The Playbook

A Great Escape in: Hudson, NY

Even though New York City has tons to offer even the most discerning palette, sometimes, you just gotta get out of Dodge. We’ve been hearing a lot about Hudson, NY - the “downtown of Upstate” – so last weekend, we packed our overnight bags and spent 48 hours checking out what this little “Brooklyn-esque” town is all about. If you dig vintage furniture, clean air, curated vinyl and locally grown arugula, this is the place for you. Read on and see what we ate, drank, saw, and bought during our weekend escape to Hudson, NY.


Escape From NY :


At a mere 2.2 miles wide, the town itself is very walkable. Plus, you don’t even need personal transportation to get here. An Amtrak from Penn Station is a short (and scenic) two hour ride. For most of your journey, the train runs parallel to the Hudson River, making for some some truly sweet views.



Note to city folk: be sure to call for a cab to pick you up from the Amtrak station in Hudson before you get on the train. There’s no street cab culture upstate, so reserving a set time/place to get scooped up is your best bet for a smooth journey.


Old Nice Things :


Now that you’re in Hudson, it’s time to check out the town. While our guess is not totally scientific, we estimate that 75-90% of the shops on Warren Street are high end antique dealers. The pieces for sale range from stark Modernist chairs and porcelain tigers to Persian rugs and vintage soda machines—total design porn in the best possible way. Very funky, super rare, and well worth an afternoon’s exploration.


Not surprisingly, the prices for these super rare trinkets are mostly *ahem* out of reach. So much for souvenirs. Instead, think of the shops as free mini museums, rather than retail propositions: you’ll get hours of enjoyment from just taking in the scenery. Some of our favorites include Arenskjold Antiques, Historical Materialism and White Whale Limited



Tons of Tunes :


For such a small town, Hudson boasts music three stores specializing in vinyl. Of the three, John Doe Records has the biggest and best selection, with decent prices to boot. You can score a copy of Bowie’s “Heroes” in solid VG+ condition for a cool 13 bones. When we visited the clerks were blasting “Sister Ray” by the Velvet Underground over the store’s hi-fi speakers. Always a good sign.


Just down the street, a dude named Ryan runs a shop called Devil In The Woods (that sells vintage wax, in addition to CDs, movies and Ryan’s own handmade knives. The latter are fabricated from old railroad supplies. Ryan is very nice and can fill you in on whatever weirdo events are going down in town that week. If you’re new in town, a stop here is essential. Rounding things out is Fat Cat Records, the US retail outpost of the venerable English underground music label by the same name.



Super Good Snacks :


The sleeper hit of the trip was a cute little lunch spot across the street from the train station called Relish, which has shockingly tasty food for a grab and go that’s 4 tables big. Tre funky and rootsy. We were waiting for Guy Fieri to walk in in all his frosted glory to confirm that the tuna melt is indeed “out of bounds!”



On the more upmarket tip, WM Farmer And Sons is THE spot for oysters, fancy drinks, gourmet bar snacks, executive steaks and the like. The clam fritters are to die for. We recommend hitting up the happy hour before heading to another spot for your full-on sit down.


Also worth a visit is Swoon Kitchenbar, one of the best spots in town doing the locally sourced, neo-Americana thing. We went for Burger Night Thursday and it did not disappoint. The chef Jeffrey Gimmel is a James Beard nominee, so you know these cats are cooking with fire, baby.


For a more laid back, locals-only joint, we recommend Baba Louie’s for their “stoner at the controls” sourdough pizzas featuring loads of weird combinations like fresh mozz, shrimp, green chili and dried coconut. Totally unpretentious, mad delicious.


For a final snack to go before you split, drop by Bruno’s and grab a fresh grilled sammich before your train ride home. We had a fried green tomato BLT with chili mayo and arugula, and it was next level awesome.



Cool Guy Shopping :


In addition to solid vintage spots like Sideshow Vintage, the menswear options in Hudson are plentiful. For the fancy avant gardist, there’s Kasuri which features a very well curated assortment of pieces from brands like Comme, Rick Owens, Margiela, etc. Goth ninjas unite!


And for the more rootsy, Ralph-inspired shopper, there’s Hudson Clothier which specializes in small run Made In USA clothing and accessories. Also noteworthy is The Second Show, a real deal thrift store ideal for early afternoon digging and bargain hunting.


Finally, stop by Moto Coffee/Machine (375 Warren St.). After a few hours of shopping, you’re bound to need some caffeine. Slam a quick espresso and browse the shop’s collection of rugged biker gear and fashionable easy riding accessories. No license required.



Outsider Art Vibes:


One of the recurring motifs decorating Hudson’s shop windows are paintings of cats and dogs and occasionally lizards. Every painting follows a formula: animals, dressed up in people clothes, doing things like riding bikes, jumping rope or chatting over coffee. These intriguing works are all made by one man, local legend Earl Swanigan. According to our sources, the best way to get an Earl painting (and there are literally hundreds on offer in town) is to visit one of the local shops and buy it on the spot. Most pieces are around $150 bucks. For an original painting. It’s a bargain at half the quirk.


As for commissioned work, don’t count it. Meetings with Earl are hard to get, and even if you somehow have the chance to meet this enigmatic figure in person, legend has it that he’ll charge you a hefty “city folk tax” for the piece. That said: his stuff is rad, not at all expensive, and would do wonders for your living room, kitchen or guest room. Keep Hudson weird, man!



And so concludes our 48 hours in Hudson, NY. Know of any neat towns/cities/spots that we should check out? Drop us a line!