Sometimes a travel experience can be found in your own backyard. Image by Jesse Szabad.

Spring is finally upon us! This time of year brings me great joy as I begin, once again, to explore my natural habitat: the Lower Hudson Valley.

National Geographic named the Hudson Valley one of its Best Trips in 2013, and with good reason. The region is home to many artist enclaves, historic and literary landmarks, as well as the Appalachian Trail. One locale, which I’ve only recently rediscovered, is the village of Warwick in Orange County.

Warwick’s charming character, historic homes and farms, and diverse mix of weekend daytrip activities make it a perfect respite for both locals and those in the city. I’ve gathered for you a few tasty recommendations to make the most of your short stay in this tucked-away corner of New York’s Hudson Valley.

Now let’s hit the road!

staycationWe arrived in style. My hair, not so much. Image courtesy of Paige Trubatch.

Warwick Valley Winery

The scenery and grounds at Warwick Valley Winery are the perfect antidote to a week of workday stress and commuting through the city. Situated on an expanse of black dirt farmland and vineyard, the winery features rustic charm on the inside and sunny socializing on the lawn.

A small stage and performance space, large herb garden, and patio with an outdoor bar make a welcoming retreat for weekend people-watching and picnicking during the warmer months.

While the winery is open daily year-round, I’ve yet to experience a fall visit. Since their line of ciders is even more popular than the featured wines, I’m already anticipating a deliciously crisp October Saturday sipping a Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider by the fire.

staycationImage by Paige Trubatch.

Speakings of tastings, a complete wine tasting of six different varieties, plus a dessert wine of your choice, is but a paltry $5 drop in the bucket (plus tip). I sampled the black currant and did not say no when the bartender, who gave me the rundown of each wine’s characteristics before tasting, offered to add some cider to the dessert wine. This was an excellent move. I promptly finished the glass and moved to the back wall of ciders to find the black currant. It was at this point that I enlisted my tall, bearded companion to carry my handbag while I stocked up on upcoming birthday and housewarming gifts.

staycationA beautiful April Sunday at the winery. Image by Paige Trubatch.

As an aside, the Warwick Valley Winery website is also a fantastic resource for planning your daytrip or weekend. They feature their own listing of local lodging options, including many cottages and inns.

Dinner, Ice Cream, and a Movie?

staycationImage courtesy of Paige Trubatch.

In addition to the winery, Warwick is home to many must-try places to eat, drink, and be merry. Bellvale Farms Creamery boasts a beautiful view from which to enjoy homemade ice cream. The creamery has 50 flavors to choose from!

For a more well-rounded meal and a cozy seat at the bar, Eddie’s Roadhouse on Main Street in downtown Warwick has become my new Friday night spot. The menu always includes fresh ingredients, and the restaurant hosts “beer dinners” featuring different breweries and specialty pairings. And for an old-fashioned, Back to the Future date night with your honey, you can also take in a drive-in movie or two.

The acreage of the Warwick Drive-In has grown over the decades, but the original establishment was founded in 1950. This place will always have a piece of my pre-teen heart, as birthdays were spent pulling over on the side of the road beforehand and shoving friends in the trunk under blankets to pay less at the entrance. Ahh, memories.

Grown-up me, on the other hand, is willing to pay more for the joys of a springtime evening out on the lawn. Whether it’s at the winery, overlooking the hills, or in my car, watching retro cartoons before a double feature, it’s worth it in hours spent with loved ones and in the company of others who savor the scents, sights, and flavors of that which is already home.

No plane ticket required.

Have you ever been on a staycation? What sorts of tips do you have for planning a trip in your own backyard?