Hi, Aerie fam! Brand creative director Summer here, and I’m taking you behind the scenes of our latest shoot for holiday. To convey a nostalgic spirit this season, we traveled “home” to Hudson Valley and the Catskills of New York. For many of us, the road to home is filled with traditions: a favorite restaurant, a local gift shop, the halfway-there convenience stop, etc. Find out where we chose to highlight as our favorite pitstops and sleepover areas during our four-day journey.
Sometimes you need a getaway spot before you reunite with family and friends, or the drive home is simply too long for one day. A sweet stop-over is a MUST (so sweet that you may not want to leave, like me!).
Scribner’s Catskills Lodge
13 Scriber Hollow Rd, Hunter, NY 12442
It’s no secret that we aren’t actually shooting during the season we are advertising so one of the hardest things to do this go around was trying to avoid the autumn leaves and all of their golden shades of beauty on Hunter Mountain. I can only image this spot in the middle of actual winter, covered in snow and speckled with skiers in the distance. This is a dream destination anytime of the year, whether you’re a regular at the pool through summer, enjoying peace and nature throughout spring and fall or turning into a snow bunny in the winter. A real gem in the heart of the Catskills.
Fun fact: this is a dog-friendly lodge, so it truly is a home away from home. Let me give a special thank you and a little background to the star of the season, our furry friend Madison. Madison is a 1.5-year-old AmStaff, bulldog and boxer mix. She made her way to Brooklyn from a kill shelter in Tennessee, the day before she was due for the chopping block. Madison’s message: adopt — don’t buy from puppy mills!
Besides the picturesque views in every direction, my favorite part was Old Man Scribner’s garden that can be seen upon entering the property. During our visit, it was full of lettuces and squashes and other garden-grown goods that are used in seasonal dishes available at the on-site restaurant, Scribner’s Prospect and for room service. I was even gifted a Calabash squash which is by far the largest squash I have ever seen, held and eaten!! I hand carried this treasure home via plane and gifted to my husband who happily grilled for us. We enjoyed for nearly a week!
Notch Lake aka Devil’s Tombstone
NY-214, Hunter, NY 12442
A lovely public spot for a lakeside reflection, a picnic with friends or a hike to find the devil’s tombstone (we never found it). Keep your eyes peeled for all the creatures big and small. (Check out this cute little garter snake we found. Yes, I really picked him up and he obliged for a photo op with Nathalie.
Diners are teeming with tradition and we managed to pop by not one, but two during our adventures home. We also worked in a trip to a farmer’s market, because when are fresh fruits and veggies NOT a good idea? Never!
5681 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY 12464
We were lucky enough to take over the inside and add some festive holiday flair. It’s the quintessential roadside diner complete with iconic signage, swiveling barstools and their own cookbook. The diner also has a whole outdoor setup perfect for these socially distant times. You order from a classic airstream and enjoy your meal at picnic tables under cafe string lights.
Then, we traveled east to another favorite and in true road tripping fashion one of the members of our convoy was pulled over for a busted brake light! IMPORTANT REMINDER to all who are hitting the road this holiday: check your fluids, blinkers and spare tire. And it’s always good to have a blanket (maybe that cozy Aerie fleece from last holiday, a flashlight and SNACKS!).
West Taghkanic Diner
1016 NY-82, Ancram, NY 12502
This place is just stunning and a real eye catcher when cruising along the Taconic Parkway. If the striking red, blue and silver exterior doesn’t get you, the epic neon signage is a can’t-miss feature day or night. We were given access to the retro interior which is temporarily closed to the public. We filled the glass cooler and counter with pies and waffles galore. Samirah took advantage of the bar like it was her own catwalk … funny what happens when you have the place to yourself. Currently the diner has an outdoor experience similar to the Phoenicia Diner and it was set up with picnic tables that are scattered amongst a co-op garden. And the food — fantastic!
Meisner’s Heritage Farm Market
3771 U.S. 9, Hudson, NY 12534
Because arriving home without gifts is a no-no. We opted for homemade pies and fresh greens to adorn the fireplace. There’s nothing better than a local market with fresh produce and other homegrown treasures like honeycombs, mums or wreaths. Owner Melissa was so accommodating and super excited to witness the shoot in process. It’s always fun to make people smile while you invade their space =).
DAYS 3 & 4
Collier’s Cold Springs Tree Farm
43 Cold Spring Road, Hudson, New York 12534
Although we were a little early to actual tree picking, we got to enjoy traipsing amongst the balsam and Fraser pines, crowd-free thanks to the lovely owner Joyce. AND we were even allowed to borrow “Dad’s” (or “Pappy’s”) woody (LOL) for a little joyride and tree transportation. For me, nostalgia is watching [National Lampoon’s] Christmas Vacation with my siblings the day after Thanksgiving so you can imagine my excitement when we found “Clark Griswold” vibes in a vehicle; a well-kept 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Private Home, Hudson Valley
This is where we enjoyed some traditional pastimes including tree decorating, Netflix and chilling with popcorn and baking cookies while dancing in the kitchen. This was also the setting for my first, and Aerie’s first, pie-in-the-face episode. Overheard on set, “I’ve always wanted to be pie’d!” LOL.
Out on the Town
Outside of making memories in a cozy home, we also ventured around the region to find great spots to stay, have dinner, grab coffee and more — including getting our hands on some of the most delicious fresh bread around!
41 Cross St, Hudson, NY 12534
Coffee (and motorcycles):
357 Warren St, Hudson, NY 12534
Bread (The. Best. Ever.):
322 Warren St, Hudson, NY 12534
Note: Prepare to wait in line. VERY worth it. I love bread (seriously, I even have it tattooed on my arm right where the Dr. puts the blood pressure cuff =p).
Dinner & drinks:
347 Warren St, Hudson, NY 12534
Talk about an eventful trip “home”! We had an amazing time exploring Hudson Valley and the Catskills, and can’t wait to hear about your own traditions. Let us know your favorite part of your hometown in the comments, Aerie fam!