Jared Ranahan | Special to USA TODAY 10Best
There’s no denying that New York City is one of the finest gastronomic destinations to grace our planet, but the incredible Empire State cuisine doesn’t stop once you reach the Westchester border. Located roughly 90 minutes north of Manhattan, idyllic Dutchess County is a top destination for a food- and drink-filled road trip.
From the heart of Poughkeepsie to the Connecticut-adjacent countryside, there’s no shortage of incredible drinking and dining options found across this charming county.
Enjoy expertly crafted gin at The Vale Fox Distillery
Deep in the rural heart of Dutchess County, a paradise for spirit lovers exists in the form of The Vale Fox Distillery. In just a few short years, this polished operation has earned widespread acclaim for their perfectly crafted gins, with the distinguished Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin 1651 serving as one of the most celebrated products. Loaded with a plethora of botanicals, including South African rooibos, angelica root and makrut lime leaves, this flavorful spirit is certain to win over even the most finicky of gin fans.
Sample world-class beer at Sloop Brewing Co.
The Empire State is no stranger to top-quality beer, but when it comes to Dutchess County representation, it’s tough to beat Sloop Brewing Co. A paradise for serious IPA aficionados, Sloop offers a wide array of hop-heavy concoctions ranging from the tropical fruit-reminiscent Super Soft NEIPA to the flagship Juice Bomb NEIPA.
Not a fan of high-IBU brews? No worries – the venue is also home to a wealth of less bitter options, including the ultra-smooth Sloop Pils and the hearty Coco Baked Stout.
Stock up on sunflower essentials at Hudson Valley Cold Pressed Oils
In search of the perfect gift for the chef in your life? Look no further than Hudson Valley Cold Pressed Oils, a family-owned operation with a serious affinity for sunflowers. The company offers all sorts of plant-derived products ranging from cooking oils to sugar scrubs to brownie mix, and the best part? Right before harvest season, the family farm is home to massive swaths of bright sunflowers, serving as a top spot to snag the perfect photo before you shop.
Find your new favorite tea at Harney & Sons
A veritable juggernaut in the global tea industry, Harney & Sons is home to more than 300 different varieties of the drink – and to peruse this massive collection in person, there’s no better destination than the company’s Millerton property. Equipped with an extensive food menu and a massive collection of teapots, kettles, cups and other tea paraphernalia up for grabs, this charming operation is the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon break as you explore the surrounding county.
Sample Dutchess County’s finest locally-made food and drink
Dutchess County is home to a wealth of incredible bars and restaurants, but be sure to spend some time sampling the local products found on grocery store shelves all across the area. If you’re in need of a flavor modifier, the pepper- and garlic-loaded Screamin’ Onionz spread is a great option – and it pairs perfectly with a carb-free egg wrap from local company Crepini.
Drinks-wise, Berry Bissap is a top choice for thirsty customers, equipped with a powerful punch of fresh hibiscus and other ingredients sourced from the northern reaches of Ghana.
Explore Poughkeepsie’s vibrant food scene
Poughkeepsie may be dwarfed by other Empire State cities like New York, Buffalo and Rochester, but this riverside community is home to a robust food scene that’s certainly worth exploring. Cuisines span all walks of life across the city – there’s a world of opportunity for sushi lovers at Tokyo Express, while the river-adjacent Rosticceria Rossi & Sons has been serving decadent deli sandwiches to Poughkeepsie residents since the late ‘70s.
For fans of Caribbean cuisine in particular, be sure to check out Nelly’s, a local favorite for classic Dominican dishes. And if you’d like a nice vegan burger, head to Farmers and Chefs.
Dine on locally-sourced fare at Troutbeck
Just a few minutes west of the Connecticut border, the idyllic Troutbeck serves as one of the finest accommodations in eastern Dutchess County. In addition to rustic rooms and multiple acres of bucolic countryside, the inn is equipped with top-tier cuisine served at the property’s main restaurant, The Dining Room. Curated by Executive Chef Gabe McMackin, dishes around here have a serious focus on locally-sourced ingredients and range from lemon pecorino arancini to Swiss chard lasagna.
Check out the dining scene at iPark 84
Perched across 300 acres of land, the massive iPark 84 is one of Dutchess County’s most alluring business spaces – and this sprawling venue has amassed some seriously impressive dining concepts over the past few years. For sweets enthusiasts, Jane Bakes is home to a plethora of decadent cookies ranging from vanilla bean to gluten-free double chocolate, while the aforementioned Sloop Brewing Co. serves up a wide array of hoppy brews and pizza fresh from their iPark 84 brewpub.
Grab a cocktail at Denning’s Point Distillery
Dutchess County’s Dennings Point State Park is best known for its ample natural beauty, but this top-notch bird-watching destination also serves as the inspiration for Beacon’s Denning’s Point Distillery. Founded in 2014, this charming venue is home to a veritable cornucopia of spirits ranging from fragrant Great 9 Gin to the award-winning Beacon Bourbon – all of which are produced using locally-sourced grain. For any spirits lovers visiting Beacon, be sure to swing by the property to sample one of the many top-tier cocktails offered at the Denning’s Point bar.
Experience Rhinebeck’s top bars and restaurants
No road trip across Dutchess County is complete without spending a day in Rhinebeck Village, and fortunately, this ultra-idyllic destination is equipped with a stellar food scene for first-time visitors to explore. Upon arrival, guests can kick off their night with a trip to Terrapin, a local favorite that’s been serving up new American fare since the turn of the century. After dining on Peking-style Hudson Valley duck, horseradish-crusted ahi tuna and other tantalizing dishes crafted by chef Josh Kroner, head a few steps west to Bia for some perfectly crafted cocktails to end the night.