It will take a while for Rhinebeck, New York, to return to normal, now that it’s been in the world spotlight for the wedding of Chelsea Clinton to Mark Mezvinsky. But Rhinebeck has been around since the 1600s, and it will survive, and will return to being a charming, tranquil place that welcomes visitors. Rhinebeck’s location less than two hours from New York City makes it a popular weekend getaway. There’s something for everybody, from history to food and wine, outdoor activities and, of course, shopping.
Before the Clintons, Rhinebeck’s most famous guest was George Washington, who visited Revolutionary War volunteer soldiers training on the field next to The Beekman Arms, the white clapboard building you saw behind so many TV reporters covering the Chelsea Clinton Wedding . The inn opened in 1766, and claims to be the oldest continuously operating inn in America.
Even if you don’t stay here overnight, it’s worth wandering around the lobby to check out the historic documents that decorate the walls. My own favorite is a page from an 1876 guest registration, when the room rate was two dollars a night. George Washington slept here. So did Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose home, in nearby Hyde Park, is, of course, the FDR Home, Library and Museum, operated by the National Park Service.
Another must-see in Rhinebeck is Wilderstein Preservation, one of the great Hudson Valley mansions that make this area a fascinating place to visit. Three generations of the Suckley family lived here for more than 100 years. Interiors were designed by Joseph Burr Tiffany, who included some stained glass windows made by his cousin, Louis Comfort Tiffany. The gardens were designed by Calvert Vaux, who also landscaped Central Park in New York City. The Suckley family was distant cousins of the Roosevelts.