Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY! If you’re going to spend a day in any small town in the Hudson River Valley, you should definitely choose to spend 24 hours finding the best things to do in Cold Spring NY.
Cold Spring, New York is an itty bitty village, just an hour and change away from NYC on the Metro North train. This makes Cold Spring a great day trip from the Big Apple or a perfect base for a fabulous weekend of self-care in the Hudson River Valley.
Cold Spring is also the home of some excellent hiking grounds, a young woman named Patience who has been friends with me since we were two, adorable antique shops, the world’s cutest B&B, and a weird professor I had in graduate school who said one of my essays was shallow, so he is dead to me. Some of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY may interest you more than others.
Cold Spring is an extremely popular weekend getaway with native New Yorkers and French tourists alike. If you like shopping, eating, and/or walking, you’re sure to enjoy this 24 hour itinerary.
Things to Do in Cold Spring NY
Morning: Visit Boscobel
Boscobel is one of the most popular things to do in Cold Spring NY. It’s a colonial-era home that is actually located in Garrison, New York, which is just a short ride or a medium-sized but uncomfortable walk away from Cold Spring.
But before we head to a whole other town, we need some sustenance! You can’t start your day without one of the best breakfasts in the world!
24 Hour Treasure: Breakfast at The Pig Hill
The food in Cold Spring and the surrounding Hudson Valley area is uniformly excellent. I’ve been told that this is because the CIA is in the area, which confuses me. I thought the CIA was based in Langley, Virginia! Also I don’t really understand why spies would make the food better. Are spies notoriously demanding customers or something?
So since the food is so good, and the houses are so historic, there must be some sweet B & Bs in the area, yes? And no B and B is action is sweeter than the action at the Pig Hill Inn. The chef is CIA-trained, which means that he will be able to protect you in the night if ninjas attack. Also, he makes a mean omelet, which 9 out of 10 doctors say is the best way to start the day.
You can also get pancakes if that’s more to your liking.
There is also always a baked good of some sort to accompany the breakfast, like a muffin or scone or crumpet or whatnot.
On top of these breakfasting wonders, the Pig Hill has the best amenity of any hotel I have ever stayed at. Some hotels have free cookies, some have free breakfast, and one hotel I’ve stayed at had free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which was very nice. But The Pig Hill has a freebie that I can guarantee will make you want to go start your search for the best things to do in Cold Spring NY right now.
24 HOUR TREAT: PIE AMENTITIES
They give you free PIE. That’s right, every day there’s a new free PIE and if you are staying there, you can just take some. If you have friends, they can come and take some. I’ve had pecan, pumpkin, apple, lemon meringue…it was all amazing and cost me zero dollars. You can’t have the pie WITH your breakfast though. Save it to enjoy with a cup of tea after dinner.
24 Hour Tip
You can get to Boscobel from Cold Spring by taking an adorable green trolley that loops around the town and environs, eventually dropping you off at the historic Boscobel. You have to get the trolley at the bottom of Main Street, just by the Cold Spring train station. Pay in small bills.
However, if the trolley isn’t working, Uber is in the area, so you can always take a ride share to Boscobel. It will probably take a while to come, so plan ahead. Once you arrive, head to the visitor center and buy a ticket for a guided tour. The tour is the only way to get inside. On the tour you will be presented with many fun facts about life in Colonial New York, but let me limit myself to…
THREE FUN FACTS ABOUT BOSCOBEL
1) Who owned Boscobel?
The Boscobel itself is a well preserved mansion that belonged to a Royalist named States Morris Dyckman–AWESOME name, BTDubs. When (SPOILER ALERT!!!) the British lost the American Revolution, Dyckman had to hightail it back to the motherland of England. Eventually the former colonies were no longer as angry with him for supporting King George III.
Dyckman considered himself a proper Englishman, which meant he had to follow the English rules of dining etiquette. According to our docent, this meant that the food was served family-style. Having individual plates served by waiters was considered “French”.
Also in order to facilitate clean up, they would start the meal with two tablecloths on the table. After the first course, they’d remove the top tablecloth, and after the main course they’d remove the second. That meant you’d eat the dessert on a bare table. I don’t really understand why this makes clean up easier, but maybe this is why I’m not a 19th century Loyalist.
2) What does it look like inside?
Sadly, not all of the furniture inside the home is authentic to the period. Many items were lost after SMD lost all his fortune. After this calamity, some of the furniture had to be replaced with replicas. Not only that, but the house eventually fell into disrepair and was set to be demolished in the 20th century.
Fortunately a group of conservationists, led by Lila Acheson Wallace, arranged for Boscobel to be rescued and restored. They had to take it apart in pieces, move it to its current location, and reassemble it. Now that’s dedication! I never even had the energy to put my Lego castle back together after I had taken it apart.
The restoration is almost flawless, aside from some “safety changes” required by “modern fire codes”. Boscobel is currently home to the third finest collection of early American architecture, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Dupont home in Delaware. Not bad for a little house that was almost bulldozed!
3) What’s the coolest thing in the house?
I bet you’re thinking I’ll put something classy here, but you’re dead wrong. The coolest thing in the house is the totally wackadoo collection of hidden chamber pots. Of course the Dyckman family had an outhouse, but who wants to go out into the cold on a frosty Hudson Valley night? So each bedroom had its own chamberpot.
Now you wouldn’t want to put your chamberpot out on display all day. So each room had a different way of keeping the chamberpot concealed. Our docent had us play the game “Find the Chamberpot” in each bedroom. Sometimes it was hidden in a stepladder, other times it was concealed in a giant chair.
I feel that having the chance to play this game is reason enough to visit Boscobel! It’s high on my list of best things to do in Cold Spring NY.
Things to Do in Cold Spring NY
Afternoon: Explore the Best Things to Do in Cold Spring NY
Once you are done with historic homes, you’ll want to enjoy the fresh air! Take the trolley back to Cold Spring and you’ll have the whole afternoon to explore this adorable hamlet. But first, we dine! It’s been about three hours since breakfast, so you must be ravenous!
1) Lunch at Hudson Hil’s
Hudson Hil’s is a disturbingly popular brunch place on Main St. back in Cold Spring. The NY Times even wrote it up in their 36 Hours in the Hudson Valley article. There is almost always a line to get in because it’s certainly one of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY. Still, Patience and I only had to wait for about 30 minutes before we were seated. Bring a book if you don’t have a buddy to chat to.
Hudson Hil’s does a mean sandwich. I especially recommend their grilled Gouda sandwich with Granny Smith apples and figs. It is the perfect combination of sweet, tart, and savory and it comes loaded with fresh potato chips.
If you don’t mind having breakfast two times in one day, indulge in the scrumdiddlyumptious bagel with egg and smoked salmon. It’s the world’s most glamorous New York deli breakfast.
2) Hiking in the Hudson Highlands
After lunch, you’re going to want to walk off that Gouda/bagel, so turn toward the mountains you see all around you. (If you are on Main St, face the gazebo and turn right.) Now you will be heading right for The Hudson Highlands State Park.
This is an extremely popular place to go hiking and definitely one of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY. I always run into lots of French people when I am up here, so you know it is chic. However, you should be a little careful when hiking alone here, as Patience warned me that sometimes bears are sighted in the area, though she didn’t know of any stories of people being eaten by a bear.
This comforted me, as while being eaten by a bear does sound fun in an Oregon Trail sort of way, it’s not how most people want to spend their vacation.
I strongly recommend hiking around here because the breath-stealing views of the Hudson give you the feeling that no time at all has changed since Henry first arrived. The Hudson doesn’t tend to show up on the “World’s Best River lists, but it’s beautiful enough to hold its own with the best of them.
If you are looking for a gentle, yet extremely interesting hike, I suggest walking to the Cornish Estate, which is the ruins of a mansion that belonged to the fabulously wealthy Edward and Selina Cornish. Unfortunately, they both died and their mansion fell into ruin. It has only been discovered recently for hikers to enjoy, and it’s become one of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY.
You can find a map that will show you the trail to the Cornish Estate right here. Definitely don’t miss it if you like wandering around piles of stone and abandoned swimming pools in the woods.
The trails have pretty good signage around them. Just avoid Breakneck Ridge unless you want a real challenge. People have definitely died hiking there, and that is not one of my attempts at macabre humor. It’s called Breakneck for a reason. If you want a more detailed guide to hiking in the Hudson Valley, I strongly recommend this book, which has all the info you need.
3) Shopping on Main St. in Cold Spring
Cold Spring has some of the best antique shops in New York State. You can find anything: a great old German advent calendar, complete with insanely well-preserved glitter decorations, matching embroidered chairs, a vintage rain jacket covered with ladybugs, or a small green porcelain elephant that was made in Occupied Japan.
And yes, these are actual examples of actual things I have purchased. I regret NOTHING! No list of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY is complete without antiquing.
My special treasure are a pair of Bakelite earrings because Bakelite was popular before pierced ears, so it’s hard to find Bakelite earrings I can wear. Cold Spring is an excellent place for Bakelite fans. All the antique shops are on Main Street, so it is easy to find them. My favorites are Vintage Violet for furniture and Poor George for clothes.
If you only have time for three non-antique shops in your hunt for the best things to do in Cold Spring NY, let them be these:
1) Split Rock Books, which sells…books
2) Old Souls, an all-purpose hipster hiking store on 63 Main St. that sells everything a hipster might need to go hiking or be a hipster.
3) Rincon Argentino, an authentic Argentinian coffee shop on 21 Main St. that makes amazing alfajores, which are the Official Sandwich Cookies of the Argentine, and empanadas.
4) The Gazebo
When you are done shopping, take your wares down to the hexagonal gazebo at the bottom of Main St and amuse yourself watching people and/or the water. It appears high on any list of the best things to do in Cold Spring NY. Then you will want to go back to the Pig Hill and eat your slice of CIA-approved pie before dinner. There definitely won’t be room in your belly after dinner!
Things to Do in Cold Spring NY
Evening: Dinner at Brasserie Le Bouchon or Riverview
You have at least three good options for dinner during your search for the best things to do in Cold Spring NY. But Brasserie Le Bouchon is sure to have a dish that will appeal to any taste. It’s classic French cuisine with no bells and whistles. If you’re looking for the kind of dishes they’ve been serving in Paris bistros for decades, you’ve come to the right joint, Internet Stranger!
Let’s begin with the most French of foods, the humble escargot. (Yup, they’re snails and they’re spectacular.) French monks started the snail eating craze because they weren’t allowed to eat meat during Lent. So les escargots would have to do. These are served with so much garlic and butter, you’ll need to use your crusty baguette to soak it all up. Poor you!
We’re not French monks during Lent, so we’re allowed to eat meat. Go for cassé with steak au poivre, and order it medium rare, please. The French know how to make a great piece of beef even better: slather it with cream, butter, and Cognac, and serve it with a side of crispy frites.
The most authentically French bistro aspect of Le Bouchon, aside from that tablecloth, is the fact they only have two desserts. Your two choices are creme brulee and mousse au chocolat. I chose the chocolate mousse because it’s against my religion to ever turn down chocolate. But if you want to be a heathen and order the creme brulee, I can’t stop you.
If you’re more interested in seafood, I suggest Riverview, which has been in Cold Spring for decades. Start with a classic appetizer like the wedge salad, which comes swimming in blue cheese, anchovies, and egg. This IS your grandmother’s wedge salad, and you’ll love it.
The most famous main course at Riverview is their seafood stew. It looks creamy in my photo, but it’s actually quite light and stuffed with fish, shrimp, and bok choy for a little crunch. There’s nothing better on a crisp fall night after a full day finding the best things to do in Cold Spring NY.
And speaking of fall, can I interest you in some pumpkin cheesecake? I can pretty much guarantee that this dessert will only be on the menu if you visit in the fall, since it’s such a seasonal dish. But why wouldn’t you want to spend the fall in Cold Spring? In between the fall foliage and the pumpkin cheesecake, what’s not to love?
Things to Do in Cold Spring NY
How to Get There?
By Car: This is an easy way to get to Cold Spring if you’re coming from elsewhere in New York or a neighboring state. However, I don’t know how to drive, so I was pleased to learn that you can manage in the Hudson Valley without a car. If the weather is nice, everywhere on this itinerary is walkable. Plus, there is Uber, though it sometimes takes a long while to arrive.
By Plane: You can absolutely fly into New York City if you are coming from far away. New York has two airports, technically three if you count Newark, which I’d rather not, and both of them have public transportation that goes into the city. (Again, I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.)
By Train: This is definitely the easiest way to get to Cold Spring, assuming you’re coming from New York City. Just head to Grand Central Station and take the Metro-North Hudson line train north, bound to Poughkeepsie. It’s possible you’ll have to change trains in Croton-Harmon.
Best Things to Do in Cold Spring NY
- A cell charger so you can take photos all during your day
- My favorite guide to the Hudson Valley, including Cold Spring
- Cold Spring is prime hiking territory, so I suggest getting an excellent water resistant backpack like this one so you can carry your goods with no pain.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how I spend 16 weeks a year traveling.
- Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system. It will teach you how to afford to travel as much as you want.
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded during your trip without help. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked a gang of roving Loyalists.
That’s the Best Things to Do in Cold Spring NY!
What do you think are the best things to Do in Cold Spring NY? Would you rather have chocolate mousse, pecan pie, a walnut muffin, bagel and lox, or an alfajore? Also, would you rather break your neck or be mauled by a bear? Please email at [email protected] and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. If you have more time in the Hudson River Valley than just the best things to do in Cold Spring NY, try spending 24 hours in Tarrytown as well. Or you could make time for 24 hours in Beacon. I’ve got you covered either way!