I can admit that sometimes Vassar and its surrounding Poughkeepsie area can be a bit claustrophobic. While my love for our homey Arlington spots continues to grow, sitting in Crafted Kup or Bagel World occasionally makes me feel a little stir-crazy. The solution to the Poughkeepsie blues is, usually, to take a trip to New York City. While I feel endlessly lucky that we always have that option at our fingertips, the train is not inexpensive and the journey is long enough that it feels like a bigger trek than I would like for a day trip over the weekend. I still want to be able to journey off campus and, as a born-and-raised Californian, the quaint towns in upstate New York hold a Gilmore Girls-esque charm that are begging to be explored. Cold Spring more than fits the bill. It is only three stops away on the Metro North and round-trip tickets are under $15. If you have a car, it is an easy and scenic 40-minute drive. It has one perfect main street that slopes up from the train station, so it is incredibly walkable, safe and never too crowded. After taking a few trips, here are my recommendations for the ideal day in Cold Spring.
The Rose Foundry
This is the perfect restaurant if you want to have a cozy, long brunch or lunch. The ambiance is incredibly warm and welcoming, with a simple but wide-ranging menu that makes it easy to find something for everyone. The lox plate was delicious—and a food that is harder to find near Vassar—and the warm spiced apple cider was lovely for a colder day. While they do not normally serve dinner, there are some special events every month. Coming up on February 17th, they are hosting a dinner with live music which would be the perfect post-Valentine’s Day date.
Cold Spring Cheese Shop
If you are not in the mood to make your meal a whole ordeal, the Cheese Shop is a great option for something a bit quicker. They are known for their customizable cheese boards, which, at least to me, would be an amazing gift for any occasion. Other than their wide range of products, they have a small but expertly crafted sandwich menu. They are incredibly open to substitutions, and the size of the sandwich is perfect, so that you do not have to carry leftovers around with you for the rest of the day. If you are in the mood for something else, there is a delicious but simple mac ‘n’ cheese option they keep hot and on hand.
Cold Spring Coffeehouse
Directly next to the Cheese Shop is the Cold Spring Coffeehouse, where I recommend you grab a truly delicious cup of coffee and, if you can, sit by the window to eat your sandwich. It is undoubtedly one of the busier spots in Cold Spring, but I frequently crave their coffee, and there is an abundance of interesting flavors and specialty drinks, accompanied by an array of homemade pastries. If you are not in the mood to walk around, this is the ideal place to settle in and do some work.
If you are hoping for more of an activity-centered day, the Mundane Candle shop is the perfect place to begin your itinerary. The store itself is beautiful and offers custom candle and scent-making classes regularly. It is a perfect experience for a bigger group, and the finished product gets made in only a few hours, so you can have lunch, look around and pick up your personalized candle or room spray before you are ready to go back to campus.
Split Rock Books
For me, no proper shopping day is complete without a new book. This book shop is locally run and owned, but still delivers a great selection of new releases and the classics. The employees are helpful and chatty, so it is a great place to go if you do not quite know what you are looking for. Browse around, ask questions, but mainly seek out the bookstore’s cat, who roams around freely and might tolerate a few pets.
Hiking and Walks
While I have not personally explored the nature that Cold Spring has to offer, in my initial research of the town, it was clear that it is a huge part of the culture and lifestyle there. There are definitely paths you can take that are a gentle walk right along the Hudson River, but if you are feeling more adventurous and the weather permits, there are a plethora of more difficult trails that bring you higher up into the mountains, with sweeping views.
Cold Spring is sprinkled with plenty of vintage shops, from more chaotically overstocked antique stores to more contained shops like DamnAged Vintage. It is a bit tucked away on Main Street, but is a carefully curated collection of antique clothing and accessories. The prices do range a little higher than I would like, but there are some incredibly special pieces that are worth the money due to their quality, condition and uniqueness. In addition, the women who work there are incredibly kind every time I have gone; they make recommendations, supporting and enhancing your shopping experience.
Supplies for Creative Living
This store is undoubtedly one of the main reasons I keep going back to Cold Spring. It is primarily a stationary store, with an abundance of notebooks and speciality pens. It also has a wonderful collection of art supplies, from watercolors to brushes to any kind of paper you could need. It also has some beautiful smaller works of art, posters and cards. In the back of the store, there is an array of dried flowers and branches, which you can make into your own custom bouquet.
If you are looking for a bump in your wardrobe, this is the perfect shop. It has a wide selection of clothes and accessories, especially some gorgeous sweaters and quality denim. The store is big enough that it is fun to come in just to window shop, or to rifle through the large sale section that occupies the entrance. Their assortment has both casual and more elevated clothes, so it is a great option if you need a special piece and do not want to go through the hassle of the online shopping guessing game.