Remember Mrs. Garrett, Tootie and Blair Warner? I’m dating myself here but the town of Peekskill has always been synonymous with the 80’s sitcom The Facts of Life, a show I watched religiously before my parents pulled the plug so that I’d do my homework. At that age, I thought the show, like many others, was filmed on location.
The all-female boarding school was fictionally set in Westchester County, about 40-miles north from NYC, with recurring roles from a then-young George Clooney and Molly Ringwald. Interracial relationships, abortion, cancer, prostitution, marijuana, sex-ed, tax evasion, suicide – the sitcom taught me far more about life than textbooks did, hence the name of the show.
So, here I am now 30 years later, in Peekskill, NY, on assignment to cover the highlights of my imaginary city – longingly looking for the fictional Eastland and Langley College.
Instead of finding my childhood celebrities though, I discover larger-than-life contemporary art popping up all along the waterfront.
Instead of sticks of taffy at Edna’s Edibles, I sip a pint of harvest ale at a nearby brewery.
And, the hypothetical commuter train that whisked the four Musketeers to NYC on certain episodes? Actually, that’s still there. The MTA Metro-North train line runs along the scenic Hudson equipped with nostalgic bells and loud whistles.
Memories of my adolescence entertainment are still alive and well poking around Peekskill. It shouldn’t feel familiar but it does.
Friends are made five minutes upon pulling up to a bright bar for a light lunch at the popular Peekskill Brewery (also known as PB). I have time only for a plate of hand cut fries but it marries well with a hoppy summer saison called Zizania.
The young tattooed-arm to my left insists that I return and try their housemade sausage made of rabbit and terragon. The birthday boy sitting to my right and his girlfriend (originally from Portland) are buying time before boarding a boat for a Hudson cruise. They too have a passion for Peekskill and list their favorite parks, markets, performing art centers and restaurants like the Birdsall House.
With limited sunlight left to explore, I wrap shooting and jump back on my magic carpet called the Taconic parkway. The route wraps around undulating valleys, under low stone bridges and past sweeping views of the Catskill mountains on the west side of the river.
So, the fact is, Peekskill makes for a perfect day trip from the Capital Region.