The Hudson River Valley is famous for good reason, and as New Jerseyians, we often forget that access to world-class views is just a short car ride away. Sprinkled around vast stretches of the Hudson River are small towns bubbling with history, flowing with energy, and dripping with delicious restaurants. Cold Spring is one of those towns. Tucked next to the river, the village is quietly cosmopolitan and an absolute delight to visit on a warm summer’s day. Just over an hour outside of Montclair, it’s a great getaway in any season. Read on to plan your Cold Spring, NY outing.
Cold Spring is a historic village located on the banks of the Hudson River a mere 50 miles north of New York City. Before the 1600s, this region was used as a significant waterway by Native Americans. Then, beginning in the 1730s, the area grew into a small trading hamlet alongside the river. With access to cheap lumber and iron ore, Cold Spring became the site of the West Point Foundry (West Point is just across the river), which provided munitions for the Union Army during the Civil War.
Jobs that stemmed from the Foundry caused the area to grow, and it was made into an official village in 1846. Through the years, the town became a magnet for artists, writers, and prominent families, all drawn to the region’s beauty. With a community of around 2,000 residents, Cold Spring surprisingly has a lot going on.
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Part of the enjoyment of going for a day trip along the Hudson River Valley is the drive itself. The Palisades Parkway is a two-lane highway that curves and dips along with beautiful woody landscapes. Pick a favorite playlist, roll down the windows, and enjoy the ride past numerous state parks and over the Bear Mountain Bridge to catch the unobstructed views of the Hudson. It’s even better to pack a picnic for a stop somewhere along the way.
Cold Spring has a delightful downtown area full of hip shops, antique stores, and boutique restaurants. Park along Main Street, stroll around the shops, grab an ice cream, and head through the underground tunnel to see the views of the river. While the town is delightfully quiet during the week, it is busily alive on weekends, so plan accordingly. Seasonal events, like wine and food fairs or arts and crafts shows, happen nearly every weekend. Check the town’s event website to see all upcoming activities.
Small towns are always lovely for a stroll, so be sure to wander through the residential areas off the main road. Victorian, colonial, and modern houses pepper the landscape with beautiful lawns and well-loved gardens. Cold Spring feels like a nice place to live, with a small, safe community of artists, gardeners, and ex-New Yorkers.
More interested in the natural side of the Hudson Valley? Cold Spring is centrally located near many historical parks and hikes, including the Appalachian Trail. Some trails begin just off the side of the road, others within preserves or museums, so depending on your experience and interest, you can find just about every level of hike, from strenuous to leisurely. You can even get out of your car and walk along Bear Mountain Bridge to train-spot or watch the boats.
Things to Do
While there are plenty of historical monuments along the Palisades Parkway to stop and enjoy, here are some of our favorites in this area.
Hudson River Hikes | Multiple Locations
Get walking, hiking, or driving along the Hudson because this stretch of land was a popular, elite hideaway for a good reason. With 43 nearby hikes, you can take your pick to see ruins, river views, or unspoiled wilderness.
Storm King | 1 Museum Road, New Windsor
A 500-acre outdoor museum on the way north to Cold Spring, this sculpture park and gallery is a perennial favorite. With hikes, massive metal sculptures, forest views, and varied landscapes, it is worth a stop. Take a tram tour, rent a bike, or visit the cafe for a treat before you head up the valley.
Boscobel | 1601 NY-9D, Garrison
This Neoclassical mansion and garden was built in the early 19th century. With sweeping views of the Hudson River Valley, a lush herb potager, and rows of apple trees, it is a spectacular place for a visit. The home also overlooks Constitution Marsh towards West Point and has many quiet, lesser-known hikes on the property.
Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center | 584 NY-9D, Garrison
Mid-century American designer Russel Wright’s experimental House and Studio is built on the rock ledge of an abandoned quarry. It is a 20th-century modern home with original landscaping and is a National Historic Landmark. The property includes four miles of public hikes through 75 acres of designed landscape with views overlooking the valley.
Stonecrop Gardens | 81 Stonecrop Lane, Cold Spring
Located in Cold Spring and perched in the Hudson Highlands, Stonecrop is a garden destination beloved by plant enthusiasts. What began with a vast selection of rare alpine plants, the public garden now encompasses fifteen acres of “varied garden spaces.” Its mission is to “inspire gardeners to explore the infinite variety of the plant kingdom.” If nothing else, be sure to visit the 2,000-square-foot conservatory, which appears to float on a pond.
Where to Eat
Hudson Hil’s Café | 129-131 Main Street, Cold Spring
This hip brunch restaurant is always busy, so if you can, grab a table on the porch and order the pancakes with a side of real maple syrup. With everything from eggs to sandwiches, Hudson Hil’s will satisfy your stomach. You also can’t go wrong with the key lime pie!
Cold Spring Coffeehouse | 92 Main Street, Cold Spring
With delicious coffee, iced drinks, and pastries, Cold Spring Coffeehouse is a must-stop after a hike or upon arrival in town. Take it to go, have a seat at a bench on the main drag, and enjoy.
Moo Moo’s Creamery | 32 West Street, Cold Spring
The most popular ice cream spot in town is only rivaled by the view. With a variety of flavors that is virtually unmatched, this homemade ice cream shop boasts access to the whole riverside. It is the perfect spot for a cone and a peep at West Point across the way.
Cold Spring Depot | 1 Depot Square, Cold Spring
Eating classic American fare in a historic train depot will only feel complete with the loud sudden pass of a train. At this popular and family-friendly restaurant, you won’t be disappointed by the variety on the menu or the fries.
Hudson House River Inn | 2 Main Street, Cold Spring
This bed and breakfast on the river offers delicious high-quality fare. The menu is quite varied, from dumplings to steak-frites. A visit here isn’t cheap, but for a fine dining experience, the views and ambiance are second to none.
Cold Spring Pizza | 120 Main Street, Cold Spring
Sometimes pizza and an orange soda can make your day. Cold Spring Pizza delivers the classic slice with great sides. The garlic knots are a must-try!
Rincon Argentino | 21 Main Street, Cold Spring
This little spot, situated on the ground floor of a brick building is the perfect setting to spend some time relaxing. Pick a table outside under an umbrella, grab an empanada or gelato, and people-watch.
Where to Shop
Split Rock Books | 97 Main Street, Cold Spring
This beautiful, independent bookstore sells everything from bestsellers to children’s books and wilderness guides. With knowledgeable staff who share their own recommendations, you’re sure to find a book to carry you through the next work week.
Cold Spring Antiques Center | 77 Main Street, Cold Spring
Antiquing is certainly the thing to do in the Hudson Valley and this shop is literally bursting with cool finds. Whether you’re redecorating or looking for inspiration, give this shop a browse because it will get your imagination going.
Cold Spring Apothecary | 75 Main Street, Cold Spring
This day spa and salon carries its own line of health and beauty products made locally. Items are made in small batches and use only the highest ingredients. To enjoy a visit here, book a facial, grab a coffee, and take in the stunning interior.
Wyld Plant Shop | 135 Main Street, Cold Spring
Shopping for plants has never looked so good and we must agree with Wyld — “There is no such thing as too many plants.” Pop into this shop for a selection of indoor plants, planters, tools, and accessories for your home garden. They will help you with any questions and even offer home plant styling consultations!
Poor George | 64 Main Street, Cold Spring
This shop may be the hippest in town, with handmade products and a selection of curated vintage clothes. So much personality is packed inside that you’ll find everything from soaps to housewarming gifts, your new favorite pair of jeans, and perhaps even a few greeting cards.
Once Upon A Time Antiques | 112 Main Street, Cold Spring
This antique store is delightfully organized with a huge selection of vintage Christmas ornaments, dollhouse accessories, and jewelry. Prices are fair and there’s so much to see inside.
Old Souls | 63 Main Street, Cold Spring
The modern outdoors meets vintage sensibilities at this highly curated wilderness shop. While they are a traditional outfitter, carrying practical hiking gear, they also have a wide selection of beautifully designed and thoughtful outdoor products. Inside feels like a log cabin and will have you dreaming of your next camping trip.
Less than an hour’s drive outside of Montclair, you can see the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer. And if you can’t make it this summer, don’t worry because the leaf-peeping in the fall makes this area even better.