15 things to see, do and eat on a day trip to Kinderhook

Kinderhook’s quaint, tree-lined streets and abundance of historic architecture make a day trip to this small-scale destination feel like a stroll through an 18th-century fairy tale. But beneath these quaint charms hides a booming city, a next big thing that awakens after a long sleep.

About a three-hour drive from New York and half an hour from Albany, Kinderhook is one of the oldest towns in the region; his name appears on maps as early as 1614. It was also the birthplace of the country’s eighth president, Martin Van Buren.

Unlike most towns in the Hudson Valley, it was never primarily a farming town. On the contrary, Kinderhook has always been a place of commerce and entrepreneurship, from cotton and knitting factories to printers, stores and restaurants.

Nowadays, Kinderhook has a growing creative economy and an unwavering group of volunteers who get involved in everything from the summer farmer’s market to its annual Candlelight Night party. And it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, regardless of your fitness level.

Refuel and hit the track

Start with a breakfast sandwich at Broad Street Bagel Co.. (1 Broad Street). With its warm brick interior and large sunny windows, the cafe is a cozy place to have coffee and a meal. If you prefer to start the day gently, head to Cosmic donuts (3 avenue Albany). This hip little boutique serves oversized donuts with imaginative vegan and non-vegan flavors like Earl Gray Caramel and Maple Creme Brulee. (Get there early; they often sell out.)

Once full, go by bike or on foot on the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail. This 18-mile stretch of the Empire State Trail straddles Columbia and Rensselaer counties and traverses a changing landscape of farmland, residential neighborhoods and forests. We suggest heading northeast on the Kinderhook Trail to Wilds Pond near Valatie for a round trip of approximately 4 miles.

It’s easy to jump on the Empire State Trail in Kinderhook (and walk as long as it takes to make a tasty donut breakfast).

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End your hike at Rothermel Park (avenue Rothermel) At its entrance, you will find the Graveyard of colored people, which was established on a quarter acre of land by an Irish immigrant landowner as a burial place for black Americans. Researchers estimate that 500 free and enslaved people are buried here, although only 15 gravestones, dating from the 1840s, survive.

Explore the history of the Hudson Valley

Stop along Broad Street to see a number of historic properties, including the James Vanderpoel House (16 Broad Street) and the Van Schaak House (24 Broad Street) Рyou can own the latter for $ 2.95 million. Although now privately owned, the Benǫt Arnold House (28 Broad Street), which is said to have housed the infamous traitor while he treated the wounds of the War of Independence, is a fine example of Dutch-inspired architecture. Close your eyes and you can almost hear horse drawn carriages on the street.

About half a mile outside the village of Kinderhook is the House Luykas Van Alen (2589 NY-9H), a rural Dutch farmhouse built in 1737 and used as a film location for the 1993 adaptation of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence”. Take a close look at its beautiful brick exterior and you’ll notice details like slanted bricks above the windows and double-benched porches.

The next door, Ichabod Crane School, whose professor inspired Washington Irving’s beloved character, is also worth a visit.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site offers tours three times a day.  (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site offers tours three times a day. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Lori Van Buren / Times Union

Just up the street is Lindenwald, Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (1013 Old Post Road). An ornate example of federal design, it once stood on 220 acres of farmland. Van Buren mounted three campaigns for the White House from these rooms. They still retain original features such as 19th-century French wallpaper, ornate wooden moldings, and a double-curved brace arch, borrowed from Moorish architecture.

Have lunch and visit the boutiques and galleries

Come noon, Seasonal (11 Chatham Street.), back in the village, is an essential step. Rustic and casual, the restaurant is a loving ode to all things dairy, featuring premium cheese boards and grilled cheeses from local vendors, as well as local craft beer and cider.

The reconditioned Kinderhook knitting mill (8 Hudson Street), will soon be home to a number of women-owned businesses that will debut in 2021 and 2022. Morning bird (4 Hudson Street.), a specialty café and a recently opened retail store; OK Pantry, a soda counter and home goods shop coming in November with a wine merchant Kinderhook bottle store; and botanical perfumer 2Note. Florist Young ladies garden comes this spring.

The group show "Feedback" at the Jack Shainman Gallery outpost, The School, runs until October 30.  It closes in November, but will reopen in December for its next exhibition.

The group exhibition “Feedback” at the Jack Shainman Gallery outpost, The School, runs until October 30. It closes in November, but will reopen in December for its next exhibition.

Photo courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

In the meantime, visit the new North East Gallery (12 Broad Street), which features the work of regional contemporary impressionist painters.

About a five minute walk to Broad Street, The school | Jack Shainman Gallery (25 Broad Street) is a star of the upstate contemporary art scene. Founded by top New York gallery owner Jack Shainman, The School represents a clever reuse of the former Martin Van Buren Elementary School building into a 30,000 square foot gallery. Beyond presenting thought-provoking art, the gallery is committed to showcasing the work of international artists for audiences outside major metropolitan areas. You can easily spend a few hours browsing the various exhibition spaces, which range from cavernous rooms to intimate nooks and crannies in the hallways. It is open on Saturdays and by appointment, and following its current exhibition, it will close in November to prepare for a new show to come in December.

Food . . . and more food

Get to Cosmic Donuts early - their generous donuts with imaginative flavors sell out often.

Get to Cosmic Donuts early – their generous donuts with imaginative flavors sell out often.

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Pick your own apples, chestnuts and berries to Samascott orchards (5 Sunset Avenue; the pyo season ends on October 31). Or head less than a mile down the street to Samascott Garden Market (65 Chatham Street). They offer a wide range of products, as well as jams, sauces, nut butters, cheeses, prepared salads and locally made side dishes. Their homemade cider donuts have a strong apple flavor and their ice cream, including a few vegan varieties, is excellent. The popular Samascott Corn Maze is open until the first snowfall.

Save room for dinner. Dyade wine bar (16 Hudson Street) has the feel of an old-fashioned tavern, but showcases a range of familiar dishes (sliders, macaroni and cheese, beef tenderloin) alongside natural and biodynamic wines and a well-edited cocktail selection, many featuring featuring neighbor Valatie Harvest spirits (3074 United States 9).

On the other side of the street, La Flammerie (7 Hudson Street) is a small farm-to-table bistro serving wood-fired versions of German, Swiss and French recipes.

Later this year, New York chef Hannah Wong will open The aviary, a restaurant serving local cuisine with Indo-Dutch influence.

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