What to See, Do, and Eat in Hudson, NY
We are currently in the midst of a massive heat wave (not unusual on the east coast in July) and I have transformed into a home body. You know I love summer but the sweaty life is really happening over here. But that's what a trip down the Shore is for right?
Before the insane summer heat started for real, I was able to escape for a three-day trip up to Hudson, NY and the surrounding area for a mother/daughter adventure. You may be wondering, didn't you already have a New York state excursion earlier in the summer? Well, I did, a quick weekend getaway to the Catskill mountains area, and decided to head back but head a little further north.
Hudson is about an hour north, just about parallel to Boston, only several hours west. It's right on the Hudson River and was formerly part of the NY whaling industry and then home to industrial factories and is now the county seat of Columbia County, NY. Like most of these small upstate New York towns, it's facing a rebirth as a hot spot for farm-to-table restaurants, specialty boutiques, and as a haven for artists and transplants from New York City.
Where we stayed
When I began researching the Hudson area, I found a lot of nice luxury boutique hotels. Whereas the Catskills has a rustic, camping vibe, Hudson is much more artsy and slightly more refined. A.k.a the hotel prices are a bit on the high side.
Your best bet if you're looking to plan an affordable stay in Hudson is Airbnb. You're also in luck because there are so many affordable and adorable options. Our place was really well-decorated, spacious, and located within walking distance of all the bars and restaurants. Make sure that the listing indicates its close to Warren Street; it's the main drag in Hudson with most restaurants and shopping located there.
But if you'd rather stay in a hotel, Rivertown Lodge is right on Warren Street. Formerly a movie theater and motel, it's beautifully refurbished and modernized. It has bikes to ride around town and each room is equipped with a screened in porch or outdoor space. It's reasonably priced too at about $200 a night and up.
What to see and do
While there is a lot to do and see right in Hudson, there's also a lot to explore in the surrounding area. You can take the Amtrak from NYC if you're planning to spend all your time in Hudson but I would recommend a car if you want to see a whole lot more.
Shopping on Warren Street
There is no shortage of shopping on Warren Street. Everything from boutique children's clothes to essential oils, you can shop for hours.
Hawkins New York is a bright and airy store filled with luxury home goods (don't go looking for a bargain here). It's a good place to splurge on Belgian linen sheets in the perfect shade of blush.
Hudson Mainstay sells upscale souvenirs including well-designed tees from local Hudson establishments.
If you want to shop with a snack and a drink, look no further than the Spotty Dog Books and Ale. On the right side of the store is a long oak bar and an alcove of stuffed armchairs. On the left you'll find a great selection of books in all genres and, in the back, art supplies and kids' books can be found.
Looking for local food products to take home with you or to enjoy at your Airbnb? Olde Hudson is the sweetest market with lots of locally sourced foods. A bit on the pricey side but what specialty food market isn't? They also have a little bar that offers coffee, wine, and beer.
Take a cruise on the Hudson
We didn't do this due to the poor weather but it's definitely on my list for the next visit. The Hudson river is lined with historic towns and buildings. Plus the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, established in 1874, is a gorgeous 19th century building and lighthouse tower which you can explore on various dates throughout the summer season.
Pick cherries at Fix Bros. Farm
Summer is the season to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and the Hudson Valley is the perfect place to do it. There are so many farmer's markets and roadside stands and also pick-your-own farms. Located a ten minute drive outside Hudson, Fix Bros. has row upon row of cherry trees. Just grab a bucket and start picking! Or you could be like the old Italian grandpa who was just pretending to put the cherries in his basket.
Explore New Paltz or Kingston or Athens
While we spent most of our time in Hudson, we also ventured out to other small towns in the Hudson River Valley. New Paltz was our first stop on our road trip to Hudson. This funky college town (home to SUNY New Paltz) has lots of shopping and really good options for eating and drinking. It's got a hippie vibe and is right off some great biking and hiking trails.
I'd heard lots of great things about Kingston, but unfortunately most of the town was closed mid-week. That's not an unusual occurrence in these small New York towns. However, you'll want to pop by Kingston Wine Co. They feature an outstanding selection of local, national, and international wines, many hung with labels sharing unique qualities like being good for the muscles or pairs well with podcasts. Another spot I wanted to try in Kingston was Brunette Wine Bar, though it's only open Thursday-Sunday.
Located just across the river from Hudson is the tiny town of Athens. You can take a ferry from one town to the other or drive over the Rip Van Winkle bridge (yes, really) to get there. It has a few restaurants but it's really known for Bon Figlio and Bread, a bakery and coffee shop. Again, it wasn't open while we were there but it was recommended on every list of what to see and eat in the Hudson Valley. Across the street was tiny brewery Crossroads Brewing, which is worth checking out as well.
Take a distillery, winery, brewery, or cidery tour
Besides being an amazing spot for food, the Hudson area knows how to do drinks. There are plenty of award-winning wineries, distilleries, and breweries all within driving distance of the town.
We first stopped at Tuhtilltown Spirits Distillery, known for their bourbon. Called Hudson bourbon, you've probably seen them behind most bars on the east coast. The $10 tasting gives you 5 samples of their various bourbons, liquers, and gins. Also on the property is their farm-to-table restaurant Char, though a special event was taking place there and we couldn't go inside.
Not too far from Tuthilltown is Angry Orchard. Yup, like Angry Orchard hard ciders. Overlooking mountains and rows and rows of apple trees, their cider house is fairly new and definitely a good time. You can go on a self-guided tour that explains the fermenting process and then peep on the distilling process. Downstairs in the tasting room, they offered us a free tasting of three of their ciders.
As someone who usually only drinks beer and wine, I knew little to nothing about ciders. The staff at Angry Orchard was very passionate and knowledgeable about their product. They equated the ciders on draft to other beverages like champagne and maple-conditioned bourbon. It really opened by eyes to the nuances of cider and now I'm more curious to try more. Also, on some evenings, their tree house tasting room is open so you can sip on cider in the sky.
Where to eat
There were so, so many places to eat in Hudson. There's everything from super gourmet with $40 entrees (Fish and Game) to super simple comfort food. We chose a handful of restaurants to try but I'll definitely go back to try more.
This small pastry shop and cafe on Warren Street is pretty unassuming but offers really amazing artisan pastries. The pastry chef apprenticed in Paris and now makes a limited amount of pastries every day. We enjoyed the almond croissant and raspberry brioche bun.
Cafe Le Perche
I was really excited to try this place since it's own wood oven to make French pastries. Everything is fresh, from the baked goods to the locally sourced meats, cheeses, and vegetables. And the overall restaurant is just a gorgeous space to be in. They serve brunch and lunch most days and dinner over the weekend. I had a bacon, egg, and gruyere sandwich on a brioche bun and I've had dreams about it every night.
This no-frills pizza and pasta place was probably my favorite. The pizza has a sourdough crust and I don't know why more places don't do this. They offer a daily pasta and only a daily pasta, made from whatever's fresh. It was super busy, lots of people doing takeout, but it was easy to grab a spot in the dining room. There's also a big oak bar and all the servers were local and totally awesome.
If you're looking for a funky spot for good food and good drinks, Back Bar is it. Located in an old garage behind an antiques store, it has an outdoor garden and good, loud music. The food is Malaysian-inspired and the drinks range from alcoholic slushies to Ray's "Supa Fresh" lemonade (non-alcoholic). The small food menu has lots of good options but I can highly recommend the lamb dumplings and pork noodles. The pork noodles, omg...
Since Hudson is pretty quiet during the week, we wondered if there were actual Hudson locals...until we ate dinner at Wunderbar. This is definitely a local spot and was very crowded for a rainy Wednesday evening. The crowds were there for good reason; it was really, really good. It's super casual, has good drinks, and the real star is their weiner schnitzel. Weiner Schnitzel is very thin veal that's been breaded and fried, usually served with a lemon wedge to be squeezed on top. It is one of my favorite dishes in the whole wide world. Plus they let me order it with fries and I was seriously in heaven.
Huckleberry (New Paltz)
On our way to Hudson we stopped for lunch in New Paltz. While there were plenty of options, I'm so glad we found Huckleberry. Tucked on a side street, the restaurant is both indoors and outside of a classic Victorian home. It serves a variety of fresh, house made foods, everything from pulled pork to vegan tacos, and has a great selection of local craft beers (plus other drinks too).
A couple of things to know when planning your trip to Hudson...
Check the operating hours of everything, every time. Despite having a thriving downtown area, Hudson is just not open during the week. Or they have weird days off like Tuesday and Wednesday. Or the restaurant is open for lunch only on Fridays but open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. So be prepared by checking online or giving them a quick phone call.
Hudson is quiet. If you're looking for a place that's got a lot going on and just overall super busy, you're going to want to stay in the city. Hudson is a small town and quiet, even for a small town. And this is especially true during the week. That's not to say there isn't plenty to keep you busy but Hudson is the perfect place for a laid-back vacation.
The Hudson Valley is best explored with a car. If you're headed to Hudson to explore just Hudson, taking a train from NYC is a great option. But if you're looking to see a bit more, including things like doing a pick-your-own farm or distillery/brewery tours, then you'll need a car.