Carly Fisher knows all about living out of suitcase. As a child growing up in Florida, she moved every year with her emotionally disturbed mother, a single parent, the pair finally winding up with her grandmother in Chicago’s suburbs. Knowing she would have to make her own way in the world, Fisher excelled at school, winning a scholarship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and studying Czech art and architecture at Prague’s Charles University.
Internships and blogs in food ultimately led her to become a hotel and restaurant reviewer for Fodor’s Travel and to a James Beard Foundation Award nomination for writing an episode of CNN Travel’s “Family Meal,” featuring four expatriate French chefs, including former WAG cover subject Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It’s clear, however, that her humble beginnings and resilience have played as great a part in her first book, on the Hudson Valley and Catskills, as has her writing expertise in the food and travel industries.
“I wanted the book to be about a variety of places,” Fisher says of the recently published “Easy Weekend Getaways in the Hudson Valley & Catskills” (The Countryman Press/ W.W. Norton & Co., $22.95, 256 pages). “Having grown up with nothing and then staying in nice hotels, you get a different sense of people.”
So “Easy Weekend Getaways” — which is organized as much thematically as it is regionally — has something for every taste and pocketbook, all from the perspective of New York City residents who may not be that familiar with all the Hudson Valley and Catskills have to offer. Indeed, for the Brooklynite Fisher, the 10 counties she covers in the book were such a multifaceted challenge that she took two years to research and write about them, rather than the anticipated nine months.
The book embraces haunts for arts lovers, foodies, devotees of the quirky and more. But mindful of the recent pandemic restrictions, we asked Fisher, now at work on a memoir, to suggest a half-dozen outdoor locations in the Lower Hudson Valley that we could safely visit. She suggested:
1. Anthony’s Nose in Garrison — Here the Camp Smith Trail meets the Appalachian Trail on a steep but brisk 1.9 mile climb that sets you up for spectacular views of Purple Heart Memorial Bridge as well as the valley, Fisher says.
2. Bear Mountain State Park — This is one location that you can both hike and drive, she adds. On a clear day, you can see perhaps not forever, as the song says, but at least as far south as the Manhattan skyline and as far north as the Catskill Mountains.
3. Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill — Thishas roughly 1,500 acres, 20 hiking and biking trails and two peaks — Blue Mountain and Mount Spitzenberg — that boast what Fisher describes as glorious views of the Hudson River.
4. Hudson Highland State Park in Cold Spring — This has 8,000 acres and three ruins to see if not actually explore — Bannerman Castle, Dennings Point and Northgate, the Cornish Estate.
5. Manitoga — The former Garrison home of industrial designer Russel Wright, now The Russel Wright Design Center, has been closed, but its 75 acres are open to walkers and hikers.
6. The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail — This is a 26.2 mile bike path, along which you’ll see Sunnyside, author Washington Irving’s charming Tarrytown home; Lyndhurst Mansion; Kykuit, the historic Rockefeller estate; and the Tappan Zee Bridge, now the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
For more, visit wwnorton.com and carlyafisher.com.