One day excursions from New York: a short and unusual itinerary throughout the Hudson Valley.
Discovering The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – from the novel’s set by Washington Irving as far as those ones of the movie by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp – and Edward Hopper’s places in Nyack, a nice small town on the Hudson River where he was born and where today he rests.
The Hudson Valley extends for about 250km from the north of Manhattan – from the amazing area of Spuyten Duyvil exactly – as far as Albany, through a good part of New York State, skirting Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east.
A wonderful and picturesque valley which gives its best during Fall and leans choreographically over dozens and dozens of km on the banks on the Hudson River.
Land rich in history, culture and landscape beauties out of the ordinary – primary source of inspiration for the artists of color that then have contributed to give life to the Hudson River School of Painters – besides a wide gastronomic offer enriched with a series of local farmer markets always very crowded and famous wine areas.
A small, bucolic Paradise to explore, starting from one until three travelling hours’ maximum – it depends on the time in one’s hands and on the stages selected according to the distance – from New York.
You can choose to rent a car from New York and follow a path of a couple of days.
Find here a rich and detailed tour including also Woodstock and Bethel, the locations of the great concert which took place in 1969.
Or you can opt for using the railway line Hudson Line-Metro North leaving from Grand Central Terminal, in order to have a one-day excursion between Tarrytown and Nyack: from Washington Irving and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s locations as far as those ones related to the birth and the artistic development of one among the greatest portraitist of the America realism – Edward Hopper.
Find down here the detailed itinerary by train (it can be done also by car, if you like) from New York.
From Grand Central Terminal the Hudson Line – $22 return ticket – guarantees departures towards the area of Tarrytown every 25/40 minutes all day. However, reckon to move out Off-Peak, it means before or after the rush hours, increased by the commuters of the Hudson Valley working in New York. The ideal it would be to leave after 9am and coming back after 5pm.
Then to move between Sleepy Hollow and Nyack you can easily use the convenient and punctual bus of the Hudson Link ensuring – $2,50 one-way ticket – the links between the two shores of the river every 25 minutes.
Get off at the Philipse Manor stop – an old picturesque railway station marking the beginning of the ancient land of the Dutch colons Philipse family, settled here at the end of 1600. Today the big stone building hosts the Hudson Valley Writers Center, an innovative center dedicated to the promotion of the up-and-coming writers and to the re-reading of those ones of the past – through events and seminars opened to everyone.
Keep going on foot along Highland Ave, admiring the wonderful historic dwellings on the sides of the road – the most part is owned by descendants of the Dutch colons – and reach the entrance of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
The place where the writer Washington Irving set in 1820 – according to an old local legend related to the story of the creepy Headless Horseman – his most famous tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. It got even more fame in modern times thanks to the movie by Tim Burton released in 1999, with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci – Sleepy Hollow.
Take time to walk through this place out of time: you’ll get the impression to be really in the gothic settings of the novel and the movie. And to find also Washington’s Irving grave – at the feet of the tree on the top of the hill (in the novel the place of the Headless Horseman’s burial), downgrading progressively towards the Old Dutch Reformed Church, the old church of the Dutch community.
Contacting in advance the Sleepy Hollow official website it is possible to take part into guided tours by day looking for the famous characters buried here (Andrew Carnegie, William Rockefeller, et cetera) and/or by night, chasing the legend of the Headless Horseman – the latter are highly requested above all at Halloween.
Keep going towards downtown Sleepy Hollow, going through some of the key places of the novel, like The Headless Horseman Bridge and The Sculpture of Headless Horseman – respectively the bridge and the sculpture dedicated to the character of the Headless Horseman, so deeply rooted into the local culture that today it is use as distinctive logo of the Sleepy Hollow municipality.
Before going to the Old Village in Tarrytown stop and visit the Philipsburg Manor House, a stone building and an old mill on the Pocantico River with landscape views of rare beauty. In Summer in this property cultural tours dedicated to the history of the Dutch settlement in 1600 are scheduled. Tim Burton himself took part into these tours before writing the script of the movie.
Coming back towards the Tarrytown Train Station though the Scenic Hudson Riverwalk, give yourselves a detour northward along the river as far as the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, a suggestive “candle shape” lighthouse dating back to 1880 on the Hudson River.
From the railway station in Tarrytown, every 25 minutes the H07 leaves: it is a bus of the Hudson Link Line that through the modern Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge reaches the other banks of the Hudson River in about 15 minutes. You can pay the ticket on board – $2,55. Get off in Downtown Nyack: the stop is near the picturesque Main Street.
Going through Midland and Sickles Ave reach on foot the Oak Hill Cemetery.
Ask the keeper at the small Visitor Center at the entrance for the map to reach Edward Hopper’s grave on the top of the hill – a small tombstone with a paintbrush leaning on the top. From here you can enjoy an amazing view of Nyack: it is said Hopper personally chose the place of his burial right for the view of his hometown and the Hudson River. Places that have contributed quite a bit to the formation of his artistic inspiration.
Going downhill through the 5th Ave you’ll see countless historic dwellings which will recall you Hopper’s paintings – actually walking through Nyack is like find oneself inside a boundless artwork of his – and you’ll realize where his passion for the portraiture of the American province was born from.
Here everything – literally – tells about him, his paintings, his illustrations.
Lastly, reach the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center at 82, N Broadway: it is the house where he was born on July 22nd 1882, built by his grandfather in 1858 (his family with Dutch origins is one among the most ancient ones settled here – the first sources about it date back to 1652), where he spent a good part of his childhood and teenage hood. And where he found out the passion for painting – stimulated and supported by his parents.
After graduation, he moved to New York to follow the courses of the New York School of Art. He often kept returning to Nyack over his long life.
In the ‘70s the dwelling was saved from demolition thanks to the intervention of an association created by Nyack inhabitants – the Edward Hopper Landmark Preservation Foundation. Today it includes a small museum dedicated to Hopper and its historic-cultural legacy and a study center where exhibitions to promote young up-and-coming artists are organized.
The association organizes guided walking tours discovering Hopper’s places in Nyack.
Before taking again the bus to reach the Tarrytown Train station and so coming back to New York, give yourselves some time to explore the nice antiques and vintage stores between N Broadway and Main Street.
For lunch – if you have more time in your hands – you can stop at Broadway Bistrò, classic American cuisine, average prices. For a simpler, delicious, quick and cheap lunch you can reckon Casa del Sol – good Mexican cuisine – or my favorite one, Deli Avista: it’s a market/diner run by a welcoming immigrant family from El Salvador preparing wonderful seafood soups and salads.
For a good coffee, cupcake, muffin and several typologies of American pie, I recommend Boxer Donout and Expresso Bar or Runcible Spoon Bakery.