New York; though you may not first believe, is an incredibly green and diverse landscape.
From the forward thinking and iconic New York City to the wondrous Finger Lakes towards the Canadian border, New York State is a sight to behold. We caught up with Emma Tuccillo, founder of And North, an online site dedicated to exploring quirky places in the wider area to discuss where to go for a weekend away from the city, what the state’s best secret is and when’s best to visit. Our bets are on all year round.
What is it about Upstate New York that attracts you so much? What is the area’s greatest asset?
There are so many things that I love about upstate, but I think mostly it’s a feeling of connection that I get when I travel north. For me, connecting with people and places is what really inspires me. This feeling seems much easier to attain upstate. Whether it’s visiting a farm, striking up a conversation with a local, sitting in a quiet spot in the woods, or visiting a maker’s studio, there is a true feeling of community that is unique to this region.
How does it compare to the city? Indeed, can you compare the two?
The close distance to the city creates an amazing crossover of culture. The abundance of talent and ambition in the city travels north and vice versa, making both places richer and more interesting.
What’s the area’s best hidden secret?
This answer changes monthly for me, as I am always discovering new gems. At the moment, I would say the historic 1869 Saugerties Lighthouse is one of the best kept secrets. By far one of my favorite places in all of Upstate New York, the stunning stone structure is now a bed and breakfast, preserved by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy, with common areas that are accessible to the public. Walk along the half mile trail surrounded by willow trees, tidal pools, and patches of wildflowers until the path opens up to present the river and the incredible lighthouse.
Best area for antique hunting?
There are so many fantastic antique stores in upstate NY. Hudson has one of the largest selections of fine antique stores like Red Chair on Warren, which sources from buying trips in France and England. I also love to visit Downtown Antiques in Accord, owned by Ron Sharkey. Ron has an impeccable eye and favors antique ticking fabric, ironstone ceramics, and rustic farm tables. If I have the time, I find that the best gems can be found on aimless drives through the country where the occasional estate sale or auction can be discovered.
Best place to enjoy a hike?
Minnewaska State Park is an exceptional spot for a hike, especially during the Fall when foliage is peaking. Walk around the lake to see some of the best views in The Hudson Valley or wander down to the water falls which tend to freeze in beautiful formations in the winter.
What and where are your top three restaurants?
There are so many fantastic restaurants that source locally in upstate, NY. My top recommendations would be Brushland Eating House in Bovina, Gaskins in Germantown, and Butterfield in the recently opened Hasbrouck House in Stone Ridge. Each one has a distinctive character and delicious food that changes seasonally.
Most underrated city?
Originally the capital of New York State, Kingston has a rich history as well as a strong community of creatives and new businesses. Whenever we travel to Kingston, we make sure to visit Brunette Wine Bar. This former barber shop turned wine bar is where you’ll find longtime upstate weekenders, Jamie and Tracy Kennard, pouring natural wine and unique bar snacks from behind their elegant marble bartop. The Rondout District, where Brunette is located, has some of our favorite shops in all of upstate. Stop into Hops Petunia for wild floral arrangements, Clove and Creek, for local goods, and Kingston Wine Co. for a fantastic selection of wine for your weekend away.
If you’re going to stay the night, we recommend Church Des Artistes, a converted church that is now a stunning Bed and Breakfast. Enter through the flower covered stone courtyard and into the inn where you will find vintage lace covered beds, stained glass windows, and the most welcoming hosts.
If you’re travelling out of the city for a weekend, which area do you recommend you go?
One of my favorite places to visit for the weekend is Delaware County in The Catskills. This region has some of the most bucolic landscapes in all of Upstate, NY, with sprawling farms and a network of special towns. After driving around the dirt roads for the best views of the mountains, head to Andes for a vintage shopping trip to Kabinett & Kammer and a glass of cider at Wayside Cider’s new taproom. Complete your evening with a meal at Brushland Eating House in Bovina. We recommend ordering the roasted carrots and one of the nightly specials. For an overnight stay, you can stay in one of the lovely apartments above Brushland or at Table on Ten in Bloomville.
Best time of year to visit?
Each season has something special to offer in Upstate, NY. Being that it’s currently Fall, I have to reccomend taking the drive up to look at the foliage. For the ultimate Fall destination, we recommend visiting Westwind Orchard in Accord. Apple orchards are enough of a draw for any fall enthusiast, but add authentic Italian wood-fired pizza, and you’ve created every epicurean’s dream. In addition to selling apples, pumpkins, and gourds, Westwind also features a well-sourced local market with artisanal pottery, seasonal produce, and the orchard’s very own raw honey, raspberry jam, and cider.