Updated: Jul 6, 2022
All places to see, sip, shop, eat, stay & play in Kingston’s historic port!
Hot times in the summer call for water, water, water! Right, HVH kiddos? So pack your favorite weekender and head to historic Kingston, NY, where the riverside port really rocks.
The Rondout section is undergoing an el trendo reno. You don’t want to miss out! So much Revolutionary War history happened here… and it's a great OTBP (off the beaten path) place for fun! Skitzy, of course, centuries old yet so today.
Just two hours plus from New York City, this charming Hudson River harbor oozes lazy days and breezy nights. Treś cool. Less crowded! So come along! Your Hudson Valley Happenings team takes you on a weekend getaway aboard our “party bus,” AKA Trailways
Grab a cool drink and a yummy snack, then pop into Port Authority. Northbound buses headed are downstairs. Team HVH embraces the ease and extras on our magic coach rides. Comfy reclining seats by a window. Check. Free Wi-Fi. Woohoo! Maybe a game of Fortnite or flick, like, say, Speed? Wooha! We enjoy the solitude of slipping on our headphones. Let the world and worries slide away as we zip up the Thruway! You go Trailways!
Or maybe, read up on Kingston. Did you know it was the first Capital of New York? Yepper. In 1777. Fall of that same year, the British torched the town. Yikes! Or, that George Washington also slept there? Deffo. He visited during a HV tour the summer of 1783 to see the ruins and meet the locals. The townsfolk loved him!
Before ya know it, 2.5 hours later to be exact we pull into Kingston Bus Depot on Washington Avenue (The Big Guy made quite the impression on this little burg). Grab a cab for a 10-minute ride through Uptown Kingston, where some of those first government stone structures still stand (and can be visited) to Rondout, down by the riverside.
Today the river port is bursting with “everything old is new again'' vibes. From “hot from the fryer” donuts at Half Moon Cafe (Hell Yeah. More later) to the Hudson River Maritime Museum (Ship building too. Read on) … there’s sump’n for y'all!
Getting our tootsies wet with local color we immediately hit the main strip, Broadway, for a quick look-see. Made note of a few cute shops, like Clove & Creek home goods store, for a later stop. Picked up a latte at Rosie’s General - a hot spot for snacks, sandwiches and soups. And loaded up on bedtime gooey treats.
Checked into our overnight stay place, the Strand House, a short-term airbnb with only four units. This centuries old commercial building was about to collapse when Corryn and Eric Darling snapped it up, sight unseen! Brave! (Be sure to read their story).
Team HVH punched in the codes Corryn gave us. Breathless. Awesome overnight for sure! Then drew straws for our two rooms. Do we stay in or go explore?
We always want to go, go go! Suggestion: take it slow, like a stroll. It’s small, loose and lovely. Chill. Hang out and have fun!
RONDOUT TAKE-ALONG MUST HAVES, JULY TO SEPTEMBER
Pack or purchase locally
Shorts & comfy top
Tennies (walkie, walkie & more later)
Simple sweater (gets chill by the H2O)
Summery dress (kick it up for din-din)
SPF & bug juice (you’ll be outside in the summertime)
Hat (protect that complexion)
Purse-size nylon tote (shopping!!!)
Shorts & Ts
Short sleeve shirt (oh so smart)
Long pants & long-sleeve linen shirt (cool nights)
Canvas slip-ons (rubber soles TK)
Kindle (read by the riverside?)
Cap (sun, sun, sun)
Shades (protect those peepers)
HERE ARE THE DEETS
Our game plan: what we ate, drank, saw and some of the fun folks we met along the way. Follow our story and add yours to HVH comments. Love to hear from ya - share what you discovered.
Day 1: Stay Place - The Strand House Shop - Next Boutique Explore - Hudson River Maritime Museum Sip - Mariner’s Harbor patio Eat - The Tortilla Taco Bar Nighty, Night - Rest up - more Rondout!
Day 2: Stay Place - The Strand House Sip - Half Moon Cafe Explore - Hudson River Cruises Soothe - Zephyr Float Dine - Graziano’s Downtown Cafe Nighty, Night - So calm, so relaxed
Day 3: Stay Place - The Strand House Mangia - Dolce Shop - Kingston Farmers Market Bye, Bye for now - Blissful Trailways ride home
The Strand House… OMG! An old commercial building reborn as a perfect short stay rental. We landed studio #1, Captain Anderson Suite, with a subtle nautical theme. It’s named after the Hudson River steamboat cap’n who once owned the building, natch!
Fotog snatched up unit #2, a little art deco beaut. The Woolsey Suite gets its moniker from another former owner, a lawyer and landlord. With a kitchen, couch and TV… what? Go out and explore? Naw… We had to force ourselves outside!
The other two suites are whimsically decorated two bedroom and two bath units, perfect for up to six, and for longer stays. PLUS, the fridge comes STOCKED! Check out the art in The Forst Suite (named for a nearby meatpacking plant from a looong time ago)… Framed in plexiglass is a muted mural of the Mexican-American war Corryn Darling uncovered on a wall during the demo. Do you see what Corryn saw? (Answer revealed on The Strand House website.) The other 2-bedder/2-bath is The Joyce Suite, named after her late mom. It has all the frilly wallpaper and sweetness you’d expect. Thanks mom!
GOTTA’ KNOW: All suites face Abeel Street. There’s a lot of construction up the road. No worries, quiet as can be. Loved it!
JUST FOR FUN: Check out the art, curl up on the sofa, watch some TV. Fly off to dreamland, baby.
TAKE AWAY: So charming. All the stuff like snuggy throws. Wine glasses and coffee stuff. Kick off your shoes. You feel like you’re home!
EAT, SIP, MUNCH
The Tortilla Taco Bar… Oh. My. Goodness! Owner and chef Ruben Lopez should be on the Yankees. He knocks it out of the park! Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, he’s been calling Kingston “mi casa” for years. Everything is housemade and fresh, fresh. His favorite: his eggplant torta. Our favorite…burritos, tacos, vampiros… choice of citrus marinated steak, grilled chicken, marinated pork, veggie. Elote Street Corn.
GOTTA’ KNOW: The bar stocks 42 mescals, 40 tequilas. Ruben tastes and selects them all himself. What’a job!
JUST FOR FUN: Non-alcoholic drinks like hibiscus tea, horchata (milk, rice & cinnamon), tamarind juice… great coolers on hot days! Mango, raspberry and classic lime Margaritas, even better. Sip one at their outdoor tables and people watch! Sweet.
TAKE HOME: Leftovers. There’ll be plenty.
Half Moon Cafe… Only a year old and it’s the little shoppe that could! Big success. Even better donuts! Fresh. Hot. From a mid-century flipper fryer. Pandemic be damned. It’s become a go-to neighborhood hangout.
GOTTA’ KNOW: Owners Kaira Tiegen (by way of Seattle) and J.T. Pinna (HV local, 30-year Air Force - thank you for your service John!) created a cute cafe. Check out the photos lining the walls. What is that T.E. Lawrence up there? Better known as “Lawrence of Arabia''? You bet’cha. Most shots have ties to the Valley, even more have world leaders. And some are with T.J. Ask him. He’ll happily share his stories.
JUST FOR FUN: Small batch donuts, fried many times throughout the day. Plain, powdered, cinnamon. Delish dunking sauces. Coffee, Seattle roasted, Turkish. Nothing stale here.
TAKE AWAY: Donuts!!!! Coffee!! Need we say more? Get a six-box to go. Be the envy of all your fellow bus riders later!
Graziano’s Downtown Cafe… Chef owner Graziano Tecchio comes from a Rondout restaurant family. His dad owned Mary P’s ( now Mariner’s) and brought his family’s old-school, farm-to-table style from Venice, Italy, to Rondout. Now Graziano carries on the fam tradition. Melt-in-your-mouth magic!
GOTTA’ KNOW: Make a reservation. Book the outdoor patio. Seafood supremo!
Just read the menu - mouthwatering. Chef-made Guanciale (Italian pork jowl) with porcini mushrooms in a parmigiano sauce with chef-made pappardelle. A pot of mirepoix always bubbles on the stove. Oh Lordy!
JUST FOR FUN: Downtown Cafe is in the Tecchio family building. And Graziano isn’t the only foodie in the family. Or in Rondout. His sisters also have shops in the strand (More in a bit).
TAKE HOME: Don’t skip dessert. Must have: Tiramisu. Secret family recipe! Shhhh!
Dolce… Huge dinner. Couldn’t eat a bite our second morning. Just caffeine please! Got to Dolce, wanted to order everything on the menu! Owner/chef is Alessandra Tecchio (sis to Graziano. Their sis Ileana owns New Leaf Alternative Health, down the block). Opened in 2005. “Rondout didn’t have a small cafe,” she told HVH. “I grew up here. Dad used to own Mary P’s. I wanted a little place, with good homemade food.”
GOTTA’ KNOW: Breakfast and lunch (closes at 1:40 pm). Top sellers: Avocado & smoked salmon toast, onion and egg. Salas Crepes. Homemade challah French toast loaded with berries. HVH team gave the caramel crepe with fresh strawberries and bananas three forks up. Vietnamese coffee (vegan version too) and homemade hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows! Weee.
JUST FOR FUN: The place is cute. Robot paintings on the brick wall are by Alessandra’s husband, artist Zeno Vanfretti. Must stop!
TAKE AWAY: Definitely walk out with Affogato - ice cream with a shot of espresso and cocoa nibs!
Mariner’s Harbor…Views of the riverfront and waterside park, boats, ducks. Originally the headquarters of the Daily Freeman, the local newspaper from days when reporters wore press cards in their fedoras. Imagine: The Front Page! Then the Tecchio tribe arrived from Italy… but you already know that story.
GOTTA’ KNOW: Patio. Patio…unless it’s raining! Calamari or mussels to start…yum. Everything from lobster to tuna, with shrimp and clams too. And steak.
JUST FOR FUN: It’s on the Strand. Literally. Riverfront seating.
TAKE HOME: Here’s the scoop… serving Jane’s Ice Cream on weekends - from killer chocolate to dulce de leche. Get your freeze on!
Hudson River Cruises… is the way to see the river and put up your feet. Rainy day for the HVH team onboard the Rip Van Winkle steamer. Still, the mist and fog made the trip down river on a sweet ride. Beers and snacks, oh my, the hot dog!
GOTTA’ KNOW: The 90-minute leisurely sail south is an eye popper. Soak in the sights of Millionaire’s Row Mansions. Catch a glimpse of two historic lighthouses, Rondout and Esopus Meadow, the second oldest wooden one in the country. In 1979 it made the National Register of Historic places. You go, EML!
JUST FOR FUN: Right there in the T.R. Gallo Waterfront Park boarding starts 15 minutes before cast off. Rubber soul? Not. Rubber soles? Si. Wear those tennies. You don’t want to slip or fall overboard!
TAKE AWAY: The view! The river! So glad we had our waterproof windbreakers!
Hudson River Maritime Museum… is a really cool curation of Rondout and Hudson River transport and industry. This port housed many ships in a storm. It also served as a conduit for Pennsylvania coal and Catskill produce. Bustlin’ baby! We loved the exhibit (one of three new ones) on the Mary Powell, the most iconic of the HR steamboats. Queen Mary ruled the river from 1861 - 1920. A royal beauty!
GOTTA’ KNOW: The museum is more than old boats. Steve Woods, education coordinator, filled us in on a boatload of fun and crafty things. This summer Rondout Lighthouse tours return on the sleek Solaris, 100% solar-powered tour boat. Yes, you get to go inside. Or, cruise local history expert Justin Wexler or take a tasting cruise - learn about the food, fruit and ciders and more made in this lush valley.
JUST FOR FUN: Boat-building, wood-working, rowing, sailing classes. Local history talks, kids programs. You get the pic? We watched the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater crew repair and rerig the famed enviro edu sailing vessel. And, area high school crew teams prep for racing. Back in the woodshop, builders were building, carvers were carving.
TAKE AWAY: We could have spent the day there! But our itin’ was bustin’. As Arnold says, “We’ll be back!”
Zephyr Float… Baby we need a break! So we ordered a share ride and headed to this totally unique spa. Olga Schoonmaker, opened shop in 2016. Walk through the door - bam, you feel the stress fall away. Brick walls, a cushy couch and herbal tea soothe you. Ready for the fun part!
GOTTA’ KNOW: Manager Brandy Huppert ushered us into a private changing/shower room. Then opened this dark, glass door. Blackness. Soothing sounds. And quiet. Still. Step in, she said, it’s not deep. Lay on your back. Whoa baby! “There’s a thousand pounds of salt in there. More salt than water,” she said. “It’s like the Dead Sea.” Your mind settles. Your back eases. Your body floats.
JUST FOR FUN: Saltwater spas offer mental and emotional benies. “Moms and teachers come for alone time,” Brandy said. “It’s the one hour no one is calling their names!”
TAKE AWAY: One hour in the tank equals four in bed. Achy joints, arthritis, chronic pains are soothed. Pain-free tension relaxer. They have a menu of massages too. And, before you go, browse the front-of-house shop to pick up a candle or scrub for home.
Next Boutique… Us HVHers LOVE this on trend shop. Everything a party girl, martini mama, sporty sister, or chic chick needs for that perfect look! Brimming with baubles, full of latest fashions, a must stop. Even super sophisticated city girls will find unique jeans, tops and dresses. You’ll wow them back in the Big City and blow them away when you tell them you bought your threads at Rondout!
GOTTA’ KNOW: Beth Petramale took over Next a decade ago and has stamped it with her signature style. She’s there to help put together the perfect party outfit, a great weekend look. Brands like 7 For All Mankind, Comfy U.S. A. and Hanky Panky… Girl, you will be turning heads on the street and in the boudoir! Buddy, surprise her with a hot teddy! Persecco tonight back at the Strand House, darling?
JUST FOR FUN: With more than 25 years on the Strand, Next knows what’s in, what’s out, what the ladies want. Window shop. Their storefront is fab.
TAKE AWAY: If not a teddy, buy yourself a bracelet! We picked up a delicate necklace that makes a statement.
Clove & Creek… While home away from home, don’t forget that one you actually do call home! Pick up a cute checked cloth napkins set. Or, buy something to remember the weekend - a colorful print map of the Catskills by artist Steven Weinberg.
GOTTA’ KNOW: Great for gifties, from a fish knife with the guy who has it all to Ounsen Saru Hot Spring Bath Soak for my lady!
JUST FOR FUN: Shopkeeps Scott Neild and Michael Cook had an idea that blossomed into an “Oh Awww” shop! Worthy of the walk uphill from the Strand. Browse. Pick up a few trinkets. Get inspired by the shop itself - so cute and Catskill-y!
TAKE AWAY: The National Parks card deck. Strip poker tonight, hon?
KingstonWaterfront Farmers Market… food, glorious food! Straight from the farm, the orchard, the sea! Head to Gallo riverside park to pick up fresh tomatoes and lettuces from Farmstock (a couple corporate dropouts get down and dirty in Esopus, honey and beauty products by Right From The Hive (begun in 2010 with just two hives. Now business is buzzing in Otisville, NY) and freshly butchered lamb, beef, chicken and pork from Kingston’s own The Meat Wagon. About two dozen vendors set up every Sunday (10 am - 2 pm), selling everything from bakery, booze, plants and seafood.
GOTTA’ KNOW: No real delis or grocery stores in Rondout. Bummer. So what are locals to do? Ban together! Bring in the purveyors! Supports upstate farmers and producers. Since 2019 various vendors set up in the waterfront park every Sunday til end of October to hawk the freshest, tastiest foods!
JUST FOR FUN: A boon for visitors too. Shopping with a view! Perfecto!
TAKE AWAY: As much as you can carry! You aren’t going to get this quality in any bodega! Filled our sack with lettuces, radishes, strawberries and more. We’re gonna eat well this week! Yummy.
We pop into Half Moon Cafe on our way back to Strand House. Pick up a box of hot donuts and a couple coffees for the road. Grab our bags.
Ever go on a bus trip and the ride home is so quiet, everyone is so knackered? Crepes and tacos, lighthouses and float tanks dance in our dreams.
We soooo wanted to stay! Bye Rondout! We will return!