Hudson Civic Center for concerts and shows. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is only one reason to visit the Vassar college campus, the grounds and architecture are the real stars. The sheer volume of great restaurants is too long and time consuming to list and there is always a fair or festival happening. The crowning jewel of Poughkeepsie is the Walkway Over the Hudson!

Where do you friends and family when they visit the Hudson Valley? What Hudson Valley spots do you avoid during tourist season? Share your love of the Hudson Valley with us and join the conversation on our Facebook page! Eat local, shop local, and insure local with HVA!

Explore the Hudson Valley – Saugerties


I took my own advice this weekend and spent Saturday exploring Saugerties!  Ulster county has all sorts of gorgeous little towns and villages but Saugerties is my hands down favorite, now that I’ve explored it that is!  One afternoon was not enough time to spend here so I’ll share the highlights and my next visit wish list with you.


The Hudson Valley Dessert Company is quite possibly my all time favorite business with the name Hudson Valley in it!  (please don’t tell Hudson Valley Agents this, they get jealous so easily)  Gluten free goodies are plentiful, the staff is great, the cakes decedent, and the patrons loyal.  Choosing just one treat is an impossible task so be prepared to take something home with you but if you forget don’t worry too much because many of their treats can be shipped.


We had lunch at ‘Cue, quite possibly the best BBQ in the Hudson Valley.  You have to try their homemade BBQ potato chips and desserts (served in small mason jars, cute & delish).  If you find that you are missing ‘Cue and can’t get to Saugerties don’t worry, just look for their food truck at almost every Hudson Valley festival this summer!


The Saugerties Lighthouse was the last stop on our exploration.  The lighthouse is only accessible via boat or a half mile foot path so make sure you check the tide table before heading out, if you try to explore when the tide is high you won’t be able to walk there or walk back until the tide goes down.  The light house is a working bed and breakfast and offers tours too.

We didn’t make to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Diamond Mills, or the beach, or even the skating school, all of that will  have to wait for your next outing. We didn’t see Jimmy Fallon either but we had great food, saw a really cool lighthouse, and did tons of shopping!

Did you explore our Hudson Valley over the weekend?  Where do you bring visitors to show off the Hudson Valley?  What town, village, or city in the Hudson Valley do you think has the most to offer?  Let me know so I can go explore some more!  Shop local, eat local, and insure local with Hudson Valley Agents.


Are there any chances of an earthquake in the Hudson Valley?


If you watched the news this weekend then you doubtlessly saw images of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. More than 3,000 people have perished and many more are still among the missing. The video of the avalanche hitting the climbers up on Mount Everest was terrifying and it made me wonder if there are any chances of an earthquake in the Hudson Valley.

The Hudson Valley has the Catskill mountains, the Hudson Highland mountains, the Taconic mountains, and the Shawangunks and aren’t mountain ranges created when two plates crash together? It seems that our mountain ranges aren’t what we should be worried about, the Ramapo fault line is where we should be looking. The Ramapo fault line runs through New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and it is 70 miles long. The last large quake on the Ramapo fault line was in 1884 and it rocked Brooklyn with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake This fault could cause some major problems in NYC since it runs from the Hudson river to the East river at 126th street and there are tunnels there.

According to an article in livescience.com there is an active fault line that runs from Stamford Connecticut into the Hudson Valley and it is around 25 miles long. The main concern is that this fault line runs less than a mile away from the Indian Point Power Plant. Nuclear plants and fault lines should never mix. Take heart and never fear, a magnitude 6 earthquake on this fault line only happen every 670 years.

The Hudson Valley, all of New York state actually, does not have any mandated earthquake safety measures in our buildings, bridges, or roads simply because the chances of a large earthquake happening here are slim to none. The last earthquake to be felt in the Hudson Valley was a “micro-quake” and it happened on July 5th 2014. The 2.5 magnitude quake was near Peekskill along the Appalachian Trail and the US Geological Survey representatives said that a 2.5 magnitude earthquake is not an indication of any larger quakes happening soon.

I have spent 40 + years in the Hudson Valley and earthquakes have never been one of my top things to fear in the Hudson Valley (the traffic yes, earthquakes, no) so I must admit that I probably will not be calling Hudson Valley Agents for earthquake coverage for my home. But researching today’s blog gave me enough information to feel mildly uncomfortable. For now I will just send my prayers and sympathies to everyone in Nepal (donations can be sent out via the Red Cross) and I plan on being really careful whenever I have to cross the Hudson river.