Upstate New York
Upstate New York
Charming Small-Town Life Right Outside New York City
Given the frenetic pace of NYC, it’s astonishing how quickly you can exit the city and find yourself deep in the forested landscape of upstate New York. A weekend, or even a day, spent in our favorite small towns (all of which are less than three hours from Manhattan) will give you a moment of much-needed respite, while also reviving your appreciation for urban living.
Back in 2003, the Dia Art Foundation opened a gallery on the Hudson River, transforming the otherwise sleepy town of Beacon. Housed inside a former box printing factory on the Hudson River, Dia:Beacon’s architecture complements the institution’s collection. Louise Bourgeois’ spindly legged Crouching Spider looks extra creepy filling a redbrick nook on the upper floor. While the effect of afternoon sunlight projected through giant factory windows onto Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipse I, makes the steel coils appear even more curvaceous and disorienting.
Check into The Roundhouse, a former factory-turned-boutique hotel overlooking the falls of Fishkill creek. Then wander north up Main Street, stopping at Binnacle Books, an impeccably curated used book store which offers a matchmaking service to set you up with the book of your dreams, and Alps Sweet Shop for handmade chocolates (don’t leave without the chocolate-dipped crinkle cut chips). Later, join a tasting tour at Denning’s Point Distillery, an award-winning spirit maker which sources all its grains from Hudson Valley farms, and catch live jazz in the cozy low-lit ambiance of Chill Wine Bar.
Whenever we’ve made the journey to Cold Spring, we’ve come dressed in activewear with a backpack full of Clif Bars. This sweet little town, seven miles south of Beacon, is surrounded by hiking trails, including Breakneck Ridge – a steep all-fours scramble to several panoramic lookout points (it’s particularly gorgeous in Fall when the valley rustles with amber and crimson foliage). Once you’ve completed the challenging route, treat yourself to a post-hike carb feast at Cathryn’s, a Tuscan restaurant with a pretty garden for alfresco dining.
Our tip for overnight stays is the Pig Hill Inn, a red brick bed and breakfast with wood-burning stoves, where you can get a massage in your room and enjoy blueberry pancakes in bed. Along the rest of Main Street you’ll find Cold Spring Apothecary, a botanically inclined health and beauty company with an adjoining spa, BURKELMAN, a home and lifestyle boutique run by two former NYC creatives, and a handful of antique stores with goods salvaged from the Hudson Valley.
Thanks to a series of Fyre Festival-style calamities, the Woodstock music festival was actually held in Bethel, 40 miles southwest of its namesake town. Nevertheless, Woodstock still exhibits the bohemian spirit of 1969’s “Aquarian Exposition,” complete with its fair share of tie-dyed clothing and vegan restaurants.
Make a weekend base in one of Woodstock Way’s beautifully outfitted cabins, or at the Graham & Co., a modern motel that’s a twenty-minute drive away in Phoenicia, but boasts its own outdoor pool and movie projector for summer night screenings. Woodstock is a hub for art of all genres. Find entertainment during the day with a performance at the Woodstock Playhouse, a workshop at The Center For Photography at Woodstock, or a visit to Upstate Films, a single-screen non-profit cinema.
Once a prominent whaling town, Hudson’s modern revival began in the 80s and 90s, when artsy types opened galleries and antique shops along its main drag, Warren Street. Since then, the town has continued its trajectory, attracting city-weary New Yorkers with its blend of doorstep nature and Brooklyn-caliber establishments. Many of the residents are, in fact, former Brooklynites who bought and converted historic properties, then turned them into thriving businesses. You can sleep in an old hat shop (The Hudson Milliner) or a former movie theater (Rivertown Lodge), visit a gallery that used to be a bank (BCB Art) or watch opera in a building that once housed City Hall (Hudson Hall).
Hudson has an impressive dining scene, so orient your stay around your stomach. Start the day with avocado sourdough toast, a poached egg, and a dollop of lime crema at Bonfiglio & Bread, order lunch from the ever-changing seasonally inspired menu at WM. Farmer & Sons, and book dinner at Fish & Game, a lauded restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Zakary Pelaccio. Everything at this rustic spot is locally sourced and/or produced in house, from the foraged mushrooms to the homemade fish sauce.
The teeny town of Narrowsburg, snuggled between the Catskills and the Pocono Mountains, is reachable via one of New York state’s most scenic driving routes – a winding stretch of road known as the Hawk’s Nest. It’s also situated on the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River National Park, giving visitors easy access to riverside trails, tubing, and canoeing (Lander’s River Trips is our go-to operator).
Overnighters should book a room at The Moonriver Inn, a pet-friendly abode composed of four stylish rooms, each decorated with turntables, claw-foot bathtubs, and plush fainting couches. Right from the doorstep, you’ll find a slew of independently owned stores and restaurants lining Main and Bridge Streets. Pick up home decor items curated by a former Vogue design director at Nest, or heirloom antiques from Sunny’s Pop. Then refuel at The Heron, whose southern-style dishes, like cajun catfish bites and fluffy biscuits soaked in gravy, incorporate ingredients from the restaurant’s community of Upper Delaware farmers and artisanal producers.
INTRO: @Roundhouse, courtesy of Hudson Valley Illustrated
WOODSTOCK: @Graham & Co.