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

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

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

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

A Walk From Lincoln Center to Zabar's

If you happen to be attending a noon or matinee performance in Lincoln Center or otherwise happen to be hanging around there for whatever reason and find you've got some time, I recommend a stroll up Broadway to Zabar's, the famous Upper West Side food emporium. This stretch of Broadway takes in the sights of several new housing sky-rises, several theaters, and some flamboyant former apartment hotels of the early 20th century. Flâneurs will love the Belle Epoque ambiance of these overly-ornamented buildings, and the distance from W. 66th or so to W. 80th is not so taxing, especially if you're dressed in shoes for the opera. View Larger Map Several noteworthy structures along the way - The Dorilton, 171 W 71st St., from 1900-02, at the northeast corner of Broadway, is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece. The 72nd St subway station dates from 1904 and is a funny little thing. Verdi Square, at the convergence of Broadway, Amsterdam, an W. 73rd, is a nice small park fea

The Thin Man Walk: A New York Holiday Adventure with Nick and Nora Charles

(Revised) Line up the cocktails. As Nick says, "You see the important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. A Manhattan you shake to foxtrot, a Bronx to two-step time. A dry martini you always shake to waltz time." If ever a couple possessed complementary drinking rhythms, it would have to be Nick and Nora Charles , the much-envied glamorous cocktail-swilling quick-thinking duo of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man . Inspired by the writer's blossoming affair with playwright Lillian Hellman , the novel, published in January of 1934, motivated MGM to rush a cinematic adaptation into production. The movie, released in late May of 1934, proved popular enough to spawn sequels, foremost because of the stellar chemistry and witty performances of William Powell as Nick and Myrna Loy as Nora. Decades later, many people still search for their own Nick or Nora. Beyond the playful banter, the partying Charleses exude a confident security and ease in their

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

Museums in New York Open on Tuesdays

American Folk Art Museum , 45 W. 53rd St. Asia Society and Museum , 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street) Guggenheim Museum , 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th St.) Pictured left International Center of Photography , 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1000 Fifth Avenue NEW: Beginning May 1, 2013 MoMA will be open seven days a week. 11 W. 53rd St. The Morgan Library & Museum , 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street Museum of the City of New York , 1220 Fifth Avenue New York University, Grey Art Gallery , 100 Washington Square East Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest days to remember which museums are open. See the list for NY museums open on Mondays here .

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

10 Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal

(updated March 2017) Famously crowded Grand Central Terminal functions as a major crossroads for the city, hosting busy commuters as they come and go from the suburbs via the Metro-North Railroad or within the city via a few subway lines, but the terminal also happens to be a good place to launch short walks. With its south side fronting E. 42nd Street and its massive structure interrupting Park Avenue, Grand Central provides quick access to many of the city's most well-known attractions. The New York Public Library and Bryant Park are only a couple of blocks away from the terminal, a quick jaunt on 42nd Street. And from there, Times Square is just another block or two farther west of the library, its neon shimmering in the distance. One wonders, standing near the intersection of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, how many souls have been lured away from their well-meaning library studies by the beckoning lights of the Theater District. Grand Central Terminal : Before setting