5 Reasons Why We Are Thankful to Live in Ulster County, NY
by Dylan Taft
on Friday, November 18th, 2016 at 11:28am.
With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s nice to think about and appreciate how lucky we are to live in such an amazing area here in Ulster County, NY. Here, residents are able to achieve the best of all worlds- we’re central enough to so many points of interest and fun things to do, we get to take advantage of the amazing mountains in our backyard, and yet are still only a short drive to the coast and to one of the biggest cities in the world. That being said, Ulster County is so amazing, there’s hardly a desire to ever leave it- the views are breathtaking, the food and drink choices are phenomenal, the entertainment and outdoor pursuits are world renowned and the culture and community ideals of these small towns and hamlets are completely unique and unlike many others. There’s something here for virtually any personality type. It’s become more and more apparent over the years that the Hudson Valley really is a place where you can be YOU. This is especially true here in Ulster County, where you can find like minded people and make friends quite easily...and talk about a place for children of all ages to experience! Many of our clients move here solely for their children’s benefit, so that they can give them experiences that you just don’t come across natively in NYC.
We here at Taft Street feel incredibly lucky to be living in such a special part of New York State. Whether we’ve been here our whole lives, or have moved here because we fell in love with the Ulster County way of life, we couldn’t be more thankful to be here now. We are also truly thankful for that fact that we are able to help people achieve the same great lifestyle that we love so much! In honor of this, and the approaching holiday, we’d like to take a look back at some of the most popular blogs from 2016 that highlight just some of the many reasons as to why we are thankful to be living in such an amazing place!
#1: Stunning Countryside & Views
If there’s one thing that no-one can deny about Ulster County, it’s that the land here is truly beautiful, no matter the season. Lush rolling fields of farmlands, dotted with historic and humble stone homes, quaint Main Streets on winding country roads, all sprawling under the shadows of the Catskill and Shawangunk Mountain ranges- what is not to love about a scene like that? Compare that image to one that you may get while looking out your window in New York City; full of concrete, glass and high-rises (unless you're lucky enough to overlook Central Park, where you'll at least get a glimpse of some greenery). Here, the peaceful, upstate country ideal that so many people covet is an everyday reality for residents, sometimes seemingly straight from the movies; a scene that New York City just simply can't compare to. Aside from just being thankful to look at all this natural eye-candy on a daily basis, here in the Hudson Valley, we are also thankful for the fact that acres and acres of the land and many waterways here are protected through private and state funded parks, some of which include the Mohonk and Minnewaska Preserve areas in New Paltz and in the areas surrounding the Ashokan Reservoir. If you add them all up, our area of the Hudson Valley is actually one of the most protected areas on our region. You'll find many protected areas within the New Paltz, Gardiner, Saugerties and Catskill Mountain regions, but also, many parks containing protected lands can be found throughout the waterfront communities bordering the Hudson River. The majestic Hudson River, one of America's greatest waters, was considered to be the gateway to interior America during the time of colonization and was once the lifeblood of the Hudson Valley, connecting it to New York City and allowing industry to make its way to our area. Today many protected waterfront parks have been built around the scenic lighthouses that dot these riverfront communities, such as the Saugerties Lighthouse and the Falling Waters Preserve. Between the sheer beauty of the natural features of our area and the peace of mind knowing that these stunning places have been dutifully protected, we couldn't be happier knowing that these amazing places should be around for generations to come.
#2: A Vast Array of Things To Do
Plenty of folks might mistakenly assume that because we live in the country, there's not much going on out here, but that is not the case here in Ulster County! Another reason why we here at Taft Street are so thankful to live in this area is because we get to experience the best of both worlds- the excitement of a calendar full of events, festivals and fun things to do and also the peace and quiet of country living when we head home at night. Some of most favorited posts from this year are the ones where we share all these awesome things to do and special events that take place throughout the year...from star-studded, world renowned festivals, like the Woodstock Film Festival, industry-leading horse races and shows (HITS on the Hudson), local annual crafts fairs, like the Woodstock-New Paltz Craft Fair and Field + Supply, and one of the greatest street festivals we’ve had the pleasure of attending (The Rosendale Street Festival), there’s usually so many awesome events going on in the Hudson Valley that it may not be possible to hit them all in one year. For any age or interest, Ulster County has it covered; from the eclectic and unique annual Garlic Festival (Saugerties) and International Pickle Festival (Rosendale) to the Bright Ideas Festival (Stone Ridge), specifically geared to children & problem solving activities, we really do mean it when we say that there is something here to peak anyone's interest. The guides below feature a range of festivals, events and things to do in our county- most of which are recurring or annual events, sure to happen again!
If you’re like us and want to get in on all the action, be sure to like our page on Facebook and bookmark our blog, so you’ll be in the know about all of the best local events. In addition to the events above, this year we also covered a bunch more, including Halloween Events & Fun Things to Do, A Fourth of July Fireworks Guide, Labor Day Event Guide and Shawangunk Wine Trail Events for 2016- all of which can be found on the blog!
#3: Great Food & Drink- Whether You’re Dining Out or Eating In
Parts of Ulster County are located only a measly 15 minute drive across the Hudson River from the Culinary Institute of America- the most prestigious culinary school in the world! Again, in the presence of some of the best chefs in the entire world, how could Ulster County come up short in the food department? Famous chef alumni include John Besh, Todd English, Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Michael Symon, Marcus Samuelsson and basically anybody who’s anybody on the Food Network or in the food world. So with all of this culinary genius in our backyards, it’s safe to say that Ulster County would have some pretty great places to eat and drink- and that we do! We’ve highlighted plenty of places that will satisfy your culinary cravings in Uptown Kingston in our restaurant guide, linked below, and we’ve also reviewed some pretty cool up-and-coming restaurants, like Underground Coffee & Ales in Highland and under-the-radar favorites, like The Last Bite in High Falls. We could sit here and talk about great local restaurants all day, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog! (In the meantime, if you want a rundown of some of Ulster County’s best eateries, check out this directory put together by Hudson Valley Magazine!)
So, great places to eat and drink… check! But to have a top restaurant, one must have a top chef, and the best produce and ingredients, which once again, Ulster County exceeds expectations on! Ulster County is a farm hub, providing the county with some of the greatest produce, organic options, meats and more, making for great restaurant dishes, as well as great homemade favorites. Here, the greatest of food products are farmed just down the road, where you can pick them fresh yourself, grab them at a local farmers market or by participating in one of the many local farms' CSA programs. You'll be hard pressed to find an Ulster County town that doesn't have a number of quality farms and farm stands, but among some of the most beloved are Kelder's Farm in Kerhonkson and Saunderskill Farms in Accord (the rest can all be found in our Farm Fresh Ulster County Guide, linked below!). We're so thankful to be spoiled with such great produce in Ulster County- whether a chef is preparing it for us, or whether we are picking it straight from the tree to eat- here we simply have some of the best of the best to choose from.
#4: World Class Outdoor Activities to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
We're a nation of busy people, and unless you are one of the few who really enjoys spending time inside a sweatbox full of weight machines, it can sometimes be hard to find the motivation to make the trip to the gym before or after work, when you'd rather be out enjoying your down time. Once again, thank you Ulster County, for giving us the opportunity to keep up with a healthy, active lifestyle, without ever having to step foot inside an overcrowded gym! Many Ulster County residents share a passion for nature and the outdoors and to their delight, get to live a lifestyle where the outdoors plays a major role in allowing them to stay happy and healthy. An obvious choice for mountain climbers, New Paltz has some of the world’s best climbing at The Gunks- where people literally trek from across the globe to scale the white stone faced cliffs. Hiking in our area is just as popular of a sport, with great hiking destinations a bit further north into the Catskills that provide miles of steep terrain, sure to get your heart racing, in the best possible way. The Walkway Over the Hudson, located in Highland, and the Hudson Valley and Wallkill Valley Rail Trail systems are also great places to get out and get active, for any age and at any physical condition- bike, snowshoe, rollerblade or take the pooch for a walk! In the summertime, people love to get out and take a swim in many of the local watering holes throughout the county or drop a kayak into the river and paddle off into the sunset. And finally, where there are mountains, there is sure to be skiing and snowboarding in the winter! Woodstock makes a great home base for locals who love to get their exercise in on the slopes, where you are nearest to multiple area ski centers. Between the many great natural features that allow residents here to participate in an active, healthy lifestyle, and all of the great, organic food products that can be picked up at a farm stand en-route, Ulster County makes it fairly easy to live by a natural, healthy, outdoor lifestyle.
I mean, really… where else can you go where you are a short drive or bus or train trip away from one of the biggest powerhouse cities in the entire world?! Lots of people who live in Ulster County have the need to commute to New York City for one reason or another, be it work, school, or just for fun, and depending on your location in the county, you’re only give or take 90 miles from this major epicenter. On average, it's possible to reach Manhattan in just about an hour and a half, which isn't that long of a normal commute at all! We're pretty thankful for our proximity to New York, keeping our drive times down, but we're also just as thankful to have a few varying, but equally great options on how we can get there. If you prefer to drive, it's a fairly straight shot down the New York State Thruway to reach the city, or if you prefer, it is just as easy to hitch a ride! Adirondack Trailways buses have stops throughout the county and a major depot located in Kingston, where you can hop on a bus and get to Port Authority in about an hour and a half (they're really clean and quiet too!) Along those same lines, Metro-North Railway, that departs from Poughkeepsie, just across the Hudson River from the Ulster County hamlet of Highland, will also have you down at Grand Central Station in about the same amount of time. Commuters appreciate being able to hop on the bus or train and get an extra hour of sleep or 'me time' en-route to their jobs in the city and city-dwellers equally appreciate the ease at which they can reach the peace, solitude and beauty of Ulster County.
From Ulster County, the world is at your fingertips, and if you’re as lucky to live here as we are, then the world awaits you from your front door!
For these reasons, and so many more, we here at Taft Street Realty are always thankful to live in such a wonderful place.
What is it about Ulster County that makes you thankful to live here?