Scoping out a day trip to Albany County? Plan a day exploring the Towns of Berne, Knox, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville! These four western-most towns in Albany County are collectively known as the “Helderberg Hilltowns.” These charming countryside communities offer a rural escape from the hustle bustle. Scroll on for a day trip itinerary for the Helderberg Hilltowns!
Insider Tip: The featured businesses are all open on Saturdays, so that is the best day of the week for your Helderberg Hilltowns day trip.
Check out the Helderberg Hilltowns Association for more information on restaurants and businesses in the Helderberg Hilltowns.
Start off your day trip bright and early with a high-flying adventure at WildPlay Thacher. Located in John Boyd Thacher Park, the adventure course boasts 15 ziplines and 60 aerial games. Try the classic course to channel your inner Indiana Jones or test your limits with the extreme course. There is even a kids course for mini-adventurers! Depending upon which course you pick, your adventure can range from 30 minutes to 120 minutes.
After your adventure, head on a 6-minute drive to Thompson's Lake Campground. Nestled within John Boyd Thacher State Park, this campground is a scenic spot to enjoy cool mountain breezes. If you plan your day trip in the summer, go for a swim in the lake! Or enjoy lakeside activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking and more. If the weather is cooler, swing by the lake to admire stunning views of fall foliage.
Bonus: Make your day trip an overnight getaway! Stay at one of the 140 wooded campsites at the Thompson's Lake Campground.
Embark on a 20-minute drive through the scenic countryside to the Town of Rensselaerville. Grab lunch at Kuhar Family Farm Market for farm fresh eats made with local veggies, farm-raised meat and local breads. Enjoy your lunch inside, outside on the porch or at a nearby picnic table.
Following lunch, stroll down the town's historic Main Street, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out the Rensselaerville Library housed in a distinctive and historic building. Dating back to 1798, it was one of the first libraries in Albany County. The historic main street is also home to a 19th century grist mill, operated by the Rensselaerville Historical Society.
After walking down the historic Main Street, venture to the nearby Huyck Preserve for an outdoor adventure. This Albany County hidden gem offers 12 miles of trails through forest, fields and wetlands. The preserve is home to Rensselaerville Falls, a must-see 120-foot cascading waterfall. Hiking trails snake along the falls, so you can't miss the stunning natural wonder! Continue along the trails to Lake Myosotis for bird-watching, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
After working up an appetite on your hike, head on a 20-minute drive to the The Babbling Brook Watering Hole & Eatery. Located in Berne, the eatery is the newest venture from local chef and caterer Brad Stevens. The family-friendly restaurant serves up delicious eats including distinctive dishes such as a Hot Honey Crispy Chicken Ice Cream Sandwich, Dill Pickle Mac n Cheese and Teriyaki Salmon Cakes. A scenic creek runs along the back of the property to the neighboring ice cream joint, Silky's Ice Creamery. The unique ice creamery specializes in bubble waffle cones! The totally Insta-worthy ice cream is served up in a bubble waffle cone with unique toppings ranging from Pop Rocks to Flamin' Hot Cheetos to fruity cereal.
If craft beverages are more your speed, after dinner head to the Helderberg Mountain Brewing Company in Berne. The farm licensed brewery's handcrafted, small batch beer contains between 90% to 100% New York malt and hops.