Kingston is a small and historic city about 2 hours north of New York City, in the beautiful setting of the Northern Hudson Valley. Because it’s the largest city in the region, Kingston serves as a central hub for both tourists and locals alike. Like many Hudson Valley towns, it’s history, natural beauty and affordability are attractive to creative and entrepreneur-types. As a result, the area is going through a bit of a revival, and there’s no shortage of new and great things happening here–which compliment the mom and pop gems that have been around forever.
If you’re planning a visit, a good time to plan around is the Upstate Smorgasburg, a monthly market featuring some of the Hudson Valley and upstate region’s most exciting chefs, food purveyors, and craft brewers alongside a curated selection of handmade design, vintage clothing and antiques. There’s also a few Brooklyn vendors as well, and activities for children and family-friendly musical fare. Check their website for 2017 dates.
Where to stay in Kingston: A Church Turned Bed & Breakfast, or a Historic Airbnb Home
Kingston’s citizens are a crafty/arty bunch, so it’s no surprise that the Airbnb listings here are pretty fantastic. We highly recommend staying at the Church des Artistes, which is exactly what you might presume it is from the name: a church renovated by artists. Husband and wife, composer Peter Wetzler and Julie Hedrick, bought this property some 20 years ago as weekenders. They’d been renovating and restoring for years before finally moving to Kingston permanently. Nowadays, they play host to dinner parties, musical gatherings and Airbnb guests. Staying with them is like staying with the really cool and aunt and uncle you never had. Not only are Peter and Julie great hosts and conversationalists, they’re also fantastic cooks–don’t pass up their $10 breakfast for guests from eight to ten.
We also stayed in the Round Room of this Airbnb, a stunning home built in the late 1800’s by a lumber tycoon. The property is a registered historic landmark, with unique and original wood details throughout. This room is on the second floor; the other smaller rooms are on the third floor. The third floor rooms share a small but beautiful bathroom, and the second floor’s is shared with Bob the famously grumpy cat. (Despite having three of our own, thus being cat experts–this cat still hated us.) The hosts, Chrissy and Nick Sakes, are an ex-Bushwick couple who left the city in search of a better, more affordable life and landed on this home. It’s a short walking distance to Uptown Kingston, where most bars, restaurants and shopping are located.
Where to Eat & Drink in Kingston: A Vegetarian Cafe/Antique Shop, The Cutest Wine Bar in NY State
So this, admittedly, is a loaded one. Unlike many of the smaller towns we cover, Kingston has an abundance of great food due to its size. That said, let’s start with breakfast. First up, Outdated Cafe is part-cafe, part-antique shop–combining two of our favorite things and doing a superb job at both. While you’re waiting for your order, peruse the antiques on the walls, shelves and tables. Everything is for sale. When you’re done eating, head to the basement for a great selection of vintage clothing and accessories. Another great option is starting your morning at Clove & Creek for a cup of coffee while perusing their selection of goods created by local makers from the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
For lunch, try Diego’s Taqueria, a new Mexican place offering fresh tacos, tortas and salads (and also a kids menu.) During crisp weather, nothing hits the spot like a warm bowl of noodles–so we’d recommend Yum Yum Noodle Bar.
For dinner, our hosts at Church des Artistes insisted that we check out Duo Bistro… And while it turned out their son worked there–hence the strong recommendation–it was very, very good. The most popular restaurant for dinner in town is probably Boitson’s, with a farm-fresh ingredients and a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Their patio in the back of the restaurant is especially awesome during summer, with the perfect view facing west to the Catskills where you can watch the sunset. Their cauliflower wings are the most notable item on the menu, and are a treat for vegans and meat-eaters alike. For something super casual (and close to the church, if you’re staying there), Mexican joint Armadillo Cafe in the Rondout area is your typical, solid Mexican restaurant with addictive salsa.
As far as nightlife goes, there’s a lot of great bars with different atmospheres. Our new favorite place to get tipsy is at Brunette Wine Bar, where a love of the color pink and wine come together for something unbelievably special. Owned and manned by a graphic designer and fashion consultant, every single detail of Brunette is charming–right down to the menus, printed daily, not only listing their specials but also what music they’re into at the moment. Bonus points for the dish of bobby pins in the bathroom. For you boozier folks, Stockade Tavern serves up classic crafted cocktails by candlelight and is another beautiful place to spend an evening. It’s tin ceiling reflects the warm light from the fireplace and candles, creating an intimate space where first dates and groups of friends gather for a good time. For beer lovers, Keegan Ales is a must, with awesome beers always on tap and great bar snacks. We’re big fans of the Hurricane Kitty IPA and Mother’s Milk Stout, and often stop into Keegan on our way into the Catskills for a growler.
What to Do in Kingston: Go Shopping, Walk the Riverfront, or See a Show at BSP
Kingston has a lot of great shopping and cafes, so it’s easy to pick an area to hang out in and explore for the day. Our favorite place to spend a morning or afternoon is the Rondout area. Once it’s own city independent from Kingston, the Rondout in Kingston is set at the foot of the Hudson River and is really picturesque. Its main street, Broadway, is lined with cute shops and cafes on a steep hill, making it feel vaguely reminiscent of San Fransisco. Antique lovers will enjoy both Milne and On the Hill Antiques, just a couple blocks from each other on Broadway. Between the two is Kingston Wine Co., a wine store opened by two ex-Brooklynites who left the city in search of a better life–and it’s clear that they’ve found it. Outdoor/gift shop Clove and Creek is amazing, as is neighbor Hops Petunia, a floral/gift shop. If it’s a nice day, and download iPhone app Arrivals by artist Viv Corringham for a guided tour of the riverside area. Check out the many art galleries down there, too!
Uptown Kingston, also known as the Stockade District, is rich in historic architecture and neighborhoods; it’s also got lots of bars, restaurants, shopping and cafes. Wall Street, the “main street” in this part of the city, hosts a farmers market in the summer and is rumored to have a flea market next year. This part of town is very walkable, and the the Trailways Bus drops off here. (Also, the AirBNB home we stayed at is located here!) It’s easy to kill an afternoon in this part of town eating and shopping. For music lovers, check out Rocket Number Nine on Wall St. for strictly vinyl; also the new Rhino Records has a great selection of books, CDs and vinyl. And on that note, if you’re in town for the evening, make sure to check out the schedule at BSP Kingston for indie shows.
Last, in “midtown” Kingston, we have spent many afternoons at Zaborski’s, a huge warehouse that’s literally stuffed to the brim with collectibles, antiques and salvage stuff for the home. The bottom floors are mostly “smalls” like electronics, neon signs, small lighting fixtures, wood boxes, etc. The upper floors are kept busy by first-time home owners and set builders from the city that come here for salvaged bathtubs, doors, lighting fixtures and other architectural salvage. Prices can be a little steep, but pick out a few things and try to get a bundle deal. (Worth noting: it’s not heated or air conditioned, so if you’re doing in summer/winter, dress appropriately.) To decompress after, we’ll grab a beer or catch a show at The Anchor.