Who needs a car when you can spend a day in the country via MetroNorth. Cold Spring, on the Hudson River, is close enough for a day trip or a weekend. Explore antiques shops and historic homes, hike one of the best trails in the Tri-State area, or just sit under the riverside gazebo to enjoy the picture postcard view across the river.
Cold Spring was named by General George Washington, who was looking for a location to build an army training school. He drank from the cold spring he found here, and, the rest, as they say, is history, including deciding to establish a military academy across the river, now called West Point.
The plaque telling the story is at the MetroNorth station at the foot of Main Street, a few paces from the Hudson River.
These are my choices for a great day, or great weekend in Cold Spring:
Boscobel, an 1805 mansion showcasing an important collection of furniture by Duncan Phyfe and other Federal Period furnishings, was set to be torn down in the 1950s, but saved and restored by regional preservationists. It was the home of States and Elizabeth Dyckman – relatives of the Dyckmans who owned the Revolutionary Era house in Upper Manhattan now known as the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum.
Boscobel contains much of the family’s china, silver and leather-bound books. The rose garden blooms with more than 100 varieties, and there are numerous walking trails on the 29 acre property. The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival performs here each summer under a huge tent.
Brasserie Le Bouchon has been serving classic French fare ever since its award-winning owner/chef moved his family here from Manhattan a decade ago. Local ingredients are favored, including Hudson Valley duck for homemade sausage and apples for tartes and tartines. 76 Main St. (845) 265-7676. (no website)
Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill offers updated Italian fare, including wood-fired pizzas, in a historic home set back from the street by a garden, where there is outdoor patio dining in nice weather. 91 Main St.. (845) 265-5582
Cold Spring Apothecary & Wellness House sells homemade organic lotions and candles and loose teas. The peppermint facial toner and black pepper candle smell good enough to eat or drink. 75 MainSt. (845) 232-1272.
Riverfront Park, at the foot of Main Street, is marked by a canon like the ones manufactured nearby at the West Point Foundry. One of its craftsmen, Robert Parrott, designed the weapon often credited with helping the North win the Civil War, known as the Parrott Rifle.
Breakneck Ridge is one of the more popular and strenuous hikes in the area, a well-marked 3.5 mile loop with several panoramic vistas. The NY-NJ Trail Conference has free maps, including GPS coordinates. (201) 512-9348.
Hudson House Inn is the second-oldest continuously operating inn in NY State (oldest is the Beekman Arms Inn, in nearby Rhinebeck). The inn opened in 1832 when Cold Spring was a stop-over for Hudson River steamships. Rooms are decorated with Colonial-style four-posters, and the hotel restaurant has a knock-out riverside view. 2 Main St. (845) 265-9335.
The Antiques Scene – A couple of dozen antiques dealers are crammed into three blocks of Main Street, including in multi-vendor shops. Start at the MetroNorth train station and walk west to find collectibles from $5 to museum quality heirlooms with more zeroes attached. Hours and dates closed vary by shop.
- Downtown Gallery (40 Main St. 845-265-4866) features Civil War photos, 1940s hats and estate furniture.
- (77 Main St., 845-265-5050) offers old baseball cards, cameras and such.
- Antique Alley (93 Main St., 845-8095568, no website) specializes in Bakelite tableware and jewelry.
- Country Clocks (142 Main St., 8450265-3361, no website) both sells and repairs vintage clocks
Cold Spring is about one hour from Grand Central Terminal on MetroNorth.
BTW – NYCOTC editor Evelyn Kanter is the author of two Hudson Valley travel guidebooks, both of which contain information about Cold Spring.