Driving to Montreal from New York City presents several choices. The most obvious (and easiest) is to stay on Interstate 87, the New York State Thruway, which goes almost straight north from New York City to Montreal. The 200 miles north of Albany to the Canadian border, the Adirondack Northway section of I-87, is toll-free. Exits on I-87 are numbered sequentially and not by distance.
Taking the Scenic Route
A scenic alternative is U.S. Route 9W, with views of the Hudson River, that follows I-87 almost entirely. It's best to avoid U.S. Route 9W south of Poughkeepsie, however, because it is bordered by an endless string of strip malls. State Route 9D is a scenic alternative as are the Palisades and Taconic parkways, which forbid trucks.
Note that the parkways were constructed with lowered bridges and overpasses. This was city planner Robert Moses's attempt to discourage busloads of immigrants from visiting the state parks.
Stop Offs in the Hudson River Valley
Stopping in the Hudson River Valley is an absolute must. The following recommended stops are within a 90-minute to two-hour drive from New York City (about three hours from Montreal) and are easily accessible from the routes mentioned above.
- Kingston: The state's first capital and site of the largest Dutch settlement in the state is at Exit 19 off U.S. Route 9W. The historic Stockade District is well worth a walking tour, which can be completed in an hour or less. Highlights include the Old Dutch Church (open Sundays) and the beautifully preserved Hoffman House Tavern. With its intimate stone and dark wood interior and pretty garden terrace, the Hoffman House is a good lunch stop.
- Beacon: This is the home to the 160,000-square foot Dia Galleries that house a huge collection of contemporary art from the 1960s to today. Highlights include permanent works by artists such as Richard Serra. The naturally lit space is a reclaimed Nabisco factory.
- Mountainville: Art lovers can check out the big names in contemporary sculpture found at the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville off U.S. Route 9W. Most of the large works are outdoors and can be seen from a guided trolley tour. The Edward Hopper house in Nyack is worth a peek, though none of his works are housed here.
- Newburgh: Architecture fans will want to check out the Greek Revival church dating from 1835 that overlooks the Hudson in Newburgh. The Boscobel House, in Garrison, just off State Route 9D, is a good example of the Federal style and makes for a pleasant visit and picnic with great views of the Hudson. The ample grounds also host concerts and Shakespearean theater.
- Poughkeepsie: Just outside Poughkeepsie, stop at the Culinary Institute of America for a meal and a tour. Reservations are recommended at their French and American fine-dining restaurants. The Marriott Courtyard 15 minutes away makes a good overnight stop.
- New Paltz: For overnight or day visits, nothing beats a trip to the Mohonk Mountain House outside New Paltz in Ulster County (U.S. Route 9W from Poughkeepsie to NY 299). It's rumored that this was the inspiration for author Stephen King's "The Shining." This "house" is more of a castle complete with spa, glacial lake, forested hiking trails and a tricky nine-hole golf course. Private balconies and wood fireplaces complete the getaway.