‘River Crossings,’ a Contemporary Art Exhibition at 2 Historic Sites of the Hudson River School

‘River Crossings,’ a Contemporary Art Exhibition at 2 Historic Sites of the Hudson River School

WHEN warm weather arrives, artists by the hundreds, including me, venture outside with paint boxes and portable easels. This passion for plein air painting is a phenomenon of recent years that has come to include competitions, workshops and shows in towns, villages and scenic spots like the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which hosts more than 200 artists each July at Plein Air Easton. I now have seven paint boxes and folding easels, ranging from watercolor sets the size of a cigarette pack to a full-scale French easel made just the way it was for the Impressionists.

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New York Does it Right with Haunted History Trail

New York Does it Right with Haunted History Trail

While popular haunted places in the Midwest struggle to gain recognition and help from local governments and mainstream business/tourism organizations, one state is getting it right. When I began researching legends in Upstate New York, I came across this website, and I was surprised to discover that the website was the result of cooperation across more than a dozen local tourism bureaus. Whenever the subject of haunted places or tours is discussed with community leaders in my home state of Illinois, it is usually in hushed tones, as if they are speaking of porno theaters or international crime rings. Despite the benefits of paranormal tourism, for example, a number of years ago local church leaders in my hometown petitioned the public library board to shut down a friend’s ghost tour, which she had ran successfully in cooperation with the library for years, because it was allegedly “occult” related.

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Why New York Is Celebrating a Vegetable This Weekend (Ramp Festival)

Why New York Is Celebrating a Vegetable This Weekend (Ramp Festival)

Take a trip to New York’s Hudson Valley to taste one of the season’s most elusive flavors.

Now that the seemingly endless winter is truly over, there are harbingers of spring everywhere: cherry trees blooming, arms and toes exposed. For foodies, the change in seasons is exciting for another reason: For a very brief moment, farmers’ markets will be overrun with ramps, a spring vegetable that’s also known as a wild leek. Its flavor is pungent, sort of like a cross between a spring onion and garlic, and its presentation varied: pickled, grilled, used in pesto, as a pizza topping…the list goes on. Because of their scarcity—ramps show up early in the season in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, then hit their peak for just a few weeks—they’re enormously popular among the food obsessed; in the past week alone, Eater.com, Bon Appetit,and Serious Eats have all published articles extolling the elusive allium’s virtues.

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5 great Hudson Valley distilleries to get your drink on

5 great Hudson Valley distilleries to get your drink on

Pretentiously swirling a glass of pinot noir in a sunlit tasting room, while staring out at rolling hills of vineyards, has long been a lovely way to spend a weekend, but why should vino have all the fun?

In the past decade, the Big Apple’s craft-spirits scene has exploded, thanks to eased regulations and a growing thirst for small-batch booze.

There are now about 70 New York “farm distilleries” — where at least 75 percent of the raw materials come from within the state — up from less than a dozen a few years ago. Some of these distilleries even grow the grains and botanicals for their liquors to control everything that goes into the bottle, and many offer tours and charming tasting experiences.

Have a sip at one of these picturesque upstate spots.

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River Towns

River Towns

We all know that, from Airmont to Albany, the Hudson Valley is hot — and there are dozens of amazing municipalities throughout the area to visit or call home. But it’s the river towns that really define our region. Here are 19 waterside towns that have revived over the past few years.

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In Hudson, N.Y., Painting by Numbers

In Hudson, N.Y., Painting by Numbers

Last month, Isidro Blasco and Sarah Jay invited a few friends over to help renovate the 164-year-old, brick two-family house they bought in November. But if you’re imagining an episode of “This Old House,” think again.

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Big Time: Hudson’s Moment in the Spotlight

Big Time: Hudson’s Moment in the Spotlight

When asked how the city of Hudson has changed since she first arrived in 1991, Linda Mussmann says, “People talk about real estate now and not as much about art. The gentry, to some degree, has landed.” Mussmann has run Time and Space Limited, a multidisciplinary art warehouse, with partner Claudia Bruce since 1993, planting the first artistic seeds of the latest wave or creative regeneration. Mussmann and Bruce created an environment for edgy art (political theater, independent films, and in-your-face exhibitions) and community resources for underprivileged kids that continues to this day. “The goal is to have the opportunity to work until we die,” Mussmann says. “We’re never finished.” What defines Time and Space Limited, like much of the rest of this city percolating with hope and hype in equal measure, is the spirit of creative entrepreneurship: Hudson has the highest self-employment rate in New York state—almost 10 percent—and is ranked 83rd in the country. It’s a place where you’ll find antique stores and auction houses alongside vintage clothing and record stores, and an empty lot where a handful of food trucks have created an impromptu food court. Hudson even has its own version of a neo-vaudevillian circus troupe: Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.

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Hudson trek reveals breathtaking scenery

Hudson trek reveals breathtaking scenery

Harrier Hill Park is a culmination — not a destination. It is the journey through the city of Hudson, and the Town of Greenport, that yields this vista as its reward. Traveling through the Hudson Valley countryside, I reminisced about descending through the Grand Canyon to its bottom at Phantom Ranch. I was captivated by the recollection that every step down the canyon trail was an unfolding panorama of texture, vistas and color, and that my boots changed color from the dust of each hue of rock strata — red, brown, orange, green.

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