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Apr 28

A Place Called Hudson: A Must-Visit for New Yorkers

Hat in HudsonFor years Goldie and I have been hyping our former home town of Cold Spring, NY as a charming and practical weekend getaway for NYC couples. The slow pace, friendly shopkeepers and mountain views offer the illusion that you’ve somehow landed in an old European village. For the savvy culture hounds amongst you, this naturally raises the question of where Deborah and I escape to for our own change of scenery without crossing a state line. There’s an answer, and not surprisingly, that place has a lot in common with Cold Spring, but with just enough grit to provide a refreshing contrast and fuel for introspection. The locals call it Hudson, NY; but we call it an urbanite’s refuge.

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A tiny, but typical slice of Hudson and its charm

Hudson is situated on the eastern bank of the Hudson River conveniently across from the mighty Catskill Mountains. Its lengthy streets, densely lined with 19th century Greek Revival architecture, are still humming with echoes of early American history. Dramatic, aging buildings are inhabited by a combination of young artists, hipster transplants, gay business owners, and long time locals. The stretched-out city center is crammed with antique shops, art galleries, funky boutiques and trendy restaurants, most of which had been established within the last 2 decades. Part “Brooklyn North” and part sleepy river town, Hudson is a circumstantial jumble of the deep past and the very recent, at the heart of which lies quite a story.

Devour Me! Grazin' serves up a decadent burger with pure, local ingredients.

Devour Me! Grazin’ serves up a decadent burger with pure, local ingredients.

Not to Miss

Each time we revisit Hudson, we discover something new. This past November, the highlights included Behida Dolic Millinery, where Deborah purchased her latest vintage-style lady’s hat made by the proprietor right on premise; Grazin’, an organic luncheonette-style restaurant where we devoured a grass-fed burger made of beef sourced from a farm 7 miles from town; and the future Marina Abramovic Institute— an iconic but derelict structure that will be transformed into a performance arts and spiritual center starting this year.

Leaf Man has appeared in the abstract photos of Kahn & Selesnick, exhibited at Haddad Gallery

Leaf Man has appeared in the abstract photos of Kahn & Selesnick, exhibited at Haddad Gallery

Of course, we can’t resist the temptation to revisit our favorite Hudson destinations as well. To know the Hudson that keeps us coming back, don’t miss Carrie Haddad Gallery, whose exhibits span an artistic range unparalleled elsewhere in the Hudson Valley; Spotty Dog Books & Ale, an independent bookstore/café/beer bar/art supplies shop where you can catch a vibe of local conversation and even a live musical performance; and Olde Hudson Specialty Food, a purveyor of artisanal eats and charcuterie who ships amazing salumi to us to order.

Swoon Window & Sign HudsonHungry Yet?

The other best part about Hudson is that all the finest restaurants are a short walk from one another. I mentioned Grazin’ as a luncher’s delight, but save a little appetite for Hudson’s other gems like Red Dot or Swoon (our favorites). Or, end your evening with a coursed meal and a beautiful bottle of wine at DA/BA or one of the most acclaimed new dining destinations in the Hudson Valley— Fish and Game, and get the NYC dining experience on vacation.

The Inn Crowd

Hudson is reachable by Amtrak from Penn Station in just two hours, making it a realistic weekend getaway. They’ve long since caught on to this, and various bed-and-breakfasts have opened their doors in recent years. Deb and I have tried a few, and have settled on our favorite— The Croff House. By this autumn, we’ll have stayed in all 5 of their charming rooms, each of which has an authentic 19th century feel. Plus, Duncan and Russell’s breakfasts are decadent!

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Olana, perched neatly on a large estate, is an architectural anomaly in the Hudson Valley.

If you’ll be behind the wheel exploring the Hudson Valley, and want to make Hudson just one of your stops, be sure to visit and tour Olana, the Persian-style home of celebrated Hudson Valley artist Frederic Chruch— just a five-minute drive south of the city of Hudson. I did just that with Deb, and was delighted to find it strangely un-touristy, and full of rockin’ views, inside and out. Be advised: kids may be bored out of their skulls at Olana (and honestly, throughout Hudson in general), so consider making your visit to Hudson a romantic escape for two. And don’t forget to check back in with me after your visit!

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