By Jessie Festa. A big thanks to Gilbertsville Farmhouse for hosting my Upstate NY retreat. Use code “jessie” to get $100 off a future retreat.
If you’re looking for an Upstate New York retreat that will leave you feeling rejuvenated, then let me introduce you to a very special place called Gilbertsville Farmhouse.
Not only is this where I did my first-ever goat yoga retreat, but it’s also where my husband Andy and I had our wedding — a weekend of gorgeous views, beautiful “I do’s,” glamping, goats, great food and drinks, and non-stop partying that I wish I could transport myself back to every time I think about it.
And while I can’t go back in time to my actual wedding, I’m fortunate that I can revisit this venue time and time again through their incredible array of Finger Lakes retreat offerings. A few of these include:
- Baby Goat & Me Retreat, where you adopt a baby goat for the weekend and take care of it
- Couples Only Retreat, which includes a weekend retreat in Upstate New York full of romance
- New York Goat Yoga Retreat, where the focus is performing your asanas while goats hop on your back and eat animal crackers from your mat
There is also a Food, Wine & Foliage Retreat, which is what Andy and I will be enjoying for the next two nights.
The Gilbertsville Farmhouse Upstate NY Retreat Experience
Rolling hills illuminated by foliage. Quiet roads lined with barns and hay bales. Farm stands selling seasonal fruits and veggies.
This is what we see along the drive as we get farther away from New York City and closer to Gilbertsville and our retreat in Upstate NY. With every mile, hustle and bustle transforms deeper into a slower pace of life.
And as Gilbertsville Farmhouse’s iconic “LOVE” sign and giant barn silo come into view, we completely relax.
Pulling into the driveway, we’re immediately immersed in the Gilbertsville experience: to the left sits a stunning farmhouse and converted dairy barn, while on the right is a pond beach with sheep grazing on its shores.
In front of us, there are goats, guinea hens, cats, chickens, llamas, and even a Scottish Bull — who I remember from my wedding, as the guests affectionally called him “Scotty.”
As soon as we pull in, Katie — Gilbertsville’s resident “Jane of All Trades” — drives up in her golf cart to help us bring our bags to our tent in the Glamping Village.
Katie has been on the team since I did my first Upstate New York retreat with Gilbertsville in 2017. Five years later, she’s still there, helping to raise the resident animals and ensuring guests have an unforgettable experience.
Gilbertsville Farmhouse Retreat Accommodation Options
Andy and I chose to stay in the Glamping Village, which is where you’ll find 10 stylish glamping tents outfitted with boho decor, Adirondack chair-clad decks, and the most comfortable beds you’ll ever sleep in.
If you’re someone who would never go camping, this is the place for you, as it truly has all of the comforts of home: electricity, fans, heat, mirrors, and more.
Oh, and bunnies! There are about five domesticated rabbits that live in the village and hop around from tent to tent.
While the bathroom in the Glamping Village is in a shared bathhouse, it’s the type of place you can hang out in, with separate bathrooms for women and men that are anchored by a common lounge with comfortable couches, a coffee machine, and WiFi.
Now, if sharing a bathroom isn’t your thing, you have other options:
Glamping Suites. These are within another nearby area of tents. The tents are similar to what I described above, but have ensuite bathrooms and are in a quieter setting as the nightly BYOB bonfires take place in the Glamping Village.
Sweetheart Tent. This is the most luxurious of all the accommodations at this rustic Upstate New York resort, and is essentially a small two-story house that includes gorgeous private accommodations on the top and a bottom deck with couches, hammocks, and fire pits. It’s where Andy and I stayed for our wedding and is one of the most epic accommodations I’ve ever stayed in.
Farmhouse Suites. There are 10 of these located within a beautiful 3-story home near Gilbertsville Farmhouse’s entrance, at the bottom of the property’s big hill (so you won’t need staff to transport you in the golf carts). These include private rooms and bathrooms within a home where you’ll share a kitchen and common area. Additionally, these suites put you closer to the goats, pond, and dining spaces.
These accommodation options are just one reason Gilbertsville is one of the most unique Upstate New York retreat centers you can find.
Upstate New York Retreat Day #1: Champagne, Multi-Course Meals & Gourmet S’mores
Views from the glamping tent
After unpacking, our first order of business is to open the bottle of wine left for us inside our glamping tent, sit outside on the deck, and sip while taking in the property’s beauty.
While New York City and nearby areas don’t experience vibrant foliage until closer to mid-to-late-October, the forest of the Finger Lakes is already glowing with bright reds, oranges, and yellows.
I grab my phone to snap a few photos, vowing to keep it on airplane mode and only use it for photography to really let the peace of the place wash over me.
Meeting our fellow retreat-goers
At 6pm, it’s time for the first event of our Upstate New York retreat: an Amuse-Bouche & Aperitif Fireside Soirée.
The social hour takes place on Gilbertsville’s outdoor patio. A table showcasing pre-poured glasses of Bollicini Sparkling Rose sits at the center with heat lamps there for people wanting a break from the autumn chill.
Waiters pass around farm-to-fork appetizers, like grilled bruschetta with Tuscan white beans and herbs and sweet potato bites with apple butter, while Instagrammable areas offer the perfect place for a photo opp.
After taking a few pictures, we grab glasses of bubbly and start making our way around the group to meet our fellow retreat-goers.
In total, there are 20 people — 9 couples and 1 sister duo. Everyone seems to come from a different city and with their own unique story to tell, which makes meeting people even more interesting.
We meet a couple from Syracuse who loves taking spontaneous adventures, another from Westchester who has just gotten married, and another from Philadelphia who has just found out they’re expecting their first child.
We meet people who work in television, the food industry, and aviation; who love Lizzo, photography, and cooking.
But one thing everything has in common: they’re extremely nice and easy to get along with.
In my opinion, the people you meet on a retreat are a big part of the experience. Luckily, Gilbertsville has attracted a wonderful group of diverse yet likeminded people who are excited to simply have a fun and relaxing weekend full of delicious food, great wine, and unparalleled natural beauty.
A delicious dinner in the Hayloft
Our first night’s dinner takes place in the Hayloft, a beautiful space above the barn that features long white cloth tables underneath funky mismatched chandeliers, with a small lofted space overlooking the dining room as well as a large outdoor deck looking out over the property. It’s actually the same space Andy and I hosted the welcome party for our wedding.
This retreat center in Upstate New York is all about farm-to-table food, and the night’s multi-course meal showcases the best of the region.
We start with lobster and corn fritters before moving on to a fresh kale salad featuring roasted golden and red beets, candied walnuts, goat cheese, and apple cider vinaigrette.
The next course is the star of the show, with everyone taking multiple servings of the mushroom sacchetti pasta with asparagus tips and harvest cream sauce.
When the main course comes out everyone is pretty stuffed, but still can’t say no to the roasted Cornish hen with rainbow carrots, fingerling potatoes, and cauliflower with white wine reduction.
As I’m a pescatarian, the chef has prepared a special dish for me: marsala shrimp and fingerling potatoes with caramelized onion, tomato, and garlic confit in a lemon whipped goat cheese, served with crostini.
I would never have thought to put these ingredients together, but as I take bite after bite, it’s clear they’re an incredible combination — especially with the free-flowing wine.
Gourmet s’mores around the fire
After some apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and a glass of dessert wine, the group heads up to the Glamping Village for s’mores around the bonfire.
While I’m stuffed, I somehow make room once I see a fireside table showcasing graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Nutella, Rice Krispies Treats, banana chunks, strawberries, cookies, and other goodies to make gourmet s’mores.
Grabbing a stick, some marshmallows, and a steaming cup of hot cider laced with a shot of bourbon, I sit down beside the warm fire, knowing I’ll be sleeping good tonight.
Upstate New York Retreat Day #2: Mushroom Foraging, Relaxation & Farmhouse Dining
Scrambled eggs & spiced mimosas
After a scrumptious buffet breakfast featuring dishes like fresh fruit, vanilla bean French toast, vegetable scrambled eggs, and fall yogurt parfait — and glasses of rosé — the group heads to the property’s Hammock Park for some mushroom foraging.
Foraging for mushrooms on an Upstate NY retreat
Exploring the property beyond the dining spaces and tent villages, you really begin to realize how enormous Gilbertsville Farmhouse’s property is, as it also includes the forest we’ll be descending into for this excursion.
The experience is led by Shane, Gilbertsville’s Catering Manager, and his fiancé Gina, who is actually the venue’s Experience Coordinator and On-Site Event Planner.
While I’ve gone foraging in Central Park before, I’m not sure what to expect; but, the duo’s passion for mushrooms quickly rubs off on the group.
And after learning a few tips, it’s not long before we’re all paving our own little forest paths, trying to find a mushroom species that hasn’t yet been found by anyone else in the group.
It’s incredible how many different types of mushroom the group finds in an hour. Everything from delicious mushrooms like chanterelle, enoki, and hedgehog, to mushrooms known specifically for their medicinal qualities like turkey tail and reishi.
Shane and Gina also teach us loads of interesting mushroom facts. For instance, the mushroom is actually the fruit of mycelium, a fungal network that expands throughout the soil and is assisted by trees, which communicate with each other.
So, if you dig, pick up a branch, or move a pile of leaves and see a web of white, you’re seeing a mycelium network.
It really makes you think about the magic you’re stepping over all of the time without even realizing it!
A relaxing retreat lunch in the Milking Barn
Despite a huge breakfast, I somehow find room for lunch — which I’m starting to realize is a pattern on this retreat. You certainly don’t go hungry.
A delicious spread is laid out in the Milking Barn — which is actually where Andy and I hosted the cocktail hour for our wedding.
This is one of my absolute favorite spaces at Gilbertsville Farmhouse, as it offers a unique blend of rustic chic and romance, with bales of hay covered in burlap for seating underneath hundreds of bare bulbs. On the walls hang colorful cow portraits and neon signs that say things like “LOVE” and “XOXO.”
The group piles bamboo plates with seasonal eats like garden salad, heirloom tomato galette, olive tapenade with pita, bocconcini caprese salad, pasta salad, marinated artichokes, and homemade focaccia sandwiches.
And with every bite, I taste fall in the Finger Lakes.
To pair, there are options for white and red biodynamic wines. While it’s only 12:30pm, the relaxed vibe of this Upstate New York retreat makes it feel like there are no rules and no hard deadlines. The goal is simply relaxation and enjoyment.
Exploring the beauty of Gilbertsville Farmhouse
Speaking of time, the rest of the afternoon is open for guests to explore local Upstate New York attractions, like hiking trails and wineries, or simply enjoy Gilbertsville’s bucolic setting.
Onsite, you can relax in the hammock park or at the pond-side beach, take paddle boats to an island gazebo, play with baby goats and other farm animals, play outdoor games in the Glamping Village, wander woodland paths, and walk to the top of the property to take in views of rolling hills.
I have a hard time believing other retreats in Upstate New York are this beautiful and serene, and I’m thankful to be here in this moment.
Andy and I also partake in a few more beverages on our private glamping tent patio, simply enjoying the foliage and each other’s company.
At 5pm, George — one of the friendly faces of Gilbertsville you’ll come to know — brings us a thermos of hot asparagus soup with bread. It’s the perfect way to warm up on a chilly autumn day.
Additionally, before dinner, I’m greeted with one more treat: a tiny kitten looking for a friend.
One of the best parts of Gilbertsville Farmhouse is the animals. If you’re an animal lover, or the thought of cuddling a goat or cat excites you, this will be your version of heaven on Earth.
The kitten is so small she basically fits in my palm. I put a blanket over my legs and snuggle her up next to my body, petting her and enjoying her loud purrs.
She is actually up for adoption — as are a number of the animals at Gilbertsville; but, unfortunately, we already have two cats in our small NYC apartment. I just have to appreciate my time with her while I can.
A farm-to-fork retreat feast
Like last night, dinner is delicious and plentiful, with free-flowing wine to complement.
The location for the meal is the Chandelier Barn, which is where Gilbertsville hosts their wedding receptions.
Once a hay barn, the revamped space retains its farm aesthetic while also being outfitted with crystal chandeliers, bare cafe lights, giant sliding glass doors offering beautiful views, and loads of Instagrammable decor — like plush gem-toned couches and antique mirrors.
The dinner table is accented by a garland of colorful fall leaves and bountiful floral centerpieces, which adds to the rustic elegance.
Soon enough, wait staff are delivering course after course: a grilled vegetable puff pastry stromboli with blistered tomato and basil; bruschetta salad with radicchio, tender greens, garlic confit, and lemon vinaigrette; farro risotto with butternut squash, sage butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, and chanterelle mushrooms — foraged yesterday from the property.
For the main course, there is a boneless leg of lamb served with lemon thyme mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and caramelized onions.
Of course, since I don’t eat meat the chef has prepared something special for me: a tuna steak done in a balsamic maple reduction and garnished with thyme. It’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted.
Black Forrest mousse & a boozy bonfire
To really help guests enjoy the property to the fullest, dessert is enjoyed in their After Party Lounge, which is just a few steps away. Black Forest Mousse is served with a tasty Baron Philippe de Rothschild Cadet d’Oc Moscato.
It’s the perfect sweet ending to the day — though we’re not quite done yet, as a roaring bonfire awaits the group in the Glamping Village.
We stay up until about 1am, sipping and chatting with new companions. It’s crazy to think we just arrived yesterday, but everyone has become such fast friends. It truly feels like I’ve known these people for years, and these connections is one of the best parts about booking a group retreat.
Upstate New York Retreat Day #3: A final farm-to-fork breakfast
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end — though not before an enormous breakfast.
We all laugh at how we’re still full from the previous night, though that doesn’t keep anyone from loading their plates up with fresh fruit, French pastries, yogurt and granola, lemon ricotta pancakes, breakfast potatoes gratin with red peppers and parmesan, and, my personal favorite, shakshuka with avocados, fresh lemon, and cilantro.
To pair, we’ve got pomegranate mimosas garnished with sprigs of rosemary, which just feels so perfectly fall.
It’s the perfect send-off after the perfect retreat, and I vow to be back again in the future for yet another Gilbertsville Farmhouse getaway.
Final Thoughts On My Finger Lakes Retreat
If you’re looking for a unique Upstate New York retreat that blends bucolic beauty, delicious seasonal food, and unforgettable experiences, Gilbertsville Farmhouse should be on your radar.
While not cheap, you truly get what you pay for, as owners Sharon and Aldo Boustani — along with their staff — pay attention to every detail. From the food to the bedding to the decor, Gilbertsville Farmhouse overdelivers every step of the way.
Plus, they host a variety of retreats with different focuses so that you can explore what makes sense for you, whether you want to adopt a baby goat for a weekend, enjoy a culinary escape, have an uber romantic weekend, enjoy an Upstate New York yoga retreat, or something else.
Save $100 On Upcoming Upstate New York Retreats
Looking for retreats in NY that offer discounts? Well, you’re in luck!
If you’d like to do a retreat at Gilbertsville Farmhouse, you can use code “jessie” to save $100. Simply head to their website, choose the Upstate New York retreat of your choice (under the “Events” tab), and use the code at checkout.
They’re hosting a couples retreat in Upstate New York very soon, though there are other options, too.
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What is your favorite Upstate New York retreat?
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