Continuing north along Route 9, you’ll come to the picturesque village of Rhinebeck, the shady streets of which are lined with restored Victorian buildings. Rhinebeck was first settled in 1686 by Dutch immigrants and has been home to five illustrious Hudson Valley families—the Beekmans, Livingstons, Astors, Montgomerys, and Schuylers.
In the center of town is the Beekman Arms (6387 Mill St., 845/876-7077). Built in 1766, it’s said to be the oldest inn in continuous operation in America. Everyone from George Washington and Aaron Burr to William Jennings Bryan and FDR once ate or slept at the Beekman. Even if you’re not planning to do so yourself, the place is worth a look-see. Inside are low ceilings, heavy beams, wide floorboards, walk-in fireplaces, and benches dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Next door to the Beekman Arms is a tiny U.S. post office a WPA project built in 1939 as a replica of the first home built in Rhinebeck. Inside are artifacts from the original building along with murals depicting the town’s history.
Across the street from the post office stands the Dutch Reformed Church (6368 Mill St., 845/876-3727, office open 9 a.m.–2 p.m. daily), designed by Robert Upjohn in 1808. Next to the church is a picturesque graveyard with tombstones that date back to the 1700s.
Rhinebeck today is known for its antique stores, restaurants, and galleries, many of which are located along Route 9 or Market Street. One popular site is the Beekman Arms Antique Market (Beekman Square at the Beekman Arms, 845/876-3477), which houses 30 vendors.
Tucked in between the newer stores are two creaky village institutions: the Rhinebeck Department Store (1 E. Market St., 845/876-5500) and A.L. Stickles Five and Dime (13 E. Market St., 845/876-3206). Both are veritable time capsules from the 1940s. Oblong Books and Music (Montgomery Row, 845/876-0500) is a great indie bookshop. Stop by to catch an author reading or grab some tunes for the road.
The open air Rhinebeck Farmers' Market (Rte 9 & Market St., rhinebeckfarmersmarket.com, Sundays, May 10–Nov.22, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., free admission) serves as meeting spot for local farmers, crafters and the community which is comprised of a pleasant mix of city weekenders and village residents. Live music, vendors offering raw honey and bees products, local wines, sheep and goat cheese, cut flowers, free range farm-raised pheasant, venison and lamb and organic potted herbs and greenery, make for a nice intro to a walk around the village.
The Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce operates a Visitor Information Booth (Mill St., 845/876-4778, www.rhinebeckchamber.com, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. some Sun.) diagonally across from the Beekman Arms. The chamber also runs a lodging hotline (845/876-8626).
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition