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This Is How to Spend a Charming 24 Hours in Germantown


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

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 Black Seed 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, Roberta’s frozen pizzas, and Jeni’s ice cream all in one place, grocery shopping has never been so good.

215 Main St, Germantown
Mon-Sat 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Gates of Heaven on Earth.

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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 in the visitor center. If the weather cooperates, wander around the hiking trails or simply spread out a blanket to lounge for a while amid the scenic landscape.

1 Clermont Ave, Germantown

Harvest fried peaches with vanilla and hot fudge

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12:30 p.m. – Eat like a local at Valley Harvest Ice Cream & Grill

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 date and strawberry to apple pie and pumpkin. Get a scoop of it on a slice of apple pie if you’re feeling really indulgent.

6 Palatine Park Rd, Germantown

Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sat-Sun 12-8 p.m.

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 Pinot Noir, flavored with notes of strawberry and black cherry. If spirits are more your thing, pop on over to Hudson Valley Distillers for a 45-minute tour, led by one of the owners, and a tasting of three samples. Before you leave, pick up a bottle of Spirits Grove Vodka, made from Hudson Valley apples, 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 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 your GPS 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, a stagecoach house, a restaurant, and an inn. Also worth a visit is the First Reformed Church Parsonage on Maple Avenue. It’s been in town since approximately 1743 and is open for public visits on Saturdays.

Out front at Gaskins, our project in Germantown, NY. Photograph by Kelly Merchant.

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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 roasted beets, which are tempered in flavor by ricotta salata, fennel, and pickled cherries. Follow it up with house-made cavatelli tossed with shiitake and oyster mushrooms. 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 almond polenta cake for dessert. Like the eatery itself, the dish is simple, yet elegant with an understated adornment of fresh fruit and whipped cream.

2 Church Ave, Germantown
Sun, Mon, Thurs 5-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 5-10 p.m.

8 p.m. – Tuck in for the night at The Central House

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

Did we miss a spot? Let us know where to go to find Germantown’s best kept secrets in the comments or by email at edit@hvmag.com.

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