Early Autumn in the Hudson River Valley

September 25 through 29

Politics and Prose invites you to join a small group of like-minded travelers to enjoy one of the loveliest parts of our country. We’ll take a short five-day break from our busy lives to visit the historic and beautiful upper Hudson River Valley, an area that National Geographic Traveler has named one of the top 20 must-see destinations in the world.


The region played a major role in the founding of our country. Many illustrious families whose homes we’ll visit—think Roosevelts, Livingstons, Vanderbilts—helped shape the face of our country as it developed. In our three full days on site, we’ll explore the magnificent Vanderbilt Mansion; Franklin Roosevelt’s Springwood estate and Presidential Library; Eleanor Roosevelt’s private getaway cottage, Val-Kill; plus a private tea and tour of the vast Mills Mansion at Staatsburg from the Gilded Age.

And for lovers of art, we’ll visit the homes and studios of artists from the Hudson River School of Painting and see the vistas they painted. As a special treat, prior to the trip, we’ll have a private tour of Hudson River School paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. For food lovers, we’ll tour and eat at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America, as well as visit a working farm for a tasting of wine and locally-produced cheeses. For book lovers, remember that writers like Edith Wharton and Washington Irving set stories and novels along the banks of the Hudson. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to check out our recommended reads for the trip!)

We’ll be based in the historic village of Rhinebeck, staying at the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, which has been welcoming visitors since 1766. The village and hotel are just minutes from an Amtrak station should you choose to travel by train. From there, we’ll travel a short distance each day to visit the homes, admire the scenery and soak up the culture. It will be early fall in the Hudson River Valley, a bit before prime “leaf-peeping” season.

As with all our trips, you’ll have two experienced trip leaders with you at all times. The trip is limited to no more than 18 people, so you’ll never have to walk around in a huge group, or be driven around in a big tourist bus. Arrangements will have been made at all the popular sites in advance, so you won’t stand in long lines to get tickets. And there’s no single supplement, so there’s no need to share a room unless you want to.

We’ll get together each evening before dinner to sip wine and talk about our days and have an optional discussion of some relevant books, including some of those from this trip's recommended reading list. Afterwards, we’ll break into small groups to walk to nearby restaurants. 


Who should come on this trip?
Do I have to pay a single supplement?

I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
How many people will be on the trip?
When is the trip?
What’s the best way to get to Rhinebeck?
Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
Tell me about the trip leaders.
What is the Delamater Inn like?
Is there internet access at the hotel?
What will the weather be like?
What to wear?
Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Do you require us to buy travel insurance?



Q. Who should come on this trip?
This is a perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. We’ve often had mothers and daughters come together. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.


Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.


Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms. Of course you can share a room if you prefer.


Q. How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group. Our groups are typically 10 – 16 people, and we have two trip leaders.


Q. When is the trip?
You’ll leave from home on Monday, September 25, to arrive in Rhinebeck in the late afternoon of that day. We all depart for home on Friday morning, September 29.


Q. What’s the best way to get to Rhinebeck?
There are no airports convenient to Rhinebeck, so there are two ways to get there.
1) By train.
You’d take Amtrak to New York Penn Station and from there change to a train to Rhinecliff (note, not Rhinebeck; Rhinecliff is the next town over). The trip to New York takes about three hours (depending on the train you choose), and the very scenic trip along the Hudson about another hour and a half. There are quite a large number of trains you can choose from. We particularly recommend:
9:20am Leave Washington Union Station on the Northeast Regional
Change at New York Penn Station (40 minutes)
1:20pm Depart on train 283 on the Empire route for Rhinecliff, arriving at 3pm.

2) By car.
It’s about a six-hour drive to Rhinebeck, depending on your route. (And there are lots of tolls.) You won’t need your car while there, but you can certainly drive if you choose. If you’d like to drive and have someone on the trip come along, let us know and we can pass along some “car-sharing” information.

It’s a short taxi ride from the train station to the Delamater Inn.


Q. Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:
- You’ll never board a big tour bus.
- You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants.
- You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.
- You only unpack and pack once – we’re not touring, but staying in one hotel where we can really get to know the area well.


Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain. She’s managed trips for Politics & Prose Bookstore for five years. In her day-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art for many years. She spends a couple of months a year in Europe, mostly in England, France and Italy.

Barbara Wendell has also traveled extensively and worked and traveled as part of her job as a focus group facilitator.  As a facilitator, she is very experienced in working with groups.  And she lives in Annapolis, MD, where she is involved with tourism as a docent and volunteer with Historic Annapolis. 


Q. What is the Delamater Inn like?
The Delamater Inn is composed of several contemporary buildings on a campus next to the Beekman Arms, the oldest continuously operated inn in America. The rooms are spacious and well-lit, with all the amenities you’d expect. Breakfast is served in a glass-walled room on the campus, and we’ll meet for our evening conversations in the living room of Delamater House, also on the campus.

All of the rooms are located on either the first or second floor, so you may have a flight of stairs to your room.

You can walk across the street to the Beekman Arms to enjoy their full bar, restaurant and beautifully landscaped gardens if you like. 


Q. Is there internet access at the hotel?
Yes, free wifi comes with your room.


Q. What will the weather be like?
The weather should be sunny and warm, with just a hint of chill in the evening. But weather’s very unpredictable, so our advice is to come prepared for just about anything. Bring clothes suited for early fall, an umbrella, a light jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.


Q. What to wear?
You needn’t dress up for this trip. Wear your most comfortable clothes for walking. Every place we go will be casual.


Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. Plus each of us has our own dietary needs these days.

On our first day, we’ll have lunch reservations at the American Bounty restaurant at the Culinary Institute. That will be a fixed menu at a fixed price. But if you prefer, you can lunch instead at the Apple Pie Bakery or the Tavern on the grounds.

We do provide a light tea luncheon at the Mills Mansion, and we’ll stop at a locally popular restaurant on our day at the artists’ homes.

Each evening, you can choose where (and with whom) you’d like to eat at one of the many small restaurants in Rhinebeck.


Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We strongly encourage you to buy travel insurance, both for trip cancellation and medical coverage and evacuation. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Also be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely. You generally have to purchase trip insurance at the time you pay your deposit.

Please read the following Terms & Conditions carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.


Trip Prices

Price: $2865

Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, transportation to locations as outlined in the itinerary, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.

Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not mentioned in the itinerary; transportation to Rhinebeck; lunches and dinners except as specified; hotel, restaurant, or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; or any other services not specified in the trip description.

Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.


Registration and Payment

A deposit of $600 per person confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal .

Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.

Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.

We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.


Full final payment is due June 25, 2017.

Cancellations and Refunds

For any cancellations made before June 24, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. Refunds for cancellation are subject to the following schedule:

Before June 25                                                     Full refund (but deposit is forfeited)

June 26 – July 14                                                 50% of trip price (but deposit is forfeited)

July 15 – August 14                                              25% of trip price (but deposit is forfeited)

August 15 – September 25                                     No refund.                                         


Changes to Your Reservation

If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of June 25. After that date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.

Travel Documents

You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip.


Health and Medical Issues

We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip requires a reasonable amount of walking – up to a mile, possibly uphill or on uneven pavements or cobblestone streets and streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb several flights of stairs and board buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you, and you will have to incur the costs of taxis or other special transport.

If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).


Trip Insurance

We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Please note: Medicare is not valid outside of the United States.

Should you have to cancel your trip at the last minute, we cannot offer refunds, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.


Arrival and Departure Dates

It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by June 28, 2017.



The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Politics and Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.

Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, death, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party, nor for personal accidents.

In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the trip, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release Politics and Prose, Wild Blue Yonder and their officers, employees, representatives or agents, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for this trip, the participant agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein.

Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. Should you be removed, you will not be entitled to any refund for unused or missed services or costs incurred as a result of termination of your travel arrangements, including, without limitation, return travel, accommodations, meals and incidentals.

We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.