This year, Vassar has rearranged Parent’s Weekend so that All Families Weekend is now Sept. 18 through 20 instead of in April. With having families of students of all years staying near campus for the weekend comes having popular restaurants book up quickly. If you’re anything like me, you book a table weeks (or more than a month) in advance because you’re always looking forward to a nice meal out and away from the Deece for a change. Wait, no one else does that? In case you’re scrambling to find a spot to go with your parents this weekend, get away from Raymond and Collegeview Ave and check out what Poughkeepsie and the surrounding Hudson Valley have to offer. It’s much more than you think.
When I wrote a few restaurant reviews for Contrast last year, I was led to Queen City Bistro, which is right on Main Street in downtown Poughkeepsie. I had never noticed the small storefront before, but whether it’s dinner or brunch you’re looking for, Queen City offers unique small plates for your whole family to share. I’m always deciding between five or ten things on the menu and this kind of dining let’s you try a bunch of different things. Last year, my friends and I shared a tasting of waffles with ice cream. If that doesn’t appeal to everyone, I don’t know what does. You may want to walk off your meal on the Walkway Over the Hudson after.
In the opposite direction from Queen City on Vassar Road is The Mill Restaurant and Bar. Students don’t usually venture in this direction but in an unassuming shopping center is The Mill. If it’s indulgent bar food you’re craving (and who isn’t?) head here for dishes like chicken wings, burgers and flatbreads. They’re also open early on weekends for breakfast, which means The Mill is a perfect spot to go with your family before you say goodbye. Try the breakfast flatbread, which is essentially a pizza with eggs, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Poughkeepsie is beautiful as it turns from summer to fall, and you should definitely take the opportunity to appreciate the Hudson before it gets too cold. Head down Main Street to one of Poughkeepsie’s many waterfront restaurants, one of them being Shadows on the Hudson. Pretend it’s still summer and load up on the restaurant’s seafood specialties while sitting outside on the deck. The food is impeccable, but in the rare chance you’re disappointed, the stunning Hudson views will make up for it.
Were you lucky enough to go to Paris this summer? I wasn’t, but you can pretend you’re there by going to Brasserie 292, another Main Street favorite. It has classic French brasserie décor and food. Have you ever tried mussels? Rabbit? You should. If you’re not especially adventurous, a visit to Brasserie is worth it for the French fries and baguettes alone.
Being in Poughkeepsie means we’re extremely close to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. You probably knew that this is where aspiring chefs go to learn the tricks of the trade, but they have amazing restaurants on campus too. You can choose from Italian, American, French or a casual café/bakery.
The food here is some of the best I’ve had around Poughkeepsie, but the coolest part is that CIA students are cooking and serving your food. If you’re especially interested in the food and restaurant world like I am, ask your waiter what they want to do when they graduate and where they want to work. My waiter was going to embark on a backpacking trip in Switzerland before he began working at the renowned Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant.
We’re lucky to have some really great restaurants within walking distance of Vassar, but take your family on a drive through Poughkeepsie and explore the area you’re normally too busy to see. It will take All Families Weekend to another level when you take a trip to Poughkeepsie (and hopefully in a car) as an opportunity to see what else you can find in the area. Sometimes I get jealous of all the restaurants surrounding my friends who go to New York City schools, but it’s important to remember that the Hudson Valley has an abundance of delicious spots to visit. And the end of the summer is the perfect time to do it.