With its picturesque Main Street of mom-and-pop shops housed in buildings dating back to the 19th century, Cold Spring might feel to visitors like Small Town U.S.A. And in a way, it is.
The Putnam County village is home to more than 20 antique shops, making it a paradise of sorts for shoppers looking for quirky collectibles and rare finds. In addition to the excellent antiquing, the quaint restaurants and cafes and jam-packed events calendar make it an ideal destination for day-trippers.
Located on the Hudson line of the Metro-North Railroad, Cold Spring is easy to get to -- it's about 80 minutes from Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, 53 minutes from Yonkers and just over 40 minutes from Tarrytown.
Antique dealer Paul Lansdale, who sells wares out of Bijou Galleries, thinks this accessibility is what draws the international crowd to the area. He said that with a train stop at the foot of Main Street, visitors coming to Cold Spring seeking "real America" step out into a scene that matches their idea of a perfect small town.
Gary Arceri, the owner of Downtown Gallery, agreed, calling Cold Spring a "dying breed of place." He noted that Starbucks, McDonald's and other ubiquitous corporate franchises do not mar the quaint village epicenter.
"To be here is to step back in time," he said.
If you decide to take a day trip to Cold Spring, here are antique shops and restaurants worth visiting, plus local events worth attending.
Heading up Main Street from the Metro-North station, the first antique store visitors likely will encounter is Downtown Gallery, a former Studebaker dealership that is now home to a maze of furnishings, artwork, clothing and assorted collectibles (40 Main St., 845-265-4866; www.artantiquegallery.com). Wandering through the store as jazz plays in the background, shoppers might find old Playboy magazines, even older typewriters, and a skeleton wearing a tutu.
To Arceri, who has been in business for 20 years, Cold Spring's reputation as an antiques mecca can be attributed to the fact that so many art dealers gravitated toward living there. "People who deal here are historians, attracted to the thread of the past," he said.
A few doors down is Bijou Galleries, where owner Michael Timms rents out space to a number of antiques dealers (50 Main St., 845-265-4337; bijougalleries.com). For the past 15 years, Bijou has offered what Landsale described as "high-end flea market to quality antiques," adding that a visitor can spend anywhere from $3 to $300 on a single item. The shop carries a wide variety of items, including both expensive bronze statues and plastic water guns.
For a mix of the modern and antique, Archipelago at Home has a wide variety of home decor and furnishings (119 Main St., 845-265-3992). Owner Timothy Chevtaikin says that 80 percent of the items in his store "are one of a kind." Thus, "When it's gone, it's gone."
Other antique shops worth visiting are Cold Spring Antiques Center (77 Main St., 845-265-5050; www.coldspringantiquescenter.com), Decades Antiques (131 Main St., 845-265-9515) and Country Clocks (142 Main St., 845-265-3361).
Cathryn Fadde of Cathryn's Tuscan Grill is a celebrated character in this antique-cluttered town (91 Main St.; 845-265-5582; tuscangrill.com). Her idyllic restaurant is quaint and comfortable, with a large lounge and a flower-framed brick courtyard for outside dining. The food could be called winsome Tuscan, with items like calamari with arugula and smoked cherry tomatoes; grilled pheasant with raspberry, pearl onions, and pancetta; and free-range chicken with green olives, lemon and shallots.
Another option on Main Street is Le Bouchon , which bills itself as a French brasserie but is really more of a comfortable country place with its old wooden-plank floors, dining porch and rather leisurely service (76 Main St., 845-265-7676). The Alsace-born chef, Pascal Graff, spins the oldies but goodies: duck confit, steak frites, goat cheese tart, bouillabaisse and a croque monsieur.
On a majestic stretch of the river is the 1830s, 13-room hostelry, Hudson House River Inn, where dining options include a quaint steak-and-seafood house and a casual tavern with a pub menu (2 Main St., 845-265-9355; www.hudsonhouseinn.com). Enjoy a drink or a meal on the veranda and walk to the riverfront gazebo for the full visual effect.
A few blocks off Main Street, the aptly named Riverview is an airy, pastel-splashed American restaurant with an informal dining room and glassed-in patio (45 Fair St.; 845-265-4778; www.riverdining.com). Best known for its wood-fired pizzas, the restaurant also features on its short menu items like spinach gnocchi with portobello and shiitake mushrooms; linguine with sea scallops, spinach and eggplant; and its signature eggplant Parmesan.
Although not a restaurant, a popular Main Street attraction (and perfect place for a summer treat) is Go-Go Pops (64 Main St., 845-809-5600; go-gopops.com). The small store serves up organic coffee and tea, smoothies, juices and other refreshing beverages, plus its signature fresh-fruit ice pops in flavors ranging from banana-strawberry to cucumber-chili. There are creamy pops, too, in flavors like cappuccino, red velvet and chocolate ancho chili. The pops are also sold at regional farmers' markets, including locations in Nyack, Pleasantville and Rye.
If you're in Cold Spring on a Saturday morning, it might be worth visiting the year-round farmers' market, open from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Both the outdoor market, at Boscobel House & Gardens in Garrison through mid-November (1601 Route 9D; www.csfarmmarket.org), and the indoor market, at the Phillipstown Community Center from mid-November through April (off Route 9D), sell fresh produce, baked flowers, maple syrup and more. Local vendors include Shawangunk Growers of Middletown, Magic Baking of Walkill and Full Moon Farm of Gardiner.
If you stick around for Saturday night, the Cold Spring Film Society, a nonprofit arts organization, screens classic movies outdoors at Dockside Park every other week through Sept. 2 (coldspringfilm.org). On the schedule are "Chinatown" (Aug. 4), Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (Aug. 18) and a double feature, "The Iron Giant" and "Ghostbusters" (Sept. 2). Admission is free, and the movies start around dusk.
On summer Sundays at 5:30 p.m., the Chamber of Commerce offers a free outdoor music series at the bandstand near the river. Upcoming performances include the Burr Johnson Band Trio (Aug. 5), The Trapps (Aug. 19) and Six Stories Told (Aug. 26).
If you're looking for a more active outing, Hudson Valley Outfitters runs a variety of kayak tours geared toward varied skill sets and interests (63 Main St., 845-265-0221; hudsonvalleyoutfitters.com). The Constitution Marsh Tour ($110), which takes paddlers through the Audubon Sanctuary marsh and provides plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with nature, is among the most popular trips, said Kevin Semple, an outfitting manager. Other trips include a Bannerman's Castle tour ($130), a sunset tour ($80) and a yoga & kayak tour ($130). Kayak tours are offered through late October and can be booked by calling the store.