Category Archives: Places We Like

Town of the Week: Chatham, N.Y.

I love Chatham. My only beef with it is distance — three hours from my zip code, per Google maps — and not much in the way of public transit. Probably easiest to take the train to Albany and head down from there.

Cons aside, Chatham is beautiful. Less gentrified and snooty than Great Barrington, but, as this NY Times article says, “more polished than the rural outposts of the Catskills.” It has a real downtown, a movie theater (of course), a couple of yummy restaurants including Blue Plate, a terrific general store across the way in Old Chatham. Cultural offerings include summer stock theater and a Shaker museum. The countryside around these parts is gorgeous, and property here in northern Columbia County is significantly cheaper than parts more southerly and westerly. If you wanted to live in town, you’d be golden — lots of gorgeous old homes for under $300,000. Check ’em out this week!

Town of the Week: Cold Spring

I admit that most of my experience with Cold Spring comes from admringi an adorable cluster of waterfront homes from the window of a passing train (yes, the Metro North does stop there). Still, I’ve poked around enough times, and read enough, that I feel like I can endorse the place. After all, Frommers calls it “the most visitor-friendly small town on the Hudson.” And, of course, several newspapers have called it, “a little slice of Brooklyn.” My god, Brooklyn really gets around.

I once called the place “shi-shi” to the objection of my friends who were considering moving there. It is expensive–at least the charming, historic parts–but not particularly fancy. (Average listing price as of writing this piece is over $700,000). Is that preferable to the opposite–affordable but snobby? Not sure. Anyway, it does have a real downtown, although filled mostly with antique shops and such (a nice rundown on this website, Cold Spring Living). Some cafes, a pizza joint, a couple of charming B&Bs…you get the picture. It’s quaint, but not too quaint. If you’ve looked or bought here, please send in your reviews!

Town of the Week: Red Hook

No, not that Red Hook. This Red Hook is a small city of 10,000 of so near Rhinebeck, not the waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn. And it’s an interesting place for those who want some semblance of town life: it has an actual downtown, with a great diner, a not-so-well-stocked pharmacy, a wonderful artistan shop, a terrific Italian restaurant and the best burritos on the East Coast — no hyperbole there, it is simply fact. Of course, I’m focusing in on the more yuppie-ish amenities. One of the great things about Red Hook is that it ain’t fancy. It’s not Rhinebeck, not al all. It’s a sweet and sleepy little town that has somehow not been particularly gentrified. I don’t love walking through the downtown for some reason, maybe because the roads that go through it are relatively busy. It’s cute, but not dripping with curb appeal — but then again, that’s one of the great things about it. Too much curb appeal, and you cross over the line into precious.

Red Hook is known for having good schools (whatever that means), which attracts NYC-folk overwhelmed by the educational system here. As far as real estate…the latest numbers from Coldwell Banker show 109 single-family properties on the market, the lowest being $149,000 and the highest, $2.39 million. The average is over $500,000, which is a surprise to me — I figured they’d skew cheaper, since the town isn’t Hudson River-front nor right on the train (although only 10 minutes from the Taconic exit).

We’ll be looking at some of the more affordable Red Hook homes this week, as well as our regular Friday doozy of a house. Let us know if you’re looking in Red Hook, or live there, or want to give us any tips about buying there. I will say that when I think about leaving the city permanently, Red Hook is on my list of possible places to live. I’d go for sure if the old movie theater, now an antique store, was turned back into a cinema. Just sayin.

Town of the Week: Tannersville

Pretty, pastel-colored Tannersville is one of the better-known villages in relatively little-known Greene County. Part of Hunter Township, Tannersville is just down the road (or more precisely, down route 23A) from Hunter Mountain and Hunter Village. If you’re driving up wooded, winding 23A  to get to Hunter from the city—a nice, scenic way to go—you’ll pass through Tannersville en route. Stop here for lunch, or dinner, or drinks. Because that’s the thing about Hunter village—other than the ski resort itself and its occasional summer concert or festival—there really isn’t much to do, or eat, in Hunter proper.

While not as bustling as Saugerties or Woodstock down the mountain, Tannersville does have more of destination feel than its neighbors.   Read the rest of this entry

Town of the Week: Bethel

Bethel got on our radar when a reader alerted us to its offerings — not just on the nature front but the cultural front as well. Most famous for being the real home of the Woodstock festival, that concert site is now a cultural center within walking distance of many of Bethel’s offerings. The town encompasses the hamlet of Smallwood (a former Christian community that several folks have written in to ask us to cover), as well as Black Lake, White Lake and a few other teeny hamlets. Lots of good water in the area, but we find it a little light on the architectural charm, unless you’ve got a couple of million for a gated estate — there are plenty of those for sale, built at a more hopeful time in the American real estate market.

Our Bethel correspondent purchased an adorable cabin here which she now rents out, and has written in to sing the hamlet’s praises.

Weekending at the Real ‘Woodstock’

West of the Hudson and far from the more popular upstate destinations of New Paltz and Rhinebeck lies the best kept secret of the Catskills: Bethel. Blessed with varied real estate, swimming and boating lakes, historic sites, and beautiful scenery, Bethel is full of family activity all year ‘round.

When we purchased our cabin in the fall of 2010 we thought of it as nothing more than a quick and inexpensive getaway from Brooklyn.  Our place is in a hamlet within Bethel called Smallwood.  Most of the cabins are nearly identical due to the popularity of cabin ‘kits’ from Sears in the 1930’s when most of the places in Smallwood were built as part of a private vacation community. Of course, most of them now have additions of porches, screen rooms, and lots of cobbled-on additions. Most of the cabins here are seasonal, meaning they run on town water which is only turned on from April till October, after that its pretty impossible to stay unless you have your own well. Our street is half and half; partial summer residents and part year round residents. We’re the rarity, weekend people who come up all year around. My husband is a fan of the fall foliage season, while the kids can’t get enough of the peaceful calm of winter (oh, and the sledding, snowman building and skiing!).

There is so much to do in Sullivan county for families of all ages. At the Woodstock concert site they’ve built a gorgeous outdoor concert facility where family pak lawn tickets can be had for as little as $60 per family. On the immaculate lawn where the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin once played you can now enjoy the sounds of Elton John, Selena Gomez, and the New York Philharmonic. The annual July 4th family Philharmonic concert complete with fireworks is always a hit for all ages. Kids play and roam while adults enjoy the music and a picnic dinner.  The museum is also really a class act and thoroughly air conditioned for a humid or rainy afternoon.

Most communities up here have some sort of lake. Read the rest of this entry

Chef and Author Jonathan Dixon on Life in Saugerties

"If Denis Johnson had written A Prairie Home Companion, it would probably be pretty close to how I see Saugerties"

Many of Brooklyn’s creative class repair to the hills for more time to write. For Jonathan Dixon, the move had a culinary bent. He and his girlfriend, the writer Nelly Reifler, kept a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn but decided to spend much of their time in Saugerties, up and over the river from the renowned Culinary Institute of America. Rather than relaxed, Dixon’s new life was busy as he trained as a chef there, his plan to supplement his writing income. Lo and behold, the two worlds merged in the form of a memoir–Beaten, Seared and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America.

We asked Dixon about the pros and cons of Saugerties (“the eccentrics who might have been too edgy for Woodstock settled down the road in Saugerties”); splitting life and time between upstate and down; and a review of the upstate culinary scene–can you really get good pizza due north of The Bronx? His answers are below. Let us all hope we somehow end up at his place for dinner some night!

What prompted you to move upstate, and why Saugerties?

Nelly had been fantasizing about moving upstate for a really long time and then I got into cooking school. The stars just seemed to completely align and we went for it. We wound up in Saugerties pretty much because of Bob Dylan. A while before we moved, we’d been up in Rhinebeck visiting Nelly’s parents. I knew that Big Pink, the house where Dylan and the Band recorded the Basement Tapes was nearby and I wanted to see it. To get there we had to drive through Saugerties and we just immediately liked it.

Give us a review of Saugerties, for those interested in possibly renting or buying there: the pros, the cons, the unexpected drags and delights.

Saugerties is right next to Woodstock and has the same concentration of eccentrics. But the vibe I always feel humming around me is that the eccentrics who might have been too edgy for Woodstock settled down the road in Saugerties. So there’s a working class element to the town, a post-hippie element, an increasing NYC expat element, all set in the midst of some unbelievably gorgeous scenery. If Denis Johnson had written A Prairie Home Companion, it would probably be pretty close to how I see Saugerties. One of my favorite parts of it all is the large number of family-owned businesses, and you get to know those families in the course of shopping and errand-running. You wind up feeling a very personal connection to town that way.

As for the ups and downs: Read the rest of this entry

Upstate Places We Like: High Falls, NY

High Falls
may be small–population 600-ish–but it packs a lot of services, culture and good looking real estate into a tiny town. We stayed a few miles down the road recently and stocked up on provisions at the food co-op, which was so sweetly hippie-dippy that they had a free produce rack at the front for fruits and veggies on their last legs. Those free browning bananas went directly to my heart.

High Falls is also known for great restaurants, art galleries and gardening shops, and also has a beer brewing and tasting shop. Such businesses should give you a sense of folks who are drawn to the town–outdoors enthusiasts, latte-sippers, folks with second homes, artists, living amid the farmers. Make no mistake: it’s tiny, but cosmopolitan. It’s on my short list. Map on the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Upstate Places We Like: Kripplebush, N.Y.

Kripplebush is a teeny, tiny hamlet of mostly stone houses between Stone Ridge and Accord, N.Y, and an official historic district. You’ll have to drive to a town–High Falls, Rosendale, Accord or Stone Ridge–for provisions or human interaction, but you’ll have no shortage of beauty here. Real estate is steep; there’s not much of it, and what there is has probably been carefully tended, with a slightly inflated price due to its historic nature. What you’re paying for, too, is ambiance: it feels like you’ve gone far away and back in time. A map is on the jump. Read the rest of this entry

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