Shared from the 10/31/2021 Albany Times Union eEdition

Kinderhook’s treasures close by

The Columbia County village is big on Hudson Valley history, creative shops and cafes


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

Lori Van Buren /Times Union

Interior of Dyad Wine Bar in Kinderhook.

Robin Catalano

It's easy to hop on the Empire State Trail in Kinderhook (and walk for as long as it takes to work off an indulgent donut breakfast).


Morningbird is the first business to open in The Kinderhook Knitting Mill. Restaurant, The Aviary, and a cocktail lounge, Nest, will come this winter.

Robin Catalano

Arrive early to Cosmic Donuts — their generous cake doughnuts in imaginative flavors often sell out.

Lori Van Buren / Times Union

Kimchi grilled cheese available at Saisonnier on Chatham Street in the village.

Photo courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

The group show "Feedback" at Jack Shainman Gallery's upstate outpost, The School, runs through Oct. 30.

Kinderhook’s picturesque, tree-lined streets and abundance of historic architecture make a day trip to this bite-size destination feel like a walk through an 18th-century fairy tale. But under those quaint charms lies a town on the rise, a Next Big Thing that is waking up after a long sleep.

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

Unlike most Hudson Valley towns, it was never primarily an agricultural town. Rather, Kinderhook has always been a place of commerce and entrepreneurship, from cotton and knitting mills to printers, trade shops, and restaurants.

Nowadays, Kinderhook has a growing creative economy and a steadfast group of volunteers that pitch in with everything from the summer farmers’ market to its annual holiday Candlelight Night. And it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, no matter your fitness level.

Fuel up and hit the trail

Start with a breakfast sandwich at Broad Street Bagel Co. (1 Broad St.). With its warm brick interior and wide, sunny windows, the café is a cozy spot for coffee and a meal. If you prefer a sweet start to the day, head a block away to Cosmic Donuts (3 Albany Ave.). This funky little shop serves oversize cake doughnuts in imaginative vegan and non-vegan flavors like Earl Grey Caramel and Maple Crème Brûlée. (Get there early; they often sell out.)

Once fueled, head out on bike or foot on the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail. This 11-mile stretch of the Empire State Trail straddles Columbia and Rensselaer counties, and traverses a changing landscape of farmland, residential neighborhoods, and woodland. We suggest heading northeast on the trail from Kinderhook to Wilds Pond near Valatie for a roughly 4-mile, out-and-back journey.

End your trail excursion at Rothermel Park ( Rothermel Ave.) At its entrance, you’ll find the Persons of Color Cemetery, which was established on a quarter acre of land by an Irish immigrant landowner as a burial ground for Black Americans. Researchers estimate that 500 free and enslaved people are buried here, though only 15 headstones, dating back to the 1840s, survive.

Explore Hudson Valley history

Stop along Broad Street to view a number of historic properties, including the James Vanderpoel House (16 Broad St.) and the Van Schaak House (24 Broad St.) — you can own the latter for a cool $2.95 million. While it’s now under private ownership, the Benedict Arnold House (28 Broad St.), rumored to have sheltered the infamous traitor while he nursed Revolutionary War wounds, is a beautiful example of Dutch-inspired architecture. Close your eyes, and you can almost hear horse-drawn carriages clip-clomping down the street.

About a half mile outside Kinderhook Village is the Luykas Van Alen House (2589 NY-9H), a rural Dutch farmhouse built in 1737 and used as a filming location for the 1993 adaptation of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence.” Look closely at its handsome brick exterior, and you’ll notice details like angled bricks over the windows and double-bench stoops.

Next door, Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse, whose teacher inspired Washington Irving’s beloved character, is also worth a look.

Just up the street is Lindenwald, the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (1013 Old Post Rd.). An ornate example of Federal design, it once sat 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 ogee arch, borrowed from Moorish architecture.

Have lunch, and visit shops & galleries

Come midday, Saisonnier ( 11 Chatham St.), back in the village, is an essential stop. Rustic and relaxed, the eatery is a loving ode to all things dairy, offering cheese boards and upscale grilled cheeses from local purveyors, plus local craft beer and cider.

The refurbished Kinderhook Knitting Mill ( 8 Hudson St.), will soon be home to a number of women-owned businesses debuting in 2021 and 2022. Look for Morningbird ( 4 Hudson St.), a specialty coffee and retail shop that just opened; OK Pantry, a soda counter and home goods boutique coming in November along with wine merchant Kinderhook Bottle Shop; and botanical perfumier 2Note. Florist Damsel Garden comes this spring.

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

About five minutes’ walk down Broad Street, The School | Jack Shainman Gallery (25 Broad St.) is a standout in the upstate contemporary art scene. Founded by top New York City gallerist Jack Shainman, The School represents a clever repurposing of the old Martin Van Buren elementary school building into a 30,000-square-foot gallery. Beyond showcasing thought-provoking art, the gallery is committed to highlighting the work of international artists for audiences outside of major metro areas. You can easily spend a couple of hours browsing the different exhibition spaces, which range from cavernous rooms to intimate hallway nooks. It’s open Saturdays and by appointment, and following its current exhibit, it will close in November to prepare for a new show coming in December.

Food . . . and more food

Pick your own apples, chestnuts, and berries at Samascott Orchards ( 5 Sunset Ave.; pyo season ends Oct. 31). Or head less than a mile down the street to Samascott’s Garden Market (65 Chatham St.). They stock a wide range of produce, as well as locally made jams, sauces, nut butters, cheeses, prepared salads and side dishes. Their homemade cider doughnuts have a pronounced apple flavor, and their ice cream, including a couple vegan varieties, is excellent. Samascott’s popular corn maze is open until the first snowfall.

Save room for dinner. Dyad Wine Bar (16 Hudson St.) has the feel of an old-fashioned tavern, but presents a range of the familiar (sliders, mac and cheese, beef tenderloin) alongside natural, biodynamic wines and a nicely edited selection of cocktails, many featuring Valatie neighbor Harvest Spirits (3074 U.S. 9 ).

Across the street, The Flammerie recently closed but the former owner and chef has opened the new Harvest Smokehouse nearby in Valatie, with a menu of applewood-smoked ribs, pulled pork and other barbecue staples.

Later this year, New York City chef Hannah Wong will open The Aviary, a local-foods restaurant with Indo-Dutch influence.

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