Just when you thought you knew every little village along the Hudson, you discover that you have overlooked one that deserves a second glance.
Maybe that’s because it’s small (a little more than a square mile), or maybe it’s always on the way to another destination. But this village offers some surprises: aerial yoga, vegan comfort food, a nature walk, historic diner, and even a cat café.
Where are you? Red Hook.
The hub of this Dutchess County village is the intersection of Route 9 (Broadway) and Route 199 (Market Street), and any way you turn, you’ll find specialty shops, boutiques and eateries.
It’s a working, walkable village where local residents shop, not a glitzy tourist town, and because its unassuming storefronts don’t shout at you, it’s easy to bypass.
“You have to get out of your car and look around,” said Chris Hoffman who owns the Board Room, the skateboard shop at 14 E. Market St. “It’s the only way to appreciate Red Hook. We have a lot of cool shops here.”
At the Board Room, you’ll find basic brands along with some you won’t find at the mall, including local and American-made (Nimbus and Stimulus, for example) and specialty apparel. Hoffman and his son will help you customize your “setup” (skater talk meaning a complete board). “You choose all your components,” said Hoffman, who has been skating since he was 8. “It’s a more personal experience.”
Next door at 10 E. Market St., there’s Pause Dog Boutique whose owner Sammy Schrieber works with dog rescues. She and her dog Riley will help you find just what you need.
“At Pause we like to educate pet owners on healthier options for their dogs and cats that are still affordable,” she says. The shop holds educational and social events throughout the year that give back to local animal advocacy efforts.
Keeping with the pet trend, you can enjoy your take-out coffee or lunch at Morgan’s Cat Café, 35 W. Market St., and think about adopting a cat while watching the rescues play. Your $3 donation helps support this nonprofit that Bobbi Jo Forte opened in 2016. “This is a sanctuary until they find a perfect match,” she said. (Open weekends only, hours expand in spring.)
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You can grab your lunch downstairs at the Wildflower Café, which serves vegan food exclusively.
“We’re at the beginning of a trend in food,” said owner Martin Pucino who has always loved cooking. He’s been a vegan since he opened the comfort food restaurant about a year ago.
“Many people are becoming vegetarians or vegans, and others are more open to trying it now.” He started with burgers (Beyond Meat and Impossible brands) and soups, and now offers tacos and flatbreads, too, and is pleased to say that since opening the café, he’s been having a lot of fun cooking and his blood pressure has gone down.
For more traditional eats, the friendly staff at the Historic Village Diner at 7550 N. Broadway serves up expected fare and will happily chat about this midcentury gem. This is the real thing, not a replica.
Larry and Ann Cihanek of Rhinebeck make it a regular stop. “I’ve always been interested in historic buildings,” he said, “and not only is the food first-rate, but the building is an American classic.”
Dinner and a movie
Prefer Italian? Savona’s Trattoria at 7249 S. Broadway comes highly recommended by several shopkeepers, and is a favorite of Hugh Murphy who drives over from Kingston to dine here, catch a movie at the Lyceum theater next door, and enjoy the village.
“Really good food, nicely presented, healthy portions, and excellent drinks,” Murphy said. He especially enjoys the Sunday brunch buffet. “It’s outstanding at $20 and goes from eggs, chicken parm, meatballs, pasta, salad, all the way to cannoli. And the jazz trio is a nice touch.”
But enough about food; it’s time to shop.
At Living Eden, A Place for Humane Beings, 33 W. Market St., you will see a selection of clothing, jewelry, gifts and accessories that owner Bonnie Schweppe tries to keep as American and locally sourced as possible. She also strives for cruelty-free and fair-trade products.
“We try to support companies that make things ethically, and while it’s not always possible, we do the best we can,” said Schweppe. “We have become a great place for our community to find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone, and in 2019 we’re also incorporating more handcrafted jewelry to our lineup.”
Shopping for children is a joy at Little Pickles, 7505 N. Broadway. Owner Rebecca Rothstein who hails from England and was a New York City teacher before moving upstate, explains “a little pickle” is a British endearment for a mischievous child.
Not only will you find a charming store that is modeled after a shop she recalls from her English childhood, but the kids can keep busy in a play area while you look around – and there’s plenty to look at. The store is brimming with merchandise. Rothstein opened the shop in 2014 to create a space with everything a child could ever want or need.
“This is an alternative to the big box stores,” she said. “Kids who visit will have a special experience that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.” So here you will find high-quality toys, dolls, creative kits, and puzzles including brands such as Brio, Ravensburger and Kathe Kruse. She also offers clothing, shoes and seasonal accessories, as well as an assortment of old-fashioned candy.
At Felicity Designs, 17 E. Market St., Roslyn Malla has been selling gifts, jewelry and purses along with frames, pillows and other home goods for 25 years. But her biggest seller lately? “Definitely socks,” she said. “Socks are the new hot accessory for both women and men.” She has lots to choose from; at last count, she had 70 styles, and they seem to be flying off the shelves.
Browse Boulevard Vintage and Antiques at 18 E. Market St. where Kathy Gravino has specialized in glassware and vintage clothing for 15 years. “My clothing is from the ’50s and earlier,” she explains. “It’s not ‘new vintage’ from recent decades.” She also hand-makes reproduction clothing using vintage fabrics, notions and patterns. Vaux Vintage at 21 W. Market St. is another option.
And there’s more: For the art and/or horse lover, the Equis Art Gallery at 15 W. Market St. has original fine art that owner and photographer Juliet Harrison curates. This is not a portrait gallery. She represents an international group of more than 30 artists who specialize in horses as the primary subject.
“Whether you are a horse lover or art collector, you will enjoy the paintings, sculpture and photography available here,” she said. Prices start at $25 for original miniatures and go up to $15,000.
At Petals and Moss, 6 E. Market St., floral arrangements made by owner Nancy Lee reveal her love of nature as evidenced in the dried arrangements and floral art using bark and driftwood.
Like to cook? Check out Clove Kitchen Market at 7 E. Market St., which has small-batch and handcrafted food and kitchenwares. Next door at 5 E. Market St., Monolight offers vintage and new home goods.
When you have had your fill of food and shopping, get some exercise. Rainbow Body Yoga offers traditional classes, but why not get in on the latest trend that’s a little harder to find: aerial yoga?
The postures are familiar, but you’re doing them in a swing, which is something like a hammock made of flowing fabric. It requires focus and provides an amazing body stretch, and feels so good that you may find yourself signing up for a series (that’s what I did after my first class).
Visit Poets Walk
If you want to keep your feet on the ground, try Poet’s Walk, at 776 River Road, designed in 1849 by landscape architect Hans Jacob Ehlers who may have been the first to think about “outdoor rooms.”
From the parking lot, an easy 10-minute walk on a gravel path winds around open meadows and rewards you with a gazebo and views of mountains and the river. Take a journal in case you are inspired; it was called Poet’s Walk to honor Washington Irving and other literary types who supposedly strolled here back in the day. This is a nice sunset spot and a great way to close your day in Red Hook before heading home.
If you go
Check online for days, hours:
- The Board Room, https://www.facebook.com/Boardroomguys
- Pause Dog Boutique, pausedogboutique.com
- Morgan’s Cat Cafe, morganscatcafe.org,
- Wildflower Cafe, wildflowercafeny.com
- Historic Village Diner, historic-village-diner.com
- Savona’s, savonas.com,
- Little Pickles, littlepickles.shop,
- Felicity Designs, facebook.com/pages/category/Home-Decor/Felicity-Designs
- Boulevard Vintage and Antiques, .facebook.com/Boulevard-Vintage-and-Antiques-
- Vaux Shop, vauxshop.com,
- Equis Art, equisart.com,
- Petals and Moss, petalsandmossflorals.com,
- Clove Market, facebook.com/clovemarket
- Monolight, shopmonolight.com,
- Rainbow Body, rainbowbodyyogastudio.com,
- Poets Walk, scenichudson.org/parks/poetswalk.