This weekend, I participated in the launch tour for Hudson Valley Tours.  The tour involved a day trip into New York’s Lower Hudson Valley where we discovered New York gems.

The day began with a convenient pick up at Columbus Circle.  I stopped at good old Starbucks for a quick Vanilla Chai Tea Latte with soy milk (my Starbucks staple) and hopped into the organic green bus. The trip in the bus was easy with A/C and comfy chairs.  We made another stop in Westchester to pick up some other guests and went onto begin the tour.

Our first stop was the Union Church of Pocantino Hills. At first glance, this church didn’t seem too special. Once inside you felt the magic of the stained glass windows. Matisse and Chagall were both makers to the stained glass windows and they definitely didn’t scrimp when making them. They were magnificent.

We learned our bit on how the small church came to have these two greats in their hall and then headed out to the Stone Barns Farm, where Blue Hill Restaurant gets most of their food from for their business. Even though the sun was pounding on us with clear blue skies, the hour + tour of the grounds was priceless. We saw everything from the bees that provided them with honey to the pigs and sheep providing them with meat. (yum!) Now I really want to eat a meal at Blue Hill in the City.

After Stone Barns, we sat at their cute picnic tables and feasted on lunch provided by the tour. Can I just say that lunch was amazing? Already, it was beautifully and thoughtfully packaged. Meals had the Hudson Valley Tours logo on them and each guests lunch choice and name on them. Inside was my scrumptious tuna sandwich along with some potato chips. Also provided was bottled water (Poland Springs, of course) and these delicious cookies provided by a local baker, Lauren Weiner, and some fruits. Needless to say, I was impressed with their support of local food business, something I am strongly for and this just made my experience all the better.

We then headed to more historical sites – the Lyndhurst Mansion and Washington Irving’s Cottage. Both were interesting too, but I think my favorite was Stone Barns, seconded by the Church of Pocantico Hills. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Matisse, Chagall and the environment.

Our day finished getting dropped off and giving some feedback (priceless, obviously) to our tour guides. I had a GREAT time on this day tour. I have newfound knowledge of the City’s neighboring areas, so full of history and progress toward a better tomorrow. I would definitely book another day tour with Hudson Valley Tours in the future. Sweet and funny tour leaders, comfortable accommodations, delicious local lunch and great places to visit. The tour was carefree and entertaining for me, which is everything I would be looking for from a day tour. No decisions, just fun and relaxation. Oh! And I almost failed to mention the Hudson Valley Tours’ last major selling point for me: they’re working toward making their buses run completely on biodiesel fuel. Love them!