Day Trip to Dutchess County

Dutchess County is one of my favorite getaways in the Hudson Valley.  There is something here for everyone:  historical homes, great farm stands, apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, and nice restaurants and shopping.  On our last visit we started at the Vanderbilt Mansion Historic Site in Hyde Park.  Built as a country home during the Gilded Age, this site is much smaller than other Vanderbilt homes open to the public, which makes it very manageable for touring with kids.  The house can only be toured with a guide but it is a relatively quick tour, lasting only about 45 minutes.  

The mansion's location on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River is it's best asset.  You can come out and just explore the grounds without paying an admission fee and there is a paved trail which leads to FDR;s home next door.

If you visit, be sure to spend some time in the museum's bookstore.  There are some great books for adults and children and a really nice collection of items that would be perfect as a gift or a memento to take home.  

For lunch, Rhinebeck is always a good option.  There is a variety of places to eat but our favorite is Bread Alone.  On the weekends they offer both breakfast and lunch options but everything is delicious.  We've tried lots of things on their menu and have never been disappointed.  

Also in Rhinebeck are some shops that aren't to be missed.  Every time I go in Hammertown Barn, I want to completely redecorate our entire house, all with things purchased here.  Right next door is Oblong Books & Music, where we usually spend a good deal of time browsing.  They have a fantastic selection of children's books and I usually pick up something for myself as well.  Finally, no small town is complete without a general store and Rhinebeck's does not disappoint.  The AL Stickle Variety store has a vast array of items for sale including children's games and toys, crafting supplies, yarn and knitting supplies, and kitchenwares just to name a few.  

This is a great day if you are in the NYC area and don't mind driving a bit.  The area is gorgeous in all seasons and most sites are open year round.  I am planning a trip back in the fall to pick some apples and pumpkins and to take in an air show at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.

Hiking in the Alps - Day 3 & 4

On our third, and last full, day we decided to tackle two 1/2-day hikes:  one to the start of a glacier and the other a relatively flat walk with views similar to the day before.  As we walked out of Gimmelwald, we descended down and walked along a river, which was fed by the glacier we were hoping to find.  The path was much less populated than the previous day and we saw only a handful of people along the way.  When we reached the hike's terminus, we were the only ones around as far as the eye could see.  We counted waterfalls (14), skipped rocks, built cairns and thoroughly explored this magical place.  The kids loved it and it was a push to get them to leave.

After a quick trip on the cable car up to Murren, we started out on our second hike of the day to Grutschalp.  This route was much more popular and we encountered lots of people out for a quick hike to enjoy the surrounding scenery..  

We caught the train (seen in the picture above) back to Murren and made our way back to our apartment at Esther's to pack up and get ready to leave early the next morning.  Before we left the area, we stopped at Trummelbach Fallslocated in the valley nearby.  The melting snows of the Jungfrau have carved through the stone to create Europe's largest subterranean waterfall.  You take an elevator located inside of the mountain up 6 stories and explore waterfalls 6-10 before making your way down to see waterfalls 1-5.  Truly an awe-inspiring (and chilly) sight!

At the base of the falls, there is a nice cafe with good coffee and snacks on offer.  It's also a great place to get in a game of chopsticks, if you like that kind of thing.

Hiking in the Alps - Day 2

We awoke to beautiful blue skies and fantastic 360-degree views.  After consulting all the hiking routes suggested on the Gimmelwald website, we decided to take Hike 5, the Scenic, described as an easy 1 1/2-mile loop.  

The hike begins near the funicular station at the top of Allmendhubel, so we hiked up to Murren via the steep path behind our guesthouse and spotted some local fauna along the way.

Once we got off the funicular, we discovered a fantastic playground.  The entire area was imaginatively designed including everything from zip lines to groundhog tunnels to a barn with plastic cows to "milk".  

As we hiked, we stumbled upon an inn located in what felt like the middle of nowhere, Pension Suppenalp.  Lunch was served on a patio with an unbeatable view (pretty much the theme of our time in the Alps).  Surprisingly this was one of the best meals of our trip.  I had a traditional Swiss meal of rosti, which is basically hash browns with cheese, eggs, and bacon on top.  The kids topped off the meal with a delicious slice of chocolate cake with extra whipped cream.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the scenery:  the profusion of wildflowers in bloom, the sound of cow bells tinkling in the pastures, the view of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger mountains looming above us, the paragliders drifting down through the valley.

We ended the day at the other restaurant in Gimmelwald at the Mountain Hostel.  The restaurant is primarily a pizzeria but there is also a daily pasta special on offer.  The pizzas were delicious and just what we needed after a day spent in the fresh air.  Then we were off to bed to rest up for another day on the trails tomorrow.  

Wanderlust Friday

Image by Horlo via Flickr

Image by Horlo via Flickr

This is the last weekend before school starts!  We are going to Pittsburgh for a long weekend to celebrate Jack's graduation to middle school.  He wants to go to a Pirates game and I want to tour Fallingwater.  In the meantime, here are some places I am wandering to on the web...

We are definitely including some of these recommendations in our plans this weekend.

I seem to be reading about Mexico City everywhere, most recently here

Love this monthly update on new places to eat.

Road trip around New Zealand in a vintage VW van?  I'm in!

As someone who recently bought new luggage, I think this is a great idea.

Hiking in the Swiss Alps - Day 1

We spent three days in the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland in July.  This is a great area to hike with kids as the scenery is spectacular, there are plenty of cows and horses to ogle, and lots of the routes are just challenging enough to keep everyone happy.  We made our base in Gimmelwald, a picturesque little village perched below the Jungfrau mountain range.  It is a car-less town and the only access is via a quick 5-minute trip on a cable car from the valley floor.  There are only a few guesthouses and B&B's to choose from and we opted to stay at Esther's Guesthouse.  Esther's offers many different types of accommodations, including two apartments, each with it's own bathroom and kitchen.  We stayed in one of these and thought it was a great choice for a family.  We had plenty of room to spread out and a balcony with a gorgeous few of the mountains.  Breakfast and lunch are on offer for an added fee but we chose to pick up supplies at the supermarket in nearby Murren.  


There aren't a lot of of dining options in Gimmelwald but luckily what is available is very good.  Our first night we wandered into Pension Gimmelwald, mostly because of their patio and it's spectacular view.  The menu is small but everything we had was delicious and while there is no set kid's menu, they were very accommodating in making something for Ava.  

On our way out of the Pension, we spotted the Honesty Shop.  Both kids were enthralled with the premise - no one worked in the shop so you selected what you liked, wrote the item you were purchasing and cost on the provided envelope, put your money in the envelope, sealed it and placed it in a locked box.  The store had a range of items available from snacks to postcards to small souvenirs.