Wikimedia Commons / Daniel Case
The Hudson Valley town may be tiny, but it packs historic sites, gourmet markets, and artisanal alcohol into a few square blocks.
Germantown is quiet. Unlike the other towns that line the Hudson River, the quaint community remains something of a secret within Columbia County. Weekenders flock to nearby Hudson and Chatham, both beloved for their trendy upstate aesthetic. Even many Hudson Valley natives remain unfamiliar with the riverside space, which houses just over 2,000 residents. Yet the area’s small town atmosphere is precisely what makes a visit there so appealing. It’s the type of place you go when you want to silence notifications, turn off your cell phone, and simply unplug.
When life gets the best of you, plan a getaway day trip in Germantown. The heady combination of country air, open space, and welcoming community will renew you by the time you depart for home.
9 a.m. – Eat breakfast in a grocery store at Otto’s Market in Germantown
Otto’s is cool. It’s been around since 1927, yet it somehow manages to feel hipper than Whole Foods ever could. Hit the airy market for breakfast, when you can score Bread Alone bagels, homemade egg sandwiches, and fresh pastries. After the meal, take another half an hour to browse the local and specialty products available at the space. With Stumptown coffee and Jane’s homemade Hudson Valley ice cream all in one place, grocery shopping has never been so good.
215 Main St, Germantown
10:30 a.m. – Wander through the past at Clermont State Historic Site
As the former home to seven successive generations of the Livingston family, Clermont State Historic Site is a tangible reminder of the descendants’ impact on the Valley. Use a visit to the National Historic Landmark to tour the four gardens of Clermont and brush up on your Hudson Valley history with Clermont’s virtual programming. Wander around the hiking trails or simply spread out a blanket to lounge for a while amid the scenic landscape.
1 Clermont Ave, Germantown
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12:30 p.m. – Eat like a local at Valley Harvest Ice Cream & Grill in Germantown
Don’t expect white tablecloth service for lunch at Valley Harvest. The family-owned ice cream parlor and grill prepares meals according to season, so diners can experience the freshest crop the Hudson Valley has to offer. Check out the daily special board, which features tempting eats like a spicy chevré burger, made with goat cheese, grilled jalapeño, and homemade slaw, or a green goddess salad, which comes packed with cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, and avocado. Whatever you do, don’t leave without a cone of ice cream from Boice Dairy. Flavors range from Maple Walnut to Mint-Ting-a-Ling. Get a scoop of it on a slice of apple pie if you’re feeling really indulgent.
6 Palatine Park Rd, Germantown
1:45 p.m. – Sip sweetly at Tousey Winery and Hudson Valley Distillers
Germantown’s quaint demeanor is a major perk for artisan alcohol producers in the Valley, since it means they have more room to spread their metaphorical legs. Take Tousey Winery and Hudson Valley Distillers, for example. Located a hop, skip, and jump away from one another, the two sites are an ideal destination on a lazy afternoon. Pick your drink of choice and head to one spot or the other to sip and taste your way through the list of local drinks. At Tousey, try The Queen of Clermont, a dreamy pre-dinner white, or the decadent Cabernet Franc, which displays dark fruits with a touch of French oak. If spirits are more your thing, pop on over to Hudson Valley Distillers. Before you leave, pick up a bottle of Fellows Gin, made from New York grapes, or Hardscrabble Applejack, the winner of a 2015 Best of Hudson Valley award.
Tousey Winery, 1774 Rte 9, Germantown, 518.567.5462
Hudson Valley Distillers, 1727 Rte 9, Germantown, 518.537.6820
3:45 p.m. – Go on a self-guided Germantown history tour
While it’s hardly a secret that the Hudson Valley is packed to the rafters with history, it might come as a surprise to discover just how much of it hides inside Germantown. Plug a few addresses into Google Maps and hop from the Rockefeller House, which was built by Simeon Rockefeller in 1733, to the Central House, which was also owned by the Rockefeller family before it reinvented itself as a speakeasy, stagecoach house, restaurant, and inn.
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6:30 p.m. – Experience fine tavern dining at Gaskins
“Upscale” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of a tavern. Yet Gaskins manages to walk the line between fine dining and backyard barbecue fare. Inside the simple, yet elegant restaurant, diners choose their own adventure. Go high end with smoked carrot salad, which is drizzled with Szechuan honey vinaigrette. On the opposite side of the spectrum, opt to keep it classic with fish tacos to start. They’re beer-battered and loaded with a spicy mayo that’s so good you’ll want to buy it in bulk. Follow it up with the baked mac and cheese for dinner because, hey, it’s mac and cheese. Whichever path you choose, leave enough room to end with the orange olive oil cake for dessert. Like the eatery itself, the dish is simple, yet elegant with an understated adornment of whipped cream.
2 Church Ave, Germantown
8 p.m. – Tuck in for the night at The Central House in Germantown
Remember that Rockefeller property that turned into a speakeasy? Turns out it’s now an inn that’s open for public overnights. The charming abode has six rooms, all of which include cozy beds, flat screen televisions, and private baths. If you plan ahead, you can pick up a few snacks at Otto’s earlier in the day, then kick back with a movie in your room at night. The next morning, stick around for continental breakfast before heading back to reality.
220 Main St, Germantown