Centuries before automobiles emerged as the singular mode of transport, the Industrial Revolution exploded upward from its epicenter of Manhattan, through the waterways that carve the landscape of Upstate New York. As a result of this rapid expansion, mill towns popped up along the creeks and streams that branch from the Hudson River.
Unlike many of the city centers in the Capital Region, the charming small towns in htis story haven’t been bulldozed for strip malls and high rises. Instead, they maintain the architecture and ambiance of the time in which they were founded. Lucky for us, they’re all just a short automobile ride away! So if you’ve ever had the urge to play out your Schitt’s Creek fantasy, or if you’re someone for whom ‘antique’ is a verb, plan your next day trip to one of these charming small towns!
Surprisingly, the town I hadn’t heard of before was the one with the most going on! Greenwich has some of the most beautiful historic homes in the Capital Region. Plus, there’s a bustling main street with restaurants, cafes, antique shops and craft stores.
Formerly known as Whipple City, the town grew up around a cotton mill and continued to flourish until the mid 19th century. Be sure to take a stroll through the surrounding neighborhoods to see some of the best examples of 18th and 19th century architecture that Upstate New York has to offer.
There’s great food and drink in Greenwich, too. Argyle Brewing offers tasting flights and food trucks. Nearby, Elsassers 111 offers Flammkuchen (German-style flatbread pizza). Stop into Greenwich Hardware to explore a selection of antique furniture and farming equipment, or to Wicked Wicks for handmade crafts, cappuccinos, and sip-n-paint classes. The Christmas Attic and the Country Peddler offer Christmas tchotchkes and fresh fudge year-round. And don’t miss Wallie’s, a Greenwich institution since 1929, serving patrons for almost a century in the heart of this beautiful village.
Your Greenwich Itinerary:
- Argyle Brewing
- Elsassers 111
- Lynn’s Country Cafe
- Greenwich Hardware Antiques
- Wicked Wicks Creations & More
- The Country Peddler Shoppes
Certainly the swankiest of the bunch, Kinderhook has drawn Michelin-star chefs, restaurateurs, and other impressive proprietors from New York City and Hudson in recent months. And, this small town was home to the nation’s eighth president, Martin Van Buren; you can still visit his estate house, Lindenwald, which is now a museum in his honor.
The food and architecture is awesome in Kinderhook. First, pop into the Saisonnier (French for farmhand) to enjoy some fresh beer and a delicious charcuterie board. Then, cross the town square to take a look at the Knitting Mill, a new project that will house several businesses in a renovated 1860’s knitting factory. The building is currently home to Morningbird and OK Pantry, with a restaurant, cocktail lounge, gallery, and apothecary line opening in the coming months. Down the street, Meghan Calcagno brings her family’s 150-year old bagel recipe from Brooklyn to Kinderhook with Broad St. Bagel Co. They’ve recently expanded to the spot next door with Focaccia Bakery, where they offer Old World Italian bread and pizza.
Your Kinderhook Itinerary:
- Broad St. Bagel Co. | Focaccia Bakery
- DYAD Wine Bar
- Cosmic Donuts
- Morningbird | OK Pantry
- Martin Van Buren Lindenwald
The little village sits almost on the border of Vermont, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Bennington. The gazebo at the center of town is the spitting image of the one in Stars Hollow (the fictitious Connecticut town that serves as the backdrop for Gilmore Girls). Thankfully for us, the rest of the architecture in town follows suit.
Artists Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses both lived in the area; their paintings are exhibited in museums around the world as examples of American Folk Art from Upstate New York and Vermont.
In more recent times, Brown’s Brewing brought fame to the area once more when they renovated a mill on the Walloomsac River. The beautiful spot now houses a brewery and full restaurant, drawing tourists from all over New York State. The Potter Hill Barn, a ‘primitive gift store’, is another classic Capital Region staple, operating for more than 25 years.
Meanwhile, young business Iron Coffee Co., has seen a booming clientele since launching their roastery in 2016. And, new favorite Hoosick Provisions is an absolute must-stop for anyone looking for their Rose Apothecary moment. You’ll find local cheeses, homemade pastries and regional produce, set against the backdrop of 19th century exposed brick.
Your Hoosick Falls Itinerary:
- Walloomsac Taproom & Brewery
- The Potter Hill Barn
- Iron Coffee Co.
- Hoosick Provisions
- Eagle Bridge Antique Center
Schuylerville is sometimes called America’s most historic village, because the Battle of Saratoga — known as the “Turning Point of the American Revolution” — was fought here. Later, in the 19th century, captains-of-industry arrived, harnessing the Fish Creek and Hudson River that made Shuylerville into a bustling township. Today, this quaint village remains a cultural hub of Upstate New York.
If you want good hikes and views of the waterways, Schuylerville is for you! Stop into Bound by Fate Brewing or The Basin Grill to enjoy a brew or bite on their beautiful patios overlooking the water. Then, get your steps in at Hudson Crossing Park and check out the beautiful Dix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Hudson River into Washington County.
Your Shuylerville Itinerary:
- Bound by Fate Brewing Co.
- Tide & Purl
- Amigos Cantina
- The Basin Grill
- Hudson Crossing Park
- Saratoga Battlegrounds
This charming village might be the Barn-Quilt capital of Upstate New York. On the main drag alone there are four businesses exhibiting large quilt-like signage on the outsides of their historic buildings.
As a result of its rural location, Schoharie is home to a number of regionally famous farms & farm stores. As a result, local produce, plants, prepared foods and artisan products abound. One of my favorites is The Carrot Barn, a Capital Region institution offering local produce and products from all over Upstate New York. (Surprise, surprise, the carrot cake is to die for). My family has been going to Wellingtons for years – run by retired couple Carolyn and Frederick. Their 45-acre farm offers landscaped gardens, artisan gifts and collectibles. And, there’s a tea room where Carolyn serves her signature gooey butter cake and island tea.
Stop by consignment shop Generations, which offers — dare I say it — the best selection of antiques that I’ve ever come across outside of the city centers. While you’re there, say hi to Ann, a lifelong Upstate New Yorker with years of stories and Schoharie history!
Your Schoharie Itinerary:
- The Carrot Barn
- Schoharie Valley Farms
- The Apple Barrel Store & Cafe
- Generations, A Vintage Consignment Shop
- The Farmers Beef & Brew
- Wellington’s Herbs & Spices
This article is presented in collaboration with Straight Upstate. Visit the blog on instagram @straightupstate or online at https://straightupstate.com
Born and raised in the Capital Region, Cabrina McGinn started her blog in 2019 to highlight the exceptional bars and restaurants that the 518 has to offer. Prior to that, she had spent many years in the restaurant industry, bartending all over New York State. While the blog was started with the intention of focusing solely on cocktails and craft beverages, Cabrina has expanded the blog to feature food, events, hotels, and other unique and exceptional things that you can only find in Upstate New York. Cabrina lives in Saratoga Springs and enjoys exploring the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks on the weekends.