Columbia County is so close that... you might already be there. And if you're not, you should go -- unless you don't like food, art, shopping and beautiful scenery.
No, those things all sound pretty good? Well, here are some ideas on how to spend a day in Columbia County...
1) Head out - 9 am
We suggest taking I-90.
2) Breakfast in Chatham - 9:45 am
Chatham is a charming little town just off the Taconic in northern Columbia County. It has a bunch of cute shops, as well as the Crandell Theater and the colorful Peint o Gwrw Tafarn pub. But, right, we're talking about breakfast -- Chatham has a few options. Here are two we suggest:
Our Daily Bread
54 Main St, Chatham, NY 12037 | (518) 392-9852
This busy spot bakes its own bread and offers light (and cheap) breakfast items.
10 Main St Chatham, NY 12037
This tiny French-style patisserie makes delightful tiny tarts.
Have a walk around the town center after you eat. It's a quick loop.
3) History or art? - 11:00 am
OK, choose your own adventure time: will you pick history or art?
History: The Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
NY 9H in Kinderhook (map)
This National Parks Service site includes Lindenwald, home of our eighth president -- and favorite son of Kinderhook -- Martin Van Buren. The grounds are open year-round for walking. And if you're there from mid-May until the end of October, you can tour the house itself. You get to see where MVB slept, ate and politicked (and also where he pooped -- it was the cause of some chattering because he did it inside). Tours are $5 for adults (cash) and start on the hour.
Also: if you're headed toward Kinderhook, Golden Harvest Farms is nearby in Valatie. You can stop by for a cider donut (What? It's second breakfast.), pick up some tasty fruit -- and if you're there from noon to 5 pm, tour the Harvest Spirits distillery. Also also: nearby Samascott Orchards grows some interesting apple varieties.
Art: Art Omi
1405 County Rt.22 Ghent, New York 12075 | 518 392 4747 (map)
If you're looking to head in a different direction (both literally and figuratively), Art Omi will give you something to look at. The center includes an outdoor sculpture park with pieces scattered around 100 acres. The works are contemporary and will probably spark some discussion. There's a visitor center with maps, as well a small cafe with tasty food.
4) Bash Bish Falls - 1 pm
The falls are actually in Massachusetts (bonus destination), but you can park in New York's Taconic State Park and walk to them. The trail is easy (it's more like a small road) and follows along a beautiful stream. It's about 15 minutes one way. Don't miss the summit above the falls (you can walk up a steep trail, or just drive around) -- it offers a nice view back into New York.
Alternate stop: Olana
5720 Route 9G Hudson, NY (map)
The former home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church sits on a beautiful estate in Hudson. The grounds are open daily. And guided tours are available for the house -- you might want to think about reserving a spot ahead of time.
5) Head for Hudson - 3:30 pm
Hudson's Warren Street has developed into an interesting stretch of galleries, boutiques and restaurants. There are shops selling antiques, clothing, furniture and all sorts of whatnot. A lot of this development has been spurred by people who've come from New York City -- and the stretch has a little bit of that feel (not a lot, but a bit). A writer for Vogue actually called Warren Street "an achingly hip main street." Keep in mind: a lot of these shops don't stay open later than 5:30 or 6 pm.
Also, if you walk all the way down Warren Street, there's an overlook of the Hudson River and the tiny Hudson-Athens Lighthouse.
6) Dinner in Hudson - 6 pm
One of the great things about the (re)development of Warren Street is that it now includes a bunch of interesting food options -- everything from upscale dining to barbecue to pizza to, depending on the season, a taco truck.
7) Head on home - 8 pm
That was a big day. Thankfully, home's not that far away.
These are just a few of the things to do in Columbia County. There are a bunch more. And we bet you know of some good ones, so please share!
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