Summer in the Hudson Valley – A Hot Air Ballon Festival, Berry Picking, and the Best Ice Cream

Hello everyone! It’s officially summer and honestly there’s nothing quite like summer in the Hudson Valley, from hot air balloon festivals, to u-pick flowers and berries, oh and let’s not forget about all the ice cream, so I’ve decided to do a little recap of my favorite summer fun in the Hudson Valley to inspire you to have a fun summer too!

First things first, last weekend Darren and I met up with friends and went to Empire State Hot-Air Balloon Festival in Poughquag – they had it all: beer, fried oreos, and of course, hot-air balloons. Honestly, there’s such a sense of childlike wonder to see a hot-air balloon come to life and float away into the sky; my friend Alex and I were practically screaming in delight as the balloons inflated and filled the orchard with rainbows, stripes, and magic. Darren and I have gone the past few years and although we got rained out once, we’ve now seen the balloons twice, and I was equally in awe each time, so much so that we’re going again in a few weekends!

If you missed this weekend’s launch, worry not, July 12th-14th there will be the Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds – Darren and I have already taken that weekend off too, so maybe we’ll see you there – I’ve linked the website where you can purchase tickets here! Honestly, the best $10 you’ll ever spend (single day tickets are $10 in advance, but you might want to do the weekend pass for $25 if you’re worried about the weather) – don’t tell Darren, but I’m going to try and convince him to do a sunrise launch with me this time around!

If you’re feeling beachy, Lake Taghkanic State Park is such a fun Hudson Valley spot that will make you feel miles and miles away from Route 9. Entrance is $10 per car and Darren and I always pack a picnic lunch, although they do have a concession stand there. There’s a sandy, beachy bit, but also a shaded grassy area with picnic tables and grills too – it’s got a lot to offer for being near my backyard and makes for a Hudson Valley day that makes you feel pretty far away!

Another fun thing to do in the Hudson Valley is to go berry picking – nothing makes me more excited than seeing the “u-pick – STRAWBERRIES” sign with a big arrow on my way anywhere. Berries are never sweeter or more flavorful than when you’ve hand picked them and I love to freeze some for smoothies, the other ones get eaten or tossed into a wine glass on an evening nice enough to sit on the porch and watch the sunset. My mom took me cherry and berry picking when I was younger and something about it makes me feel nostalgic, plus it makes for a nice relaxing day! Darren and I went, admittedly probably a little too close to end of season, but still made out with some delicious, fresh, sweet strawberries.

Speaking of u-pick, Darren and I went flower picking and had such a lovely time strolling through a wildflower field in Red Hook. Darren followed me and took pictures as I filled a bright yellow bucket with a rainbow of wildflowers, and now I smile every time I look over at them in their vase.

Lastly, if the Hudson Valley has one thing in absolute abundance, it’s ice cream: Darren and I tried ICESCREAMS this past week and were happily surprised, it’s two pink trailers pushed together in Elizaville, NY serving up burgers, ice cream french fries, and delicious floats, but my absolute favorite ice cream places in the Hudson Valley are Holy Cow (in Red Hook) and Alleyway Ice Cream (in Saugerties). Holy Cow is where my mom would take us when we were kids, then Alleyway I stumbled upon on Instagram recently; they make the ice cream right there and it is so creamy and delicious! I wrote this post, in part, because someone I know IRL suggested it, she happens to be the mama of two aorable boys and I can’t help but think how much fun I would have had as a kid if my mom said we were going for a drive to sample and find the best ice cream in the Hudson Valley.

Anyway, I’ve got to get back to work, but I so enjoyed our little piece of summer in the Hudson Valley.

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