Summer Stroll: Rhinebeck, Red Hook, and Tivoli | Community Pages | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Summer Stroll: Rhinebeck, Red Hook, and Tivoli 

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Farmy, Funky, Family Oriented

"Rhinebeck gets the exposure and celebrities; we have a more college-town feel," says Kim Gomez of the Red Hook Chamber. "Laid back, a little edgy, a little funkier. It's like coming to a family party where there are a lot of deep, interesting things going on."

Ten years ago, Gomez says, Red Hook was "sweet, sleepy, conservative and agricultural. Now we're on the cusp of much more. The school district is insanely wonderful, and between that and Bard—their Spiegeltent is really the only dance club around—a lot of people with a larger vision make their homes here. It's been a long process getting the infrastructure together; we've got the sidewalks and the water now; the sewer is the last piece, which will facilitate just enough expansion. Anybody building new has to stay true to the look and feel. The 1970's parking-lot-based business model just doesn't work for us."

Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook

Family-centered, farmy, and quirky is turning out to be a winning formula of its own. Success here means having a unique creative angle as a draw, whether it's the exceptional work of Atelier Renee Fine Framing, the horse-themed fine art at Equis Art Gallery, or the individualized fitness instruction at Body Be Well Pilates. Little Pickles Children's General Store has toys, kids' clothes, and candy under one roof, and there's always something going on for tweens and teens at the BoardRoom Skateshop.

Christian Brengel at Taste Budds in Red Hook - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Christian Brengel at Taste Budds in Red Hook
West Market Street in Red Hook - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • West Market Street in Red Hook

Come hungry. "You absolutely need reservations for Mercato," says Gomez. "Flatiron Steak House, Black Star Social, Daughters Fare and Ale—we have wonderful bars, we have exquisite local food, there's a brand new tearoom in the Country Inn. This is a great town for sidewalk dining and watching the world go by." The folks at Taste Budd's Cafe keep everyone in java and fresh, healthful confections of all sorts. Gomez credits them with helping organize the Chocolate Festival each November. "Chocolate tastings in every business, live music on every corner," she says. "We have these deep, deep farmy roots, and we're a college town, and life is sweet here, Comfortable and accessible is our niche, and there's a nice sense of momentum building—a lot of really invested and creative people have been setting up shop."

Here too, collaboration is in the air. You're invited to come to Red Hook anytime, but consider coming on a first Friday for Friday Night Lights, when all downtown will stay lit into the evening. "We'll be having lots of laid-back, fun little events," says Gomez. "Very family, very centered, very real—very Red Hook."

Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook

Farthest north of all, tucked away in a universe of its own, is Tivoli. Back in 2009, when Andrea and Michael Rhodes first moved in after decades of Manhattan, it was already a seductive little place; it became more so after the couple opened their cutting-edge, soulful Carpenter Shop Theater smack in the middle of the tiny village.

Now "every store front's open, every light's on," says Rhodes. "There was a dormant business association. We thought maybe Tivoli's businesses could help each other, so we revived it as the Tivoli Merchants + Artists' Association. We've been getting together once a month, and once we got the website and Facebook up and running, there's been a very real surge. I mean, we have the Tivoli Artists Gallery next door, Kaatsbaan right up the road, lots of artists working in their individual studios. The new mayor is a born and raised Tivolian, a Bard grad and an artist himself; he's all in." (The mayor, Joel Griffith, is a painter whose work has appeared on the cover of Chronogram three times.)

The Corner in Tivoli - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • The Corner in Tivoli
Flamenco Vivo and Carolota Santana Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Flamenco Vivo and Carolota Santana Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli

Co-leading the TM+A with Rhodes is the co-owner of Murray's, Jesse Feldmus. "[Murray's] was a little coffee shop and it's not little anymore; they renovated a church and made an event space in the sanctuary and it's a whole new destination spot," says Rhodes. John Schmitz, co-owner of Fabulous Yarn, is also part of the leadership team of the revitalized business group.

Amanda Traudt at Tivoli Libary - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Amanda Traudt at Tivoli Libary

World-class arts beget world class eats. "Murray's, the Corner, the Pub, Panzur, Rojo Tapas and Wine—You can eat out very happily here and never get bored, because the creativity is extreme," says Rhodes. "We were used to having Manhattan at our feet, mind you; we're social. We go out a lot, and it's usually right here; you can have a world class night on the town and never need to get in your car. Five o'clock hits and the town fills with visitors and people come out to play. Daytime, you have the bays and the river, hiking, biking, wineries, breweries nearby. the restaurants are starting to serve brunch, and we now have a great little general store with all the necessaries and a great beer selection. We even have a liquor store for the first time in forever! [Tivoli Wine and Spirits was opened in late May by longtime Tivoli resident Bob Zises.] More and more, it feels like there's just no reason to leave Tivoli."

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