Armchair Field Trip: Rhinebeck, NY


Ah, historic Hudson Valley"¦ the place where allergy sufferers go this time of year to keep Kleenex in business. Having recently been there, I can tell you this is a) true and b) most unfortunate because c) it's so gosh-darn beautiful up there, you'll want to whip out a canvas and paint some landscapes "“ which can get pretty messy if you have to stop every few minutes to blow your nose.

Another reason to wander up yonder is the Beekman Arms: our country's oldest continuously operated hotel, the only one that can boast that the 4th Regiment of the Continental Army drilled on its front lawn before the American Revolution. You know you've landed in the old world when the literature they give you at the concierge desk reads thusly: "Pleasantly old fashioned, yet unobtrusively modern, we offer our guests charming accommodations in several different buildings all with private bath, television, telephone with data port, and a decanter of sherry."

It was the decanter of sherry, of course, that sold me, and inn I went. Though most of the rooms are now scattered in newer buildings (and by newer I mean mid-19th century), you can still find a few in the original inn that date back to 1766. As you walk through the oaky halls, you'll see actual guestbook pages from the registrar decorating the walls, affording a glimpse into the lives of cloak-wearing folk who stopped on snowy evenings in days of yore.

For a detailed history, including some interesting stories about the inn's more prominent guests (George Washington, Benedict Arnold, Alexander Hamilton, Franklin Delano Roosevelt"¦ just to drop a few) check out