The Best Hudson Valley Towns to Visit
Creative breaks Upstate are the done thing these days, so take your pick from our list of the best Hudson Valley towns.
Looking for a break Upstate? The Hudson Valley is home to charming towns and natural scenery that has been attracting artists for years. We’ve got them to thank for all the creativity in this area's towns and cities, from contemporary gallery Dia:Beacon in an ex-industrial space on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, to the open sculpture park Storm King Art Center in Cornwall. Take a trip to one of these creative Hudson Valley spots. And if you’re in need of a place to stay, Plum Guide has you covered, with our extensive list of professionally vetted Hudson Valley home rentals. So, here’s our pick of the best Hudson Valley towns.
Beacon is one of the best Hudson Valley towns for artsy types. The arrival of Dia:Beacon in a 1920s former box-printing factory helped to revive the fortunes of this city after a long post-industrial downturn. The contemporary art-filled brick, steel, concrete and glass space was like catnip for Brooklynites, who have in turn contributed to the buzz of this city. The result is a creative enclave hugging the east bank of the Hudson, with its historic buildings filled with independent cafés, creative studios (check out Hudson Beach Glass, where you can see watch glassblowers in action) and craft food and drinks producers, such as Denning’s Point Distillery. If you’re in need of an outdoor escape, a stay here also puts you in close proximity to the ominously named Breakneck Ridge Trail, known for its steep rocky cliffs. We won’t lie, it's not the easiest trail to do (stilettos definitely not welcome), but you’ll be rewarded with epic valley views.
There's lots to do in Kingston, but it's particularly one of the best Hudson Valley towns for history. Its Four Corners intersection is the only one in the US where all the buildings on each corner were built before the Revolutionary War, which started in 1775, when Kingston was the state capital (New What?). Expect plenty of old charming old buildings here, existing alongside street art and a new wave of hip entrepreneurs from New York City who populate the quaint main streets: you’ll find jewellers and woodworkers in the Midtown Arts District. Linger a while in the Rough Draft bookstore and bar, which serves wine, coffee, pies and local pastries among its tomes, and Kingston Bread Lab for all your artisan bakery needs. A walk around here is all you need to know why people have started calling Kingston New York State’s ‘creative capital’.
In Cornwall, art meets nature at Storm King Art Center: a large-scale outdoor sculpture park spread across 500 acres of open space, covered in rippling grass, forests and wildflower meadows, where tall sculptures stand between the trees. It opened in the 1960s – but the natural landscape and striking views around Cornwall have been attracting people upriver for much, much longer. Also expect maple sugar tours via Hudson Highlands Nature Museum during maple-tapping season, and a farmers’ market selling local produce. And for more nature, you’re in close proximity to Bear Mountain (well, a 30-minute drive away), with both challenging and easy trails to walk. On the rugged 5,000+ acre Bear Mountain State Park, you’ll also find picnic spots with mountain views, a swimming pool, biking opportunities, with ice-skating and snowshoeing in the winter.
Another mini-Brooklyn, Hudson is the epitome of Upstate cool – and it’s filled with plenty of creatives who left New York City in search of more space and a calmer pace of life. Yes, we know that's a tiresome cliché at this point, but the result is still pretty wonderful. Upscale grocery stores, cheese shops such as Tablott & Arding and charming businesses like Flowerkraut all reside inside its mix of architecture spanning everything from gothic revival to Federal, Beaux-Arts, Italianate and Arts and Crafts. But, wait, there's more: Hudson Opera House is New York State's oldest surviving theatre, while you can up your culture intake at arts venue Basilica.
As well as visiting the nearby festival site and imagining yourself letting loose with thousands of sweaty, muddy hippies in perhaps the world's most famous live concert to ever happen – or, you know, going for a nice, sedate walk in the pretty surrounding countryside – there’s plenty to see in Woodstock. Explore the vibrantly coloured shopfronts on Tinker Street, go record or vintage clothes shopping (or better still, both) and since you’re on the edge of the Catskill Mountains, be sure to take some nature walks. To make the most of this area, Plum Guide home Sweetwater Hideaway makes a great Woodstock spot in which to base yourself for a few days, with its timber-chic decor and heated outdoor pool, as does The Willow’s Resting Place, with its deck overlooking unspoilt, protected nature. Oh, and the world’s largest kaleidoscope is also just outside town at the Emerson Resort & Spa (well, where else would they put it, other than this hippy-trippy part of the world?)