The Catskills over the Hudson River © Daniel Case
Just north of New York City, the Hudson Valley is
surprisingly rural and littered with charming towns, picturesque
farms, and old mansions. Many New Yorkers head this way at the
weekend, attracted by the slower pace of life and scenic
Albany, the region's capital, was founded by Dutch
fur trappers in the 17th century and made its money by controlling
trade along the Erie Canal. There is not a great deal to do or see
in Albany when it comes to traditional cultural sightseeing, but
sights include the New York State Museum and the Albany Institute
of History and Art.
The beautiful Catskills Mountains, northwest of New
York City, has long been a popular vacation spot and the choice of
many a wealthy New Yorker for their summer home. The region is
dotted with picturesque towns, reservoirs, forests, parks, historic
buildings, and plenty of resorts.
Nicknamed the Borscht Belt, from the 1940s to the
1960s, the Catskills was highly popular with Jewish New Yorkers in
particular, and some of the finest Jewish comedians sprang from the
area, including Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and Joan Rivers.
The region is also famous for hosting one of the
world's best-known entertainment events, the 1969 Woodstock
Festival. Over 500,000 free spirits gathered on Max Yasgur's dairy
farm in Bethel to see some of the finest musicians of the era.
Today, the site is open to the public as is a museum
that houses archives and interesting information from the event.
The Catskills also offer plenty of exciting outdoor activities,
including hunting, fly-fishing, skiing, canoeing, hiking, camping,
and even golf.