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Rhinebeck: Mighty All Righty 

Rhinebeck epitomizes a blend of comfort and class. It’s unsurprising that this corner of Dutchess County was chosen for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, probably as a place where everyone would feel at home and have a lovely time. That same warm, well-bred welcome tinged with hip is available even to those who don’t arrive by limo, year round: The Rhinebeck vibes are what attracted the bold-face names, and not the other way around.

The Greatest Show Off Earth

The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome has one of the world’s finest collections of flying pioneer, WWI, and Lindbergh era airplanes. Started by pilot, showman, and dreamer Cole Palen over a half century ago, it’s a unique airfield out in a cow pasture setting that’s a step-back in time where daredevil air shows, thrilling open-cockpit biplane rides, special events, and a modest but amazing little aviation museum can be enjoyed from mid-June to mid-October.

Classy & Sassy

The walkable and bustling center of town is a shopping destination unlike any other in the Hudson Valley, busy and friendly and genteel. A dozen different independent retailers, for example, offer clothing—from the lush boutique ambiance of places like Winter Sun Summer Moon and Workers and Dreamers to the comfortably updated old-school feel of the Rhinebeck Department Store. Along with its classics, Rhinebeck supports the independent Northern Dutchess Pharmacy, and Williams Lumber maintains a hardware store, big-box competition be damned. And there’s always room for newborn flights of fancy like Bumble and Hive, the nifty little “emporium for the soul” offering home goods and jewelry in a cunning courtyard setting.

But Rhinebeck doesn’t just have a downtown shopping district, it has Montgomery Row, a premiere commercial destination offering health services, shopping galore, and Gigi Trattoria, a four-star Mediterranean restaurant. The 2003 expansion that added another 27,000 square feet of shopping and dining was named “Best New Development in Dutchess County” by the Dutchess County Planning Federation.

Rhinebeck is a wonderful place to eat out. Classic steakhouse dining adventures such as the Beekman Tavern and the Belvedere Mansion coexist happily with the nouveau-traditional vibe of Terrapin, the organic treats of Bread Alone, the Garden Street Café, and a good selection of Asian cuisine. You’ll find good, reasonable Thai food at Aroi Thai, Japanese at Osaka and Edo Sushi, and Chinese at the Mill House Panda and at China Rose in Rhinecliff. Italian and French are also easy to find.

Not all small towns as rich in tradition as Rhinebeck are also blessed with funk; some places seem to think the two are mutually exclusive. Not Rhinebeck, where funk is its own tradition: The nonprofit Upstate Films has been doing its avant-garde cinema thing for 30 years, the family-run Oblong Books and Music has a booming schedule of author events, and a diverse and community-minded radio station, WKZE, knits the community together and joins it with the wider world with efforts ranging from the musical to the educational and civic-minded.

Rhinebeck’s like that, a thoroughbred of a town with trophy cases full of accolades and blue ribbons and a pedigree long as your arm—spirited, but friendly and well-mannered enough to take your five-year-old on a pony ride. There’s a gentility here that you can feel, an urbanity that transcends classification, in which posthippie granola babes and Daughters of the American Revolution work side by side on civic issues and rub elbows at the farmers’ market on Sunday afternoons.

Life Lines

Doing things right is just the Rhinebeck way.

Take higher education. Two complementary and world-class institutions call the immediate area home: Bard College, whose awe-inspiring Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Performing Arts Center is an international showplace and just one of the many benefits to locals. Nearby Omega Institute for Holistic Studies has been bringing in educators in every imaginable healing and wisdom tradition since 1977. Omega Center for Sustainable Living is the first green building in America to achieve both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certifications.

Health care is another realm in which Rhinebeck excels. The Rhinebeck Health Center offers a range of alternative treatment for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and thyroid conditions. Northern Dutchess Hospital, with just 68 beds, maintains a wide range of specialties and community wellness programs; its maternity and orthopedic centers are consistently given five-star ratings by the independent rating association HealthGrades. And while parents-to-be are availing themselves of the birth center that’s been winning raves for decades, they can stop by for classes, services, or goodies from Rhinebeck’s maternity boutique, Waddle n Swaddle. That’s Rhinebeck. Classy? Always. Pretentious? Not.

Near & Dear

Rhinebeck is home to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, which this month welcomes the Hudson Valley’s largest and liveliest county fair featuring national acts—this year’s features, among others, Travis Tritt and Chubby Checker—a giant midway, and plenty of down-home agricultural displays. In between county fairs, the Fairgrounds provides a venue for giant flea markets, car show swap meets, antique extravaganzas, juried crafts shows, and a growing favorite, the Sheep and Wool Festival in October.

Nearby, the villages of Red Hook and Tivoli beckon with handfuls of great places to grab a bite. There are the Historic Village Diner and Me Oh My Pie Shop, Taste Budd’s Chocolate & Café and Rusty’s Farm Fresh, to name but a few in Red Hook. Tivoli and Rhinebeck both have their own Osaka Japanese Restaurant. Santa Fe Restaurant in Tivoli and Max’s Memphis BBQ in Red Hook are kindred eateries, brought to town by the same owners. Local chefs emphasize creativity with fresh local ingredients, from farm-to-table. If you’ve got culinary aspirations of your own, hit Red Hook’s farms for ingredients, then head back into Rhinebeck for a stop at Bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy or Warren’s Kitchen and Cutlery to be certain you’ve got the right tools for the job.

This town wasn’t born yesterday. With a recorded history dating back to the Hudson Valley’s earliest settlement and more than 400 historic sites on the National Historic Register, Rhinebeck expertly showcases treasures like Wilderstein­—an exquisite Queen Anne mansion landscaped by the renowned Calvert Vaux, with interiors virtually untouched since 1888 and an outdoor sculpture garden. Red Hook and nearby Tivoli are also rich in well-preserved history, oozing with charm, and extremely walkable, great destinations for an afternoon wander.

Mooseheads & Memories

Long before the migratory tsunami of Manhattan artists, entrepreneurs and intelligentsia struck most Mid-Hudson burgs, Rhinebeck was winning over weekenders. “The camaraderie made us feel right at home,” says Barbara Schreiber, owner of the Rhinebeck Department Store, who moved here fulltime from New York City in 1987. Mounted above the Department Store’s three-way mirror, a mammoth moosehead named Roosevelt surveys the sales floor with its tidy, lush displays of clothing and accessories from names like Pendleton, Woolrich, Fresh Produce Clothing, and April Cornell. Roosevelt needed a home when a friend was downsizing, and Barbara happily took him in, another contented newcomer ending his wanderings in Rhinebeck, where even quirkiness has a whiff of presidential style.

“It’s the way it all comes together,” says Maggie Salamone. A resident since 1987, Salamone jumped into the gap when Rhinebeck’s local weekly paper folded and began a blog on Wordpress, the Rhinebeck Community Forum, devoted to the doings of “the finest village/town in the Hudson Valley.” “I mean, we all know about the great architecture, the history, the shopping, the food. But, it’s the class, diversity, and community spirit that make this town more than the sum of its parts. Omega brings mindfulness, Bard brings great concerts—what more could a human being need?”

Kayaks and sailboats share the harbor with motor launches, a tour boat and a passing tanker. On the shore, the whistle of the incoming train briefly overshadows the infectious dance beat wafting from the Rhinecliff Hotel’s vibrant inn. Friends sit in small groups, laughing and talking; families of all sorts make their way to the water’s edge to watch a young fisherman reel in his catch while a Labrador high-dives exuberantly after a Frisbee. It’s a summer evening on Rhinebeck’s waterfront, and all’s well with the world.

Abundance and Company
(845) 758-5855
(845) 876-7774
Art Studio Views
(845) 758-0335   
Body Central   
Bumble and Hive
(845) 876-2625   
DC Studios   
Deer Defeat  
Garden Gate Landscape Design   
The Healthy Place
(845) 758-3600   
High Ridge Traditional
Hudson Valley Clean Energy, Inc.
Hudson Valley Finds
(845) 876-3020   
Iconic Hair, Inc.
Jane Cottrell   
John L Zboinski DPM
(845) 876-8637   
JS Woodcraft
(518) 756-3270   
JSA Financial Group   
Kary Broffman
(845) 876-6753   
Law Offices of Michel Haggerty
(845) 876-3300   
Mac’s Agway
(845) 876-1559   
Max’s Memphis
Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.   
Northern Dutchess Botanical
Northern Dutchess Hardwoods
Northern Dutchess Hospital
Oblong Books 
Omega Institute 
Osaka Restaurant
(845) 876-7338
PKBrown Woodworking   
Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce
(845) 876-5904   
Rhinebeck Eye Care
Ruge’s Subaru
Rusty’s Farm Fresh
Santa Fe Restaurant   
Tangent Theater Company
Tarot on the Hudson
Third Eye Associates Ltd. 
Upstate Films
Warren Kitchen
Williams Lumber
click to enlarge The Beekman Arms. - DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
  • The Beekman Arms.
click to enlarge The Old Rhinebeck Aerodome. - DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
  • The Old Rhinebeck Aerodome.
click to enlarge Fisher Performing Arts Center, Bard College. - DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
  • Fisher Performing Arts Center, Bard College.
click to enlarge Tom Cook at Max’s Memphis BBQ. - DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
  • Tom Cook at Max’s Memphis BBQ.
click to enlarge Con-Tack in Tivoli. - DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
  • Con-Tack in Tivoli.
click to enlarge Rhinebeck Department Store’s Roosevelt the Moose. - DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
  • Rhinebeck Department Store’s Roosevelt the Moose.
click to enlarge DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
click to enlarge DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham
click to enlarge DAVID CUNNINGHAM
  • David Cunningham

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