A former colleague—whom I would best describe as the coolest person to ever come out of Australia (and yes, I am including Kylie Minogue)—taps into every trend before the rest of the world catches up. That future Michelin-starrer deep in the heart of Bushwick? She’s eaten there before you even heard of it. That trendy new workout that incorporates yoga and boxing? She has a founding membership. So it came as no surprise that she was hyping Hudson, New York, as being Brooklyn 2.0 before the travelsphere caught on.
While her raves about Warren Street’s imaginative limited-run boutiques and culinary mashups initially drove my curiosity, it was what I discovered during a spontaneous escape that convinced me of Hudson’s unmatched charm. It’s as if the proprietors took a blueprint of the Gilmore Girls’s Stars Hollow and threw in a few of my favorite things to create a perfect getaway catering only to me. Bookstores moonlighting as craft beer bars; historic warehouses doubling as artist hubs; and craftsmen building perfect motorcycles and cups of coffee are all within walking distance of one another!
Our to-do list below—plus easy Amtrak accessibility—makes Hudson an ideal destination for a 24-hour escape. Add a night at an Airbnb or a quaint inn (we heard Wm Farmer & Sons is quite the looker) and your one-day affair will likely feel like a much longer respite.
Surprise! Old-school diners aren’t dead. This ’50s-era burger joint has retro touches galore—it even has a Happy Days–style jukebox—but its approach to handling food is very much modern. Not only does Grazin’ use all organic ingredients, but it is the first 100 percent Animal Welfare Approved restaurant in the world. Cheers to that over a round of cherry soda floats. 717 Warren Street
Just off the main business strip is this enchanting music venue–restaurant–bar hybrid. One night has you jamming out with the indie likes of JD McPherson and Real Estate inside the restored 19th-century complex, while another evening is casually spent drinking strong cocktails named after iconic songs under the stars. Just make sure to not skip town before ordering chef Hugh Horner’s take on the classic Southern fish camp. 405 Columbia Street
Talbott & Arding
Mona Talbott and Kate Arding are powerhouses in their respective trades—Talbott collaborating with Alice Waters both in and out of the Chez Panisse kitchen; Arding working with the master mongers at Neal’s Yard Dairy and Cowgirl Creamery. It only makes perfect sense that the duo has teamed up with a slew of local farms to open the store of your picnic basket’s dreams. Pack it up with a few blocks of raw cheese, a jar of house-made preserves, and, of course, a crusty baguette and head toward Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. 323 Warren Street
Spotty Dog Books and Ale
The shop’s name is a touching nod to the building’s original roots as Hudson’s C.H. Evans Firehouse; look closely and you’ll see some original architectural touches like hand-carved mahogany ceilings and bronze chandeliers from the late 1800s. Combing through bestsellers and underread gems is also made better with a cold brewski from the Northeast region. 440 Warren Street
As if you couldn’t guess, this supercute shop sells both florals and homemade fermented goodies. But that’s not all; lining the hypercurated shelves are some of store owners Seth and Mairead Rhona Travins’ favorite candles, soaps, and ceramics made by the local community. 722 Warren Street
Riverfront Antiques & Design Center
Hidden inside a massive former furniture factory is the mecca of all antiques stores. The free-for-all layout means you’ll stumble on almost any kind of trinket from more than a dozen independent dealers and designers. Just to give you an idea on how random the offerings here are, I almost bought a 200-pound carved wooden eagle, a medieval suit of armor, and a naked mannequin the last time I stopped by RADC. Next time, that eagle is mine! 99 South 3rd Street
Ör Gallery and Tavern
This converted auto garage has many excellent uses—art space, drinking hole, music venue, artisanal shop, and debaucherous dance hall. Co-owners Adam Loomis and Jennifer Tzar succeed at bringing the Hudson community together underneath one quirky roof. 35 South 3rd Street