Cooped Up in the House? Take a Drive to One of These Fun Spots

By Nancy Sorbella

I’ve been MIA since the holiday season, taking the long view of 2021 and trying to figure out what “Detours” will look like.

While we are still in the throes of the pandemic, I’m living my life and experiencing as much as possible but with parameters. I know this isn’t for everyone or even an option for many. Working in the field of public health, I am all too aware of the risks of letting your guard down and the adverse effect on mental health when we are too isolated. I think I’ve been on all ends of the spectrum.

I’ve driven 70 miles to visit a close friend (regularly) and sit in her enclosed porch with the windows open in a snowstorm. During the holiday season we visited the train show at the New York Botanical Garden, the train show at Lasdon Park & Arboretum in Somers, visited the stunning lights of Untermyer Park & Gardens in Yonkers and enjoyed the subtle, delicate lighting at Boscobel House and Gardens. We are careful and follow COVID-19 protocols.

There does appear to be plenty to do if you dig deep and get creative locally, which is what I am doing into the near future. So far, so good. I am excited to share some of my most recent detours.

Usually, I have a theme, and I like that to keep my plans and thoughts organized. But, right now, that poses more of a challenge, so I am just going with what is fun, accessible and possible.

Ski Butternut

We are a family of skiers and have skied at most of the areas within the New York-southern New England region. One Sunday we decided to go back in time, so to speak, to a favorite spot of ours from college, Ski Butternut.

We called six places to get one of my kids into a half-day package and Butternut was the first to call back and made the process as simple as possible. Everything is done in advance – yes, on the phone! – and we could even order and pre-pay our lift tickets.

The ride up the Taconic State Parkway never disappoints and is a quick one. Upon arrival, Ski Butternut is organized, distanced, has clear signage and efficient. The lodges were clean and follow all COVID-19 protocols. Even with a 45-minute time frame for seating, it never got too crowded, nor did we have to leave. The trails were excellent, there were reasonable lift lines (which is key since you can’t be paired with another “single” during the pandemic) and the vibe was friendly and low-key.

Ski Butternut, 380 State Rd., Great Barrington, Mass. Info: Visit www.skibutternut.com.

Fishkill Farms

I apologize in advance if I write about Fishkill Farms too often. I cannot help it because there is so much to do and experience there.

Just when I think we have done everything they offer – yoga at the farm, berry and apple picking, the corn maze (their Resist Racism maze this year was a game-changer), farm store, live music and food trucks – there is more.

We visited the Treasury Cider Garden for a few cider flights and a charcuterie board. (Treasury Cider is Fishkill Farms’ award-winning traditionally-crafted cider.) Not only is the seating overlooking the farm and the orchard, which is beautiful in the snow, but what is especially cool is that kids can sled or tube (bring your own) up and down the hills for free.

The Farm Store is open with a wide array of gifts, local Hudson Valley provisions and their own fresh-baked goods and treats. There is a hot chocolate bar and everyone is so friendly and warm. The indoor seating is well-managed, distanced and meets all COVID-19 standards. There is also plenty of outdoor seating for the courageous.

Reservations for the Cider Garden are encouraged. Last call is at 4:45 p.m. as they close at 5 p.m.

Fishkill Farms, 9 Fishkill Farm Rd., Hopewell Junction. Info: Visit www.fishkillfarms.com.

Sloop Brewing Company

Full disclosure: I do not drink beer. But everyone else I know does and we have not been to a craft beer brewery that we did not like.

Fortunately, Sloop, located in the iPark complex, formerly IBM of East Fishkill, carries hard cider and has a contemporary, eclectic menu of craft wood-fired pizza, burgers, bowls, tacos, fusion dishes and a kid’s menu. The space, in the reclaimed semiconductor plant, is bright and industrial, open (very socially distanced) and friendly.

There’s plenty of pairing advice to go around, which is particularly helpful if you plan to take some beer home with you. There are events throughout the year but one cool thing going on this week is Date Night. This is a pick up-only multicourse meal with a beer pairing for the Lunar New Year.

The vibe was very laid back, with all ages and plenty of families with kids. Sloop is open Thursday through Sunday.

Sloop Brewing Company, 755 East Drive, Suite 106, Hopewell Junction. Info: Visit www.sloopbrewing.com.

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