Cold Spring, New York is an itty bitty village about an hour away from NYC on the Metro North train. It is the home of some excellent hiking grounds, a young woman named Patience who has been friends with me since we were two, adorable antique shops, the world’s cutest B&B, and a weird professor I had in graduate school who really liked a paper I wrote on Agatha Christie, but thought my essay on Laura Mulvey was shallow. Some of these things may interest you more than others.
Cold Spring is an extremely popular weekend getaway with native New Yorkers and French tourists alike. If you like shopping, eating, and/or walking, Cold Spring is sure to have something for you too. Follow the following itinerary and you are guaranteed to experience the delights of Cold Spring.
Word to the wise: DO NOT attempt this day on a Tuesday, as both Boscobel and Hudson Hil’s will be closed.
Breakfast: The Pig Hill
Address: 73 Main St, Cold Spring, NY
The food to be found in Cold Spring and the surrounding Hudson Valley area is uniformely excellent. I’ve been told that this is because the CIA is in the area, but I thought the CIA was based in Virginia, and I don’t really understand why spies would make the food better. Are spies notoriously demanding customers or something?
Anyway, though I don’t usually bother to recommend hotels on this blog because I don’t care about hotels, I am willing to make an exception for the Pig Hill. The chef is CIA-trained, which means that he will be able to protect you in the night if ninjas attack. Also, he makes a mean omelet, which is my favorite way to start the day.
There is also always a baked good of some sort to accompany the breakfast, like a muffin or scone or crumpet or whatnot.
On top of these breakfasting wonders, the Pig Hill has the best amenity of any hotel I have ever stayed at. Some hotels have free cookies, some have free breakfast, and one hotel I’ve stayed at had free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which was very nice. But The Pig Hill has a freebee that I can guarantee will make you want to go stay there right now.
They give you free PIE. That’s right, every day there’s a new free PIE and if you are staying there, you can just take some. If you have friends, they can come and take some. I’ve had pecan, pumpkin, apple, lemon meringue…it was all amazing and cost me zero dollars.
You can’t have the pie WITH your breakfast though. Save it to enjoy with a cup of tea after dinner.
Price: 17 American Dollars
Travelerette Tip: One of the most popular sights around Cold Spring is the historical Boscobel home in nearby Garrison, and the best way to get to Boscobel from Cold Spring, if you don’t have a car, is to take a trolley. This is an adorable green trolley that loops around the town and environs, eventually dropping you off at the historic Boscobel. You have to get the trolley at the bottom of Main Street, just by the Cold Spring train station. Take the 9AM trolley to Boscobel and the 11:17 trolley back to Cold Spring and following this itinerary should be a breeze.
Once you arrive, head to the visitor center and buy a ticket for a guided tour because it’s the only way to get inside. On the tour you will be presented with many fun facts about life in Colonial New York, but let me limit myself to…
THREE FUN FACTS ABOUT BOSCOBEL
- The Boscobel itself is a well preserved mansion that belonged to a Royalist named States Morris Dyckman–AWESOME name, BTDubs. When–SPOILER ALERT–the British lost the American Revolution, Dyckman had to hightail it back to the motherland of England for some time until the former colonies were no longer as angry with him for supporting King George III.
- Sadly, not all of the furniture inside the home is authentic to the period–many items were lost after SMD lost all his fortune and so the furniture had to be replaced with replicas. I know this because our guide would roll her eyes balefully every time she encountered one of these replicas placed around the home. In the Hudson Valley, antiques are serious business.
- The structure of the house itself is gorgeous, but my favorite things were the hilariously stiff portraits of the Morris Dyckman family. Apparently the way American painters used to do portraits back then was to copy backgrounds from European paintings and then just plop a portrait of their subject in the middle of this other painting. I think it’s so funny that now many Americans are inclined to think of this country as superior to all others, but once upon a time we thought of ourselves as upstarts compared to the classier Europeans.
Lunch: Hudson Hil’s
Address: 129-131 Main St.
Hudson Hil’s is an extremely popular brunch place on Main St. back in Cold Spring. The NY Times wrote it up in their 36 Hours in the Hudson Valley article, and there is almost always a line to get in. Still, Patience and I only had to wait for about 30 minutes before we were seated. Bring a book if you don’t have a buddy to chat to.
Hudson Hil’s does a mean sandwich. I especially recommend their grilled Gouda sandwich with Granny Smith apples and figs. It is the perfect combination of sweet, tart, and savory and it comes loaded with fresh potato chips.
If you don’t mind having breakfast two times in one day, indulge in the scrumdiddlyumptious chocolate babka French toast.
I really thought there was no way to improve on regular old French toast, but this chocolate babka proved me wrong.
Travelerette Tip: If the line is simply aggrezh, just stop by the market and ask for a lunch box. Then you can have a Hudson Hil’s carbapalooza while you hike!
Early Afternoon: Hiking in the Hudson Highlands
After lunch, you’re going to want to walk off that Gouda/chocolate babka, so turn toward the mountains you will see all around you. (If you are on Main St, face the gazebo and turn right.) Now you will be heading right for The Hudson Highlands State Park.
This is an extremely popular place to go hiking. I always run into lots of French people when I am up here, so you know it is chic. However, you should be a little careful when hiking alone here, as my friend Patience warned me that sometimes bears are sighted in the area, though she didn’t know of any stories of people being eaten by a bear. This comforted me, as while being eaten by a bear does sound fun in an Oregon Trail sort of way, it’s not how I wanted to spend my vacation.
I strongly recommend hiking around here because the beautiful views of the Hudson give you the feeling that no time at all has changed since Henry first arrived. The Hudson doesn’t tend to show up on the “World’s Best River” lists, but I think it’s beautiful enough to hold its own with the best of them.
The trails have pretty good signage around them. Just avoid Breakneck Ridge unless you want a real challenge. People have definitely died hiking there, and that is not one of my attempts at macabre humor. It’s called Breakneck for a reason.
Late Afternoon: Shopping on Main St. in Cold Spring
Cold Spring has some of the best antique shops in New York State. I bought a great old German advent calendar–complete with glitter on it that was still intact–at a stupendously messy but bountifully stocked shop on Main Street, and I bought a perfect pair of Bakelite earrings at one of the little vintage jewelry shops nearby. These are my special treasure because Bakelite was popular before pierced ears, so it’s hard to find Bakelite earrings I can wear. All the antique shops are on Main Street, so it is easy to find them.
If you only have time for three shops, let them be these:
- Swing, an adorable clothing store on 65 Main St. where I bought a beautiful clear umbrella that goes with everything.
- Old Souls, an all-purpose hipster hiking store on 63 Main St. that sells everything a hipster might need to go hiking or be a hipster.
- Rincon Argentino, an adorable Argentinian coffee shop on 21 Main St. that makes amazing alfajores, which are sandwich cookies of the Argentine.
When you are done shopping, take your wares down to the charming gazebo at the bottom of Main St and have fun watching people and/or the water. Then you will want to go back to the Pig Hill and eat your slice of CIA approved pie before dinner. There definitely won’t be room in your belly after dinner!
Dinner: The Valley
Address: 2015 U.S. 9, Garrison, NY
The Valley at the Garrison resort is my favorite splurge restaurant in the Hudson River Valley. You can’t walk there from Cold Spring, so you need to hire a cab or drive yourself. Patience and I got there by engaging the services of an elderly lady who never gave me either her name or a smile, so we just called her The Grim Reaper, or Grimmy for short. But if you’re scared of Grimmy, just try Cold Spring Village Taxi. They have good reviews.
Once you have arrived at The Valley, your troubles will be over and your gastronomic delights can begin. The Valley uses only ingredients that are in season and, being as this was the fall, squash and game were on the menu. I started with butternut squash soup, accompanied by apple, chives, and speck.
I continued with a perfectly tender duck with plum, foie gras, risotto, and my favorite oyster mushrooms. I could probably live off those five foods for the rest of my life.
Dessert was my favorite part: pumpkin pie with sage butter ice cream and roasted pumpkin. I love the rich flavor of sage in a dessert and I am mad for roasted pumpkin. Also, I’d already had pie at The Pig Hill, so this was a two pie day and a two pie day is a blessed day.
Finally, I was presented with these adorable little raspberry tarts to conclude my meal. They cost me as much as the pie did.
At the end of the evening I ran into some trouble because Grimmy had departed across the River Styx and I found it impossible to catch a cab. I called for one, the hostess called for one, but apparently they were all booked up. One company said that they could give me a cab, but I waited and waited and couldn’t get any service.
Finally the hostess got fed up and offered to drive me back to my hotel herself. I accepted her very generous offer and we had a nice conversation on the way back. Seriously I think this qualifies the Valley for having the very best service of any restaurant I have ever been to. I’ve met some friendly waiters, but no one has ever driven me home before. Thanks, Valley Hostess!
And That is a Perfect Day in Cold Spring, New York
What would be your favorite thing to do in Cold Spring? Would you rather have pumpkin pie, pecan pie, a walnut muffin, chocolate babka French toast, or an alfajore? Also, would you rather break your neck or be mauled by a bear? Please leave your comments below!
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