It’s no fun feeling trapped by the city when weekends roll around. Those old-favorite brunch places, museums, and bars lose their appeal and even New York City—gasp!—sheds some of its luster. Winter weekends can feel especially oppressive: The piles of snow lining the streets become encrusted with litter and who-knows-what, and the fresh, falling snow turns to dirty slush the moment it hits the ground. If you’re over it, don’t stress. There’s an escape plan for you.
My husband and I started traveling to the Hudson Valley about four years ago, in search of fresh air and decompression. We began documenting it on the website Escape Brooklyn, writing about and photographing the best of each area we visited—including lodging, dining, drinking, and, of course, nature. Although much has changed on our website—and in the Hudson Valley—our favorite destinations remain the same.
Cold Spring, just 50 miles north of New York City, is the place we recommend to people for their first trip upstate. It has just the right balance of small-town charm, big-city cool, and lots of fresh air. In the winter, idyllic Cold Spring takes on a fairy tale charm in the (comparatively) pristine snow, and you can cozy up at a café without a laptop in sight. The kicker? It’s only an hour away, accessible by public transit.
If you’re planning your escape but wondering what to do in Cold Spring, we’ve got you covered. After a short, scenic ride up the east side of the Hudson River on Metro North, you’re dropped off right at the village’s waterfront. The Cold Spring experience begins with a short stroll up Main Street to brunch. We recommend The Foundry, famous for breakfast classics like French toast and pancakes. Once you’re all warm, fuzzy, and caffeinated, set out to explore town.
One of our favorite ways to spend an afternoon in Cold Spring is by shopping on Main Street. Cold Spring General, which focuses on handmade and American goods for the home as well as women’s and men’s apparel, also has a little grocery, along with a growler filling station—a great amenity for craft beer-drinking locals. Don’t pass up on the store’s signature switchel (a punch of honey, vinegar, and ginger), which goes down great with bourbon.
Head up the hill to Cold Spring Apothecary to stock up on the best-smelling products out there for both your medicine cabinet and your home. We love this shop’s beauty products just as much as we love the space, whose whitewashed walls are complemented by the snow outside its large windows during winter. Treat yourself by getting a facial, or warm up with one of many signature tea blends.
Another gem is Old Souls, which carries supplies for the great outdoors. The homey shop is adorned with taxidermy, pennants, and vintage flags. Fashion meets function with a wide selection of high-end outdoor brands like Filson and Danner, which are sold with zero hipster irony.
Last but not least, new to town and toward the top of Main Street is Burkelman, a contemporary home store and gallery. Though its eclectic, curated designer goods often come with high prices, it’s also easy to find great trinkets and small gifts that are easy on the wallet.
For antiques lovers and collectors, Cold Spring is a treasure trove with no less than five antique shops, each with different specialties, all of which are worth popping into. There’s a handful of other great shops too—from Swing, a lifestyle store for kids, to the boutique-feeling Cold Spring Pet Supply.
After a full afternoon shopping, take a stroll through the village’s picturesque, rambling side streets. Its quaint homes and quiet atmosphere make for a welcome respite from the crowded, noisy city.
Before leaving town, head to dinner at Brasserie Le Bouchon. With its bright red walls, large booths, and candlelit tables, the restaurant is especially cozy on a cold day. Warm up once again with a cocktail and the soup du jour, or go ahead and get full—and tipsy—before returning to the train station to await your ride home.
GOT A CAR? IF NOT, CALL A TAXI!
3 DRIVE-WORTHY COLD SPRING JAUNTS
• Boscobel: This stunning early 19th-century mansion in Garrison, four miles away, turns into a winter wonderland on weekends during December, with period-style holiday decorations and its gardens and grounds illuminated with candlelit paths and festive light displays. Boscobel.org
• Little Stony Point: An easy, one-mile loop along the Hudson River affords some of the best views in the area. Located just two miles north of Cold Spring, it’s a wonderful place to watch icebergs float down the river. LittleStonyPoint.org
• Manitoga: Design legend Russel Wright not only built a spectacular mid century modern home at Manitoga but also landscaped three trails throughout his 75-acre woodland paradise, preserved as Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison. Although the home is closed for tours in winter, the trails are lovely places to snowshoe. VisitManitoga.org