I spent my birthday upstate after a no good, very bad year a while back and it’s been a love affair ever since. It was one of those weekends that quite literally, changed the pace of my entire existence and I hold the Catskills close to my heart for this and many other reasons. The landscape, the food, the music, the people (at least most of them, don’t want to get too generous here)- it’s good vibes all around. We try and make it up a few times a year, usually staying in the Woodstock/Phoenicia area- so, when we stumbled upon Kingston during a pit stop this past spring, it was as if the gates opened up. It’s about 100 miles from NYC, close enough to do a day trip, but far enough to feel like a weekend getaway if you choose to make it one. Kingston is technically the largest “city” in the Hudson Valley region, serving as a destination for tourists and locals alike. There’s a sense of community and creativity in the air that’s contagious and makes you want in. One thing I noticed in particular is that there’s a camaraderie and mutual respect among the business owners which made me fall in love with it even more. In addition to countless restaurants, bars, antique shops, boutiques, and thrift stores, it’s rich in history with many buildings dating as far back as the 1600’s (#spooky).
What’s extra cool about it is that it’s split up into two equally unique and fun sections- The Stockade District and The Rondout (the area by the Hudson River waterfront). These two are about a five minute drive from each other, but it’s definitely worth hitting up both on your trip. Many of Stockade’s bars and restaurants are in buildings that look like something the Declaration of Independence would have been drafted in. There’s even a museum if you’re a history nerd and looking to learn more about what went down in the area back in the day. The Rondout has a totally different aesthetic- it’s close to the river and almost has a New Orleans architectural feel. There are tons of boats and really beautiful views of mountains juxtaposed to this adorable bridge that pretty much stole my heart (I realize I sound insane but just look at it!). I love both parts of town equally and highly recommend making a trip this summer or fall because #foliage.
Where to eat-
Lis Bar- Lis (pictured above) technically isn’t in Stockade or Rondout (it’s in Midtown), but I would never leave it off, because it was amazing. An authentic Polish joint run by Polish people, serving up Polish food, tapas style- it’s a beautiful thing. The pierogies were unreal and the kielbasa was dare I say- the best I ever had (sincerest apologies to my Grandma). The space itself is hip with a retro flare and really lovely outdoor space.
Sissys Cafe- Solid ol’ fashioned breakfast spot with really good wraps. They serve their mimosas in huge water glasses with freshly squeezed OJ. I was sold at first sip.
Outdated- A cafe and antique store intertwined into one adorable quirky spot serving delicious coffee and vegetarian dishes.
Dominck’s Cafe- Old school cafe with 50’s flare
Diego’s- This is the only place on the list I haven’t been, but only by default. Diego’s comes highly recommended by all the locals, so you know it’s a layup. Tacos and margaritas...how can you go wrong?
Where to drink-
Rough Draft- Books, dogs, coffee, beer, and wine. I’ll just leave this here and let you see for yourself.
Crown- Cocktail bar residing in the oldest building in all of Stockade. Inspired by Parisian speakeasies, Crown hosts its own burlesque shows. It’s a very sexy space with great cocktails and that’s really all I need in a nightcap.
Where to shop-
OAK 42- Women’s boutique with high(ish) end brands that won’t break the bank.
Flora Beauty- Retail store for 58flora, an all natural beauty line originated and produced in Kingston. Added bonus- there’s also a spa with a variation of services available if you feel the need to get your self-care on (always).
Lovefield Vintage- The perfect place to go and get your next swoon worthy item so when your friends ask “Where did you get that?” you can say “It’s vintage” and twirl.
Stuff- The mid-century modern thrift store of my dreams realized. Stuff (name’s kinda genius, right?) is high end but if you search, there are definitely some affordable finds that won’t spiral you into buyers remorse.
Kingston Consignments- Affordable thrift store with everything from furniture to oddities.
Exit Nineteen- Perfect gift shop for literally anyone in your life.
Where to eat-
Graziano’s Downtown Cafe- When you think of Upstate, Italian food probably doesn’t come to mind but this one is worth checking out. Chef Graziano Tecchio hails from Venice, Italy- doesn’t get more authentic than that. Be sure to get the tiramisu.
Dolce- Easy breezy spacious breakfast spot with very good crepes. I’d recommend the smoked salmon, a coffee, and a big glass of orange juice.
Ship to Shore- With the slogan “An American Bistro With a Taste of Old School New York Steak House”, this one has a lot to live up to. I’m happy to say it will meet your expectations.
Where to drink-
Brunette- Hands down my favorite wine bar I’ve been to thus far. It was my first orange wine experience and I’m pretty sure I won’t forget it. Also ladies, there are bobby pins on a tray in the bathroom. Why is this not a thing?
Mariner’s Harbor- Full disclosure- our Airbnb host warned us not to eat here. It’s literally right on the water so we couldn’t resist popping in for a drink at the outdoor bar. After seeing the food being served, I’m glad we just stuck to beer. Worth it for the views and outdoor space.
Where to shop-
Clove and Creek- Cutest store ever with amazing home goods, books, and full on coffee bar.
Milne Inc- Really beautiful curated antiques in a really nice open space, easy to maneuver.
Hops Petunia- Hops Petunia is one of the most popular florists in the Hudson Valley. After you treat yourself to the most gorgeous floral arrangement you’ve ever seen, peruse the store for things like candles, jewelry, and bath products.