I’ve lived in Brooklyn for several years, and have been trawling the eastern seaboard (and beyond) on offMetro’s behalf for just as long. So it’s safe to say I’m about as “car-free” as they come. I don’t own a car, and I don’t wish to. Who needs the extra expenses, the carbon footprint, the headaches of parking (and New York street rules)? But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days when I’ve dreamed of stocking up at the Red Hook Fairway, picking up that IKEA bookshelf without also shelling out for shipping, or even hitting that cool Hudson Valley farm without navigating a complicated train-bus-taxi scenario.
Off the beaten path, it turns out, doesn’t always play well with “car-free.”
Enter Carpingo, a car-sharing community based in Brooklyn. Combining the “personality, responsibility and ease of a carshare community with the efficiency and availability of a traditional rental company,” Carpingo offers affordable car sharing memberships and myriad convenient locations throughout the borough. The company, which launched in the fall of 2012, partners with local businesses like Rooftop Films and the Brooklyn Philharmonic to provide discounts and other perks for drivers.
“As New Yorkers, we understand that alternatives are needed for car ownership and traditional car rental in our busy city,” said director of marketing Nathan Isherwood. “Carpingo is about car-sharing the road in NYC, without office hours or expensive insurance premiums or big eco-footprints. New York is never going to slow down, so it’s our mission to give our neighbors the freedom of the road whenever they need it.”
During a recent bout of cabin fever, I took a road trip to the Hudson Valley, fitting in a few places that might otherwise be hard to reach, especially in winter when many of the specialty trains and shuttle services stop running.
Get inspired to get out of town with this Hudson Valley road trip manual.
On the Road
My friends and I met at one of Carpingo’s many lots, a central location for all of us, where the friendly attendants quickly pulled out our reserved car (a Prius, naturally) and sent us on our way. The car was clean, cute, and oh-so-quiet, with a gas card in the glove box that we did not need, thanks to its energy smarts. (Had we, though, Carpingo rentals include gas. There is also an EZ Pass, but tolls are not included in the rental.)
Curds and Whey
Sprout Creek Farm (34 Lauer Road), situated just outside of Poughkeepsie and operated by the Catholic organization Society for the Sacred Heart, is a place where good abounds, from educational programs to the cheese. Stop in for a free tasting, then hit the market to pick up freshly harvested produce and other picnic fixings. And don’t forget to walk around and meet the happy cows and goats in the yard. Guests looking to really get down on the farm can opt to stay overnight in the on-site cottage (from $475 for the weekend). On a warm day, lift off from Sprout Creek’s backyard in a Blue Sky Balloon and take in spectacular aerial views of the Hudson Valley.
A Wine Time
After loading up on delicacies soft, crumbly, and pungent, something to wash it all down is imperative. Millbrook Vineyards and Winery (26 Wing Road) is a beautiful and delicious stop. Tucked along the Dutchess Wine Trail, the winery is easiest reached by car in the winter months, when the Vineyard Express is not operating.
Tours of the vineyard share some of the history and a background in growing grapes in this somewhat unlikely region. Then it’s off to the tasting room, which is set in a renovated dairy barn overlooking rows of vineyards against a Catskill Mountain backdrop. Tastings cost $10 and include a lovely sampling of current wines, as well as your souvenir glass. There is also a reserve tasting for $25, and, of course, plenty of bottles for purchase to enjoy with your wine and cheese picnic.
Set in bucolic Hyde Park, Springwood (4097 Albany Post Road) is the lifelong and beloved estate of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, where the four-term president was born, entertained famous figures from Churchill to the king and queen of England, and started the first presidential library.
You can stroll the picturesque grounds and visit the Rose Gardens and grave sites of FDR and Eleanor for free, or dig deeper with a guided tour of the home and Presidential Library ($14).
From the home of one Roosevelt to the beer of another. Well, sort of. Just next door to the FDR home sits the Hudson Valley’s first brewery, the Hyde Park Brewing Company, home to a luscious array of specially crafted suds, including a Rough Rider Red Lager that makes a nod to Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
The menu of German favorites and comfort foods features locally sourced ingredients, many of which are prepared with the beers themselves, and come with pairing suggestions. And if you can’t decide, there is always a crisp and tasty sampler. In short, the perfect way to fuel up before the drive home.
Visit carpingo.com and enjoy a $75 driving credit when you sign up with offMetro. Choose from four affordable plans (the Pay as you ‘pingo, Starter Saver, City Saver, and Pro Saver), which start as low as $8/hour. Drink responsibly.
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