$2865 Per Person
With No Single Supplement Needed
Two notable independent bookstores — the Strand in New York City and Politics & Prose in Washington, DC — invite you to join a small group of like-minded travelers to enjoy one of the loveliest parts of our country. We’ll take a short five-day break from our busy lives to visit the historic and beautiful upper Hudson River Valley. National Geographic Traveler has named it one of the top 20 must-see destinations in the world.
The region played a major role in the founding of our country. Many illustrious families whose homes we’ll visit — think Roosevelts, Livingstons, Vanderbilts — helped shape the face of our country as it developed. In our three full days on site, we’ll explore the magnificent Vanderbilt Mansion, Franklin Roosevelt’s home Springwood and Presidential Library, Eleanor Roosevelt’s private getaway cottage, Val-Kil, plus a private tea and tour of the vast Mills Mansion at Staatsburg from the Gilded Age.
And for lovers of art, we’ll visit the homes and studios of artists from the Hudson River School of Painting and see the vistas they painted. For food lovers, we’ll tour and eat at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America, as well as visit a working farm for a tasting of wine and locally-produced cheeses. For book lovers, remember that writers like Edith Wharton and Washington Irving set stories and novels along the banks of the Hudson.
We’ll be based in the historic village of Rhinebeck, staying at the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, which has been welcoming visitors since 1766. The village and hotel are just minutes from an Amtrak station should you choose to travel by train. From there we’ll travel a short distance each day to visit the homes, admire the scenery and soak up the culture. It will be early fall in the Hudson River Valley, a bit before prime “leaf-peeping” season.
As with all our trips, you’ll have two experienced trip leaders with you at all times. The trip is limited to no more than 18 people, so you’ll never have to walk around in a huge group, or be driven around in a big tourist bus. Arrangements will have been made at all the popular sites in advance, so you won’t stand in long lines to get tickets. And there’s no single supplement, so there’s no need to share a room unless you want to.
We’ll get together each evening before dinner to sip wine and talk about our days and have an optional discussion of some of the books on the trip book list that we’ve read. Afterwards, we’ll break into small groups to walk to nearby restaurants.
Please note that we may make changes to this itinerary in response to unexpected closings, road conditions, weather or other unforeseen events.
Monday, September 25
You’ll depart from home by train (or car, if you prefer) to arrive in Rhinebeck, New York. Relax and settle in to your welcoming room at the Delamater Inn, or explore the charming town of Rhinebeck. This historic little town with its tree-lined streets offers a variety of unique shops and gourmet restaurants.
6 p.m. Meet in the living room of the Delamater House to officially greet one another and discuss the week’s activities.
Tuesday, September 26
Meet at Delamater House for our scenic drive to Hyde Park, where we’ll begin our day by touring Val-Kill, the first National Historic site devoted to a First Lady. Home to Eleanor Roosevelt, just a few miles from the Roosevelt family home at Springwood, it’s the only home she ever owned herself. A small Dutch Colonial stone house, it was built in 1925. After Franklin’s death, she lived there for seventeen years, entertaining many heads of state.
We’ll take a break from our Roosevelt visits with lunch (on your own) at one of the famed restaurants of the Culinary Institute of America, with your meal prepared by CIA students and graduates. You may choose to eat in the elegant American Bounty dining room or one of the more casual restaurants. After lunch, we’ll have a one-hour tour, led by a student, during which you will see the students in their kitchen classrooms, learning to prepare both basic and specialty foods.
Then we’ll return to the Roosevelt estate to visit the FDR Library. While he was still alive, Roosevelt saw that a library was established there to house his collections and historical papers. He was the first president to make his papers available to the public by donating them to the government. This museum/library will surprise you with the extensive exhibits, films, and reminders of another time in American life. You’ll get to listen to fireside chats, see his Oval Office desk, and more. Be prepared to spend more time than you might think; some people spend days here. We’ll return once again on Thursday to visit his home.
4:45 p.m. Return to Rhinebeck
6 p.m. Wine and conversation at the hotel.
Wednesday, September 27
We begin our Hudson River School day of art by driving to Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Guided tours will show us his home and his studio, and we’ll be able to compare his 19th century paintings with the same stunning views as they appear today.
From there, we have lunch (on your own) in a nearby restaurant, before continuing our art explorations by visiting Olana, the unusual home of Frederic Church, who studied with Thomas Cole. The house was built in the 1870’s, and is a mixture of Victorian, Moorish and Persian styles. It’s one of the most intact artist residences in the United States, and contains Church’s paintings, sketches, decorative arts and period furnishings
After Olana, we have a change of pace by experiencing yet another aspect of the Hudson River Valley — its rich history of agriculture and the making of cheese. We’ll visit Lime Kiln, a farm with an eclectic variety of goats, cows, sheep and pigs, centered around an historic 1790 Dutch farmhouse. The owners have come back to the Hudson River Valley from their successful, award-winning goat cheese business in Tuscany. We’ll enjoy a very special cheese and wine tasting before heading back to Rhinebeck.
5:00 p.m. Return to Rhinebeck
6:00 p.m. Wine and conversation
Thursday, September 28:
Once again, we head to the Hyde Park area, this time to visit the Vanderbilt Mansion, a wonderful example of a country palace of the Gilded Age. It’s not the first house on this estate, but certainly the grandest. Finished in 1899, it has 54 rooms and was built by McKim, Mead & White, considered by some to be the greatest architectural firm in history.
We then continue our immersion in the Gilded Age, as we head to the nearby Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh State Historic Site. The estate, one of many in the prominent New York Livingston family, dates back to 1792. The current 1896 home was also designed by McKim, Mead & White and, with 65 rooms , is larger than the Vanderbilt home. It was the model for the Trenors’ estate, Bellomont, in Edith Wharton’s novel The House of Mirth.
We’ll enjoy a special tea/luncheon in the dining room, at the 60 ft. dining room table, and then have a private tour of the house, which will highlight Staatsburgh’s real-life counterparts of the Downton Abbey characters.
Our final stop will be a visit to Springwood, the life-long home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He’s buried there as well, along with Eleanor and his dogs, Fala and Chief. Mrs. Roosevelt once said how pleased she was that they could “leave the rooms exactly as they had been.” You might think the Roosevelts would be returning almost any minute.
4:00 p.m. Return to Rhinebeck, perhaps with some time for some Rhinebeck shopping.
6:00 p.m. Wine and conversation
Friday, September 29
Depart Rhinebeck for your drive or train trip home.
Price for the Trip: $2865
There are no single supplements to pay. Each person has her or his own room.
Here’s what’s included:
- Four nights at the historic Delamater Inn
- Continental breakfast each morning
- Transport to all venues
- Entry fees for all sites
- Private tea/luncheon at the Mills Mansion
- Cheese and wine tasting at Lime Kiln Farm
- Two trip leaders to insure that you get personal attention
- (If you drive) Parking at the Inn
- Wine and conversation every night at the Inn
What’s not included: lunches (except where specified) and dinners, transport to Rhinebeck by train or personal automobile, transport to and from the Rhinebeck train station, or anything else not listed under “What’s included.”
Please be sure to read all the Frequently Asked Questions and Terms and Conditions. If you have more questions, you can contact either of the trip leaders directly:
Physical Requirements for This Trip
Although this trip is not strenuous, you will be walking on uneven pavement, rough garden paths and grassy hills. None of the houses we visit have lifts; you must be able to climb several flights of stairs and walk at least half a mile on uneven ground without a rest. Some rooms at the Delamater Inn are located up one flight of stairs; there’s no elevator at the Inn.
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You can reserve your place on the trip with a $600 deposit, payable by check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder (Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910). If you’d rather pay with a credit card via PayPal (there’s a 3% surcharge), let us know (email Sheila at SCampbell@wildblueyonder.biz) and we’ll send you a PayPal invoice.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who should come on this trip?
This is a perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. We’ve often had mothers and daughters come together. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.
Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.
Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms. Of course you can share a room if you prefer.
Q. How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group. Our groups are typically 10 – 16 people, and we have two trip leaders.
Q. When is the trip?
You’ll leave from home on Monday, September 25, to arrive in Rhinebeck in the late afternoon of that day. We all depart for home on Friday morning, September 29.
Q. What’s the best way to get to Rhinebeck?
From New York City, the trip to Rhinebeck is less than two hours by Amtrak from Penn Station. It’s quite a scenic view as the train runs along the Hudson part of the way. A particularly convenient schedule might be to take the 1:20pm departure on the Empire route, train 283, to Rhinecliff, arriving at 3pm. It’s a short taxi ride from the train station to the Delamater Inn.
From Washington, DC, you have two choices:
1) By train.
You’d take Amtrak to New York Penn Station and from there change to a train to Rhinecliff (note, not Rhinebeck; Rhinecliff is the next town over). The trip to New York takes about three hours (depending on the train you choose), and the very scenic trip along the Hudson about another hour and a half. There are quite a large number of trains you can choose from. We particularly recommend:
9:20am Leave Washington Union Station on the Northeast Regional
Change at New York Penn Station (40 minutes)
1:20pm Depart on train 283 on the Empire route for Rhinecliff, arriving at 3pm.
2) By car.
It’s about a six-hour drive to Rhinebeck, depending on your route. (And there are lots of tolls.) You won’t need your car while there, but you can certainly drive if you choose. If you’d like to drive and have someone on the trip come along, let us know and we can pass along some “car-sharing” information.
Q. Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:
- You’ll never board a big tour bus.
- You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants.
- You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.
- You only unpack and pack once – we’re not touring, but staying in one hotel where we can really get to know the area well.
Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain. She’s managed trips for Politics & Prose, another independent bookstore, for five years. In her day
-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art for many years. She spends a couple of months a year in Europe, mostly in England, France and Italy.
Barbara Wendell has also traveled extensively and worked and traveled as part of her job as a focus group facilitator. As a facilitator, she is very experienced in working with groups. And she lives in Annapolis, MD, where she is involved with tourism as a docent and volunteer with Historic Annapolis.
Q. What is the Delamater Inn like?
The Delamater Inn is composed of several contemporary buildings on a campus next to the Beekman Arms, the oldest continuously operated inn in America. The rooms are spacious and well-lit, with all the amenities you’d expect. Breakfast is served in a glass-walled room on the campus, and we’ll meet for our evening conversations in the living room of Delamater House, also on the campus.
All of the rooms are located on either the first or second floor, so you may have a flight of stairs to your room.
You can walk across the street to the Beekman Arms to enjoy their full bar, restaurant and beautifully landscaped gardens if you like.
Q. Is there internet access at the hotel?
Yes, free wifi comes with your room.
Q. What will the weather be like?
The weather should be sunny and warm, with just a hint of chill in the evening. But weather’s very unpredictable, so our advice is to come prepared for just about anything. Bring clothes suited for early fall, an umbrella, a light jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.
Q. What to wear?
You needn’t dress up for this trip. Wear your most comfortable clothes for walking. Every place we go will be casual.
Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. Plus each of us has our own dietary needs these days.
On our first day, we’ll have lunch reservations at the American Bounty restaurant at the Culinary Institute. That will be a fixed menu at a fixed price. But if you prefer, you can lunch instead at the Apple Pie Bakery or the Tavern on the grounds.
We do provide a light tea luncheon at the Mills Mansion, and we’ll stop at a locally popular restaurant on our day at the artists’ homes.
Each evening, you can choose where (and with whom) you’d like to eat at one of the many small restaurants in Rhinebeck.
Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We strongly encourage you to buy travel insurance, both for trip cancellation and medical coverage and evacuation. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Also be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely. You generally have to purchase trip insurance at the time you pay your deposit.
Terms & Conditions
Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, transportation to locations as outlined in the itinerary, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.
Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not mentioned in the itinerary; transportation to Rhinebeck; lunches and dinners except as specified; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; or any other services not specified in the trip description.
Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.
Registration and Payment
A deposit of $600 per person confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.
Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.
Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.
We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.
Full final payment is due June 25, 2017.
Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before June 25, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. Refunds for cancellation are subject to the following schedule:
Before June 25:
Full refund (but deposit is forfeited)
June 26 – July 14:
50% of trip price (but deposit is forfeited)
July 15 – August 14:
25% of trip price (but deposit is forfeited)
August 15 – September 25:
Changes to Your Reservation
If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of June 25. After that date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.
Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip requires a reasonable amount of walking – up to a mile, possibly uphill or on uneven pavements or cobblestone streets and streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb several flights of stairs and board buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you, and you will have to incur the costs of taxis or other special transport.
If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Please note: Medicare is not valid outside of the United States.
Should you have to cancel your trip at the last minute, we cannot offer refunds, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.
Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by June 25.
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder, Politics & Prose and the Strand Bookstore, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.
Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, death, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party, nor for personal accidents.
In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the trip, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release Politics & Prose, Wild Blue Yonder and the Strand Bookstore and their officers, employees, representatives or agents, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for this trip, the participant agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein.
Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. Should you be removed, you will not be entitled to any refund for unused or missed services or costs incurred as a result of termination of your travel arrangements, including, without limitation, return travel, accommodations, meals and incidentals.
We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The foregoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.
We love to read books about or set in the areas where we’re traveling. Here are some books you might like to read before you go.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
This novel tells the story of Lily Bart, a well-born but impoverished woman belonging to New York City’s high society around the turn of the century. The Mills Mansion we visit is said to be the inspiration for the Bellomont house in the book.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
This Washington Irving classic tells the story of Ichabod Crane and his hapless attempt to win the heart and hand of Katrina Van Tassel in the context of a comical ghost story. Ichabod comes to Sleepy Hollow, New York, from his home state of Connecticut, to be the schoolmaster of the village.
Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton
A national bestseller from 1944, this classic Gothic romance finds a humble farmer’s daughter falling in love with a wealthy cousin and his Hudson Valley estate, Dragonwyck. You will learn in this novel about Dutch patroons, who had similar rights as lords in feudal times.
World’s End, by T. C. Boyle
This historical fiction tells the story of several generations in the Hudson River Valley. The author was visiting in upstate New York; he said, “Each morning I would take a little dirt path and walk down to the Hudson River. One day I noticed a historical marker there … and I stopped to read it. In fact, that was the trail that Benedict Arnold had taken to escape to the British.” In this novel, the author explores the themes that emerge from that incident.
Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn
In this best-selling biography, the author tells the story of two very strong women during some of the most important events of the twentieth century. Over thirty years, until Eleanor Roosevelt’s death, these women carried on an extraordinary relationship. It is a love story, as well as a study of two remarkable individuals who helped extend the roles of American women in the public policy realm.
No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin
“No previous biography of a president has given so complete a picture of how private lives and political questions intersect uniquely for the residents of the White House.” Goodwin tells a story of World War II and the Roosevelts that reveals how Eleanor was a “homefront counterpart to Winston Churchill” in her relationship with FDR.
A Backward Glance, an Autobiography by Edith Wharton
The author reflects on her public and private life, describing the New York society of her early years, her travels in Europe, and her friendships with other celebrated writers, such as Henry James. In this book, she also talks of her stays with her aunt in nearby Rhinecliff, New York.
Fortune’s Children: The Fall Of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II
Vanderbilt is a name synonymous with the Gilded Age. He was the world’s richest man in 1877. His descendant “traces the dramatic and colorful history of this great American family,” ending with the bankruptcy of a vast inheritance.
A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York by Greg King
“A dazzling journey through the Gilded Age … presenting the families, the wealth, the balls, the clothing and the mansions in vivid detail.” You’ll learn about the lifestyles of the ultra rich during this period, including the social customs, how a day was spent, and what was required to be “in.”
Legends and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley by Jonathan Kruk
Jonathan Kruk is called the best storyteller in the Hudson Valley. In this book, he tells the story of Sleepy Hollow and other myths of the Hudson Valley, stories that created the “atmosphere of mystery that helped inspire Irving’s legend.”
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Wild Blue Yonder plans, organizes and leads group trips for bookstores, historic associations and other corporate and not-for-profit entities. All our trips are designed for the specific interests of the groups for whom we work.