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Driving into a snowy upstate New York

Drive north along the Hudson from New York City, and you'll eventually end upp at Cold Spring by the shores of the river. What better place to experience the serenity that only a good old snowy winter can bring, reports Erik Bergin.

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The woman who runs this tiny and cozy bed & breakfast with the unlikely name Pig Hill Inn is from Czechoslovakia. She says she rarely goes back there, to the Czech Republic, or if it is Slovakia these days.

Ether way, she rather stays right where she is.

And why not – after all, she resides in Cold Spring, the small town on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York that was seemingly left behind in time as the rest of America moved on into the future.

“If we get more snow tonight you’ll have to move your car,” she says and looks out through the door. “But I don’t think there will be any. And, by the way, there’s more apple pie in the kitchen. Have some.”


New York City sometimes gets the better of you, and we’ve left the bustling city for a weekend up north, in upstate New York, driving along the Hudson and pinning down a few sights along the way. There are lots to see here, probably often overlooked by New Yorkers and tourists alike. Take Tarrytown, another small community just a few miles north of the Bronx. Tarrytown holds one of the nations most infamous prisons, the Sing Sing, beautifully situated overlooking the river. Perhaps as a message to its residents, who can watch the river and the freedom float by every day without ever touching it.

For Rangers fans, Tarrytown holds another treasure. It is here that the hockey team practice several times each week, at an anonymous arena just off the highway that crosses through the town.

Another sight is Lyndhurst, likely the ugliest castle look-alike ever constructed on American soil. The mansion, 19th century Gothic Revival building set on a 67-acre estate with self-guided audio tours available, stands just south of central Tarrytown. The place screams of desperation as it tries to melt in with its European originals, badly overshooting its target. In a way, though, it is quite a sight to behold.

The Lyndhurst Castle, Tarrytown, NY.

The Lyndhurst Castle, Tarrytown, NY.


But Tarrytown is just the beginning. Continuing north on narrow roads, we pass one small village after another. The hectic life of New York City quickly fades away. After all, this is just an hour or two away from NYC’s northern boundaries, but it is as if we somehow have been warped away to another state, to North Dakota or something.

Then it starts snowing. Big, slow flakes pave the road, and we have to slow down. As we reach our next attraction a few miles north, the West Point Military Officer Academy, we can barely see 200 yards.

West Point sits on the Hudson’s western shore, and is probably worth an hour or two of your time. You can enter the academy itself, by passing a security gate, but West Point’s museum might prove a better investment. Free of charge, the museum holds a large collection of guns and weapons of all kinds of sorts – including Hitler’s gold plated gun, Civil War era cannons, swords and bayonets and a good number of modern machine guns. The true masterpiece, sending chills down your spine, is a replica of one of the atomic bombs dropped over Japan as the World War II was coming to an end.

A replica of Fat Boy, one of the two atomic bombs that were dopped by the US Air Force over Japan.

A replica of Fat Boy, one of the two atomic bombs that were dopped by the US Air Force over Japan.


Then we arrive at our destination, Cold Spring. The Pig Hill Inn has everything that is required to spend a cozy weekend away from the city – an open fire, in a quirky old building surrounded by this lovely small-town environment that is hard to find these days. Time has not been standing still here, but it has certainly moved at a slower pace.

The next day we take a walk down to the Hudson River. The thing seems frozen solid, but then we hear a low noise, like thunder, coming from the north. A US Coast Guard ice breaker is slowly making its way through the ice, opening up a channel of open water for other sea transportation.

To get to the river shore, you’ll have to walk under or over the railway – in fact, if you prefer, it is perfectly possible to get to Cold Spring in little more than an hour from New York City by train. But then, of course, you would be missing out on the attractions along the way.

Small boats lay awaiting the summer at Cold Spring's boat club.

Small boats lay awaiting the summer at Cold Spring’s boat club.


Small boats lay on the ground, resting through the cold winter. Cold Spring must be a true summer’s paradise, boasting its splendid view of the river, probably receiving tourists from all over New York State and beyond.

But we wouldn’t know. We’re here to get away from people, not run into more. After relaxing a day in the silence of Cold Spring, a rare and well-preserved piece of a rural small-town America, we get into the car again and head up into the nearby mountains, making our way slowly back to New York City as the sun sets and our weekend draws to an end.

The Pig Hill Inn, Cold Spring, NY.

The Pig Hill Inn, Cold Spring, NY.


The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.