CARMEL, N.Y. -- Frank Smith knows the treasures that make Putnam County a terrific destination for tourists. His goal is to encourage others to discover the events, places and resources that make the county an important Hudson Valley resource.
“I really feel like it’s a hidden gem,’’ said Smith, the acting director of Putnam County Tourism since March. “In Cold Spring, between the restaurants and the art galleries, you get a taste of Smalltown, USA. The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has become a staple of the region. In Kent, we have the largest Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere. Lake Mahopac is the first motor boat lake north of Manhattan. It might be a relatively small geographic area, but there is a ton you can do.”
Smith knows the county inside and out. A 2010 graduate of Carmel High School, he returned to the region after graduating from Syracuse University in 2014. He worked as an intern for the Tourism Department for two years and took over as the acting director when Libby Pataki resigned in March.
His role as the Tourism Director is all encompassing. “I pretty much take care of everything,’’ said Smith, who is also studying for his law degree at Pace University. “I’ll take care of social media pages, the website and meet with groups and individuals to represent tourist interests in Putnam County. It’s just so me, so I take care of a little bit of everything.”
As a Putnam County native, Smith brings a level of enthusiasm to the position. “I have deep roots here and really love the area,’’ he said. “Putnam County is lucky enough to be part of the Hudson Valley. It’s important to let people know what we do.”
Smith outlined some ideas for visitors considering Putnam as a tourist destination. “If I had three days, I think I’d start by making Cold Spring my hub for the weekend,’’ Smith said. “There are some great bed and breakfasts. Cold Spring Village has some great shops and restaurants. If you have a car, that will make it easier. Restaurant Row in Mahopac is a great place to visit. There’s some really phenomenal restaurants down there, and the area is wonderful in and of itself. I always like to get behind the wheel and explore. Patterson is a beautiful place. There’s a ton of history, and a lot of history in Putnam. You could get a lot done in three days.”
Putnam’s accessibility by train makes it a natural for Manhattanites looking for a weekend getaway. It’s also particularly colorful in fall, as the colorful kaleidoscope of leaves paints a breathtaking natural landscape.
“Autumn is my favorite time of year,’’ Smith said. “Normally, right around this time of year I get phone calls asking about peak foliage. I had my first one the other day. The end of October and beginning of November is the best time. If you take a hike up Breakneck Ridge, it gives you the best view in the area. It is a tough hike, and recommended for experienced hikers, but it's just breathtaking.”
Full of energy and passion, Smith is somehow balancing his full-time job with his legal studies. “It doesn’t leave much time for a personal life,’’ he joked.
The thing is, he enjoys his work promoting the place he calls home. Whoever said “it’s not work if you love what you do” had Smith in mind.
“A lot of my days are very long, either in the office or in class,’’ Smith said. “It’s a challenge that I welcome. I really enjoy it. We work with the tourism offices in the Hudson Valley, Dutchess County and Westchester, and we all have the same goals. That’s important to keep moving forward.”
Click here to visit the Putnam County Tourism website.