With Kids, a Different Woodstock Weekend
The soundtrack for a road trip can make or break a vacation. My oldest brother used to make cassette tapes for me — very handy when I’d drive to college, from New York to St. Louis. And my oldest daughter burned CDs for her college tours, and for us bringing her to college the first time.
But we’re down to the third kid and there’s Sirius XM. Since we were going to Woodstock, we should have been listening to 60s on 6 (yes, I know the famous concert was actually held in Bethel, NY, but the road into town is Levon Helm Blvd., so clearly the 60s reign here). However, our daughter prefers music from this century and I am addicted to First Wave, the ‘new wave’ music from my college years.
So the Pet Shop Boys and Howard Jones were blasting for us while Nora listened to Katy Perry on her iPod. But we all agreed that Woodstock was a great place for a family getaway, especially if you are vegetarian.
We stayed at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, which has a vegan B & B, and allows dogs. Leave the leather jacket, and boots, at home – and Smartwool socks if you are really dedicated. The guesthouse has 4 bedrooms, two of which interconnect and are perfect for a family.
We could not have stayed here when my middle daughter was young; she had to have her glass of milk as soon as she woke up. But if you can take soy or almond milk in your coffee, the guesthouse is an ideal way to get into the Woodstock spirit. We had a delicious tofu scramble for breakfast, with fruit and whole grain toast (Earth Balance, jam or cashew cheese to spread on top).
You are welcome to use the dining room and living room; this was useful when it occurred to us that our puppy, who is training to be a service dog, would probably not behave well at a restaurant. We picked up dinner from the vegan Garden Cafe on the Green back in town.
The highlight for a stay at the sanctuary is visiting the animals. We met a friendly mule, Diane, who followed us around as we visiting the cows, turkeys, chickens, goats and sheep. There are also pigs, ducks, and kittens, which are offered for adoption.
The farm runs on solar power, recycles everything and uses the pigs to eat food scraps, so I felt somewhat guilty driving an SUV to get there. But the Ford Escape we drove gets 30 mpg on the highway, an extremely respectable fuel economy, and we combined the trip with a college visit to cut down on our carbon footprint.
The farm must be wonderful in warm weather; you can sit on the porch, or on the law in Adirondack chairs and use the bicycles. Though it was too cold for any of that, we did hike the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower trail nearby. This is a fairly steep 2 ½ mile, each way, hike, and it’s carry-in carry-out. Don’t forget lots of water, even in cold weather, and that it can be significantly colder, and windier, up top.
If you are hearty, there are more trails. There are 900 acres, with well-marked trails, but no facilities like bathrooms or garbage cans.
The town of Woodstock has bookstores, cafes and plenty of vegetarian choices. We got excellent sandwiches at Bread Alone, which bakes fantastic bread. We ditched the morning of veganism for cheese sandwiches – pear and brie, fresh mozzarella with arugula and sundried tomatoes, and roasted veggies with goat cheese. Sorry, Diane, we love cheese.
On the way up to Woodstock, we stopped in Highland, also in Ulster County, to stroll the Walkway over Hudson. This former rail bridge is a wide, flat 4 mile round trip, where you can bring dogs on leash (and there’s even a water bowl for dogs in the middle). If you make it to the Poughkeepsie side, there are a couple of food trucks. The walkway closes at sunset, which is quite early in fall, so plan ahead.
Note: we were guests of Ulster County Tourism, which covered our B & B stay. Opinions expressed are my own.