Could this really be the greatest little town (and lake) in America? Maybe...
By Tessa E. Williams
I cherish our agricultural community in Copake, NY—from the sweeping landscapes dotted with cows or crops to the Taconic Hills and Copake Lake. Situated on the New York corner where Massachusetts and Connecticut connect, Copake’s a magical place where nature’s the real star.
Whether you hike, hunt, boat, swim, ski, bird watch or read, are a local farmer, artist, maker or business in Copake, this town is truly a treasure along the Taconic. Pro Tip: Once you’re here, drive or Amtrak to Hudson north along the river—you’re welcome.
Anyone lucky enough to land in Copake’s usually house hunting within 24 hours (Austin at Copake Lake Realty is a solid option).
The light in this corner of the Hudson Valley is unequaled, and more spectacular than the famed Hudson River School paintings that feature its magic hour and historic homes. A place that begs you to stop, engage the senses and indulge in a day off that usually ends with star gazing and beckons you to your best sleep ever. All of this awaits Manhattan day trippers: We’re only two hours north of New York City.
7 a.m. AIR DETOX
In celebration of light, I love to burn a candle in the morning to clear the air from the night before—or cooking odors. Try the Gardener scent from The Maker Hotel candle trio that brings clarity only nature inspires.
8 A.M. MORNING TEA
Every morning my amazing husband Eric makes me local tea from Harney & Sons, (Paris, please) with local honey as I let out the dogs, chickens and cats to break the fast and shine in the sun while stretching or doing yoga.
9 A.M. HOMEMADE BREAKFAST
I gather this morning’s eggs from our heritage coop to scramble and pair with the world’s best bacon
(Sir William Farms) for the morning meal offering. We add locally made hot sauce and sauerkraut from Hawthorne Valley Farm & fresh pressed juice is a must.
10 A.M. FLOWERS
Morning ritual of fresh flower cuttings from my victory garden brings joy—and forces you to keep up: Weed, water and plant those successions from Turtle Tree Seed Company with homemade compost (add the left-over eggshells and coffee grounds to help decompose) and/or I order bouquets from Amy Bosco at Elegant Floral Creations and mix stems in vessels for every room in the house…who doesn’t love a bedside bouquet?
11 A.M. YOU PICK
Grab one of my vintage garden baskets (bonus from antiquing in nearby Hudson), run to Thompson Finch Farm and pick up fresh organic berries—I call “farm candy”—and always have on hand for guests, snacks and especially homemade shortcake. Afterward, I’ll drop off apples to Cricket Hill Farm (ask about riding lessons in dressage!) and say hi to Gabe.
1 P.M. LUNCH
Stop by Historic Empire Farm (originally built by the Astor Family with a racetrack). It’s a true hidden gem and perfect picnic spot for lunch. Shop the Farm Store & Farmers Market 10-3pm Saturdays. Order summertime lemonade and lobster rolls or other delish menu items at the Sunshine Window. The Farm Store sells grab-and-go food—perfect to picnic in the farm’s casual/chic spots set up to reserve. Ask about the “puff puff picnic” with a cannabis farm tour and tasting. At Empire Farm, folks love the variety: $1 bouquet bar, meet local vendors, coffee bar, ice cream and milkshake bar with Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy, Bartlett House (bread and baked goods) and the “FAB CSA” which allows you to “Fill A Bag” of organic biodynamic greens and veggies for just a $25 donation to the FarmOn! Foundation.
3 P.M. FIELD TRIP
You can call ahead or pop by Hillrock Estate Distillery, where they make solera aged bourbon, rye and whiskey for a memorable and delicious tour and tasting. They grow the grain to then floor malt and age in small batch bottles. We’ll grab one to pair with our BBQ tonight at Empire Farm.
4 P.M. NAP (…OR WORK OUT)
I highly recommend a nap at this point, but if you like to work out, hike Bash Bish Falls with friends. Maybe you can do both? It’s only about 45 minutes on an easy guided hiking trail to visit a magnificent 60-foot waterfall—and you can bring your dog on leash or rent bikes too. It’s also ADA accessible with a new trail ride.
6 P.M. MEAT MEET
Order and pick up meat—and meet your farmer, Bruce Connover of Sir William Farms. His black angus rib eye won’t disappoint. Trust. On the way home I stop by Copake General Store in town to pick up all the perfectly local and yummy offerings to supplement the BBQ with friends in our antique barn (also for rent!).
9 A.M. BREAKFAST
Call Farmers Wife and ask Lisa for a “CK on Multigrain.” It’s not on the menu and it comes as is—no changes allowed—but it’s absolutely life changing for Sunday brekkie (they also have an array of NYC newspaper selections). And if you have company in the house, get extras to go…or keep it a secret, as I’ve tried to do.
11 A.M. GOLF & FLOAT
Nine holes of lakeside golf at Copake Country Club followed by lunch to-go from The Greens to share on the boat for a late afternoon float on Copake Lake (Copake Boat & Ski—ask Alex Almond for rentals available) after all, it’s Sunday Funday on Copake Lake. What could be better?
(above) basketball diaries Still newlyweds—and proud Copake, NY all stars—FarmOn! Foundation’s Tessa E. Williams and ex-Boston Celtics standout Eric Williams feel the love at their compound.