Ninety miles north of NYC, the Hudson River Valley town of Kingston, NY is situated at the base of the Catskill Mountains on the Rondout Creek. As the original capital city of New York, it’s loaded with history and incredible architecture — plus, a very vibrant art community.

Like many Hudson Valley towns, its history, natural beauty and affordability has recently drawn in the creative types who have relocated and made Kingston their home — and are, in turn, opening restaurants, shops, studios and other small businesses.

Read on for our guide to Kingston, New York, with recommendations on where to stay, eat, drink, shop, hike, and more.

Where to Stay in Kingston, NY: Hotel Kinsley

Hotel Kinsley’s Wall St Suite is a loft-like space featuring original ornate moldings, king bed, full living/seating area, and a marble tile bathroom with a walk-in rain shower and luxurious oversized soaking tub.

We love boutique hotel Hotel Kinsley, who offers guests beautiful rooms throughout four buildings in Kingston’s Stockade District. Dating to the 19th century, each building is stylistically and architecturally distinct; each pay homage to the Kingston’s past as well, heavily rooted in generations of art, travel, and nature. The buildings are closely nestled throughout the oldest part of the city, with its characteristic colorful facades and Federal-style architecture.

The first of the four buildings to open was Kinsley’s flagship, 301 Wall Street; since then, guest rooms have opened in three additional buildings. The flagship is a restored 19th century bank building that also houses Kinsley’s airy restaurant, with towering ceilings, a mezzanine for private dining or meetings, and the coziest cocktail bar. Above Restaurant Kinsley’s kitchen, a large mural by artist Happy Menocal serves as a focal point, the same artist whose work is used throughout Hotel Kinsley’s cheerful website.

Above Restaurant Kinsley, ten guest rooms are located on its upper floors. Guests enter through the bar, check-in inside the bank’s original vault, then head upstairs via a historic elevator. From the rooms to the restaurant to the bar, the interiors are stunning, each space totally unique but cohesive in the use of color palette and texture — thanks to the handiwork of interior designer Robert McKinley.

Things to Do in Kingston, NY: Shopping, Galleries, and Exploring Town

Wall St in Uptown Kingston, NY is lined with boutique shops, galleries and restaurants.

Much of Kingston’s appeal is being at the epicenter of “Upstate” culture in the Hudson Valley. Exploring town, and the region, is a must! The town is comprised of three distinct neighborhoods: Uptown (also called the Stockade District), Midtown, and the Rondout (downtown.)

Uptown Kingston is the most architecturally distinctive, with colorful painted buildings facades along Main and North Front Streets – plus some exceptionally preserved historic buildings in the blocks surrounding. In this part of town, don’t miss staples like Kingston Consignments (consignment & antiques for the home), Rhino Records (vinyl, books & curios), Lovefield Vintage (great hand-picked vintage), Blue Cashew (kitchenware) and Hamilton & Adams (women & menswear.) Newcomers Pinkwater Gallery, River Mint Finery, Westerlind and Capital Vintage are all welcome additions to this part of town.

In Midtown, Kingston’s more industrial neighborhood is probably the epicenter of its creativity, where many artists and entrepreneur-types have taken up residence and have studio spaces in old factories. Keep your eyes peeled for the murals in this part of town, whose number grow every year thanks to Kingston’s annual O+ Festival. Galleries of note in Midtown include Airfield Gallery and Monument Gallery. Shopping for the home? Don’t miss Zaborski Emporium, a massive warehouse filled with antiques and architectural salvage stuff for the home; Black Creek Mercantile & Co‘s custom & handmade furniture; and L’Impatience‘s modern ceramics. We also love At Land with clothing and grounded goods for the home. Or skip all that and zen out in a sensory deprivation tank at Zephyr Float.

Last, the Rondout (downtown) neighborhood is perhaps Kingston’s most idyllic, boasting some serious old-world charm. Its main street, Broadway, is a slope lined with cute shops and cafes including some favorites like Kingston Wine Co., Clove & Creek, Milne, and Hops Petunia. From here, stroll down to the Rondout Canal, which cuts along old railroad tracks while taking in the stunning views of the Hudson. Galleries of note in this part of town include One Mile Gallery and Artport Kingston.

Explore the Outdoors in Kingston, NY: the Best Hikes Near Kingston, NY and More

Awosting Falls in Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

For those looking to stretch your legs a little, Kingston NY is super central to some of the best hiking in New York State. Some favorites nearby include Minnewaska State Park Preserve, with tons of hikes to choose from — among them, the short but scenic hike to Awosting Falls, or the longer trail around a lake at Millbrook Mountain. (Heads up: Minnewaska State Park Preserve does charge a fee, but it’s well worth it.) Further afoot, there’s great hiking in the nearby Catskill Mountains.

Bringing the kiddos? Try Black Creek Preserve, a 2.1 mile walk whose trail crosses a scenic footbridge.

Finally, experience Kingston like never before at A Day Away Kayak, whose affordable rates are a no-brainer for lovers of the outdoors. A quick jaunt up to a waterfall and back takes just over an hour, or spend a few hours out on the water.

Kingston, NY’s Best Restaurants – and Bars

Restaurant Kinsley in Kingston, NY offers an inventive New American menu of locally sourced food, designed around the harvest of regional farmers.

Along with artists and other creatives, chefs have flocked Upstate to set up shop in Kingston. Below, some of our favorites.

Each neighborhood seems to have its own little bakery/coffee/sandwich and provisions spot in Kingston, and we’re here for it. In Uptown, this spot is Kingston Bread + Bar; in Midtown, find Village Coffee and Goods; and in the Rondout area, check out the very cute Rosie General.

When you eventually tire of gourmet sandwiches, we’re longtime fans of Yum Yum Noodles, for a delicious and indulgent lunchtime noodle bowl, sure to be followed by a nap. Also, blink twice and you might miss Top Taste – but this Jamaican takeout spot was a James Beard nominee and has been featured in Bon Appetit. Other cultural highlights include Tortilla Taco Bar, where you can pretend you’re at a mezcal bar in Mexico City.

Dinnertime brings another plethora of possibilities. We’re currently digging LOLA, the rock n’ roll little sister restaurant to the more refined Restaurant Kinsley (by the same owners.) Expect imaginative pizzas & mains, fun cocktails, a great wine list, and upbeat vibes. Many enticing menu items beg to be shared! The aforementioned Restaurant Kinsley, located on the main level of Hotel Kinsley, offers an inventive New American menu of locally sourced food, designed around the harvest of regional farmers. Housed in a former bank, the beautiful space is accentuated with natural light, high ceilings and a fireplace. The dining room’s atmosphere is lovely and the food is great; grab dinner, brunch, or both here.

Other notable options for dinner include Le Canard Enchaine for a romantic night out, transporting diners straight to Paris – or pretend you’re in Seville at Mirador, whose deep wine & sherry programming, plus a menu of mouth-watering tapas is our most anticipated opening of 2024. Wine bar Chleo is a new favorite as well, whose menu changes frequently to feature the best produce possible, cooked over an open fire. Grab a bar seat overlooking the kitchen if you can! Last but not least, Midtown’s Eliza describes itself as a “neighborhood bistro inspired by Europe, rooted in the Hudson Valley.” The beautiful space, serving up unpretentious fare, comes from the creator of gem Ollie’s Pizza in High Falls – who teamed up with an alum of Gramercy Tavern and Phoenicia Diner to bring Eliza to life.

As far as nightlife goes, there’s a lot of great bars in Kingston, each with a different ambiance. Beautiful spots like Brunette Wine Bar and Stockade Tavern are perfect for an intimate date night or small gathering, whereas Kingston Standard Brewing Co., West Kill Supply, Beverly Lounge, and Tubby’s – who books outstanding musical talent – are more casual vibes, complete with pub fare. Last, no trip to Kingston would be complete without a visit to Rough Draft Bar & Books, a bookstore and bar (serving some light foods), to do some shopping, or grab a beer and rub elbows with locals for fun events like trivia night.