by Alysse Robin
There is something very special about Kingston. Not only is it a city that enjoys all of the benefits of great restaurants, culture, and shopping; it’s also one of the major cities in the Hudson Valley. This alone means it enjoys some extraordinary traits — it is riddled with artists, spectacular views, and a rich history.
Kingston sits aside the Hudson River, and is known for three distinct regions—Midtown (housing the City Hall Building, Ulster Performing Arts Center, shops, cafes, and urban markets); Uptown (including the historic Stockade district with its antique flavor and charming architectural overhangs); and the Downtown waterfront region also known as the Rondout West-Strand Historic District.
However, there are elements that make Kingston stand out even more. For one, Kingston was the first capital of New York in 1777 and was burned by the British later that year. It was a transportation hub in the 19th century, taking advantage of the rail, river, and canal connections it had. Also, Kingston was named one of the top places for artists by Business Week Online—of course this doesn’t surprise us. Traveling to and from New York City also brings a wealth of opportunity and culture to Kingston. The Trailways Bus is a perfect way to get back and forth with ease.
The Stockade District is the quaint and unique historic area of Kingston’s Uptown. If you are looking for history, you will want to stay in this rich part of our American past. The Stockade has many original stone landmark buildings, such as the Old Dutch Church and the Senate House. As the first capital of New York, Kingston established itself with government buildings, stone homes, and businesses that fed off the local industry and benefited from the railroad and canals, as well as importing and exporting goods on the river. Aside from the fascinating walks through history that can be had, Uptown Kingston is now home to amazing restaurants and galleries, and privately owned shops.
So, how can you plan a weekend with so much to see? Here are some ideas. For a stay in the heart of the Historic Uptown Stockade District with amazing personal service and amenities, look no further than Suite Dreams at Dream Weavers. Get the experience of a big city boutique hotel right in the heart of the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Another great stay in the Stockade would be just down the street at the Inn at Boitson’s, situated above the top-rated Boitson’s Restaurant, with modern style apartments with all of the amenities. You can settle in and enjoy all that Kingston has to offer, without having to step into a car for days! For a more traditional hotel stay, choose the Garden Plaza Hotel.
After checking in Friday evening, you may want to get some food. The hardest part of this task is going to be deciding what amazing restaurant to go to! If you are in Uptown Kingston, you are surrounded by exquisite culinary selections. For dinner your first night consider the Hoffman House on North Front Street in the Stockade District. This unique building once served as fortification and a lookout for colonists. Today, the Hoffman House serves to fortify your body with delicious steaks, fresh seafood, and homemade pasta and desserts. Enjoy their open-air patio, and choose from their tavern menu if you prefer a gourmet approach to some favorite basic dishes!
Boitson’s Restaurant is another fabulous option on North Front Street (and simple if you are staying at their Inn). It is a neighborhood restaurant where all walks of life seem to meet to get their hunger fed—whether it is a burger or fresh oysters you are craving, this casual dining experience will make you feel well served. Relax under the tin-roof on a leather banquet chair and enjoy the bistro atmosphere in style.
After-hours enjoy the bar at BSP Lounge. The Stockade Tavern is a great place to unwind also—a traditional tavern specializing in old-school crafted cocktails. They also have a great selection of beer, wine, and small plates. If you are in the mood for something more private, pick up a bottle of wine from Ester Wine and Spirits and head back to your room.
After a good night’s rest, you’ll be ready for some breakfast! Head to Outdated, an “antique cafe” with an eclectic mix of vintage goods and antiques, and some fine baked goods and farm-fresh menu. It’s a combined dining and shopping experience at Outdated, as everything in the cafe (down to the chair you sit in) is for sale. For a more traditional breakfast head to Deising's, offering a full menu where everything is made from scratch and tastes delicious!
If you are like most humans, you owe yourself a truly relaxing excursion. At Birch Body Care you can treat yourself to a massage at prices you can afford! Get the amazing benefits of massage therapy done by highly trained and qualified massage therapists who work with you to meet your individual needs, and with the flexibility of walking in or scheduling a session in advance.
Also don’t miss Kingston Farmers’ Market on Saturdays in Uptown Kinston. It runs from the end of May thru November. There you can pick from many local foods including artisan cheeses, fresh-grazed meats, and honey. You can also stop off at Fleisher's Grassfed and Organic Meats.
After your morning excursion you may already be craving lunch! For a cozy lunch try Hudson Coffee Traders. There you can enjoy fresh baked goods and sandwiches and perfect espressos, lattes and cappuccinos. They've become known for their beautiful latte art!
Then, spend the afternoon immersed in the local history of the region. The Friends of Historic Kingston offer narrated walking tours from May to October. Highlights of the tour include viewing the many 18th-century limestone houses still standing in the Stockade District, the site of the drafting of the New York State Constitution in 1777, and the Old Dutch Church Burying Ground.
Or visit the Volunteer Fireman's Hall & Museum of Kingston, the former 1857 home of the Wiltwyck Hose Company, featuring antique firefighting artifacts. Another historic option is a visit to the Senate House, the building where the first New York State Senate met in September and October 1777, when the building was the home of Abraham Van Gaasbeek. Built in 1676, it is the oldest public building in America. The adjacent museum, built in 1927, contains the largest collection of John Vanderlyn paintings, drawings and papers in the country.
After all that touring, you’ll be ready for an amazing meal. Santa Fe Uptown is situated in the landmark "11 Main" building, and offers a playful atmosphere with fresh, authentic, from scratch, Mexican food. Or for quite a different palate, try Le Canard Enchaine and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a brief excursion to France.
If you can arrange it, at night enjoy the first Saturdays, Kingston Art Receptions. Held throughout Kingston in various galleries and sponsored by the Arts Society of Kingston, this is a great way to meet the crowd with some wine, cheese, and lots of art!
To prepare for a day of shopping at some very unique independently owned stores, try Sunday breakfast at Dominick’s Café, on the busy corner of Front and Wall streets. There you can sit and watch people walk past while you enjoy a fresh mug of coffee and a flavorful biscotti or Panini created by Dominick’s family recipes rich in old world flavor. Nearby Ulster Savings Bank will service your banking needs, if you need some cash for the rest of the day.
All fueled up and ready to go, head to John Street and visit The Edelweiss Soap Company, where they have been making handmade goat milk soap since 2001. And then stop in Art Riot to nurture the artist or crafter in yourself. They have great supplies, a gallery, and workshops and events as well. Then, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to Wall Street, lined with shops and galleries. Stop in to Blue-Byrd’s Haberdashery & Music for a creative selection of CDs, a wide variety of hats (ranging from knit caps to Australian outback hats), and other accessories like ties and suspenders. Bop to Tottom is a fabulous store with the latest in fashion accessories, lighting, gifts, and jewelry. Tonner Dolls carries finely crafted dolls, known for features such as hand-painted details, and costuming that reflect a designer’s touch. Also on Wall Street is Schneiders Jewelers—a traditional, full service, family owned jewelry store. Schneiders offers a wide variety of beautiful gifts and jewelry, featuring South African Gems, Vera Bradley, Pandora, Simon Pearce, and many others.
For a fun little side trip, hop on the Catskill Mountain Railroad. The CMRR boasts several train rides. They include The Esopus Creek Scenic Train out of Mt. Tremper, which offers a 5-mile roundtrip along the Esopus Creek with the beauty of the Catskill Mountains as a backdrop. The Kingston Shuttle (Saturdays May-October) celebrates the city of Kingston.
I think by now you’ll be hungry for lunch, so for fresh and delicious South American fare try Gabriel’s Café on Wall Street. Gabriel’s has a delicious menu that includes many locally sourced vegetarian and vegan options, including fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, and a variety of coffee drinks. Or try the aptly named Yum Yum in Kingston for an urban feeling noodle bar with a great selection of noodle bowls and Asian street food.
Now that you’re replenished, get back to shopping on North Front Street. Here you’ll find creative, locally owned shops like Columbia Beauty Supply, a full service costume, beauty and wig shop. If you are looking for some special crafts, a local copy center, or a professional matting of the new artwork you bought, stop into Catskill Art & Office Supply, over on Wall Street, for great creative services for professionals and hobbyists alike.
For a bit of a stroll, head over to the locally-owned Kingston Plaza off Schwenk Drive for a combination of national retailers and local businesses. The Plaza offers beauty, fashion, groceries, auto supplies, banking services, fitness, crafts, wine and spirits, groceries, and Herzog’s Supply Co. for everything from hardware to plants and gifts.
For your last meal of the weekend try Ecce Terra, a quaint restaurant that is the perfect spot for a nice romantic dinner or catching up with friends. When in season, Ecce Terra uses fresh local produce from Gill's Farm to prepare delicious dishes based mostly on the Mediterranean Diet.
If you're looking for a special time to visit Kingston, consider coming during one of their many festivals. At the end of the summer enjoy The Wall Street Jazz Festival, a jazz festival where the traditionals meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women. For a different spin on history, join the reenactments at the Burning of Kingston every other year in October as redcoats and colonial bluecoats occupy the city of Kingston for three days to commemorate the city's torching by the invading British in 1777. Also in October is Kingston’s O+ Festival of Art and Music wherein artists barter their contributions directly for medical, dental, and other wellness services from art-loving health care providers. And if you are looking ahead for an amazing New Year’s Eve Celebration, Kingston had its first city celebration last year and it was a huge success. Over 1,000 people came to celebrate in a historic 1930s style, and watch the ball drop over Wall and Front streets in Kingston to ring in the New Year!
Now that you’ve fallen in love with Kingston perhaps you are thinking of staying. Look no further than Westwood Metes & Bounds Realty, dedicated to finding the right home to fit your style. And if you’re thinking of setting up a business, consider locating at Kingston’s Opera House Office & Retail Building—a vibrant, historical, three-story building.
There is so much to do and see here that you can keep returning for many unique trips, enjoying the waterfront, the historic districts, amazing shops, and culinary delights! With something for everyone you will find your heart’s desire.
1. Garden Plaza Hotel
2. The Inn At Boitson’s
3. Suite Dreams Inn
5. B n B Bagel
6. Blue 57 Wine & Spirits
2. Boitson’s Restaurant
7. Chic’s Sports Bar & Restaurant
8. Deising’s Bakery & Restaurant
3. Dominick’s Café
9. Ecce Terra Mediterranean
10. Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats
11. Gabriel’s Café
13. Hoffman House Tavern
14. Hudson Coffee Traders
15. Le Canard Enchaine
16. Lucy’s Tacos
17. Outdated: an antique cafe
18. Santa Fe Uptown
19. Savona’s Plaza Pizza
20. Stockade Tavern
21. Yum Yum Noodle Bar
22. Birch Body Care
23. BSP Lounge
24. Catskill Mountain Railroad
25. Dietz Stadium
26. Fireman's Hall & Museum of Kingston
27. Forsyth Nature Center and Park
28. Friends of Historic Kingston Museum
29. Senate House
30. Art Riot
31. Blue-Byrd’s Haberdashery & Music
32. Bop to Tottom
33. Catskill Art & Office Supply
34. Columbia Costume & Beauty Supply
35. Edelweiss Soap Co
36. Herzog's Supply Company
37. JK Wine & Liquor
38. Kingston Cigar Shoppe
39. Kingston Plaza
40. Parent Teacher Store
41. Schneider's Jewelers
42. Tonner Dolls
43. Brainstorm Computers and Technology
44. County Building
244 Fair St, Kingston
45. Fair Street Church
46. Old Dutch Church
47. Opera House
48. Trailways Bus Depot
49. Westwood Metes & Bounds
50. Ulster Savings Bank
51. Yankee Clipper Barber