hudson-valley-travel-hudson-valley.jpgHudson Valley, N.Y. - Places that make you say, "Wow. I didn't know that was here," can be found in corners of the Hudson Valley so well hidden that even residents aren't aware they're there. The delightful surprise of coming upon these sites makes you feel that you've traveled further than you actually have, experiencing something far from the madding crowds. There are many of these places throughout the Hudson Valley, but here are just a few to explore. Widow Jane's Mine. The name alone conjures up the western rush for gold over a hundred years ago, but this "room and pillar" mine in Rosendale served as one of the finest sources of natural cement in the country. The Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Grand Central Station (celebrating its 100th birthday this year), and the Brooklyn Bridge all stand because of the cement harvested from Widow Jane's. Today visitors can tour the mine and the grounds of the A.J. Snyder estate to see how industrial history was made from this one small site. Manmade monuments exist here as well. Ripley's 'Believe it or not' called Pratt Rock in Prattsville, "New York's Mount Rushmore." Less generous appraisals have termed it "a monument to vanity," while some say it's one of the nation's earliest Civil War monuments. Skilled stonecutters worked twenty-eight years to memorialize the life of one man, Zadock Pratt, not coincidentally the man who also paid them to do the work. View the rock carving from the road below, or climb the steep path to see the sculpture and an expansive view of the valley. Art aficionados who appreciate more contemporary works should visit the home and studio of internationally known Surrealist painter Kurt Seligmann in Sugar Loaf. The sweeping lawns surround his home and studio amid blooming gardens and wetlands in the shadow of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Stop by the farm house to view his artwork and pick up a map of the highlights of the Seligmann Estate including the outdoor sculpture, trails, and Seligmann's studio, now a gallery currently exhibiting works by Warhol, Rauchenberg, de Kooning, and others. Visual arts aren't the only cultural experiences well hidden in the Valley. The Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli is set on 153 acres overlooking the Hudson River. Kaatsbaan (Dutch for "playing field") is a residence and performance center for all forms of professional dance. The Visitors Center is in a Stanford White music barn, formerly part of a large estate, but check the calendar to catch one of the many new works with both established and emerging dancers. Dancing much more on the wild side, the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem promotes conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future. Two critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf, reside here, two of the rarest mammals in North America. The programs illustrate how the wolves are necessary for ecological balance and how this facility is part of that recovery. Exciting secrets of the Hudson Valley can be matched by those that bring peace and tranquility. A quiet country road in Petersburgh leads to the Grafton Peace Pagoda, only one of two in the United States. Open sunrise to sunset, achieve your serenity by strolling through the gardens, visiting the pagoda, and taking a quiet moment of meditation in the temple. For some, an equal amount of calm can be found next to a waterfall. The High Falls Conservation Area in Claverack is home to a stunning 150-foot cascading waterfall. Two vantage points are reached by trails from dawn to dusk. Bring the picnic hamper, there's an area set aside to watch the splashing water as you enjoy lunch. One of the region's newer hidden gems is Wonder Lake State Park in Kent. The park boasts nearly ten miles of trails surrounding the scenic, thirty-acre lake. The entire property consists of 900 acres, and is home to many indigenous species of flora and fauna. Some of the best kept secrets in the Valley are its hideaway restaurants frequented by locals. Jake Moon Restaurant and Café in Clarksville is just that kind of place. Unique to this eatery is Chef Daniel Smith who is also the farmer growing the fruits and vegetables found on the menu. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the farm to fork menu also accommodates those on the go who need a picnic lunch. Farm feasts are also part of Hudson Rising, a waterfront festival coming to three of the Valley's river towns. Heritage ships will be moored in Kingston on July 20th to join this spirited celebration. All the fun moves to Beacon on August 11th, and Ossining on September 21st. Boat tours, kayaking, plenty for the kids to do, and a smorgasbord of locally sourced foods, beer, and wine offer an exciting day on the shores of the Hudson. Activities tailored to each city make it a different experience each time, so plan to go to all three! Finding a special place when you travel makes a trip much more fun, and the Hudson Valley is full of hidden destinations just waiting to be discovered. Stumble onto our fabulous art spaces, wildlife preserves, farm fresh restaurants and boutique hotels. There's adventure in every corner of the region where new places are waiting to tell you their secrets. Find more fun things to do at Hudson Valley Tourism, Inc. is the 10-county region designated by I LOVE NEW YORK to promote tourism for the area. Counties include Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester. Regional information can be obtained from any of the county tourism offices, or by calling 845-615-3860. RESOURCES Widow Jane's Mine at the A.J. Snyder Estate, Rosendale. 845 658-9900, Pratt Rock, Prattsville. 518-299-3125, Seligmann Estate, Sugar Loaf. 845-469-9459, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Tivoli. 845-757-5106, Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem. 914-763-2373,    Grafton Peace Pagoda, Petersburgh. 518-658-9301, High Falls Conservation Area, Claverack. 518-392-5252,    Wonder Lake State Park, Kent. 845-808-1015 Jake Moon Restaurant and Café,Clarksville. 518-872-1237, Hudson River Rising, Kingston, Beacon, & Ossining. 212-426-8866, ### Contact: Susan Hawvermale   845-615-3863 Linda Heaney 914-666-0066