1. Let’s get one thing straight. The Hudson Valley is not “Upstate New York.”
If you take a look at a map of New York, you’ll notice right away that it is GINORMOUS. The towns that are actually considered to be upstate would probably take no less than 5 hours to drive to from the towns located in and around the Hudson Valley. Can we just settle this once and for all? Not everything north of NYC is upstate.
2. If people don’t know where your town is located, simplify by saying “It’s X miles from Woodbury Commons.”
The Woodbury Commons is a landmark because it is legit one of the largest outlet centers in the world. People come by the busload to shop at this place. It is consistently overrun with tourists, many of whom are international. You need to take a freaking trolley just to get from the parking lot to an actual store. As someone who grew up a mere 5 minutes from Woodbury Commons, I can tell you – it’s not really all that great. And stay the eff away from this place on Black Friday, because your soul and happiness will perish there.
3. The OC is not just a TV show.
Before Seth Cohen and Ryan Atwood, before we even really knew there was an Orange County, California, we had our Orange County. That’s right, Orange County, New York, home of the dudes from American Chopper. It may not be as sunny as the Cohens’ home, but there’s a lot of good wine and delicious food.
4. Diners are good during the day. Diners are great late at night.
You can’t drive more than a few miles in the Hudson Valley area without coming across a diner. And I’m going to be so ballsy to say that the diners in the Hudson Valley are superior to New Jersey diners. Sorry, Jerz. But it’s kind of true. However, if there’s one thing a true born and raised Hudson Valley’er knows, it’s that diner food always tastes substantially better after midnight. It’s science.
5. Craft fairs. So many craft fairs.
As a kid, you probably got dragged to a lot of these with your parents. You’d recognize the sight of those white tents anywhere, the smell of fried dough, and the sounds of people paying lots of money for pottery. Let’s be real, the best part of craft fairs was the food tent. There was always a food tent with free samples of different types of jams and oils and crackers. That was the place to be.
6. You’re a true badass if you visited the original Action Park.
Okay, technically Action Park / Mountain Creek is in New Jersey, but it was a staple for us Hudson Valley kids. The original Action Park is known for its life-threatening (seriously) rides such as a tarzan swing, an alpine slide, and a water slide with a literal vertical loop in the middle of it. Because of the many injuries and deaths that occurred at the park, it was closed down, transformed into Mountain Creek, and then later reopened as Action Park again, but a tamer version. Those of us who grew up in this area either visited the original park, or knew people who did. Nothing made us feel like more of a bamf than telling Action Park war stories.
7. Caldor and Jamesway were the OG Target.
While Target is our answer to any possible need, our parents had to rely on the (now closed) chains of Caldor and Jamesway. Most of us were dragged along on errands to one – or both – of these places, and can recall begging our parents to ride on one of the many kiddie rides that sat right outside the entrance. Good times.
8. You don’t actually have to go to NYC for NYC-quality bagels.
Ess-a-Bagel and Murray’s are great and all, but the Hudson Valley bagels were nothing to sneeze at. Almost every town had a bagel shop or deli, and every weekend morning, the line would wrap all the way around the store towards the doorway. Saturday and Sundays were not the same without a fluffy everything bagel and schmear.
9. Summers included at least one Renegades game.
Even if baseball wasn’t your thing, you somehow ended up sitting in the stands of Dutchess Stadium at least once per summer. Maybe you had a friend who loved baseball, or perhaps you were on a date, but no matter what, you found yourself there every year. At least the mascot is pretty cute.
10. The first time you ever clubbed was probably in Poughkeepsie.
Before taking on any big cities, you tore up the floor at one of those Poughkeepsie dance clubs, probably after seeing a show at The Chance. There’s also a likelihood that this club had cages, and if so, there’s an even bigger probability that you danced in one. Whatever, when in Rome. Or Poughkeepsie.