Talk to anyone about the Hudson Valley and Kingston is sure to be one of the first destinations to be mentioned. Just two hours north of New York City, and with loads going on, it’s top on the list for both weekend visitors and Catskills residents alike. The city was actually the first capital of New York, which means there’s lots on tap for history buffs. (Fun fact: The intersection of Crown and John Street is called the Four Corners and it’s the only intersection in America where the buildings on all four corners were built before the Revolutionary War.) Of course, there’s plenty to do if you’re more interested in, say, eating than learning about the Burning of Kingston.
The key thing you need to know about planning a trip to Kingston is that the city is made up of three main parts: the Stockade, the Rondout, and Midtown. The Stockade (aka Uptown Kingston) is where you’ll find that historic corner and it’s very walkable. The Rondout is a charming waterfront area on the shore of Rondout Creek near where it meets the Hudson River; it’s also very walkable. You can usually find a parking spot on the street very easily in these neighborhoods. The spots are metered, but are free on weekends and at night during the week. Midtown is kind of the catch-all for everything between The Stockade and The Rondout. (You’ll likely want to drive from spot to spot in Midtown and most attractions have lots or nearby parking.) We recommend checking out the entire city. Start at the Rondout and end in the Stockade. Or vice versa, you can’t go wrong.
Want to know where, exactly, to go in each of these neighborhoods? Here’s a nearly complete list of our favorite restaurants, shops, bars, and things to do. Warning: Your want-to-visit-list is going to be very, very long.
FOOD + DRINK
Brunette Wine Bar – Stylish spot for drinks before or after dinner in the Rondout. If you just want a snack, there are plenty of yummy little bites on offer. Do not skip the Trout Roe “Nachos.”
Outdated Cafe – Part cafe, part antique store. Be ready because almost all the décor is for sale. The menu is all vegetarian and features local and organic ingredients whenever possible.
Diego’s Taqueria – Consider this taco heaven! Be sure to ask about their daily specials and enjoy a cold beer — with chips and the green salsa! — at the bar.
Stockade Tavern – Enjoy crafty cocktails of all kinds at this hip, prohibition-era inspired spot.
Village Coffee and Goods – Go to VCG for coffee and breakfast (the salami toast is a must) and then drive over to Village Grocery and Refillery, a new-ish eco-friendly grocery where you can bring your own jar and purchase goods by weight. It’s right next to Kingston Standard Brewing Co., where you can grab a beer and sit outside.
Keegan Ales – One of the Hudson Valley’s premier breweries, Keegan Ales boasts a fun, laid-back great tasting room. The Mother’s Milk stout is famous around the area.
Ship to Shore – If walking around the Rondout has you in the mood for seafood, head to Ship to Shore. The menu features shrimp, clams, tuna, and more. Beyond seafood, there’s pasta, filet mignon, a 32-ounce ribeye, and other new American classics.
Restaurant Kinsley – Located in a restored 19th century bank building, Restaurant Kinsley has Style with a capital S. Enjoy a cocktail at the tiny bar before sitting down for dinner. Also: Make this your brunch go-to on Saturday or Sunday.
Lola – Lola churns out some of the best pizza in the Hudson Valley, with a seasonally rotating selection of pies cooked in a wood fired oven, neapolitan style. House made pastas, tasty salads, and a fantastic cocktail menu will help round out your meal.
Kingston Bread + Bar – Go online to order from Kingston Bread + Bar’s lengthy menu of incredible handmade loaves and pastries or stop by the store to find even more goodies. Note: Their sandwiches are top notch.
Tubby’s Kingston – This Midtown watering hole has a laid-back vibe and quality cocktails. It also features a venue, so check social media for upcoming shows. Shows often sell out, but if you do get tickets, expect an intimate concert with a small group of your new Kingston friends.
First Capital Poke Bar – There’s not a lot of poke around, but that’s okay because there’s First Capital Poke and that’s all we need. Choose from a signature bowl or make your own.
Chleo Wine Bar – This wine bar is coming soon to the Stockade district. And we can’t wait.
Black Eyed Susies – Speaking of soon-to-open businesses! Black Eyed Susies is in the process of moving from Saugerties to Kingston. It’s due to open in the next few weeks and will be your new go-to for family-style takeout.
Half Moon Cafe Coffee & Donuts – Located in the Rondout, Half Moon doles out fresh donuts made to order. Ask if they’re making the Fruity Pebble one when you visit.
The Tortilla Taco Bar – Burritos, tacos, vampiros, and more. If you like al pastor or carne asada, this is a taco bar you should not miss.
Armadillo – This Mexican restaurant has been in Kingston since the early 80s, so you know it has to be good. Go here (and sit outside) when the weather is on your side.
Pakt – Looking for a brunch spot? Go to Pakt. Just check their Instagram for further convincing.
Moonburger – Fast food, but make it without meat. All the burgers at the recently opened Moonburger are made with Impossible meat. The fries are out of this world and the MB Brownie Batter Shake (made with oat milk) is worth waiting in line for. And, yes, there’s almost always a decent line at this drive-thru spot.
Sissy’s – Swing by Sissy’s for juices, smoothies, salads, and sandwiches. It’s a good informal brunch or lunch spot.
Kingston Candy Bar – Once you’ve had your smoothie, pop into this fun, old timey candy store and you’ll be like, well, a kid in a candy store. Fruit and candy. It’s all about moderation.
The Anchor – The best burger in Kingston can be found at The Anchor. They serve up local grass-fed beef burgers and lots of bar snacks. On weekends, you can also pick up donuts from The Anchor’s bonus space, Hole in the Wall Donuts. They even have mochi donuts, which are vegan and gluten free.
Le Canard Enchaine – Celebrating a special occasion? Make a dinner reservation at this traditional, highly-regarded French restaurant.
Hutton Brickyards – The Winter Pavilion at Hutton Brickyards offers stunning views (of the Hudson River) and a delicious menu with small bites and large plates.
Tanma Ramen – A somewhat new addition to town, Tanma Ramen offers a pork-based broth and vegan broth. It’s already getting rave reviews from locals and industry folks.
Urban Fork – Hot tip: Get the Hot Mess Fried Chicken Sandwich to go. That is all.
Masa Midtown – Stop by during the day for Turkish tea or coffee and a sweet or savory pastry. Or go for a meal and order up some hot or cold meze.
Lunch Nightly – Don’t be confused by the name; Lunch Nightly serves lunch and dinner. We highly suggest the Pickled Egg Sandwich, but also recommend calling to hear about their specials. For dinner, the Smoked Beef is the star.
Sweet Maresa’s – Specializing in vegan macarons and celebration cakes, Sweet Maresa’s is a great place to call if you want to order something ahead of time for a special weekend. You can also stop in for something more impromptu.
Uptown Coffee – Uptown Coffee can load you up with a quick coffee and breakfast to go before you hit the road for some adventures.
Secret Vegan Cafe – This cafe’s menu is inspired by Dutch food and dedicated to the humble mushroom. Everything is mushroom centric (including coffee and nuggets). Of course, everything is vegan, too.
Top Taste -This Caribbean restaurant is tiny and off-the-beaten-path. It was also nominated for a James Beard award. Swing by for classic homestyle Jamaican fare like jerk chicken and ackee fish.
West Kill Brewing Tasting Room – West Kill Brewing is one of the best breweries in the area. The only issue is that it’s a bit of a drive from Kingston. The good news: They’re opening a tasting room in Midtown this summer. It’ll be across the street from Pakt and next to a soon-to-open tattoo spot. While we can’t give any more details at this time, we can say that there will be food and it’s going to be amazing.
See Things to Do for additional spots that also offer live music.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
Birch Body Care – Go here for a great massage in the Stockade. You’ll find a lovely ambience and caring therapists who check in before the session (to set intention) and after (to send you floating down the street). Also, the whole place smells amazing. Another great massage spot: The Repair Shop.
Zephyr Floats – One last massage option, although you should really go here for the floatation therapy. Reduce stress and alleviate chronic pain in an afternoon.
Walk the Riverfront – Grab a latte and walk along the riverfront to see the city of Kingston from a different vantage point.
Kingston Farmers Market and Kingston Waterfront Farmers Market – Kingston has two regular farmers markets: one in the Stockade on Saturdays and one at the Rondout on Sundays.
Senate House and Museum – Visit the Senate House to see how the Dutch lived in the 18th century. Guided tours take you through the kitchen, family room, and parlor — ending in the room where the first New York State Senate met in 1777.
Tivoli Sailing Company – Despite its name, the Tivoli Sailing Company actually leaves from Kingston’s Rondout. They have a few different tours and charters on offer, so check out the site. Be sure to make your plans early.
Kingston Point Beach – Swim in the Hudson River! The Kingston Point Beach even has seasonal lifeguards.
Volunteer Fireman’s Museum– A great kid-friendly spot, the Volunteer Fireman’s Museum keeps cool, old fire trucks on display.
O+ Festival – Every October, O+ takes over Kingston with art installations, concerts (Magnetic Fields!), wellness events, and more. It’s all for a good cause, too, as O+ is a national nonprofit working to help under-insured artists and musicians.
Ulster Performing Arts Center – Known as UPAC by the locals, this venue gets lots of fun acts including Stomp, Lewis Black, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Be sure to check the calendar.
Field + Supply – Twice a year (May and October) makers, crafters, and artisans gather at Hutton Brickyards for one of the Valley’s best pop-up markets. Shop pillows, ceramics, jewelry, antiques, apothecary goods, and more. Plan on eating there, too, as there’s always local vendors, beer, and music for your entertainment.
Kingston Stockade – Not to be confused with the Stockade in Kingston, this is the semi-professional soccer club that plays nearby. (You can have dinner in the Stockade and then walk over to see the Stockade!) Tickets for the 2022 season are on sale now.
Catskill Mountain Railroad – Bring little ones for a ride on the Catskill Mountain Railroad. It’s a quick, out-and-back ride on old train cars that kids are sure to love. In the fall, there’s an added pumpkin patch stop and, in the winter, the train becomes a holiday ride.
Kingston Point Rail Trail and Walkill Valley Rail Trail – Rail trails are huge in the Hudson Valley so it makes sense that Kingston would have two different options. The first one is shorter and starts at the Rondout. The second one stretches for more than 22 miles and is accessible from the Lucas Avenue Extension.
Kingston Wine Co. – This wine shop carries a wide and interesting assortment. And the staff is ridiculously friendly and knowledgeable. Pick up a bottle or two while wandering around the Rondout.
Ester Wine + Spirits – Located in the Stockade, Ester has a lovely selection of natural and traditional wines, and a curated selection of spirits, with a lot of local options.
JK’s Wine & Liquor – Make a pit stop here, on your way into town, to stock your house. It’s one of the largest wine and liquor stores in the Hudson Valley.
Hops Petunia – Hops Petunia is a seriously dreamy flower shop in the Rondout that will magically put you in a chipper mood.
Rocket Number Nine – Any record lover will strike gold at Kingston’s newest record shop.
Clove and Creek – Prepare to want everything in this curated gift shop in the Rondout. It’s stocked with irresistible home goods, books, and design-forward gifts that even the most choosy friend or family member will love.
Milne Antiques and Design – This is the spot to go to if you’re ready to deck out your Hudson Valley home in refurbished antiques. Find it in the Rondout.
Rough Draft Bar & Books – Located on one of the Four Corners (see above!), Rough Draft is a bookstore, a bar, and a coffee shop all in one. There’s even a selection of homemade savory pies, if all that reading makes you hungry.
Kingston Consignments – Just up the street, Kingston Consignments is a two-story building in the Stockade with a bonus Antique Center and a wide range of dealers. Bring your pup with you and it just might wind up on their Instagram.
Half Moon Books & Hidden Treasures – A perfect place (in the Stockade) for browsing and buying used and rare books.
Cheese Louise – As its name implies, Cheese Louise has an unbelievable assortment of cheeses — and pates, caviar, and other tasty bites. You’ll have to drive here.
Mother Earth’s Storehouse – You’d never suspect to find this gem along the busy stretch with Target, Home Depot, and fast food chains, but it’s there! Stock up on organic and all natural groceries and personal care products. Another grocery store we love: Adam’s Fairacre Farms, which is just a bit further up the road.
Zaborski’s Emporium – This architectural salvage spot (in a historic factory!) is filled to the brim and yet somehow still incredibly organized. There’s a whole room dedicated just to toilet tank covers! Shop for windows, furniture, wooden crates, doors, hardware …. you name it. Just know that pictures are not allowed.
Hamilton & Adams – Need a tee that says “Upstate & Chill” or a super soft flannel? This curated clothing store has you covered.
Flora Beauty – Flora Beauty is a boutique salon that offers cuts, blowouts, and a brow bar. You can also pop in to shop all sorts of apothecary goods including essential oils, serums, perfumes, and more.
Fuller Building – This historic Midtown building used to be the Fuller Shirt Factory and, now, 42,000 square feet have been turned into working studios, shops, and office spaces. Stop by if, for no other reason, than to shop at Eleven Six.
River Mint Finery – The owner of River Mint Finery has a background in design and aesthetics and it clearly shows. Everything in the shop (jewelry, bags, clothes, etc) is simply gorgeous. Walk over to Population for even more Insta-worthy shopping.
Capital Vintage – This vintage shop in the Stockade specializes in goods from the mid-century through the 1990s. It carries all sorts of goodies including kitchenware, furniture, clothing, and more.
Lovefield Vintage – Cool vintage clothing that’s already been curated? Yes, please.
Exit Nineteen – Exit 19 is the Kingston stop on the Thruway, but the shop Exit Nineteen is the place to go for 20th century furniture, art, lighting, and more. The mix is always changing and always eclectic.
Spruce – The sister shop to Exit Nineteen (and in the Rondout instead of the Stockade), Spruce offers glassware, bar tools, serving pieces, and more.
Karina Dresses – Every dress in this store is made in Kingston, but the thing that’s most important to know is that many of the designs have pockets. That’s right. Dresses. With. Pockets!
Blue Cashew – Whether you’re shopping for your Upstate place or a gift for someone else, you’re sure to find what you need at this cute kitchen shop in the Stockade. You’ll find blenders, cookware, pantry staples, tabletop pieces, and so much more.
Black Creek Mercantile – Every piece of furniture at Black Creek Mercantile is made by artisans on-site.