7 hidden gems to visit in the Northeast this spring

February 17, 2016

Featured image is of Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine – credit to Jeff Gunn

Spring is near, ushering in new beginnings and resuscitation of the natural world. We begin to pack our bags with great expectations. Much like the natural world, we awaken and ready to experience new things. If you’re in the Northeast, the snow begins to thaw and the spring’s glow beckons. And if you’re not in the region, now might be a good time to start thinking about coming here. I’ve compiled a short list of great, lesser known gems and one that you should know about for you to fancy. Have a look.

Credit to David Brooks

Pier in Beacon, New York – credit to David Brooks

1. Beacon, New York

An hour’s drive north of New York City, Beacon plays host to many events, like the Second Saturday Night Out, which is where shops, galleries and restaurants stay open late and special attractions are set up. But no matter when they visit, travelers can look through some interesting antiques, grab a bite to eat or listen closely to live music. On Sundays you have the Beacon Farmers Market where you can pick up good quality, local produce and support the community there. A walk through the riverside lets you take in from the beautiful scenery – pay attention to the historical sites there. For example, the mysterious ruins of Bannerman’s Castle, just round the Hudson River – it once housed ammunition and military surplus (visitors can still spot the holes where cannons were placed throughout the towers).

Credit to Russ Nelson

Rondout Creek, Rosendale – credit to Russ Nelson

2. Rosendale, New York

Less than a couple of hours from New York City, Hartford and Albany, Rosendale is an idyllic small-town getaway for people of all ages. With comfy and unpretentious cafés, taverns and boutiques and the looming Catskill Mountains and Rondout Creek winding about the background, civilization and nature work in perfect harmony. Most of these buildings were constructed at the beginning of the 1900s after a major fire in 1895 destroyed half the town. Since the Woodstock music festival days, an increasing number of artists and entrepreneurs are moving from New York to Rosendale, establishing a thriving arts culture and online business community – it will be the only place to catch a form of art performance in the abandoned limestone mine. The town also hosts frequent town-wide street festivals, mixing historic attractions with new community-minded businesses.

Credit to Brian Holland

Hammondsport, New York – credit to Brian Holland

3. Hammondsport, New York

Hammondsport, N.Y., stands out as the recycling capital of America – not garbage recycling (though they do that, too). We’re talking about the vintage seaplanes restored and flown with the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum. This town knows how to repurpose: the birdhouses made out of scrap wood before the Aroma Coffee Art Gallery; the cypress panelling (repurposed from old wine barrels) in the Bully Hill Vineyard’s lower diner. It’s not just about loving history. You get the sense of who the individuals here are.

The city is full of history. For example, the Pleasant Valley Wine Company was the first inside the Finger Lakes region. Another winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera’s Wine Cellars innovatively planted European grapes in the colder New York climate. Today, both those wineries—and several more—are mainstays of the landscape. Dr. Frank’s winery, for example, sits through an impossibly green chunk of property overlooking its vineyards and sparkling, Y-shaped Keuka Lake. After all these years, tastings at Dr. Frank’s are still free. In fact, many of the best things in Hammondsport are: sunbathing on condo-less Keuka Lake, kicking back around the town square for outdoor summer concerts on Thursday nights, and jam sessions in the basement of the Union Block Italian Bistro which also provides delicious meals like the linguini and clam sauce. For a place to stay, the spiral staircase, crown mouldings, and pieces of vintage wallpaper in the octagonal 1859 home converted into the Black Sheep Inn will ensnare visitors with intrigue and history.

Credit to Stanley

Ohiopyle State Park – credit to Stanley

4. Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania

The South western Pennsylvania’s Ohiopyle State Park is the place to visit if you’re looking for all-inclusive activities. Looking for waterfalls? It has four! Trails? Hikers get 79 miles of them—plus 27 miles for cyclists, 11 for all those on horseback, and nearly 40 more for cross-country skiers. And why not add in a natural water slide or two? The lifeblood through the 20,000-acre park, however, is the Youghiogheny River Gorge—a.k.a. the Yough. The Middle Yough, which flows to Ohiopyle from Confluence, Pa., is the gentler section, with Class I and II rapids for rafters and kayakers; the Lower Yough, downstream, gets more aggressive as Class IV white-water runs tempt adrenaline seekers. It’s no wonder that the park attracts over a million visitors each year.

The quietest campsites in Ohiopyle’s Kentuck campground include the walk-in sites; however, many people have found the camp’s firm 9 p.m. quiet hours too restrictive. If your crew is likely to get livelier deeper into the night, look at a vacation rental in Hidden Valley, Pa., or Seven Springs, Pa. – both are under 30 miles on the northeast. These two ski towns have a solid selection of rental condos and homes that might be deeply discounted in the off-season.

Fort Preble, Maine - credit to Yzukerman

Fort Preble, Maine – credit to Yzukerman

5. Southern Maine

Southern Maine is the perfect spring holiday spot: have beautiful, peaceful, and well-maintained beaches with numerous coastal towns brimming with shops and restaurants. And while there, why not indulge in fresh lobster? Getting hungry yet? To get away from the popular and touristy areas, head over to Portland or Kennebunkport.

6. Philadelphia

With New York on the north and D.C. to the south, springtime vacationers often overlook Philly. The city is brimming with history, including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, as well as First Bank of the U.S. While there, try cheesesteaks at both Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks and pit these rivals against each other – let your taste buds do the judging.

Lion's Head Rock - credit to takomabibelot

Lion’s Head Rock – credit to takomabibelot

7. Falmouth, Massachusetts

It’s a quaint New England town with beautiful beaches and harbors, especially at sunset. It’s quiet, but there’s a lot to do here: surfing, kite-surfing, sailing, swimming, and paddle-boarding throughout the great beaches – spring might be a little too cold but you can start a polar club and get in the water anyway! Here, you’ll discover many historical landmarks such as the old house of Katharine Lee Bates, author of “America the Beautiful.” There’s also a wonderful bike path named after her here. Can you find it? The world’s first aquarium, in Woods Hole, is also be nearby. And if you wanted to get some shopping done, downtown Falmouth will surprise you with its many cute shops.

Where are you heading to this Spring? Wherever that might be, travel on my friends!

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  • Reply KittyVogue February 17, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I’d love to see more of the historic landmarks and sites.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 18, 2016 at 8:55 am

      There’s plenty of it in the Northeast.

  • Reply wrights February 18, 2016 at 5:27 am

    Wow, these insights are cool,the Ohio park is just crazy, trust me, I have been there. Its a generous combination of travel fun

    • Reply Hung Thai February 18, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Absolutely right. The natural landscapes in the Northeast is just amazing!

  • Reply Adam February 18, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Stop the bus. I’m booking my flight to New York right now!

    • Reply Tiffany February 18, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Take me with you!

      • Reply Hung Thai February 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

        And me!

  • Reply Christopher Uyeda February 18, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    I need to make it out here sometime!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 18, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Just do it.

  • Reply sneakycolumn February 19, 2016 at 4:05 am

    cool places to visit

    • Reply Hung Thai February 19, 2016 at 8:51 am

      You’re not going to see me arguing there 🙂

  • Reply Arlene February 19, 2016 at 6:32 am

    This is so timely, i was just thingking of New York. Thanks for posting this.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 19, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Thanks Arlene 🙂 – I’ve been watching airfare for New York and the Northeast area since January, waiting for the right time to pounce…

  • Reply Tara
    February 19, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Both Beacon and Rosendale are old haunts of mine. There’s something magical about the Hudson River and the surrounding. Minnewaska State Park is one of our favorite places to hike. We lived in Saugerties,NY for many years, but we’re in VT now so we don’t get down there very often.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 19, 2016 at 8:55 am

      That’s awesome Tara! I’m still trying to discover the Northeast. In terms of the natural landscapes, it’s similar to the Pacific Northwest in that there’s plenty of it. I haven’t been to Minnewaska State Park but the pictures I googled looked awesome! Thanks for the note.

  • Reply Sally
    February 19, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    A whole heap of destinations around New York that I didn’t even know existed, great inspiration.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 19, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks 🙂 – sometimes we get so caught up and travel so far only to miss all the things around us that we haven’t explored.

  • Reply Rachel Heller
    February 20, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I grew up in Connecticut, yet the only one of these spots in the northeast that I’ve been to is Philadelphia!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 21, 2016 at 1:11 am

      Sometimes we look to travel far and miss the things right in front of us – I’m guilty of that…

  • Reply Silke
    February 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Yep, I realise now that I really need to visit mainland USA one day. What a beautiful country, and in particular in the northeast is so interesting to me because of its history. New York to Philly and everything in between – it’s on the list!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 21, 2016 at 1:12 am

      Awesome! I still need to explore more of the Northeast as well.. it’s so close yet so far.

  • Reply Michelle
    February 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Beautiful pictures! We RV full-time and we are thinking about changing up our plans and visiting the Northeast instead, so this post came at the perfect time today 🙂
    Michelle recently posted this awesome article… January Online Income Report – $44,782My Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai February 21, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Most excellent. One of these days I’ll have the audacity to rent an RV and tour the US too 🙂 – no such audacity just yet haha

  • Reply Mark Twin
    February 22, 2016 at 1:21 am

    Wow very interesting place. I visited Hammondsport, New York last time

    • Reply Hung Thai February 22, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Thanks for dropping by Mark, it’s great that you have been to Hammondsport – it’s a small town with great atmosphere.

  • Reply Frank February 22, 2016 at 5:23 am

    Good post, many of these places I’ve never heard of. One of the places in Southern (or mid) Maine is Acadia National Park. Went there with my son many years ago and it’s a good place to go with a teenager because right outside the park (and its beautiful) is the town of Bar Harbour which has lots of restaurants, mini putt places, etc…nice area.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Reply Hung Thai February 22, 2016 at 7:23 am

      I’ve heard so much about Acadia National Park. Must be awesome. I’ll have to make it a point to visit that place one of these days. Thanks Frank!

  • Reply Jim
    March 3, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Great write up! There are some awesome places on the list for sure! Ohiopyle State Park in PA is a personal favorite, I’ve been into whitewater for years now and I’ve heard a lot of great things about this place for sure.
    I’ll second the vote for Acadia, that place is outrageous. It’s the first place the sun hits the U.S.

    Jim recently posted this awesome article… Best PFD for Paddle BoardingMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 3, 2016 at 9:23 am

      That’s awesome! Thanks for reconfirming the greatness of these places. There’s just too much to see and do on the East coast 🙂

  • Reply melody March 3, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Aahhhh, this post makes me wanna go there now! As in now! Haha

    • Reply Hung Thai March 3, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      1, 2, 3, GO!

  • Reply Bill March 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Nice tribute to Hammondsport. The whole Finger Lakes region is great, from Corning to Ithaca and Watkins Glen to Pleasant Valley. Guided tours are a good way to go if planning a trip to several wineries in one day, and boat tours to several of the area’s top wineries are a nice way to take in the lakes and the flavors of the region.

    • Reply Hung Thai March 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Excellent advice Bill. I hadn’t thought about the wineries before – didn’t think there are a big winery scene over there but will definitely consider that.

  • Reply Becky Padmore
    March 17, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Great choices I’ve always wanted to go to Maine!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 17, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      And Maine wants you to come Becky 🙂

  • Reply Kristy April 27, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    I love this list! I want to explore all the awesome places you listed above as in right now but I can’t. Huhu. Anyhow, I will add this to my travel bucket list of must go places.

    • Reply Hung Thai April 28, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Awesome! They are all great! Actually, the whole region is great 🙂

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