The Best of the Hudson Valley: Hotels, Shopping, Restaurants and More


Ever wish you could text the most stylish people in the world to ask them for their lists of things to do in the places they know best? Here are insider travel tips for those who would never be caught dead in a tourist trap. Bon voyage!

Who

Four creatives from various towns in the Hudson Valley shared their favorite spots across the bucolic region: Mary MacGill, a jewelry designer and curator with a store in Germantown; LaTonya Yvette, author, storyteller and steward of The Mae House, a retreat and home rental in Athens; Clare de Boer, the chef and owner of Stissing House, a restaurant in Pine Plains; and Scott Neild, the owner of Clove & Creek, a homeware boutique with locations in Kingston and Hudson.

What

What to Bring

At the top of MacGill’s list is a good pair of boots: “Blundstones, hiking boots, or Muck Boots” will work for most situations and keep your feet dry and stable on trails.

Clothing-wise, the vibe in the Hudson Valley is casual—you’ll fit in just about everywhere if you’re wearing jeans. For guests at The Mae House, Yvette always recommends “sneakers or anything you can get dirty in,” in case they feel like helping out in the property’s garden or heading out onto the Hudson River for a kayak.

Neild recommends “a good, natural bug repellent” in the summer months. Year-round, he adds, you’ll want to come prepared with “a good playlist. Part of what makes the Hudson Valley so special are all of its unique towns and scenic walks — but be prepared to drive from place to place,” he says. “Finally, bring your curiosity — it will be more fun to experience the area with an open mind, rather than to impose your ideas of how things should be.”

What to Leave Behind

“Moving through the Hudson valley is all about transitioning easily between outdoors and indoors,” says MacGill. “I would say if you can’t picture yourself taking a quick trail walk in it, it’s unnecessary.”

What to Keep in Mind

Each side of the Hudson River has its own distinct personality. Yvette—who’s retreat is on the quieter Catskills side, a 30 minute drive south of Kingston—describes the different as such: “If you want to be truly in the mix, you should stay on the other side of the Hudson river [where Hudson, Germantown and Tivoli are]. If you’re looking for a moment of calm, with mountain views with folks whose income really reflects a long-standing nearly rural place, then [the Catskills side is] your fit.”

Amtrak has a route that goes from New York City to Hudson, but even if you take the train, you’ll want to rent a car while you’re in the area. “Rideshare apps don’t have a presence here, and you’ll want to visit a few different hikes and towns,” MacGill says. And if you’re relying on Google Maps for directions, “make sure you load your navigation while you have cell service—you’ll most likely pass through areas without it,” notes Neild. If you want to take the scenic route from one side of the river to the other, there’s a ferry between Hudson and Athens that runs on weekends during the summer months. “You get to ride past the lighthouse and take in the sunset,” Yvette notes.

Where

Where to Stay

Hotel Tivoli, which is owned by the artist Helen Marden, is a perennial favorite. “The rooms are filled with extraordinary color, eclectic furniture, lighting, and art,” says MacGill. “The restaurant, The Corner, is also wonderful — a mix of local ingredients and Moroccan influence.” (They also have a fabulous boutique filled with global fashion, accessories and decor.)

In Hudson, MacGill and Neild are both fans of the Rivertown Lodge. “It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to walk home from dinner,” says Neild. The bar is also “incredibly cozy in the winter,” notes MacGill.

Courtesy of Rivertown Lodge

On the Catskills side, there’s a growing mix of contemporary properties that offer the perfect blend of privacy and fun in a rural setting. “Camptown, in Leeds, is a great spot for a summer stay,” says MacGill of the playful and stylish hotel with individual log cabins.

“It has a great pool scene, and their restaurant Casa Susanna serves Oaxacan inspired Mexican food.” It’s also close to a beloved Catskill Creek swimming hole, where locals sprawl out on the rocks and kids splash around in shallow pools on summer days.

For a quiet retreat with sweeping vistas, several people pointed to Inness, a sprawling property in Accord with tennis courts, a golf course, a brand new spa and rooms that toe the line between minimalist and historical.

And for something totally luxe, there’s Wildflower Farms, a recently opened Auberge Resort in Gardiner. There, you’ll find stylishly appointed cabins dotted around a main pavilion that houses a spa, pools (indoor and outdoor), hot tubs, and Clay, the in-house restaurant that sources many of its ingredients from the farm on the property. For those inclined to do more than lounge by the pool sipping homemade bone broth, there are also daily fitness classes and activities that range from watercoloring to focaccia making.

Courtesy of Wildflower Farms

If your main priority is to be near hiking trails, Deer Mountain Inn is a cozy, rustic chic spot with mountain views near Kaaterskill Falls. Neild calls it a “quintessential Catskills getaway.”

Courtesy of Deer Mountain Inn

And if you want your own space, The Mae House, Yvette’s retreat, is available as a family-friendly rental that sleeps 6-8 people. The rentals help support a free or discounted BIPOC residency program.

Where to Start the Day

Yvette calls the Athens Rooster her second home. “It is family-run and the owners themselves feel like family. They make an exceptional breakfast burrito,” she says.

In Germantown, MacGill likes to walk a few doors down from her store to Zebra Room. “It’s a fun and unexpected gem. Jesse, the owner, imports mid-century Scandinavian furniture with his brother and brews homemade chai and espresso,” she says. “It’s a welcoming and stimulating meeting place.”

In Hudson, try Cafe Mutton or Kitty’s (Neild loves their salter caramel cruller). A little farther north, in Kinderhook, Morningbird is known for their coffee and mochi donuts.

Rosie General is a beloved spot in Kingston’s Rondout neighborhood. “You’ll catch me there two or three times a week ordering an everything bagel with tomato,” says Neild, whose store is just up the street.

Where to Eat

Because of the abundance of small farms in the area (and the many talented chefs who have left the frenetic pace of the New York City restaurant scene in favor of something a little slower) the Hudson Valley is known for its fabulous local fare. MacGill was originally drawn to Germantown because of Gaskins, run by the couple Sarah and Nick Suarez. “Sarah and Nick have cultivated an incredibly friendly vibe paired with world class, yet casual food,” MacGill says. “The menu changes weekly according to the seasonal local produce, and Kim the hostess is my favorite front of house person — ever. You’ll want to be a part of their club.”

Stissing House, de Boer’s restaurant in the quiet town of Pine Plains, is a destination in itself. “Everything about the restaurant is understated perfection at its finest,” says MacGill. “Savory dishes, crisp martinis, lucious coconut cake, low candle light, and flowers plucked from the garden are all cause for celebration.”

Courtesy of Stissing House

In Tivoli, MacGill loves GioBatta Alimentari, an Italian spot with stellar fresh pastas and a fridge stocked with sauces to go. After dinner, de Boer recommends a trip to Fortune’s Ice Cream. “Every flavor is exquisite,” she says (seasonal standouts include black sesame, concord grape sorbet, and labneh sour cherry).

Courtesy of Fortune’s Ice Cream

In Hudson, Feast & Floret is a chic spot for pasta; and across the river in Kingston, this crew loves Lola Pizza (for woodfired pies and vibrant veg-forward sides), Le Canard Enchaine (for martinis and French onion soup) and Eliza (for a cozy vibe and tasty shared plates).

Where to Shop

Antique shops are plentiful—every town has at least one or two great ones, and Hudson has an entire Antique Warehouse just outside the center of town featuring dozens of stalls with different specialties. In Clairo, a few miles West of Catskill, MacGill recommends A. Therien. “Stephen, the owner, has an incredible eye for furniture, out-of-print and rare art books, and 19th century stoneware.” De Boer points farther east to Millerton, near the Connecticut border, where Montage Antiques stocks an eclectic but curated array of decor. Neild is a fan of Maple Lawn 1843, interior designer Ron Sharkey’s weekends-only antique haven known for its stylish array of furniture and goods for the garden.

For stylish home decor finds, Neild’s store Clove & Creek, which has locations in Hudson and Kingston, is a must. He stocks colorful glassware from La Soufflerie, beeswax candles in the shape of mandarin oranges and asparagus, and all the accouterments you need for a well-appointed bar. Other homeware favorites include Available Items, in Tivoli, a combined gallery and shop where you can buy original paintings and colorful enamel bowls; Ipsum, in Hudson, where you’ll find an array of handmade ceramics, vintage glassware and contemporary furniture. Hops Petunia, a florist with locations in Kingston and Hudson, is also beloved for their curated mix of beauty, home, and accessories—a perfect one-stop gift shop.

And to stock the kitchen cupboards back home, Talbott & Arding in Hudson is a legendary purveyor of fancy cheeses, delicious baked goods and elevated sundries. OK Pantry in Kinderhook is a go-to for the beautifully packaged and hard-to-find, from tinned fish to small batch mustard.

Where to Look at Art

“Germantown has really popped up as a center for arts and design,” says MacGill. Archipelago, an offshoot of the global gallery Mendes Wood DM, is just down the street from her shop. In Kinderhook, she recommends a visit to September Gallery, Jack Shainman’s “The School,” and the Shaker Museum pop-up.

Jack Shainman’s The School

Courtesy Jack Shainman

Near Ghent, Yvette says Art Omi, a sprawling arts center with a popular sculpture park, is a must, especially if you’re up for a longer stroll on a nice day. She and MacGill are both fans of the art spaces at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, which include the Hessel Museum of Art and the adjoining CCS Bard Galleries.

And de Boer recommends driving over the border to Massachusetts (about 45 minutes from the center of Hudson) to visit Hancock Shaker Village, where the history of the Shakers comes to life across 20 meticulously preserved buildings animated by robust programming.

Where to Unwind

“Village Yoga in Kinderhook is great if you’re looking for a no BS, vigorous practice,” says MacGill. “And I took my husband to Piaule in Catskill for his birthday – their sauna and spa experience is incredible.”

Where to Get Some Fresh Air

There are plenty of easy walking trails to explore, some of which wind along the grounds of what were once grand private estates along the Hudson River. “Olana, the home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church, has the views!” exclaims MacGill. “Tour the house and then enjoy the trails.” Another great spot for a stroll is Clermont State Historic Site: open swaths of lawn and quiet wooded trails wrap around an elegant white stone mansion (also open for tours).

On the Catskills side, Neild recommends a stroll around the Ashokan Reservoir. “I also love Black Creek Preserve and the new Sojourner Truth State Park,” he adds.

Sojourner Truth State Park

Courtesy Scenic Hudson

Where to Have a Cocktail

In Kingston, “The wine bar Brunette is a can’t miss for its perfectly selected natural wine and small plates that pack a punch,” says Neild. MacGill has been meeting friends at The Hereafter in Hudson. “The atmosphere is boisterous (sometimes you need that! It gets quiet here), the small plates are delicious, and they make a great classic rum daiquiri in the summer.”

Where to Stay up Late

Levon Helm, the drummer for The Band, recently turned his personal music studio outside of Woodstock into a concert venue called Levon Helm Studios. “It’s tucked in the woods and attracts the best alt, folk, and country musicians — it’s a place with history where artists feel privileged to play, so the concerts are always magical,” says MacGill.

When

The Best Time of Year to Go

“There’s no better place to inhale the seasons, and all four are special in the Hudson Valley,” says de Boer. Although early spring anywhere in the Northeast can be a little bleak, you’ll find something to love about all times of year. Yvette recommends visiting between May and November. “There’s so much to do, while also being gorgeous,” she says.

Why

“I never really can put my finger on it until I am making my way back to the city,” says Yvette. “But in short, time seems to stop, or at the very least, slow down to such a pace that you don’t lose yourself.” It’s a part of the world that is as much about finding peace as it is about cultivating creativity. “Our towns and their creative small businesses make living up here interesting and enjoyable, and I can’t think of many places where that level of quality is so easily combined with the quiet that nature offers just outside of town,” says Neild. MacGill sums it up nicely: “It’s hard to find a place that both stimulates and grounds you — that balance is possible here.”





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