Skip to main content

City Escape: Discovering Local Color in Hudson, NY

Please forgive this post for not focusing on New York City, but we all need to get away from time to time. For quick escapes like this, I like Hudson, New York, an historic river town that's just two hours north of the city by train. There, I can wander quiet streets on the weekdays, listen to a multitude of birds and train whistles and the soft sound of doors opening, and I can enjoy unobstructed views of the Hudson River at sunset. I am having fun there, too.

Warren Street. Hudson, NY, at 2nd Street intersection.


In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Hudson was associated with the New England whaling community, and it served as home to many prosperous merchants. In the late 19th century and early 20th, Hudson took to the wild side, stimulating vigorous business in over a dozen brothels and fifty bars. After state troopers broke up the vices in the early 1950s, the town languished for a couple of decades before being discovered and renewed. The downtown Hudson Historic District, with over 700 properties in a range of architectural styles, served as a most useful launching point for its rediscovery.

historical detail with a splash of color on drain pipe


A two-night trip this week confirmed that activity has considerably picked up in Hudson over the past year, evidenced by new stores, galleries, and restaurants. In addition to Hudson's architectural heritage from the nineteenth century, extraordinarily preserved, and its well-known collection of antique shops, the town's new energy comes in part from more city dwellers taking a liking to the town. Hudson now even has a hipster area, its own small Williamsburg.


The farm-to-table restaurant Grazin' is in the renovated diner on the right at 717 Warren St.

Hudson is not afraid of color. While homes and commercial establishments of the nineteenth century typically employed varying color schemes, depending on style, Hudson shows off its built history by employing a mix of traditional and contemporary approaches to color. On the main drag of Warren Street, a bright electric orange for one entire facade and then a traditional dark brick for the immediate neighbor works well for them together. A building on Columbia Street cleverly presents itself to the street with panels of ordinary pallets painted in brilliant blues.  The Chamber of Commerce renovated an old building at the foot of Warren Street and painted it a vibrant red.





The most famous colors in Hudson come with the sunset. Near Hudson is Olana, the Persian-style home of Hudson River artist Frederic Edwin Church. Across the Hudson River from Olana, via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, is the Thomas Cole site. Both are operated as historical sites and open to the public. Watching the sunsets in Hudson certainly enhances an appreciation of the Hudson River School painters.



To take in the Hudson River landscape, walk down Warren Street to the river and then walk up to Parade Hill. The picturesque Hudson-Athens Lighthouse sits in the middle of the river, and the Catskills are off to the west. The town founders established this promenade in 1795 as a public walk, stipulating that it must be used for such strolling purposes in perpetuity. That's forward thinking.

View of the Hudson River landscape, with statue of Saint Winifred,
from Parade Hill, also known as Promenade Hill.

While visiting Hudson, be sure to visit Helsinki Hudson at 405 Columbia Street, a multi-purpose dining and entertainment venue in an impressive renovated industrial building. Also I recommend hanging out in the Wunderbar & Bistro at 744 Warren Street for informal good dining and a chat with the locals. Cafe Le Perche at 230 Warren offers excellent pastries. The cafe opens at 7 a.m. for counter service, perfect for early risers out on a walk. I've included more recommendations in the map.


View Hudson, NY getaway in a larger map

Counting the round-trip train travel from New York, two nights at a guest house, and food (all good), this trip cost me about $400. I traveled lightly, and I didn't need a car. I consider this price a great bargain for the peace of mind and the renewed energy to take on the big city once again.

Train station, Hudson, NY


• Read more about Hudson at this post from 2010 - Day Trip: Up the River to Hudson, New York, and a Visit to Frederic Church's Olana.

• The prominent Hudson Valley artists maintained studios in Greenwich Village on Tenth Street, also a short walk to the same river. Read the post, The Tenth Street Studio Building and a Walk to the Hudson River.

• More information on train schedules and fares to Hudson, see amtrak.com

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from April 18-20, 2012. More in this set on Flickr WOTBA.

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City. View of the Hudson River from the Keeper's House The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington. Recommended purchase - a map det

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli