Hudson, NY, Guide (26/52)

Hudson, NY, Guide, and the Hudson Winter Walk

Hudson, that old drinking town with a serious antiquing problem. First settled by Dutch merchants in 1692, it’s had quite the history since. Hudson began life as a whaling port – as communities downriver wouldn’t accept the various vices that accompanied that trade. At its height in the early 1800s, the city was one of the 25 largest in the USA, and the 4th largest in New York State, coming within a single vote of becoming the State capital at one point. When the whaling industry left, the vices remained. By the early 1900s Hudson garnered a reputation for its gambling, drinking, and prostitution, through the roaring twenties. Today it has a decidedly more sedate vibe. Yet the grandeurs of its past are present in its extraordinary architecture, its many churches, and its surprisingly elegant brothels…..Well two of those three. Hudson’s main artery – the mile long Warren Street – is an antique (50+shops), gallery (18), and boutique (30+) mecca, perfect for languid wandering. With a string of recently opened design focused inns and airbnbs there’s never been a better time to visit Upstate’s Downtown.

And if you were to pick just one weekend to do so, it has to be The Hudson Winter Walk, when for a night in December, Warren Street metastasizes into a festive winter wonderland. Think It’s a Wonderful Life meets instragram but with fireworks. Better yet, at just two hours from Penn Station, you don’t even need a car for this one.

Friday 

Amtrak to Dinner

Take the 5:47pm or the 7:15pm from Penn and check into WM Farmer and Sons, just a couple of blocks walk from the station. Set in a historic 1830s building, the inn is an eclectic collection of sumptuously designed rooms and suites (we opted for the Abigail), many with gas fireplaces and antique clawfoot tubs. Whether you’re staying the night or not, opt for dinner in the restaurant downstairs, where hearty farm to table cuisine is dished up in a dining room that looks like it was plucked from a Restoration Hardware catalogue. Reservations essential.  As are the cocktails.

Saturday

10:30am Brunch at Bonfiglio and Bread

Rise lazily, and slink downstairs for a coffee from the mercantile. There’s more to Hudson than Warren Street which is where you’ll spend most of your time, so stroll the length of Union Street and take in some of the more residential architecture on route to brunching at Bonfiglio and Bread. It’s impossible to choose badly here, but if you’re the indecisive type – the poached egg and avocado bowl was something of a revelation.

1pm Antiquing on Warren Street

Warren Street is like 5th Avenue for antique lovers. And while there are plenty of stores that look more like collections on loan from The Met (with price tags to match), others cater to a more accessible price point. You’ll have time to visit wherever your curiosity leads over the weekend and we’d recommend your checking out as many of the 50+ antique stores as possible but some of our non-antique favorites included: The Second Show for vintage threads; Flowerkraut for plants; John Doe for books and vinyl; De Marchin and Artists & Revolutionaries for clothes;  Hudson Home for décor inspiration; Neven + Neven  Moderne to indulge your fantasy of styling your home like Don Draper’s; 2note for fragrances; and the beautiful September and Carrie Haddad galleries for art. If all that mooching made you peckish, replenish with some treats from the deli at Olde Hudson.

4pm Icelandic Pregame 

As the sun goes down, and the mercury drops with it, perch by the Scandinavian wood fireplace in the OR Gallery and Tavern. Part bar, part restaurant, part gallery, and part boutique, the industrial space, housed inside a former auto repair shop, is an homage to its owners love of Iceland.

5pm The Hudson Winter Walk

The Hudson Winter Walk is probably the coolest NY winter event you’ve never heard of. The shops on Warren Street stay open and play host to a variety of entertainment from whisky tastings to carolers, while the hot apple cider flows as freely as the gingersnap cookies are handed out. There’s a Santa parade and musical procession, all culminating in a fireworks display at 8pm. It’s kind of like the anti-Santa Con: Festive, wholesome, enchanting, and totally free. It’s guaranteed to turn even the most committed Scrooge into merry old St. Nick.

8:15pm Cocktails and Music 

You’ll have grazed during the Winter Walk which means you’ll probably want to forego a full dinner. James Beard award winning Fish and Game is reputedly one of the best restaurants in the North East, with a price tag to match. Snag a seat on one of the Chesterfield couches by the fire in their bar and treat yourself to a cocktail and maybe a small plate or two from their irresistible seasonal menu. Follow that up with some live music at Helsinki where the industrial complex turned live music venue played host to American Idol finalist Elise Testone when we visited. If you’ve still got the stamina for one last drink check out backbar before calling it a night.

Sunday

10:30am Duck and Waffle at Motto

After the excesses of last night take in some brisk air and the views across the Hudson River to the Catskills from Promenade Hill Park. Brunch at Motto Coffee Machine – a sleek coffee shop and motorcycle store – catering as much to bike enthusiasts as to hipsters is an essential feature of any visit to Hudson. Don’t miss their trademark duck and waffles.

12pm More Antiquing or Olana

Time to visit some of those antique stores, shops and galleries you might have missed on Saturday. It’s worth also seeing if there’s anything on at the Hudson Basilica. Or if you’re feeling cultural, hop in a cab to Olana the historic home and studio of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church.

3pm Kicking back at the Rivertown Lodge

The only problem with stopping in for tea and coffee at the movie-theater turned boutique hotel – Rivertown Lodge – on a Sunday afternoon is that you’ll never want to leave and soon become depressed at the rapidly approaching reality of spending Monday somewhere else. Kick back by one the fireplaces, pull out the Sunday papers and soak up the weekend vibes in what has to be one of the most beautifully designed living rooms in all of New York. The hotel’s bar should do the trick if you’re in need of something stronger.

5pm Say Cheese

On your way back to the station stop into Tallbott and Arding to stock up on their incredible selection of local and imported gourmet cheese, along with some deli snacks to console you on your train back to the city.

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